Search

A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams

Category

Humans

A True Story

I’m very tired today.

I’ve been tired for several days lately. I keep repeating to myself something like a mantra:

You’re tired because you haven’t been sleeping, not because your life is too hard for you.
You’re lonely because you don’t want to go outside in the heat, not because you don’t have friends.

Lately I put so much effort into managing my oversized brain that I often lose my sense of what is true and what is a story I told myself. This is made more difficult by the fact that I know that truth and facts are as axiomatic as the stories themselves. It’s very slippery to operate at the level of stories because you end up redefining truth even as you are seeking it and in the end you are the only one who can say whether or not you’ve found it.

One thing that I know about stories is that they are easier to accept when you know they are a story. For example, if I told you that humanity today is not at the epitome of gender equality and that human rights have actually taken huge blows in the last twenty years that have put many swaths of society at a greater disadvantage than they were perhaps fifty years ago, you would probably try to argue with me based on facts that I am wrong. On the other hand, if I told you a story about a human society where men and women were interdependent on each other and selfish behavior was punished by death or banishment from the tribe, you would probably listen intently. There would be no reason to argue with me because it would be a story. Stories aren’t true.

…and yet, they create truth. Because once you heard the story of men and women respecting each other, working together and celebrating their complementary strengths, in your deepest consciousness you would know that such a world is possible. Possible and actual are only separated by experience.

Advertisements

Connections

Why is it so difficult to make connections with other people?

I have fought with this problem for many years. The last time I can remember having people with whom I really felt comfortable — truly, self conciouslessly comfortable — was when I was twelve years old.

I was in sixth grade and I wore baggy shorts and oversized band T-shirts. I sat on walls, hacked computers and bantered with the smartass boys in school. I was a dancer, but I wasn’t friends with the dancers. They were always too popular for me, spending their time wearing makeup and having boyfriends. I had a best friend then, too.

My best friend was much, much richer than I was. She collected San Rio stationary and we would practice trying to draw our own versions that were as cute as the original characters. I got somewhat decent at a Pochako. In science class we would massage each other’s palms to pass the time and stay awake. I think for me it went extremely far in keeping me out of fights with the teacher. He was dimwitted and boring. Taught out of a textbook, but did it so poorly that we couldn’t cover half of the material in one year. Instead of frogs, we dissected raw chicken wings in class. He wouldn’t let me participate because I had forgotten to get a note from my mom saying it was ok. So I sat in the corner and ate the friend chicken wings I had brought for lunch, making sure to pull apart each muscle group and lay it out on the table before eating. I thought he was a moron.

When middle school ended I went to high school. Some of my friends went with me to the special arts school I got admitted to, but my mom pulled me out soon after that because the school’s curriculum was so intense that it was destroying my health. I went to two more high schools after that and in my junior and senior year, I had gone from having something around two dozen humans that I was moderately to extremely comfortable with, down to knowing no one. Of course I tried to make friends, but I remember very distinctly that I spent the majority of my high school years watching other people having friends, studying how they interacted, learning about their relationships like a scientist watching insects through a magnifying glass.

College was a similar story as high school. I transferred into Yale University as a sophomore. I immediately went in search of my people, who I thought would be hanging out at the campus Christian clubs, but they weren’t there. A devout Christian my whole life, only intensifying when I passed through puberty and into young adulthood, I fully expected to be loved and accepted if not because that’s what Christians are supposed to do, but at least because the other people who were there would be like me. What I realized, however, was that the people who were there weren’t so much like me as they were busy being Christians. That meant that they were busy praying, busy quoting the Bible, busy seeing His Work all around, busying having faith and busy being reborn and stuff. What they weren’t doing was loving, experiencing the moment in which their whole lives were occurring, or seeing me for the whole, complete, raw and vulnerable human that I was.

I remember the moment I quit organized Christianity. I was sitting with the campus Christian group one evening. It had been a rough day for me mostly because I was still adjusting to all the newness that college life, specifically college life at an elite Ivy League university which was isolated from the outside world and far away from home. I remember I said the word “shit” in a sentence expressing my frustration over something. Actually, it wasn’t even frustration. It wasn’t even that important. I just like using cuss words. And this one girl, a black girl with an evangelical streak, looks me in the eye and says, “how can you call yourself a Christian when you use language like that?” It was then that I realized that Christians, whether or not their beliefs were aligned with any kind of universal Truth, were not my People. The strangest part of the entire scene was that I didn’t get angry at her. I simply got up and left. I didn’t make a scene, I didn’t argue, and frankly I didn’t even feel compelled to. It was like a switch had turned and a window had opened and I could see it clearly as the bright morning sun: These are not my people.

I’ve been searching for my people ever since. They are not the dancers. They are not the Christians. They are not the type A studious over achievers. They are not the academics. They are not the rock climbers (though there was a time when I was sure they were). They are not the hippies, (though there was a time when I was pretty sure they were, too).

When I came to Japan I left everything I had behind me. The only things of value I brought were my weasels and my bikes. Everything else that came with me was purely out of utility: having it would be easier than having to buy it all fresh when I got here. I brought no friends, no family, no lover, and I had none waiting for me. I thought to myself that in order to be Free, I couldn’t let the fact that these things were not here prevent me from taking a chance, going on an adventure and perhaps finding the People that I had lost twenty years ago. I determined that I would find my people no matter what, and if I couldn’t find them, I would make them.

I found some people when I got here. They were fellow mountain bikers and at first I was sure they would be my People. I poured my heart into loving them. I made myself available for any chance there was to hang out, to help them, or to have them play with me. I went so far as to rearrange my work schedule to coordinate our days off in the vain hope that that would mean we might get to spend time together as friends. When they upset me, even though it was against my habits, I made sure to tell them because if you never fight it only means that you don’t love each other enough to want to fight. No one gets along all the time.

But in the end I realized that these people, too, were not my People. I think in the beginning I believed they were my people because the times when we couldn’t hang out, when they couldn’t pay me attention, or I otherwise didn’t feel wholly comfortable around them, I had an excuse to explain it away. In the beginning it was language. Then my language got better, but my relationships didn’t. Then I thought that it was the work schedules. They were busy overworked Japanese and so I moved my commitments around so that the time was available, should they want it, but no invitations to dinner or to ride ever came in. I wondered to myself if maybe the distance was propriety: a customer cannot have a close relationship with staff. I asked for a job (for no pay) in the hopes that becoming staff would both ease their schedules and make me part of the group that was allowed to have close relationships, but I was turned down with no explanation. Out of ideas and out of explanations, I finally had to conclude that I had been pouring my heart into a receptacle that simply drained it out again onto the dusty dry ground underneath.

Why is it so hard to build connections with other people? My ex husband used to say that if everyone around you seems to have a problem, the most likely explanation is that the problem is you. I tried believing that for a while. No doubt that kind of thinking is what led me to drain myself so thoroughly trying to establish a meaningful connection with people who do not love me. Other people like to say that if you have to work so hard at a relationship, it’s not a relationship worth having, or that the other person doesn’t deserve you. I don’t like to talk about what people do and do not deserve. None of us asked to be on this earth, so since we’re here, why should we not all deserve to be loved? I don’t think desert is a very useful concept for understanding people. No, the people who I wanted desperately to be mine did not fail to deserve me, they simply do not love me.

As an economist I am trained to look at systems. Most specifically, I am trained to look at the systems built by people that form the environment in which we operate. I look around me and I see people doing similar things and being in the same places, even wanting the same things, but it is as if each and every one of us lives our life inside a sphere of isolation. We pass each other on the street and perhaps we give a nod to the other’s existence, but do we really see that person? Could we start a conversation with them if we wanted to, and what would we say? We each do our jobs and then we go home to our cages where our entire world shrinks to the size of the house we live in. Those of us who are lucky enough to have found a family by the time they reach adulthood can go home to theirs. The rest of us? We have to build a reason to see anyone, talk to anyone, touch anyone. And the reasons, so many of them are impolite, inappropriate or shameful.

I want to be touched. I want you to touch me. Please, just touch me.

I want to see you, just you. I don’t really mind what we are doing, I just want you to be around.

Please, let me show you my heart. Let me show you my fears and my desires. I want you to help me carry them.

I want to show you my joy. I want you to smile and celebrate what I have. Please, be happy for me.

I want to swim in your glory. I want to know you down to the synapses of your nerves. I promise I will be kind. Won’t you share yourself with me?

Humans were never intended to live alone, be independent, or survive without touch. The evidence is written all over our bodies and even our brains. Yet, the world that we live in, it builds walls between us. Glass walls. Touch screen walls. Walls through which you can see but never touch. Our world makes it incredibly difficult to build connections with people.

I often wonder to myself, am I the only one who suffers the pain of this isolation? Do the others around me, shuffling glassy-eyed down the street, do they not desire to touch another human? I think they do. What baffles me is that if we all crave the same thing, and it is such a simple thing, why is it that we all live our lives starved for it?

Why in my own life do I feel like I will suffocate from loneliness?

Comprehending Swine

I was talking to the Pigs* this morning and he told me about a story that had been making the rounds of facebook. A woman was disillusioned with her job and three years ago walked out to go on vacation. She never went back and she is still vacationing. Primarily she lives off her savings, hitch hikes and couch surfs, but she will occasionally work along the way. I have no idea how she does this, but I desperately want to know!

Most of the facebook comments, however, were derisive in the fashion most typical of online forums. Anonymity assholification is what I call it; it is the phenomenon where otherwise perfectly decent human beings act like complete jerks because the anonymity gives them courage to act out. People said that it wasn’t a real three-year vacation because she had to work sometimes. Others said she could only do it because of her white privilege. Very few comments were positive and the majority of them were banal, overused and hardly relevant to the actual story. The Pigs said to me that it made him sad to see how the vast majority of the world still isn’t ready to accept that there is another way to find happiness outside of the rat race that’s killing us all.

I said to him “it’s pearls before swine.” I am not much of a Bible quoter, though ironically I reference the Bible more now that I have quit Christianity than I ever did as a follower. The wisdom in this passage is this: If you have pearls and you throw them before a heard of swine, they will just swallow them and shit them out with the other food they forage for. Swine will eat anything, and it all turns to shit. I’m not sure that Jesus used the same phrasing, but I think “pearls to shit” has impact. The beautiful story of a woman with the courage to walk away from the Standard Narrative and forge her own path, when it was posted on facebook, became a pearl that was quickly swallowed by the masses of swine that populate the Interwebs.

In my own life I feel as though I have collected, discovered and refined great swaths of pearls in the form of experience, knowledge and wisdom. I want to share them with the world. I want to show the people around me that there is a way to have happiness and, while it is not easy, it is very simple to do.

The reality that I face, though, is that most people are simply not ready. I could give them one of my pearls and they wouldn’t know it from a moth ball. For me, right now, the challenge is to find the people who want to hear my message. There is no use in fighting with those who are grounded in opposition, however I am sure there are people, like the woman who is still on vacation, who would like to hear what I have to say. Maybe she knows something that I don’t, but I am sure that even those who have begun to forge their own paths to happy would still appreciate having the company and the communion from another who also deviates.

I had another moment of a similar nature earlier today. In realizing that my relationship with the Giant store had come to an end, I felt that I needed to give voice to my feelings and share them with those involved. So I sent a message to Thunder explaining to him that I was going to separate myself from him and the shop because I felt unneeded and unappreciated. He wrote back to me a message I have heard many times before, “I don’t know why you’re so upset, but do what you have to.” It’s a common reply from boys who don’t want to acknowledge that something they are doing could be causing pain to another. I stewed on the message over night. Of course it hurt to be brushed off after sharing my honest feelings and I was mad. I was also frustrated that, even as it is often incredibly difficult to find the right words in English, I had to do this in Japanese and still he refused to help me even in communicating.

In the end I realized that I was dealing with another case of swine. I believe in love. I believe in the fundamental goodness of people. It is a habit of mine to react to people with love and empathy, to try to understand their perspective and why they behave the way they do, and to avoid passing judgment on them as Good or Bad. But swine do not understand about love. They believe in Good and Evil and Winners and Losers. They believe that when people disagree someone is right and someone is wrong. They don’t understand that sometimes both people can want the same things and still be unable to find a solution.

If you give your love to swine, you will just get shit in return. Ironically, I don’t blame the swine for this, either. It is just their nature. It still hurts, though. I think it hurts even more because if I could say, “you are a terrible person!” then I could feel as if my loss was not so great. After all, who mourns the loss of shit? No one. But the loss of something beautiful that, try as you might, you could never fully own though it had been flitted before your eyes repeatedly, and tauntingly? This is truly painful.

Part of me still hopes that what I am saying is not true. Part of me still hopes that this beautiful thing that once seemed available to me is not actually gone. It is the same part of me that hopes that the world will one day wake up and hear my message: You can have freedom, you can have love, you can have happiness, and you can have all of it right now. All you have to do is want it: see it, want it, reach out and take it. It’s that simple.

And yet, again I find myself standing with arms full of pearls and no one but swine to give them to.


Continue reading “Comprehending Swine”

The Modern Yin and Yang

Historically, men and women have always existed in a kind of balance with each other, with each gender filling in its own roles that together make society work. Over time, those roles have changed, and depending on location they have started from different places as well. Recently, however, I get the distinct impression that the role of the female is being stamped out and made to be irrelevant. Our society is becoming completely yang and we are suffering for it.

Taking a grand view, the devaluation of the feminine in western society can be traced back to agriculture. Nomadic humans were “fiercely egalitarian,” as Brian and Jethalda put it in their earth shaking volume Sex Before Dawn. Sharing of work and of bounty was the most efficient way to moderate the risks of the ancient environment. Depriving women or other members of society because they were weak was simply not an option. For one thing, the smaller stature of the female enabled her to nurse young children on the same caloric intake of her male counterparts. Moreover, modern studies of female labor have proven that pregnancy and the presence of nursing infants had nearly no impact on the average 18 pounds of food per day that women gathered. Hunting, on the other hand, was comparatively more risky both in its costs and its rewards. To devalue the feminine in a hunter-gatherer society would be to expose yourself to many a hungry night.

With the advent of agriculture, women were able to nurse for shorter periods and thus became more fertile. Children were able to work on the farms from as young as four or five and so producing many children became economically advantageous to the increasingly isolated and independent family unit. Disease and malnutrition also increased with agriculture making the viability of each pregnancy less reliable. The result was that women became domesticated, along with the animals they depended on for food. Men, on the other hand, were relatively unaffected physically by the shift to agriculture.

The beginning of gender imbalance arrived with the technological shifts associated with independent, agricultural based living. Furthermore, because agriculture was a much more stable source of food on a short run scale, the focus on sharing decreased and competition increased. With each family unit responsible for itself, there was incentive to hoard food and to exchange it for services, favors or other necessities instead of share it openly. With agriculture was born capitalism.

And capitalism is responsible for the continuing degradation of the feminine. Where once fertility was a valued trait in a women, it is now a liability. Children do not increase the prosperity of a household but rather suck its resources. Producing children also becomes a trade off, putting women’s very physical nature at odds with their desires and desirability in the work force. Economic obsession with marginality and comparative advantage has also lead to the conceptual division of fertility from male and female. Where once it was believed that a child required a man and a woman (or in some places many men and a woman) to create and raise, operationally we behave today as if the entire weight of reproduction is carried on female shoulders. It then becomes a natural economic imperative to value male labor over female, particularly in industries where children are considered burdensome to production.

I think it is no accident that today activities which are considered difficult, requiring of high skill, or respectable are given male identities while equivalent activities that are mundane, or necessary but not difficult, are associated with the female. For example professors are men while teachers are women. “Cooking” is something you have to do at home so that you can feed yourself or your family and many women cook, but men are chefs. Similarly, supporting roles are assigned to women while forefront performance roles are given to men. Lawyers are male and paralegals are female. Bosses are male and secretaries are female. Sewing is a women’s task, but fashion designing is controled by men. When you look at the distinctions, there is very little difference in the actual activities involved in many of these paired occupations. For example, what does a chef do if not cook? How does one create new fashion without sewing the clothes? Can a paralegal properly type up a court decision if she does not understand the laws about which she writes? These distinctions are not in any way related to the fundamental nature of male and female so much as they are imposed from the outside in order to support the status quo of a highly competitive performance male, and an accomodating female.

The trouble with economics is that it is built upon the idea that competition is fundamentally a good thing because it raises us all up to our individual potential and guides our choices in such a way that without needing to hold a committee meeting, we can all corrdinate our activities with each other to achieve maximal bounty. What economics does not acknowledge, however, is that the rules that govern our interactions with each other — market rules, commercial law, human capital investment — are made by the very actors that are bound by them.

The difference between economic government and democratic government, however, is that in a democracy each human is worth one vote whereas in economics, each dollar is worth one vote. So in the end, equality is always a very precarious equilibrium. It only takes the tiniest sliver of advantage for one individual or group to be able to amass a majority of the wealth and once this happens all the surplus can be devoted towards shifting the rules in such a way to protect and grow that majority. Corporations are guilty of this, but men are guilty of it, too. Sadly, women are also guilty of participating in the fray. Indian culture is a prime and awful example. A woman’s value is derived primarily by the success of her eldest son. In old age it is her eldest son who will care for her. Thus a woman is driven from the start to neglect her daughters and her sisters and pour all her devotion into the men in her life — her husband who controls her present and her son who controls her future. This sad truth is a reality that was created by a society that had a surplus of power and a lack of incentive to protect equality.

I claimed that the dominance of yang over yin in our modern world was hurtful to all of us, not just our women. Men who are comparatively more yin, that is more passive and accomodating, or more gentle, are devalued just as women are devalued in general. This argument was made by Emma Watson to the UN in a recent presentation on women’s rights, but even this is not the whole story. We humans need to be complete and to live complete and full lives that accept, cherish, and nurture all aspects of ourselves. A man who has been forced into a mould that does not fit is an unhappy man just as a woman who has been squashed into a box that cannot contain the whole of her being is an unhappy woman. Yet man and woman will seek each other out and seek happiness in each other. But how can we find happiness in another when none of us know happiness ourselves?

The suppression of the yin in our world is a form of socially expressed self loathing. It is a hatred for the acceptance of the Way Things Are and a willingness to find happiness in one’s current circumstances. It is a disgust for our personal weaknesses and our inability to change the things that hurt us. It is a denial of the pain we experience on a daily basis, pain which defines us and brings us life even as it hurts us. I will even go so far as to say that the love affair with yang is a form of hubris, believing that man is superior to the nature that created him, and the nature that still defines him today. It is the belief that we as humans know better than the environment that carved out our existence so many millions of years ago and that our power to control is greater than the power of Nature to destroy, to kill, and to rebirth again.

Man can no more live without woman than humans can live without the earth. I believe that the future of humanity lies in our ability to restore the balance of Yin and Yang in our society and in our world.

Ride Like a Girl

Perhaps it was the Always* commercial, or some other commercial, that inspired me to redefine what it means to ride like a girl. I’ve been searching for people to ride with who can help me grow as a cyclist. I want to challenge the professionals one day and I know I can’t do it alone. In a forum on a new group I’m checking out, one of the members made a comment that some guy was slow and “rides like a girl.” To the group’s credit, another member quickly corrected him, but the seed had already been planted. To ride like a girl is an insult? Nonono. Let me explain to you what riding like a girl really means. To ride like a girl is to love the sport of cycling like no man has ever loved. We are so few and they are so many that to even dream of riding a bicycle is like walking into the lion’s den. They would eat us alive and shit us out again without even a second thought if we gave them a chance. And we give them a chance every time we get on the road. “Can we ride with you?” “Sure, but this is a no-wait ride.” BITE “What pace are you planning to hold?” “Today’s an easy day, so something like 16-17 mph.” CHEW “I want to race, but there’s no women’s class. What should I do?” “Just jump in with everyone else. That’s how we learned. Trial by fire.” SWALLOW “Everyone is so much faster than I am. It’s very scary, is there no other option that’s more my level?” “Look, if you don’t have the balls, don’t ride. We are not the babysitters club.” SHIT And there we are, shredded, watching as the men ride off into the distance. And what do we do? We climb back into the saddle. We push on the pedals. We ride. We ride for the love of the bicycle. We ride for the need for speed. We ride for the joy of feeling our bodies propel the bike through the air, over the road, down the trail. We ride because we are made to ride. Some women will quit. After the kind of welcome we receive into the sport of cycling, who can blame them? But those of us who continue to ride, we are furious. We survive the burn, burn after burn after burn, because we are propeled by an inner fire a thousand times hotter than anything outside. With smaller legs, less muscle mass, and smaller lungs, we climb the same hills. Our hearts beat the same rhythm. We put in the same time. And each hour of work produces less speed and less progress than any a man’s body would put out. The hills feel bigger, the miles feel longer. And yet we ride. We push past the barriers of our own bodies, the barriers of an industry who considers us as nothing more than marginal revenue sources, the coldness of a culture that simply doesn’t believe that we should be allowed to play, too. And we excel. We fly. We get dropped, and we ride alone. We crash, and we pick ourselves up. No sponsor? No problem. We’re used to taking care of ourselves. All this we do with the energy that comes from a deep seated love for riding. Only a girl could endure all of this and still ride on. So do it. Go on. Ride like a girl. I’ll ride with you.


* Originally I thought Dove was responsible, but it was Always with their campaign #likeAgirl. They’re at it again and you should definitely go check them out.

Baltimore Violence

Living in Japan means I am often late to hear news of events in the US. A friend shared the below article with me and, while I am saddened by the death of this young man, I do share the bafflement of the public. Real life violence is ugly, uglier than the most graphic movies can ever suggest, and the story of this man’s death is tragically not unique.

An officer made eye contact with Gray. Gray, for unknown reasons, ran. The officer and his colleagues then detained Gray. They found him in possession of a switchblade. They arrested him while he yelled in pain. And then, within an hour, his spine was mostly severed. A week later, he was dead.

The police were in enemy territory from their perspective. Gray showed fear by running in reaction to making eye contact with the police. Also in a state of fear themselves, this primal interaction triggered the balance of fear in the officers’ favor, sending them into the tunnel of violence from which the only exit is exhaustion or physical restraint.

The true ugliness behind violence, particularly of the police brutality kind, is that there is no rational explanation. Moreover, we like to believe that this degree of viciousness is restricted to a select few, evil members of society. If we could only punish them hard enough, or predict and thwart them consistently enough, we could erase it from our collective existence. But the potential for violence is in all of us and if the circumstances are just so, each and every one of us is capable of murdering our own best friend. 恐ろしいでしょう。

The “non-violence” this article calls out may come from the wrong side of the fight. However, we all must keep our eyes on the goal and our hearts in love. Mr. Gray would be better honored if peace could be found between the police and the people. The city of Baltimore would be a better place to live if a conversation could be had where all could be heard. No doubt the police did a terrible thing, but to punish without mercy is to start a war. To forgive and remedy is to have peace.

The choice before the people of Baltimore is not riot or not riot, it is a choice to grow or to fester. To grow is difficult and requires love, but it is without a doubt the more beautiful path.

Continue reading “Baltimore Violence”

Children Need More

In my morning ritual of browsing the interwebs half mindedly for inspiration and company, I found another article ridiculing the platform “every child deserves a mother and a father.” The fodder for the ridicule? A man murders his wife while all seven of his children are at home. This is clearly proof that the movement is doomed and gay people deserve equal rights, right? Wait, you can’t see that? I thought it was supposed to be obvious.

Let’s break it down. First, the movement attempts to link heterosexual norms with the transcendental rights of children to be protected, loved and given every chance in the world for success. There’s an appeal here to the holiness of children and it’s put in contrast to the self centerednes of adults. Wrapped in this motto is the idea that a lesbian who wants to raise a child with her partner is putting her own sexual desires above the needs of the child because she trades heterosexual partnering from homosexual partnering, thus depriving the child of its right to have a male presence as it grows. When used against homosexual couples seeking equal marriage rights, the every-child movement is ultimately saying that sex is dirty, homosexual sex is dirtier, children are holy, and anyone who would put their own needs above a child’s is a Bad Person.

In my recent post on the mind body connection, I make the claim that the mind cannot operate properly without the body being given appropriate care which includes adequate sleep, nutrition and sex. Regardless of your style of sex or choice of partner, if you are denying yourself sexually, your mind cannot occupy the space of openness and love that children need to grow in health. So in a way, the mother/father movement is also saying that mental health of the adult is not a necessary requirement for them to care for their children. Now we can see the argument begin to break down. On the one hand, a male and female presence are considered necessary on a moral level to raise a child and the underlying reason here is that they contribute to the balanced psychological development of that child. On the other hand, the same psychological underpinnings are ignored when the movement is used to attack same sex couples because it denies the well established link between parental mental health and the health and development of their children.

At this point, I tend to lose my ability to empathize with the warring factions on this mother/father debate. LGBT supporters claim this is all about the heteros versus the homos, and since the homos are the minority and are being discriminated against they get to claim the moral high ground. Since this argument is obviously not about psychology at all (since neither side seems to make well grounded and internally consistent psychological arguments), it breaks down into a shouting match about whose rights are more important, and who is “obviously” more ridiculous for holding to their beliefs. I lose my patience quickly with these types of debates because neither side seems interested in discovering Truth or advancing on the fundamental problem. Here, the fundamental problem is about discrimination, but it is being made to be about children. I believe that if it were about children, both sides would discover that they fall leagues behind the standard for optimal childcare.

2014 Genki-mura Kids
Last year’s amazing group.

Yesterday I finished my service volunteering for the Fukushima-ko Genki Mura Camp, a 100% volunteer based nature camp for child refugees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Because of their age and small bodies, the levels of radiation still present in their home towns are too high for them to be able to play outside without risking serious long term health problems. They are not even able to play in the grounds at their elementary schools because of the contamination and must spend all day every day inside. If you want to know what pathos is, it’s a nine-year-old child who has never been allowed outside to play. Because we believe that Every Child Deserves to Play Outside, we organize and run this camp twice a year in the warmer months so that these kids can have a respite from the confinement of the remainder of the year. The children at the camp stole my heart as they have done every time I see them.

Because the camp was volunteer based, everyone who helped had their own jobs and their own lives that they had to attend to. Some people could only come for a day, or for a few hours. A handful made it for the whole week. However, the kids never took more than a few seconds to incorporate the newcomers into their games. To them, every adult was a plaything and they were climbing on us, wrestling us, crying on our shoulders, napping in our laps, all within knowing each other for barely a few hours. The first thing that I learned about children from volunteering is that children do not come with a built in emotional slot for mom and dad. Children want to be loved, and need to be loved, and they don’t know yet how to be suspicious of the types of betrayals and let downs that we adults come to anticipate. More importantly, they don’t understand the morality behind a mother and a father caring for them. All they know is that there are people that care for them, they need that care, and when there is a loving adult presence in their life they will latch on and soak up that care for as long as it’s available.

The second thing I learned about children from volunteering is that it doesn’t really matter if you produced them with your own genitals, they are fantastic, beautiful creatures. On the last day we all gathered in a circle to say our goodbyes. Each volunteer stood up and said a few words to the kids about their impressions during the week. There were many wet eyes and most of them were from the grown ups. If only a mother and father can love their child, if the biological connection was what really made the affection between children and their caretakers so strong, then why would we, a group of adults with our own lives and our own families, be so torn to part with some random kids that we’ve known for only a few days? Just like children are capable of taking love and care from strangers, we adults are wired to love and care for children, plain and simple.

At camp this last week, some two dozen children were raised, cared for, educated and inspired by over thirty different adult volunteers. The ages of the volunteers ranged from high school senior to mid-fifties. There were men and women, married and single, straight and… me. I’m neither male nor female. I’m not married and I’m definitely not “straight.” The adults knew most of that. The kids picked up on it immediately and you know? They didn’t care. To them I was just another plaything among the other tall and slow playthings that had come to hang out with them that week. And if i needed any proof that my influence was good for them, all I had to do was watch and listen as they shouted their goodbyes out the bus window on their way back home.

Children are magical and wonderful. They deserve to be loved because they are humans, just like we are. And they are precious to us because in children can we see a reflection of the world as it would be without our judgment and our adulteration. For our sake, we should not debate whether a mother and a father, or two mothers or two fathers, or only one parent is the right set up to raise a child because they are all wrong. The right way to raise a child is to expose it to all the love and all the care that we can find for it in this world, wherever we can find it and for as long as we can provide it, even if we may never see that child again.

Weasels, Fetishes and Sports

What do weasels, fetishes and sports have in common? If you try and connect with people who are interested in any of these, you will inevitably find websites or chatrooms filled to the brim with people whose lives are defined by these.

It’s a thing. Media coverage in almost any form on almost any topic you could be interested in will inevitably focus on an audience whose interest excludes all other aspects of their life. It’s almost as if our society, our global society, thinks that people can’t have multiple interests, or only mild passions, or that their own identities cannot be defined by more than one thing at a time. I’ve seen it everywhere and it’s maddening.

I think relationships are the hardest to deal with. If you are a mom you are only a mom! You can be a working mom, a sexy mom, a stay-at-home mom, but you can’t be, for example, a professional athlete. On the other hand, if you are a pro athlete, you can have babies, but only as a hobby. Or else you have to quit being an athlete. You can’t possibly be a top level athlete AND be serious about raising your kids.

If you are single, you can have an identity that includes lots of stuff. However, if you start dating someone you are “Brangelina” — inseparable and unidentifiable from your significant other. We can go sexual identity, too. If you are polyamorous then your entire life is organized around managing your relationships.

I remember when I first got my weasels and I was trying to figure out how to feed them a healthy diet. I joined the American Ferret Association facebook group and was immediately bombarded with battle cries of the raw diet. I was criticized if I didn’t talk about my weasels as the most important thing in my life, if I didn’t think they were smarter or cuter than all other animals, and worst, if I dared suggest that life as a single woman in the Ivory Towers meant feeding raw was too much work for me. Nothing could possibly be more important than my weasels!

I am most certainly tired of all this single mindedness. I think, though, more than just tired I am also lonely. It’s hard to find community when everything you see is so focused on the extremes and you feel like the only person in the world who dares care about her job and her hobbies. Is it so incomprehensible that I might want a strong body and be a woman at the same time? Is it such a sin to feed raw meat as a supplement to kibble? Can I possibly enjoy sex without its pursuit being my entire identity? The resounding answer that comes to me through the Internet is ‘No, absolutely not’.

Perhaps here is my solution: stop seeking community through the Internet. But does any one alive today still find community in the real world? Please, teach me how.


Acknowledgments: This post was inspired in part by The Goddess of Java, the one blogger I know who continues to live and write about real people having real, complete lives.

Sharing my sexuality

I moderate a forum dedicated to helping men overcome body issues and social anxiety. I hang out there because a long time ago I discovered that my best sexual partners tended to have smaller than average sized penises. Since the site’s original mission was to help men with small penis anxiety, I felt it was my duty to come to the site and sing my praises of the smaller sausages.

Naturally, my contribution to the site involves a lot of detailed descriptions of my sexual encounters, including my partners’ body types and my own reactions. I love sex and I love talking about sex, so this is actually a perfectly symbiotic relationship. However, while I am not in the least bit shy about my body, my tastes, or my escapades, I make sure to maintain a certain degree of anonymity and distance on the site. I think it is important that the men who hear of my escapades do not mistakenly interpret my openness and sexuality for sexual availability. This is a fine line that needs to be respected for the benefit of all people involved, but particularly for the men.

Throughout my life, since about twelve years old when I started attending high school, I have been hooted at, cat called, hit on and harassed. I have always been attractive and perhaps because of my background in classical ballet and theatre, I have always been shameless about displaying my body. Since a very young age, my body has been a tool of expression, so to hide it from others would be akin to cutting out my own tongue and then attempting to have a conversation. I am also objectively attractive. I know it’s not polite to point it out, but after being informed so for twenty years solid, it almost seems impolite to deny it. Perhaps as a result of my lifelong exposure to unsolicited male attention I have developed certain self protection mechanisms. I am a highly sexual female and men simply react to that. It isn’t a question of should they or should they not, but simply a reality that in order for my life to carry on more or less peacefully, I have to be the one to manage the sexual energy between myself and others.

For many women in the vast majority of encounters with unsolicited suitors, feigning disgust, sexual disinterest or ignorance is the quickest, easiest and most natural response. When a construction worker cat calls you on the way to work, there is no being polite or sophisticated, the best response is usually the finger. However, there are times when you want to share a portion of your sexuality, but still keep the male somewhat at a distance. Such is the case with me when I go out drinking with my friends or when I share a personal account on the forums. Often, it feels like playing with fire.

On the forums I try my best to present myself as “a woman sharing her experience with interested people.” Contrast this image to “Pinkie Boadicea talking about sex with me.” From the reader’s perspective, if you are an interested male, then both are equally true. The important distinction is which one feels truer or resonates more strongly. In the latter case, the reader might develop some misplaced affections towards me, Pinkie, the Woman on the Forum, when what I really want to happen is that the reader takes my message as evidence that women in general are capable of having similar opinions and that some woman somewhere will in turn have those feelings directed towards him. If the reader were to misinterpret my oppenness as interest in himself, personally, it might prevent him from seeking out more appropriate validation and affection from real people in real life. I want to avoid this as much as possible on the forums, so I try to make sure my language is general even when the subject is personal. I also make a point not to carry on discussions about myself in private messages. I don’t want the people I interact with to think that I am confiding some secret in them when the reality is that I am sharing something which is only personal, but not particularly private.

In real life things are different. I’m not as eloquent or careful. Let me point out, though, that I do not for a second consider this a fault. As I mentioned before it is one thing to say that it is a woman’s responsibility to manage male affections and it is another to say that it is a fact of life that failing to do so can become troublesome. Moreover, I can log out of a forum but I can’t log out of real life. There has to be some place where I can let it all hang out and indeed I make a point to do so. Men who can handle an unfiltered me make for much more fulfilling and uplifting friendships than men who need to be managed. All of that said, there are some habits that I have developed that will skew my relationships with men in real life and for better or for worse they seem to be fairly deeply ingrained.

While I am never shy about my sexuality and will always answer honestly when asked a direct question, I make a point to differentiate my affection from my raw lust. I try to make sure that my male friends understand that loving them does not mean fucking them any more than using their cocks to scratch an itch deep inside my cunt does not mean that I have fallen in love with them or would for a moment hesitate to scratch the same itch with a different cock. Sometimes I do this by twisting the reason why I am interested in someone so that it sounds more vulgar than it really is. Sometimes I do this by suddenly becoming very busy when a friend or partner seems to be confounding my sex drive with my love. I wish I could say that I do these things intentionally, but they seem to be more like self protection mechanisms and I often feel guilty when I catch myself doing them. If I could be fully in my wits at all moments, I would definitely prefer to tell them outright: Please don’t misunderstand, I love you and care for you the same way that I love and care for that other guy that I hang out with, but am not sleeping with; that you are my sexual partner at the moment is a matter of convenience for both of us but is no indication of my heart being open to you or of a commitment to be yours now or at any time in the future.

I have lost friends because of an inability to communicate about sex effectively with them. I have lost money and sleep because of the inability to communicate about sex with men who were not so much my friends. Enabling male sexuality is very dangerous specifically when communication about boundaries and intentions fails. However, I am a sexual being. I love sex and I believe that the free expression of sex increases human well being on a personal as well as a social level. Moreover, I know that among women I am particularly capable of communicating my boundaries in a gentle way, and I am particularly capable of kindness towards my partners. So in a way, I feel as if I am particularly responsible to take the risk and put my sexuality out in public view where it can be experienced by others for what it is. It is my hope that by touching others in a genuine fashion that they will take that experience forward in their own lives and their own relationships and that, even if no one ever consciously recognizes that it was me who inspired them, they will live fuller and more satisfying lives because of me. That is the reason why I share.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑