Tag: patriarchy (page 1 of 2)

500 Words on Isolationism

I read the news today, oh boy

The balance between work and life has yet to be fully struck. I’m still only a few weeks into the gig, and though I’m more comfortable being where I am and working alongside a dedicated, energetic, generous, and honest gentleman, the commute still drains me and the work presents new challenges to my logical skills and memory retention every day. If I can succeed more than I fail, even in small ways, at a rate over 50%, I’ll be okay. It’s hard to gauge, at times.

When I’m not at work, I try to take care of myself, and sometimes, that means tuning out the world.

I haven’t always been good at being comfortable in the space I occupy. When I was crashing on couches and bouncing between hosts, I always felt out of place. It was hard to feel like I belonged anywhere. I had very little space to be myself, work on myself, put my best self forward. And I suffered for it.

Now, things are better. I have space that’s mine (mostly). I can have true seclusion, shut everything out, disappear for a while. It’s lovely.

At times in this current world, though, it feels selfish.

I know that we can’t afford to isolate ourselves, to exist merely within our own echo chambers. We must reach out, be connected, stand together. That’s what it means to be a part of the Resistance. We are stronger together, when we cross lines of race and gender and identity and background, when we give one another the benefit of the doubt, when we imagine one another complexly. That means staying current. That means exposing myself to the onslaught of flagrant stupidity and arrogant presumption of those trying to control our world. That means looking at smug faces of the Patriarchy’s cronies, and resisting the urge to punch the screen.

And all the while, my lovely head weasels push back on my forward progress.

I’m working as hard and as well as I can. And that’s valued and appreciated, at home as well as at work. I’m doing more, feeling more, saying more, and slowly, hurting less. I do think about people and parts of my heart I’ve lost every day, but I can work past it in ways that are forward progress, not dwelling in the past or muddling up the moment. This is all good. This is all better than I was. And yet, I struggle to recognize it in myself. My learned behaviors of talking myself down for fear of buying my own hype keep me from building myself up.

Getting past that means being out in the world. Being my best self in the world. And not hiding myself away where none can see my light.

I have to take care of myself, be gentle with myself, keep getting better. The people who love me, who actually care, want that.

But I also have to be a part of this world, because I can help keep it together.

On Fridays I write 500 words.

Assassination

Courtesy NPR

Assassination is a selfish, cowardly act.

Case in point: last night, a rhino was assassinated.

The term is usually applied to an individual of prominence, for fame or a political end, but I feel that doesn’t encompass the full depravity of the act. Assassination is murder for profit. Plain and simple. And Vince’s assassination is a prime example. It was for the ivory in his horn. Nothing more.

The rhino didn’t do anything wrong. It was just, you know, being a rhino.

And that’s why it was killed.

The assassins plan to profit from this murder. Ivory sells well on the black market. The nature of our capitalist society motivated these people to murder an innocent, unaware creature. Vince died confused and scared and bleeding out.

Does that seem right to you?

Imagine if the rhino were a person. They were going about their business. Maybe worrying about bills, or looking forward to a date, or making plans to find some way to a better future. Gunshot. Snap. Nothing more in this world. The corpse will feed the worms, the murder will feed someone’s financial or political greed.

Does that seem right to you?

Now imagine the person’s character being assassinated. Their body lives, but they are assaulted on a social and emotional and mental level. They are called all sorts of names, made out to be someone they’re not. The things said and done to them make them question their sanity. Their way forward is suddenly illuminated solely by gaslight. Without help, support, and love, they may go mad. Collapse in on themselves. They might even take their own life just to end the pain and confusion. And all the while, the people who did it to them profit from it. They look better, even righteous, by comparison. They get whatever they want from that person’s agony. Some of them might even laugh about it.

Does that seem right to you?

Superpowers are engaging in assassination on a regular basis. And worse, they’re getting more bold and blatant about it. Speak out against the state, get shot in the street. Express a contrary opinion, get reduced to a joke and rendered impotent and metaphorically disemboweled. Try to be the change you want to see in the world, die physically by way of bullet or blade, or die in the eyes of the public by slander and lies.

Worse, the systems in place to protect us from this are failing. Like the walls and fences of the zoo in France, the agencies that police malicious activity and are sworn to our safety turn a blind eye to the misery and death that plague the innocent. We’re left in the cold while those in power count their coffers and laugh at our pain.

To paraphrase Rachel Maddow, it’s becoming apparent that we have to take care of ourselves.

We have to be loud. We have to stand up for ourselves, and for one another. We have to fight back against the forces that would slay and disempower and belittle and rape us. We have to say “NOT THIS TIME” as clearly as possible. We have to insist on facts, not hearsay, not gossip, not slander, facts. And we have to do it every day, every hour if we have to.

The media has tried to romanticize assassins. Games, movies, other media; they like to portray and exemplify the righteous killer. But the truly righteous thing is not to fire the bullet. It is to take that bullet for someone who’d otherwise die.

Because if we do not put ourselves in the line of fire, nobody will be left to do the same for us.

I, for one, would rather choose to work hard and even suffer in order to secure a better future for the good of all the people around me, than be made to suffer for the selfish benefit of one short-sighted person.

I’m tired of living in fear. I’m tired of jumping at my own shadow. I’m tired of seeing wounds nobody else can see.

But I’m not done fighting.

And I won’t be for as long as I’m still alive.

Wednesdays I wonder at the world in which we live.

The Patriarchy’s Poison

Courtesy Zazzle

Given the current state of affairs at home and abroad, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we got here. When you get right down to it, the root of the problem is what needs to be addressed. As bad as things can seem with the in-your-face nature of the situation in the now, my head tends to look past the bluster and the bullshit. We need to strike at the heart of the matter, not just the gushing wound. We need to go deeper.

It’s great that not only are we as a society becoming more aware of the patriarchy’s role in shaping the world in which we live, but also that we are actively rolling up our sleeves to work against it. That being said, I feel that at times, we lose sight of fighting the patriarchy itself, and instead throw ourselves at the perceived vectors of it. I’m not saying this is inherently bad or wrong — no tactic in fighting the patriarchy is inherently invalid — but for my part, I want to focus my energy on drilling into the heart of the matter to find the source of this endemic rot. In other words, I feel I’m in a different division of the army arrayed against the system: some hammer against the walls, whereas I want do my utmost to undermine them. Both divisions are dedicated to the same goal, we just have different marching orders.

Anyway. On to my point.

The systems of the patriarchy have been in place for centuries, if not millennia. Among it’s toxic structures, learned behaviors, and pattern arguments is a fundamental method of conflict resolution:

“You must diminish another individual to accomplish your goals.”

It’s one thing to take corrective action, to take an individual aside and address a problematic behavior or a decision that had toxic consequences or hurt someone else. It’s another to demonize said individual merely on the face of their actions. The passionate pursuit of justice has become a defining aspect of today’s feminists, activists, and radicals. While this is admirable, there’s evidence pointing to a growing trend for some to use that aspect as a tool for self-advancement in a social circle or given zeitgeist. This is a vestige of the patriarchy, and it’s just as toxic and just as destructive as a problematic behavior or decision that needs to be addressed.

We cannot and should not excuse or explain away bad behavior or hurtful decisions, no matter how they were made or what the mental state was at the time. Actions have consequences, and when those consequences hurt or diminish another, the action must be addressed. But it must be addressed with a response, rather than a retort. A response is measured, direct, face-to-face, comprehensive, complex, and above all, done with love in one’s heart for oneself and the other alike. We’re all in this together, after all. A retort is knee-jerk, rooted in the heated emotion of the moment, triggered by fear or a previous harmful or toxic experience, and has far more to do with the person reacting than the inciting incident. It’s harder to respond, since it takes time, the clarity to imagine the other complexly, and the wherewithal to hold space for yourself as well as the other as sovereign individuals entitled by right to equality. It’s easy to retort — and the patriarchy is all about doing what’s easy.

Taking the thoughts and actions required to provide a measured response can be perceived as evidence of weakness, and even an invitation for abuse. There’s a delay that comes when we take a moment to think, if not merely to breathe. The ‘traditions’ of the patriarchy teach us that such delays are openings for us to get our points in, like daggers into a threat on our lives, regardless if whether or not the person in question with whom we’re trying to reason has turned their back to take a moment to gather themselves. We see the opportunity, and we stab one another in the back, and we feel justified, even vindicated, in the aftermath. We proved our point. We prevailed. Justice is done! The monster is slain! Everybody, check out this righteous kill and the utter hideousness of this thing that I stabbed to death! Go team!

I hope you can see why this behavior is toxic.

Courtesy LucasArts

That’s the point I’m getting at. The systems perpetuated in the spirit of the patriarchy have taught us the wrong things. We impulsively jump at the chance to prove our worth and our dedication to being an ally or smashing the patriarchy by punching whatever or whomever is in front of us right in the face. This is not to say we shouldn’t punch Nazis — I’m not an advocate for violence, but come on, punching Nazis — rather, I am suggesting that we not punch each other in the same way we punch Nazis.

I realize I’m mostly speaking within the echo chamber of ‘social justice’ folks and feminists. And that’s my intent. At this point, it’d be very difficult for members of the old guard to have this form of self-awareness or critical thought. Their learned behaviors are too deeply ingrained; their pattern arguments are too well-worn and comfortable. Addressing the nature of the fuel in their toxicity is another matter. Today, in this moment, realizing that we, too, have learned toxic behaviors and lash out with harmful retorts is something we all need to be doing.

I haven’t been as active as I would like to be in supporting the resistance. But I’ve been paying attention. And for every call for unity and collective strength in smashing the systems that put us where we are and allowed the ridiculous circus of narcissistic demagogues to seize power, there are those who wish to ‘weed out the weak’ among us. Yes, we need to address the harmful things we can say and do to one another in the midst of all of this stress and struggle. But we can do it without diminishing the other, but rather attempting to help them be and do better. We can help one another up without having to cast anyone down. And we certainly don’t need to perpetuate the broken and misguided goal of pushing ourselves forward by shoving somebody else back.

To prevail against our enemy, we must not think, speak, or act as they enemy does. We must know them, but not become them.

Each of us risks becoming the very monsters we desire to slay.

The true monster is the system, it is a thing. And people, regardless of the individual choices they make, in spite of the moments and retorts that fly in the face of their true natures, the people they could be — people are not things.

If we treat one another more like people, and less like things, even if the person in question has been acting more thing-like than person-like, we are already one step ahead of the enemy.

And that single step can make a world of difference for a person who’s just as worthy of love and liberty as you are.

Wednesdays I wonder at the world in which we live.

This was a terrorist attack.

Looking at the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States, that is the only conclusion that makes sense to me. Granted, I’m no authority on such matters, but the evidence points to a large number of voters who did not respond to polls, organized and mobilized in large numbers, and took action to undercut and disenfranchise a progressive movement that, while stymied thanks to the DNC, still has momentum and promise.

A lot of people are terrified as a result. And that is the goal of a terrorist attack.

Not the loss of life. Not the damage to property. The fear.

We don’t talk about white terrorism a lot in this country. It doesn’t get a lot of press. It doesn’t sell headlines. And even if it would, the white businesspeople in charge of the news media don’t normally allow such things to come to light. It’s always been easier to foist blame upon the other and alienate those who are different. It’s deflection. It’s projection. And, most disgustingly, it’s worked for millennia.

I know this might be coming off as hysteria or paranoia, but this is the only way the outcome makes any sense to me. White rural voters — poorly educated, irrationally angry, entrenched in antiquated notions, and/or deliberately misinformed — let their hate fester in their homes and hearts. They ignored polls and pundits. They anticipated election day. And they turned out in droves. Motivated by ignorance, hatred, and fear of their own, they pushed their racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic agendas through in the form of a demagogue, and they’re salivating at the thought of ‘taking [their] country back’ and ‘making America great again’.

If that isn’t terrorism, I don’t know what is.


It was arrogance, on both sides, that allowed this to happen.

I mean, we’ve been on this path since before the “American experiment” began. But I don’t have the room to expound upon that here.

All I can do is look at the facts. Not cast blame, but discuss facts.

The DNC, in its arrogance, turned its nose up at a progressive platform full of motivated, well-educated voters whose candidate spoke with conviction, passion, and honesty. The prevailing Democratic campaign, in its arrogance, did not take the threat of hate-fueled demagoguery seriously. Disgusted voters, in their arrogance, raised middle fingers to the call for a unified front from the very candidate they had backed, and threw their votes away on candidates that did nothing but fracture their own base. And the arrogance of the opposing voter base that they would ‘rise again’ pushed them to take deliberate action that threatens to set this country back decades, if not reshape it into something truly ugly and unrecognizable to the idealists who fought for the freedom of slaves, women’s suffrage, and the rights of the LGBTQ community.

In one way or another, we all have a share of responsibility in how things have turned out in this country.

Which means the responsibility of pushing back against our mistakes and doing better, acting better, being better, falls to us, as individuals, and as a people who need to stand together, believe in ourselves and one another, and not go quietly into the night.


I’m terrified.

I worry about a lot of people around me. My thoughts are with the wonderful human beings I’ve met who boldly express their nonbinary identities, the indigenous people of this land who have been cruelly and wantonly abused since Europeans landed on their shores, and the women and people of color who now have to wonder what the future holds for them and their families. I’m disconnected from many of those I knew personally. I’ve worked hard to be a better version of myself than I ever have before, in spite of the fact that, in the long run, that work may not matter to anybody but myself.

Every day, that work continues, in spite of the phantoms of my mistakes and this renewed feeling of despair.

But this is not a time to crawl into a hole and cover oneself in dirt.

I feel and acknowledge my fear and my grief, but I will not allow them to prevail over me.

I recognize that my sincerity and integrity and veracity may be questioned, but I will not allow my voice to fall silent.

In spite of all the damage that has been done, through deliberate acts or poor decision-making, on a national or personal level, I still believe we can rise above our circumstances and what is set against us. I still believe in the better natures within us — as Yoda put it, “luminous beings are we, not this crude matter” — that defy basic animal reactive impulses of lashing out blindly, fleeing, or freezing. I still believe that love is far, far more powerful than hatred. I still believe that our capacity to imagine one another complexly is far, far more powerful than reducing one another to caricatures of humanity or spectres of monstrosity. I still believe that, without violence or destruction, love can prevail over fear, knowledge can prevail over ignorance, and barriers set up by established and insecure bastions of power can be smashed by those who stand together, as one unified force of understanding and love, and say

NO. YOU MOVE.

Like so many, I feel like an outcast, disconnected from what I thought I knew, adrift in uncharted territory.

But dammit, I am still holding onto the idea that there is good in this world. And it is worth fighting for.

It may be a foolish idea. I’ve had quite a few foolish ideas in my lifetime. Some lead to horrible mistakes.

This isn’t one of them. This foolish idea, this one, is good, and worth sharing.

And if all I can do is share it with you, tell you that you’re not alone, and that I love you — we may have never met, we may have lost touch, we might never meet, but dammit, I love you — and that we can and will fight back against this — not just fight, but win — then that is what I will do.

With all the strength I have. With all of the love in my heart. With every breath I take until I breathe my last.

I stand with you and for you.

Now. And always.

Let’s get to work.

The White Knight

Templar

He dons the armor polished to a mirror shine.
He sharpens the sword he draws without prompt.
He mounts his charger and takes off to battle.

He does not think of relying upon others.
He does not allow contemplations of defeat.
He never hesitates, never questions, never retreats.

His thoughts are on one thing, and one thing only:

The Maiden.

She did not anticipate his arrival.
She barely hears his declarations of fealty.
She is not necessarily interested in his courtship.

Her citadel is strong in and of itself.
She is a nation of her own making,
Neither needing nor wanting a suitor who pines.

Yet the knight persists.

He draws his sword, shining in the sun.
He holds it aloft, his voice raised.
“My sword and heart are yours!” is his cry.

He does not wait for her response.
He knows his actions will win her.
He turns the steed towards the mountains.

He rides, undeterred, towards his intended foe:

The Dragon.

It shifts slightly in its sleep.
It sits atop a hoard, a clutch of eggs.
It protects its home as it slumbers.

It is awakened by a shouted challenge.
It opens an eye to see the figure at the mouth.
It blinks in confusion at the accusations.

The knights lays into the dragon with fury.

He hears the cries of pain as roars.
He sees blood from scales and presses on.
He feels righteous in his searing anger.

He plunges the blade home over and over.
He ignores his arms turning to lead with fatigue.
He does not stop when the dragon wheezes a final breath.

He spits upon the corpse of the parent and protector.

His chest swells with pride.
His body returns to its steed.
His spurs catch flesh and prompt the return.

He goes, now, to claim his prize.
The maiden to whom he is entitled.
The heart of the bepedestaled woman he adores.

He has no idea of what he has truly left behind.
He’s ignorant of the cost of his actions.
He cannot and will not see how toxic he has become.

He does not care.

That dragon was his to slay.
That maiden is his to bed and wed.
These things are his to take for himself.

He is entitled.
He is righteous.
He is The White Knight.

And he is everything the world tells him a man should be.

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