Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

We Exist In Different Universes

December 20, 2015

We Exist In Different Universes
We Exist In Different Universes

I have found when communicating with other people
it is important for me to remember that
they exist in their own universe.

Of course this means I also live in my own universe.
There may be some common elements in our universes,
but there are also many things that are significantly different.

Circle – Square

To the point that sometimes what looks like a circle to me
might look like a square to someone else
and no amount of arguing or convincing can ever
make you see my circle as a square
or make me see your square as a circle.

Entering Another’s Universe

It is possible however to enter into
another person’s universe.
We can train ourselves to at least
poke our head in there and look around.

If we are able to see things from
another person’s perspective
it makes it much easier for communication to occur.

A Universe of Conflict

Especially when a conflict is occurring
if we rigidly stick to our own universes
and refuse to look into the other person’s reality
it can be very difficult to find a middle ground.

In fact it can be almost impossible
to see where the universes overlap
if we are unwilling to also acknowledge
where they are different.

Sometimes I Just Want To Stay In My Own Universe

There are times of course when
I have no interest in looking into
someone else’s universe.

There are times that I simply do not want
to put the effort into finding that common ground.

Sometimes the differences between our universes are too great.
Sometimes I feel like the other person’s attachment
to their way of seeing things is too strong
and there’s no room for any other viewpoints.

And of course there are times when
my attachment is too strong
and I’m just not interested.

All of these situations are valid reasons
to avoid putting the effort into
connecting our universes.

I Give Myself Permission To Be An ASS—-!

Thankfully this is not the majority of my experience,
but it does happen and I give myself permission
to do so once in a while.
It certainly helps me to stay somewhat balanced.

Staying Out Of The Anti-Feminist Universe

Recently I was engaged in a discussion
on Facebook about feminism.
I quickly saw that the men involved had
no interest in understanding
any of the issues around feminism.

They only wanted to gripe about how
feminists hate men and men are
getting the short end of the stick.

The level of frustration I felt at hearing this
made me simply disengage.
Well actually first I wrote a few
sarcastic comments and then I disengaged.

Here’s one example:

the horror

Granted this was not the most effective
communication that I have ever expressed.

Not Interested In Changing Minds

As a friend pointed out
being antagonistic like that
never really changed anyone’s mind.

The fact is I really had no interest in
changing those people’s minds at that time.
I could see the distance between our realities was too great.

I have beat my head against that wall
many times over the decades and
have learned through the years
to do my best to avoid that situation
for the sake of my own peace.

Of course I could have been nicer,
or I could have avoided participating altogether.

In general I am a really nice guy

but as I mentioned above
I give myself permission
to be an ass once in a while.

I find it is good for the soul
and important for balance
to express that side of me
every now and then.

Perhaps one day I will evolve beyond that,
but at the moment this is who I am.

Being Very Spiritual

In the past I have gone through phases
where I felt like I was less spiritual
for behaving that way.

I would only be nice, compassionate and kind all the time
and never express this slightly harsher side of myself.

Now I recognize that it is useful for me
to accept all the sides of my personality.
There is nothing that is not Divine.

I certainly don’t use this as an excuse
to go around hurting people all the time,
but I also don’t want to deny that
I am a multidimensional being.

The Universe of the Child

Another area that it is useful to have an awareness of
the differing and overlapping universes of individuals is in parenting.

Children definitely live in
a vastly different reality than we do.
In fact their universe changes dramatically
every 6 months or so.

In order to connect deeply with our children
it is useful for us to be able to
see things from their perspective.

This means developing the skill
to enter into their universe.
When we do this we can actually
view our universe from theirs.

Adults are Strange

I must say the universe of adults
seems very strange when viewed
from the perspective of a young person.

From the time my daughter was born
I have worked very hard to exist in her universe
as well as my own at the same time.

This helped her to feel I was truly relating to her
and understanding things from her point of view.

It certainly has helped me to shine a light
on my own understanding of things and
made me more willing to
act different,
think different and
to be different.

Layers of Universes

The interesting thing about being an adult
is that we actually carry two universes at the same time.

We have our perspective as an adult,
the way we normally see the world.

And we also carry with us as an undercurrent
the universe of our childhood.

Many times when we are hurt or wounded
or when we get defensive
these are reactions that come from
experiences we had when we are kids.

Connecting to the Multiple Universes

When I am interacting with people
I often try and pay attention to
both layers at the same time.
I recognize I am talking to an adult
and an inner child both in the same body.

In order to truly enter the other person’s universe
I actually have to split myself into two pieces.
I send one into their adult universe
and the other into their child universe.

Well three pieces really because
I keep a little for myself.

This is very tricky and requires some
training and effort, but when we are able to do it
it is quite lovely to see the results.

Give Universe Jumping a Try

It might be an interesting idea
to try and recognize other peoples universes.
See if you can identify where they are similar,
where they are different and also try and
poke your head into someone else’s reality
and look around a bit.

Recognize when there may be times to avoid this.
Sometimes other universes can cause you harm.
But most of the time it is a useful activity to engage in.

Whether an adult or a child
they will appreciate the effort you made
to see things from their perspective.

The Historical Context of Gender Affects Everything

June 5, 2015

gender is not irrelevant

I often write about anti-oppression issues.
Feminism, racism, homophobia etc.
Whenever I do someone will say something like:
“I’m a humanist, not a feminist”
“I believe we shouldn’t see colour. We should just see everyone as equal”
(Stephen Colbert is famous for saying “I don’t see colour.”

Is there a difference between men and womyn?

Once I was involved in a discussion exploring if there was a difference between
When a man hits a womyn and when a womyn hits a man.

I of course claimed that there IS a distinct difference based on
the historical and present day context of gender oppression and inequity that we live in.

“I am not a Feminist!”

One man responded responded
“I, for one, believe in equality, and expect to be treated accordingly – I am not a gender, I am a PERSON with a unique set of thoughts skills and abilities, and ask nothing more than to be judged on the person I am, not the person people stereotype me as. I am not a feminist – i am a ‘people-ist’
Saying that there’s a difference is sexism.”

Here is how I responded to him.
I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.

If We Lived In A More Equal World…

1) I agree that being a peopleist would be better if we lived in a world that was more equal.
Certainly in much of North America men and womyn can afford to think that way a bit more.
So if we look at the state of womyn in a very small bubble I could perhaps agree.

But in other parts of the world where the Rape of womyn is pretty much legal
Where a womyn who is raped is actually punished (with jail time and lashes)
for having sex outside of marriage
Where female infanticide is in record numbers
And the list goes on.
It’s not hard to do just a little bit of research to see
how profound the global oppression of womyn is.

Though honestly our part of the world doesn’t treat womyn a lot better.
To deny that there is a vast and violent gender power imbalance is naive.

I cannot Ignore Historical Context of Suffering

To say that gender is not relevant at all is to ignore reality as it is.

You are of course free to ignore reality if you wish,
But at least recognize that is what you’re doing when you say gender is irrelevant.
There is no way around that!

An Example To Illustrate The Point

2) Thinking that gender is irrelevant is ignoring 5000+ years of patriarchy and institutionalized misogyny. I mentioned the historical context which you ignored (and as I said, you’re of course free to ignore that if it works for you. It doesn’t work for me)

Here is an example that might make this clear.

Consistent Bullying

Imagine a kid is bullied every day at school, day in and day out.
After 2 years of getting beat up, one day the bully walks by them
and the kid just lashes out and hits the bully.
At that moment the bully wasn’t doing anything, but every other day they were.

Should we just ignore the historical context of the two years that the kid was bullied every day and say “violence in any context is equally wrong and if the kid hits the bully it’s the EXACT same as the bully hitting the kid.”

I certainly don’t think they are the same at all.
(of course there are some slight differences in the situations. All analogies are like that.
The essence of the point is well demonstrated though in this example.)

Well the 5000+ years (including the present day as I demonstrated above) of the incredible violence and oppression of womyn is like the years of bullying. The historical context makes the two acts different.

It doesn’t mean that the violence is necessarily acceptable, but it does make it different.

Individual Context is Different from Global Context

3) Now you as an individual womyn, in your particular circumstance, culture and surroundings may not feel this oppression personally. That makes sense and if you only look at your individual context, then I can see your point.

Of course because of your personal circumstance you have the right to demand to be looked at as a person in this context and not as a womyn.

But to do that in a generalized way, a global way,
you really have to ignore and deny a whole hell of a lot of oppression,
suffering and inequity in order to do so!

My Individual Context Forces Me Into The Feminist Mindset
(Thank Goodness)

Being a man and a diehard feminist for over 25 years
(well I’ve been a man pretty much all my life and a feminist for 25 years!)
I do not feel I have the luxury to confine my awareness to my relatively safe suburban neighbourhood.
Nor even my reasonably equal city.
Nor my somewhat socially progressive country.
Nor my privileged position in society.

I feel it’s my responsibility to keep the historical context and the global situation of womyn (and all oppressed groups) in mind all the time and in everything I say, do and believe.

We are a long long long way from equality.
If one truly believes in equality one must be willing to fight for it,
which also means fighting against inequality!

My Feminist Awakening

March 31, 2015

my feminist awakening
Men are rarely taught a healthy way to relate to womyn as we grow up.
In general the message we receive is that womyn are a collection of body parts for our personal use.
We are not taught that girls and womyn are actual people that deserve respect.

This may be shocking to you.
I assure you it is true.

As a teenager I remember this feeling very clearly. I was so focused on the body parts. It was such a loss really because I couldn’t have real relationships with womyn. There was always this body part haze around everything. I know not many men talk about this. It’s quite dangerous to reveal this!

I deeply wish somebody had told me that females are not creatures for my amusement; they are people with feelings, hearts and minds.

I honestly didn’t know that. It seems quite unbelievable, but when I was 13 and the hormones were raging through my body, all I could think about were butts and boobs.

That was the message I received from the media, video games, my peers, the entertainment industry including cartoons, my home life and the adults in my environment – womyn were only flesh for my use.

Over 24 years ago I had what I call my feminist awakening. Which really just means that I realized that I was not seeing womyn as humans and not treating them with respect. It took 25 years of life before I even started to realize there was another way.

From that day on I have engaged in a process of undoing and rebuilding my perception and relationship with womyn.

The misogyny is still in me.
I can feel it.
It haunts my every thought.
It affects every interaction I have with womyn.
And I have to fight it every day,
because the seeds of patriarchy were sown deep.

This is a hard thing to admit because I really want to believe that I’m a good man.
How can I feel like a progressive, feminist ally if I admit to having such feelings and thoughts about womyn?

In my opinion, I can’t do a good job in trying to change that attitude in society if I ignore its existence in myself.

I think my life would have been much different if someone had just told me when I was a young boy in a loving, non-judgemental, clear way:

• That womyn were people deserving of equal respect and consideration.

• That the sexual feelings in me were natural, but didn’t have to control my thoughts or actions.

That the messages I received from society were NOT the truth.

• And that I could CHOOSE my own thoughts and actions.

Yes I would have turned out very different from the very beginning.
I believe that I would have been able to integrate it and see womyn differently.

Can we share this message with our young boys and men?
I think it would do the world a world of good.