Non-Toxic Masculinity

I am tremendously glad Terry Crews participated on a panel at the Women of the World summit and said some pretty terrible things.   He acknowledged that,

[Women are] like, ‘Why don’t you hear me? Why don’t you see my feelings?’ And [men are] like, ‘But you’re not all the way human. You’re here for me, you’re here for my deal.’ It’s real.

Thanks to the Cut, I was made aware of his comment, and again, I say, THANK YOU, Terry.

Terry’s blunt acknowledgement of the worst kind of sexism – the kind we do not see often or recoil from when we do – helps us remember that atrocious horrors and microaggressions are made of the same fundamental essence.

We must acknowledge the extremities of sexism, even though many of us only face microaggressions, subtle expectations, and polite or even benevolent sexism on a daily basis.    Because like any insidious garden vine, we cannot get rid of it by only attacking the leaves which are relatively innocuous and easy to spot.

When draw the lines and make connections between the merely-irritating and the truly obscene, we can begin to truly uproot the un-examined limitations which oppressive gender standards place on humans. (Yes, ALL humans).

So, stop telling women they are overreacting. She is not. Ever. When someone appears on high alert do not dismiss or minimize their fear. (p.s. It never makes people more confident when you tell them they are idiots).  Consider that they have probably seen or experienced something you did not see.  Give them the benefit of the doubt – and by “them” I do not mean the accused. I mean the accuser.

Listen to Terry Crews, and ask yourself, what small moment of assumption have I imposed upon other people?  What have  I rejected, refused to understand, or failed to care about because of my own lack of empathetic imagination?  How have I tried to reimpose roles upon unique humans and thus, failed to appreciate them?

Because that’s all it takes to be in a better work: take a step back from your fears and defensiveness, pause, and made good-faith attempt at empathy.

Ennui, Despair and Hope wrote a poem together

Did you ever wonder if maybe this
Is the distopia of which we are afraid?
This land of physical confort and spiritual
Personal
Isolation?

A time when the greedy run amok
Treating those who accomplish tasks as less than
Those who sit around and think the m up.

Where hard work gets you almost enough to afford the many things which stand between me and a days worth of bread.
When shelter means an energy bill, and phone, and water,a and something called insurance
Which they tell us will cover our losses
If they happen to be caused by this
But not that
Or that
Or that.

I’m tired of pretending
That the color or fabric
of my shirt indicates something
That avoiding rips or stains makes me, what?
A person whose clothes conform to some bizarre
Cultural definition of
Acceptable?

Fuck that.
Your system sucks.
It turns children into
Commodities
Consumers
Contractual obligations.

Let’s try this.
We work together.
I give up something. Maybe my precious sense of being right.
Maybe my privacy.
Or the lie that I’ll be happier if you’re sadder.
Or the illusion of control.
You give up that upgrade. The illusion of better.
The need to compare yourself.
In exchange, we get something new.
Something old.
A social contract.
Less stifling ozone
More life
Less stuff.

But not in a silly way. I’m talking maybe I don’t get to take a shower everyday, but everyone in Cape town has enough water to flush the toilet.

For those of us who thing in terms of systems and scale and whole cultures, it can be scant comfort, but there is truth to the knowledge that these safe relationships, imperfect and small as they are, are tiny pockets where the universe meets it’s potential and humanity flourishes .

Reflections on the Post, Part 2

Gate keepers are virtually nonexistent and twitter can distribute to the entire world the voice of a person who was completely anonymous and powerless yesterday.  Some are tangential, like the decrease of words per page in printed materials (often replaced by photos or graphics, but also

  • A new set of questions about who owns rights to information
  • a blurring of the lines betwween truth https://www.google.com/search?q=comic+sans+sucks
  • The rising ubiquity of graphic design in all things
  • A strange generational gap around font choice and perception of some rather controversial ones (e.g. comic sans).

 

But another interesting result or correlative change has been the fact that in a sublimated-information world, we exist in such multicultural environments that the kind of virtue signalling and membership-indicative behaviors which previously indicated fairly reliable information about a person’s relationship to a group are in no way universal.

For example: tattoos. Once only appropriate for sailors, bikers, convicts, and others whose lives were disconnected from mainstream, white, middle class America, tattoos no longer reliably represent rebellion.  In fact, they do not reliably represent anything, having been embraced by nerd cultures, sports, hipsters, celebrities, business people, and many others.

How then, does a person learn to operate in a world where symbols may mean things entirely different than they may have a few years ago, or something which is opposite what you were taught?

This arose from a conversation with a friend who is currently trying to negotiate with two carpenters.  The first is a paperwork-heavy, detail oriented approach to planning and creating the estimate.  The second is a relationship focused, creative planner who forgets to return phone calls, but charges less and to be honest, does more beautiful work.

She and I got into quite an argument about whether the failure to return phone calls or produce incredibly detailed paper work reflected on his ability to be a superior contractor or not.  I know the second guy really well, and to be perfectly honest, would put my life in his hands any day of the week. PLUS, his work is exceptional.  But, yeah, he requires a little more energy because he will not step in and project manage your construction for you.

Seems unrelated doesn’t it? but in the middle of the conversation, I realized something:  There was a time when it was generally true that: the accuracy rate of details can identify how much a business person cares about me and my accounts.

To some extent, that’s still true.  Being on time, that matters.  Getting names spelled correctly? Every time.  But when information travels without any hindrance of  printing, editing, and reviews, typos get through, and they do not represent the same kind of failure to attend to something real.

What does this really mean?

Honestly, I think it means we need to relearn how to communicate.

Reflections on The Post, (1 of 3)

First, The Post is terrific, extremely relevant, and as well acted as you’d expect from the likes of Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Bradley Whitford.

One scene has been haunting me since I watched the film. There were several shots of the printing process: not merely the newspapers flying down a conveyor, but also the man sitting at a keyboard, typing, to place each physical letter block for the press into place into line.  All together, these would become the block of letters which make up a story, which is fit into the place on a page to be literally pressed into ink and onto paper.

Yeah, you say, so what? I have seen printing presses before.  But in this case, the words were actual objects.  The maguffin of the entire movie (to bend a trope a little) literally was two filing boxes full of thousands of papers of documents.  That information would not be shared or known if those physical objects had remained where they belonged.

We do not live in that reality anymore.  Google was founded on September 4, 1998. Twenty years later, the idea that information can be contained to a physical transmission feels like historic science fiction.

This transition, in which information not simply moves faster than the human body but also is replicated a million times without significant energy or time per copy, will be as radical as that of the printing press.  I am sure that historian have a name of this sublimation of information, but I prefer sublimation.

For non-nerds out there, sublimation is the term used when a solid evaporates directly into vapor/gas without becoming a liquid in between. The molecules detach from a rigid structure, and become tiny enough to float, fill a space, and seep through the tiniest of openings.

Doesn’t that sound like information in our modern day? We can share without the limitations of the structures we first used to learn the information. A thousand different internet based channels permit that information to fill every empty space, and information, once confined to methods which required significant time and energy per copy is no longer confined to a single structure or container.

Once upon a time, newspapers required time to print. Each copy required paper, ink, energy, and distribution.  Now, the editor says, “ready,” and that article can be in the hands of thousands (millions) of people within seconds, or minutes if your cell reception isn’t great.

What was it really like to live in a world where answers were not at your finger tips? How does one’s understanding of multicultural living shift when it was truly possible to live without experiencing other people or cultures, not even in television?

No conclusions here, just a question to contemplate.  What implications and results do you see from this true revolution of information changes?

Unfiltered: who broke gender?

This was written in response to someone claiming that white men are angry because feminism  oppresses them.  The original Facebook post included a link to the book The War Against Boys.  Which is claiming that all this pro women stuff is terrible for the “innate” characteristics of masculinity (thereby, terrible for all “men”) …

 

I really respect your concern for how we are raising boys, and the damage that is done by much of modern society. I am not going to pretend that all women’s rights advocates or movements are the same, or prefect. But I cannot fail to defend a movement which permits me to hold a job, have a credit card, grow up in the 80s never reprimanded for playing with Legos, reduced hugely the social shame about choosing a single life, made space for my love of women, and opened the doors to talk about how we as culture teach men to suffer silently, act as providers without back up, and deny themselves of person expression if it is certain colors (pink) or mannerisms (lisps, twirled, etc) .

But when a favorite child is no longer treated with special privilege, it IS going to feel mean, unfair, even persecutory. It makes no sense to blame the other child for that feeling of loss.

Perhaps if we look at why schools demand so much sitting of small children (underfunding -> lack of supervision or lack of playground is real), maybe we can challenge the economic system which squeezes most humans into terrible positions so we will provide compliant labor in exchange for food and shelter.

But to blame the ones who were once told their endless labor of childcare, housekeeping, and interpersonal comfort did not render them worthy of a vote, a credit report, inheritance, (or more recently that they don’t know valuable leadership skills or aren’t qualified for public leadership) does not really sit well.

If you’re not already engaged in it, may I suggest that the disciplines and methods of systemic power analysis would really be interesting for you?