Found this series of articles on Ella, Australian cycling website devoted to the more graceful gender. I wanted to comment directly, but their authentication system is too cumbersome (Disqus AND email verification? Next they’re going to send me a differential equation displayed in CAPTCHA). Instead, I’ll just add my thoughts here! Continue reading “The Pain Cave?”
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.
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.
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.
Just a short note today, but an article on mountain biodiversity triggered a thought in my mind that I wanted to share. Each nation has a right to, but is also independently responsible for its mountains. Mountains are part of this earth and part of this biosphere so their preservation is critical to the longevity and prosperity of all humans. So even while each country has sovereign responsibility for its mountains and other bioscapes, the mere fact that they lie within its borders is not sufficient to grant that country independent sovereignty over those natural resources.
The world belongs to all people and all living things. However, it was only until the last 100 years or so that humans have gained the ability to destroy what belongs to all. So while in the past physical occupation was sufficient justification to do whatever one saw fit with the land inside their borders, it is now no longer possible to make that claim in good conscience. What one does to itself, it does to all and this is no longer belief, but scientifically supported fact.
There are two reasons why I like this article by Mr. Stromberg on Vox. The first is that the cover photo is of someone on a bicycle who clearly understands and appreciates that Pink is the fastest color.
The second reason is that this article clearly explains why a persona in our society is not a villian, fundamentally evil and worthy of disdain, but rather another victim of the greater inhuman, indeed machine-like system in which we all operate. Economics is all about understanding incentives and if we give people the permission and the incentive to abuse each other, they will. Moreover, because the system is so big and removed from any individual’s choices, those of us who are hurt (pedestrians and drivers who are startled and annoyed by cyclists) don’t even know where to direct our anger because even though it’s the cyclist, or the cashier, or the customer service representative that sends us the message that we are not valued, it’s the manager, and his supervisor, and the owner of the company who operates inside a system that cares only about money and nothing of honor or dignity that is truly at fault.
Modern markets remove our control over our lives by limiting our options for employment and consumption. What might be worse, though, is that also remove our ability to express righteous anger at the injustice because the “market” isn’t something we can ever meet in person.
Have a read: Bike Messenges Pay
Saw a link to this essay claiming that it was going to jumpstart a movement as grand as the gay rights movement. It claims that “America will never be whole” as long as it holds this debt to the poor black man, compounded with over 435 years of interest.
Well fuck that! The entire fucking globe has shat on my kind for centuries, nay millenia! The Ancient Jews of Before Christ were bartering my kind for livestock, punishing our rapists with our hand in marriage, throwing us to the wolves to save their hairy stank asses from getting rammed instead. And Jesus didn’t exactly fix things. Modern Christians flog us endlessly for Original Sin, accuse us of murder for trying to control our own bodies, guilt us out of life and liberty with sad images of our neglected children. We are the cause of our enemies’ moral failings and we must give up our faces and our identities in order to protect them from punishment.
The fucking President of the United States is a fucking Black Motherfucking Sausage Swinger.
But who is calling for our reparations?
Last week was a week for feminist bashing. First, a post by a member on a men’s support forum that I frequent blamed the liberated modern feminist for the shape of modern male body shame. More recently there have been a number of articles published commenting on Hillary Clinton’s impending rise to power and on the form of feminism presented by Ms Sandberg in this article. I used to think of myself as a feminist, but I think feminism is outdated, and a misnomer, for what the true meaning of the movement represents. Today, I think of myself as a humanist.
I thank my fellow bloggers, les femmes, for helping me to find words to express my standing, and I thank a a particularly genuine forum member at the support forum for the inspiration to remember my own humanity in the midst of the anger.
Humanism. It isn’t feminism because it doesn’t seek to place women on equal footing as men, or to insult men or put them down, and it isn’t masculinism or patriarchism because it doesn’t seek to maintain the long standing oppression of women. Humanism is the philosophy that all humans have value, that we are all made of flesh, that we all feel pain, we all cry, we all fear the unknown. Humanism seeks to undo the damage that centuries of body shaming and millennia of power seeking have put on our collective psyches. Humans wants peace for all humans in their own hearts, and in their relationships with each other.
After the claim was made that modern feminism is responsible for the shape and style of small penis humiliation, another man added an explanation: feminists seek to topple the patriarchy, but instead of going for the strongest males, they attack the weakest first and use the cheapest shots. This naturally results in women shaming non-alpha male types for their insufficient sex drives, small penises, lack of ambition and generally non-alpha male patriarchal personality types.
I understand where this man is coming from. He feels inferior to the alpha-types that define what ideal modern masculinity looks like, but it is easier to blame women, outsiders, for attacking him than it is to blame his fellow men. He would like to be an alpha, but he isn’t. However, if he rejects the image of alpha as fundamentally flawed, he incites ridicule from other alpha males — the strong and empowered males that he claims women are afraid to challenge, but whom he himself also fears. Rather than accept that he fails to meet the standards he upholds, or to take the responsibility to change the things in himself that he disapproves of, he finds an outside entity which is socially weaker than he is and attacks it instead.
Thanks to the gentle words of another member on the forum, when I read these accusations I saw them for the expression of impotence that they really were, rather than the attack on myself that they felt like. I suggested that where he wrote “feminists” he might instead write “people who seek power over others” and where he wrote “alpha males” that he might instead write “those who currently have power and social approval.” I think what this man was really trying to say is that people attack the weakest representations of their enemies when they feel threatened, and that in doing so they harm those who are in fact closest to themselves, perhaps even their allies.
To be a humanist takes a wider perspective than to be a feminist. It is not enough to topple all the males, but rather, we must select from within the whole of masculinity what bits are truly harmful to us and what bits are nothing more than the imperfect and clumsy attempts of other human beings to fight for their own happiness. After all, men still are in a position of power over us. We don’t like it and we don’t want to accept it, but we can further our own goals if we acknowledge it and make allies where we can.
I am no political strategist. In fact, I am quite simple in my understanding of humans. I see the philosophy of humanism as a torch in the night. By recognizing the humanity in all of us, even those who would appear as my ideological enemies, I can make better choices, see more clearly, and feel less threatened by the violent world that I live in.
Years ago as a teenager in the Christian Church, not so long after puberty struck, I asked my community, “How do I know that God loves women as much as he loves men?” The answers I received were profoundly depressing:
- God gave a woman the honor of giving birth to his son.
- Women are the more beautiful sex.
- Women are naturally more pure than men.
The first response said to me that the value in a woman is entirely contained within her uterus. The second told me that women are not useful for anything. The third told me that if I sinned, more specifically if I were sexually active, then I was more to blame than a man because my nature made me naturally less susceptible to temptation. What terrible messages to send to a confused and lonely teenager!
Today, almost twenty years later, the messages I receive about womanhood are no less depressing. Consider this video documentary on “People with questionable genders.”
Where are the women here? They are absent. They are hidden. They exist like ghosts, only as references to give context to another problem that some men face: gender dysmorphia. According to this documentary, only men are faced with the difficulty of living in a society that rejects them and only men are given the choice to live false lives or to actualize themselves.
It is not politically correct to criticize transsexuals. However, it seems to me rather naive to say that a transwoman and born woman are the same. The former was born into a life of privilege and chose to reject it. The latter was never given the choice. It is rather similar to comparing a monk and a beggar. The former chooses his poverty in exchange for actualization of himself. The latter, on the other hand, has no flag of moral victory to wave in the face of his enemies.
Once, years ago, I was discussing with a male acquaintance of mine. He bemoaned the freedom that women had to dress as men without repercussion, but that men were considered gay or somehow deficient in their masculinity if they did so. Clearly, I said to him, this difference arises from the fact that a woman is considered an inferior being. It is natural for her to want to emulate masculinity whereas a man who rejects his gender has no justification and therefore deserves the ridicule. Our philosophical discussion ended there. Most men are uncomfortable when their privilege is pointed out to them.
It is a reality I am slowly coming to accept: I am addicted to sex.
But I am not addicted in the traditional way, rather more philosophically so. As the international AIDS activist and specialist on Arab sexuality Shereen El Feki said,
“If you want to know a people, you start by looking inside their bedrooms”
And really, I think Ms. Feki is on to something here. Sex is freedom and freedom is empowerment over our own lives and our own destinies. What that means is that sex threatens, or enforces, the power others have over us.
So I keep coming back to sex because I love life and sex is life. Two people having sex can create new life, but they can also emblazon the spark of their own lives. Never have I met a happy person with a dissatisfying sex life. Likewise I have never met a person with bedroom troubles who was happy in every other aspect of their lives or their own self image.
Because sex is so intimate, it is frightening and thrilling to share with another person. However, the individual who is willing to face that fear and all of its consequences in order to reap its profound benefits is able to face their fears outside the bedroom as well. Such an individual is difficult to control, and that is why sex is freedom.