Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Farewell, Farrah Fawcett

I have long held Farrah Fawcett in esteem for being a white woman with blond hair who had struggled very hard to be "more than that". She knew within one year of starring on Charlie's Angels in the 1970s that the show would do nothing to help the general public and Hollywood in particular take her seriously as an actor. So she set about to prove she was, in fact, just that: an actor. She was superb in a film about a woman battered by a man called The Burning Bed, and on stage and again on screen in productions of Extremities, about a woman who holds her rapist captive.

I have admired, as well, her refusal to marry, stating the reason as a quest to maintain her own independence, to not be controlled by a man, even a man she loved very much to the end, Ryan O'Neal.

But what has really impressed me most recently is her fearless battle against cancer, which in many ways she won, even if it did ultimately take her life. She refused to let it dictate the terms by which she lived with it, seeking out all treatments available, fortunately with the means to do so.

I don't find anything wrong with walking with fear in one's various battles with what the world gives to us and takes from us. But it is always remarkable to me when someone finds a form and depth of inner strength that assuages fear, while fighting so long and so hard, against great odds, for her own life.

Rest in peace, Farrah.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson and John Lennon: on great male artists and the truth about custodial fathers

As was the case when I first learned of the death of John Lennon, I have been in a state of shock over the sudden death of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. I grew up enjoying the music of the Beatles, of John, Paul, George, and Ringo as solo artists, and also the pop hits of the Jackson Five and Michael's awesome and utterly stunning solo career. My life is better for all their music being in it. "Ben" is such a beautiful song, and Michael's vocals in it are so rich with emotion.

My condolences to Michael Jackson's family, to the children's nanny, Grace Rwaranda, and especially to his children. Jackson is survived by three children: a son, Michael Joseph Jackson Junior (also known as "Prince") born in 1997; a daughter, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson born in 1998; and Prince Michael Jackson II (also known as Blanket) born in 2002.

Grace reportedly worked for Michael for approximately twenty years, starting long before his children entered this world. By many accounts, she has been the primary caregiver to all three children. Some would argue that Michael was the primary caregiver, and I understand this assessment, and don't want to minimize the degree to which Michael did raise his own children. I have no idea what kind of father he was, but by the accounts I found online, he was a caring and strict parent.

I would hope that, should Ms. Rwaranda wish to continue to raise Michael's three children, and should they wish to be raised by her, she be given the legal right to do so. Other than she, those likely to take custody of them are Michael's mother, Katherine, who I've heard is not in great health, Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of his first two children, and possibly also former child actor, now acupuncturist, Mark Lester, who lives in his home country of England.

Despite rumors, Grace was not planning to marry Michael. In fact, public records show that Grace Sanyu Rwaramba married Stacey M. Adair in Las Vegas on Feb. 26, 1995.

I hope that whoever decides the future of those three children's lives keeps in mind who they are most bonded to, and who has shown them the most love and hands-on care in their young lives. The 50-year-old pop icon was the father of two boys and a daughter. Jackson's first son Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., known as Prince, was born in 1997. His daughter, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, was born in 1998. In 2002 Jackson welcomed Prince Michael Jackson II, also known as Blanket, into the family.

I grew up hearing what a fabulous "house-husband" John Lennon was, doting on little Sean, born on John's 35th birthday, only to hear later that he spent more time in bed, high on heroin, than he did actually tending to Sean or baking bread. (This portrait of him zoned out alone in his bedroom is not Sean's version of reality, nor Yoko's. And how the hell would I know?)

There are rumors about Michael's serious addiction to prescription drugs such as Oxycontin and Demerol, the use of which may have begun after injuries that left him in great pain. (His cardiologist, Dr. Conrad Murray, should be charged with both murder and malpractice, in my opinion, for reportedly injecting him with what became a lethal dose of Demerol.) If the number of parents who were opiate addicts was truly known, including, of course, in white suburbia, I think many people would be shocked. So saying Michael was dealing with an opiate addiction is saying something about his capacities to parent well, but it doesn't say something that doesn't also apply to all other substance abusing parents, including, of course alcoholic parents. It's for his children to come to their own conclusions, in time, about what kind of father he was.

John and Michael have been promoted in the public as primary parents for some time. It is well-known, and well-reported by son Julian that John was anything but a good father. He was at best absentee, both as father and husband, during the years he was busy being a Beatle. Those like me who are Beatles fans can forgive him, but Julian has his own feelings to sort out. I can't imagine how painful it may have been for Julian to be so neglected by John generally, to then see John staying at home with little Sean.

Unlike John in the 1960s, Michael's music career was not at its peak during the time he had his children, in the late 1990s and early part of this decade. Presumably he had more time to spend with his children. This approximates John's later life, as John put up the guitar and the music career while he stayed at home at the Dakota in NYC with Sean and Yoko. She effectively attended to the substantial Lennon-Ono business from her office. Clearly one of the reasons she is misogynistically despised by some is because she didn't take the role of "mother-as-primary parent".

One of things I do and many people I know do, is to idealise their fathers, or otherwise hold them up as remarkable, or "not as flawed" as they actually were. This country I was born in does this on a grand scale. The U.S. does this by honoring "The Founding Fathers" many of whom were slave-owners and slave-rapists. I remember programs on television such as "Father Knows Best". Patriphilia, on both secular and religious levels, is compulsory in the U.S., as it is in many patriarchies. Women are written out of history, both as great public figures and as mothers. Women being primary parents are taken for granted, given one day a year to be honored, and are generally exploited and mistreated by an individualistic capitalist society that should be raising children with far more community support. African American women, other Black women, and other women of color, historically and presently, have had a double burden: caring both for their own children, if they have any, and caring for wealthy white people's children. I am aware of one white woman who was raised primarily by a Black woman, the family nanny. She was far closer to her than to her own mother.

So it is not just the treatment of children by custodial fathers that needs to be carefully assessed. The profeminist questions that occur to me at the moment are: who does the assessing, to what extent do the grossly sexist and racist double standards in terms of what is considered "good parenting" factor into such assessments, and to what extent do fathers use custody battles to hurt their ex-wives or ex-girlfriends? I know one woman who was sued by her male ex for custody of their two children. She was a superb parent--one of the best I've ever known. He was, by anyone's account, not a good parent. He was pissed at his ex-wife and wanted to hurt her very deeply; he knew that one way to accomplish this would be to try and take their children from her. (He lost the custody battle, thank goodness for her and the children.)

With John being a white man and Michael a Black man, dominant cultural expectations differ. So too because they are fathers not mothers. The largest child-care burden, as noted, historically, has been on women of color. The least burden is on men, across race and class, but with men with inherited wealth, they don't have the excuse of having to work out of the home.

To what extent were John and Michael exceptional? They were not as exceptional as we might be led to believe. First, many men raise children, gay and heterosexual men. Of course the tedious burden and occasional joys of child-rearing fall to women, and the stats must bear out that most children are raised primarily by women. We do know drug abuse was reportedly present during both of the periods of their lives in which they were primary parents, and this, if nothing else, doesn't make them any sort of role model for fathers or parents generally. What we also know is that John and Michael's fathers were far from exceptional. John's was absentee, and Michael's was severely abusive, both physically and verbally. Michael was terrified of him.

While John got to have a childhood, scarred by his father's disappearance and his mother's tragic death, Michael didn't have a childhood in any positive sense that I understand that term. He was an extraordinarily talented money-earner for his father from before the age of ten. He was a grossly exploited child. What is less commonly known is that he was also witness to "adult" material that no child should be exposed to. As a boy he was brought into strip clubs and was made to share hotel rooms with his older brothers who had sex with women while he tried to sleep. I consider both those realities forms of child sexual abuse.

In part due to him not having an emotionally safe childhood, Michael Jackson has been called the boy who never grew up. But he did grow up, and made adult choices to engage with children who were not his own in ways that are at least in poor judgment, and at worst serial sexual abuse of minors. I loved Michael Jackson's talent. I wanted to, and want to this day to believe he never harmed a child.

Many speculate about whether or not Michael was a child molester. I obviously don't know the complete answer to that, but have come to the conclusion, based only on what I've heard Michael say, that at the very least he has shown terribly poor judgment when it comes to being around boys who were not his own, in the very private depths of his enormous home. What he has admitted to doing, for me, is a form of child abuse. The extent to which that abuse was sexual has not been proven in court, which means little about what actually has occurred.

But living in a white supremacist state, where African Americans--women and men--are frequently held out as "the poster people" for all that is wrong in the U.S., it is rather disgusting to me that in the dominant pop-cultural imagination when we think of a batterer we think of Mike Tyson and Ike Turner (depending on what generation we are), when we think of a rapist we may conjure Chris Brown or Miles Davis (again, depending on our age), when we think of spousal murder we think of O.J. Simpson, when we think of a sexual harasser we think of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and when we think of child molester we think of Michael Jackson. How convenient for all the white male perpetrators of those and many other atrocities that only Black faces come to white Amerikkka's mind when various "crimes" are listed. To all the women harmed by famous or not famous men, by male musical artists or men who aren't artistic in any way, my heart goes out to you. For the record, I believe that Anita Hill, Tina Turner, Robin Givens, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Rhianna were harmed by the men accused of harming them. In some cases the men have admitted it.

But, as one member of the racially oppressive class, the only batterer/murderers of women, sexual harassers of women, and child molesters of boys and girls I have ever known have been white heterosexual men. So I, for one, wish we'd find some white male figures to replace those listed above as "the" exemplars of said crimes.

Michael Jackson had a very difficult and lonely life, made especially so by ways his wealth and power enabled him to isolate himself on a very grand scale, including on Neverland Ranch. I am sick of all the Michael Jackson jokes, including the ones I have told. I won't tell another one.

Today, I remain sad at the passing of a great artist: songwriter and composer, singer, and the best dancer, in my opinion, since Fred Astaire and the Nicholas Brothers.

For more, see here, and here, as well as the classic video below, which thrilled me along with millions of others who watched it the first time it aired on TV.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Analysing the murder of Stephen Johns at the Nazi Holocaust Museum: on race, rape, and reality in the United States

[An investigator photographs bullet holes in the door of the Holocaust Museum in D.C. Thursday, a day after a security guard was shot and killed there. The image is from here and is credited to H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY]

A message of "be terrified" was sent, loud and clear, to anyone who isn't the kind of white that white nationalists fancy themselves to be. Somehow, using a racial identity, white nationalists--who do not belong at all to this nation (one stolen from the many nations of Indigenous people here), construct reasons to hate and target not only African Americans and white Jews, but also Latin@s and Arab Jews and Muslims, as well as those U.S. citizens of East and South Asian descent. Never mind that many people who are those ethnicities appear white. But it is not only "non-whites" that many white nationalists despise and seek to destroy. On their top 'ten most hated groups' list is also female and male "homosexuals". How being lesbian or gay somehow makes someone less white is a bit of a ethnographic and political mystery to me. One in a series of mysteries.

White nationalists have bizarrely managed to identify the Nazi Holocaust as a fiction for decades. Taking aim at a museum dedicated to preserving the evidence of that particular mid-20th century genocidal atrocity in Europe must make it very difficult to formulate an argument for "the [Nazi] Holocaust Myth". It appears one of the strategies of white nationalists is to get rid of the evidence.

In the most recent effort in the U.S. which made national news, a white nationalist named James von Brunn was greeted at the museum by an African American man named Stephen Johns. I heard that Stephen's last act was actually to try and assist von Brunn, a visibly quite elderly man making his way into the museum. Mr. von Brunn expressed his displeasure at this meeting by mercilessly killing Mr. Johns.

I am pissed at the way the white male-dominated media are covering Stephen Johns' death. Coded racist language is being tossed around as if this were the appropriate way to speak of someone murdered by a political assassin whose terroristic views and actions have targeted at Blacks, Jewish or not, for decades. The underlying message to the white supremacist public is this: You can rest assured this victim was truly victimised. He wasn't one of those thuggy, perennially angry Black men; he was 'a gentle giant'.

And if he wasn't 'a gentle giant' would his death be any more sorrowful or egregious to normal white male supremacist Amerikkka? Yes, that term is used for people, regardless of race, who are tall, large-framed, and expressively kind-hearted. And in no way do I want to diminish the degree to which Stephen Johns stood as an example, a role model, for how to be a humane being. But there's a way of incessantly identifying him not dangerous is in the same racist category of noting that the Obamas are able to enunciate words in ways white middle class folks find resonant with their own ways of articulating English. As if this should come as some surprise? "Wait? You mean this Black security guard was gentle?? Oh, then his death is a real shame." Some of the ways that his life has been discussed this past week in terms of whether or not he was a father is also disturbingly racist to me. It appears biographical sketches of this murder victim are keen on noting the ways he was and was not like the stereotype--and I do mean stereotype--of the upstanding white heterosexual man.

Also, any white nationalist or white separatist being understood as 'a nut' makes no sense when the murder of Black, Red, and Brown people locally and worldwide is what made and makes the U.S. country allegedly "great". Those of us with inherited money from white relatives who have lived for at least two generations in the U.S., those of us who are white who live on land once inhabited solely by the Indigenous people of Turtle Island, those of us who own stock funds, those who want and purchase diamonds as well as anything else that is made with a petroleum/carbon base, are also murdering Black, Red, and Brown people, by proxy.

It is a common tactic of the dominant media to extract the "extremist" and psychologise him ad nauseam rather than analyse his unfortunately useful function in a normally terroristic white male supremacist state. His function is to make those white nationalists and separatists who haven't murdered anyone publicly seem "harmless" by comparison. As if there's ever been anything harmless about white male supremacist ideology and practices. Focusing in on white nationalists also has a function, to the degrees that it is done by media. Undo focus on them as the white supremacists functions to invisibilise white male supremacy as the law of the land misnamed the United States. In this case I'll give some national media credit for noting his long-time associations with many other white nationalist, militant, and terroristic groups, for not portraying him as "a loner". Of course plenty of other press did that. But the media failed miserably at noting how he is a product of the law of this land, not an unlawful aberration to it. In my lifetime, I can recall maybe a dozen murderous "white supremacists" who have been named as such by the dominant media. Dick Cheney is not among them. Why is that?

How many men have been named "virulent male supremacists" by the dominant media? None I know of. Meanwhile the ever-expanding cases of exploitation, harassment, assault, and murder of girls and women by men pile up to the moon. Rape is not considered a "hate crime" in many cities not because anyone thinks misogyny is not a factor, but rather because there are so many rapes and there are too few resources dedicated to eradicating hate crimes. To add "the rape of women and girls, trans people, and 'effeminate' men by men" to the list of actionable hate crimes isn't "feasible" even while, often enough, it is accurate. I understand rape to be generated by many factors, structural as well as psychologically political, hatred being among them but the only motivator. Many men, for example, are taught by pornographers that coercion and force is what all women want. This category of rapists may actually--if also self-servingly, harmfully, and oppressively--decide to think they are 'pleasing her' when in fact, if and when she remains silent, that silence in the face of his coercion and force may be the loudest statement of protest she can muster. And, of course, some women fight to get the seriously misinformed male "lover" away from her body and out of her life.

I reflect on how many Black men and women I have seen the white media's cameras focus their lenses on as "the dangerous element" in our society. I contemplate how many Black men are "pulled over" by cops for illegitimate reasons having only to do with racist profiling, all the Black and Brown people who are followed around in stores by nervous store clerks, who have been cautioned to do so by their corporate superiors, and/or all the Black, Red, and Brown men and women who have been wrongly imprisoned or given extraordinarily long sentences for things white men do with impunity, sometimes with multi-million dollar end-of-year bonuses.

This past week, the most news-worthy (therefore visible) white male supremacist murdered someone he deemed to be not as worthy of life as he is, due to race, and being an obstacle. When the dominant media identify such a person primarily as "a nut" we are forgetting what the function is of any armed and militant "extremist" individual or group that routinely uses murder or virulently acted out bigotry against those who are oppressed as a strategy for maintaining their structurally stable supremacist power.

Note to MRAs: in the actual social world this wouldn't have anything at all to do with those female people who you are so fond of calling "feminazis". And if you white Men's Right's folks do, in fact, oppose "militancy" and "extremism" and bigotry I'm sure you're organising, posting, and putting up just as much of a fuss over all the white and male supremacist organisations and individuals as you are about non-murderous, pro-liberation people like Mary Daly and Robin Morgan, right? The death toll of men who have been lethally assaulted or otherwise murdered by "extremist" feminists is how many, exactly? Oh, right; that would be none. And how many of those [non-existent] deaths or assaults function to generate terror in an entire class of people? Perhaps you are getting the idea, but I won't count on it.

All of this is to say that the U.S.'s domestic and foreign economic policies would also have to be outed as, "nutty"... unless we're willing to call them what they actually are: gynocidal and genocidal. Indeed, investment firms like Fidelity have had to vote on whether to divest in companies that obviously contribute to genocide. As if that should be a question that needs debating or a vote in order to arrive at a humane, "rational" answer.

Finally, I am aware that anti-Semitism is increasing in this country that is not rightfully mine. In the eyes and gun-scopes of a white heterosexual Christian-identified (or anti-Christian) male supremacist terrorist, any white Jew or Jew of color magically becomes decidedly more dangerous simply by being Jewish.

I hope that the living victims and survivors of this form of global cultural and political imperialism will find ways to work together to confront and radically transform the power structures, including the acts of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Indigenist, heterosexist, and misogynist individuals, that comprise the on-going deadly reality of white male supremacy.

Beware of reports such as this, which equate "anti-Semitic beliefs" among some groups of color with terrorist activities and groups. To do so is utterly racist and another in a series of practices designed to ignore the white male elephant in the room. Many of us, including Jews, hold some of the form of anti-Semitism, but in the U.S., primarily white Christian-identified men genocidally exercise their brand of it.

James von Brunn, 88, was also called a "gunman" which is a term the dominant media cannot get out of its press. The term exists to romanticise and glorify murder and murderers. This particular assassin has also been identified in the press as "a frustrated artist and an angry man". Those particular terms, in case you have forgotten, are used repeatedly to describe Adolph Hitler. But in case anyone is confused, von Brunn was no Hitler.

And no feminist has ever been a Nazi.

Condolences to the family of Stephen Johns, murdered by one of many long-time white male supremacists

[image of Jacqueline Carter, 60, the mother of Stephen Johns, 39, who was murdered working as a security guard at the Holocaust Museum by James Von Brunn in Washington DC. is from here and is credited to Theodorakis/News]

This news story is deeply sad and outrageous to me.

My thoughts and wishes for on-going comfort and support, as well as my condolences, go out to all of Stephen Johns' friends, family, and co-workers.

"We have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance," President Barack Obama said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time." [source here]

To help out the surviving family members of this wonderful man, see more here and below, from the site just linked to.

Help Honor Stephen Tyrone Johns

Posted by Rob Eshman

We need to honor Stephen Tyrone Johns, 39, the security guard who was gunned down June 10 by a white supremacist at the entrance to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

“A soft-spoken, gentle giant,“ Milton Talley, a former employee of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, told the Washington Post.


Allen Burcky, another former museum employee, said last night that workers there considered each other “like family” and that Johns was “very courteous, very helpful.“


Johns’s sister, Jacqueline Carter, declined to comment as she entered her home in Temple Hills. “She’s in bad shape right now,“ said a man who was driving her.

[T]he American Jewish Committee’s Washington, D.C. chapter has set up a memorial fund to benefit the family of Officer Johns. The organization said it will soon have a place on its Web site, www.ajc.org, where one can contribute. Those who want to donate immediately should send checks made out to the American Jewish Committee, with “Holocaust Museum Memorial Fund” in the memo line, to:
American Jewish Committee, Washington Chapter
C/O Melanie Maron
1156 15th Street, NW, Suite 1201
Washington DC 20005
One hundred percent of the contribution will go to the Johns family.

The Holocaust Museum, at www.ushmm.org said it will also be taking donations at its site as well.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Shalom and best wishes to Alysa Stanton as she begins her rabbinic work in Greenville, North Carolina this August

[Alysa Stanton poses in front of an ark in the synagogue at Hebrew Union College, Thursday, May 21, 2009, in Cincinnati. Stanton is to be ordained June 6 as mainstream Judaism's first black woman rabbi. She will become the rabbi at Congregation Bayt Shalom in Greenville, N.C., on Aug. 1. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)]

What follows is from this webpage at The Huffington Post, which is linked to here.

Alysa Stanton: First Black Female Rabbi
LISA CORNWELL | May 29, 2009 02:14 PM EST |

CINCINNATI — Alysa Stanton began quenching her spiritual thirst early, discovering Judaism after a search that began at age 9 and worried her mother only when a man called the house one night asking for her youngest child.

Turns out he was a priest Stanton had contacted to ask questions about Catholicism, part of a road that took her through charismatic Christian and Eastern faiths and finally to a position that experts say makes her mainstream Judaism's first ordained black female rabbi.

"I was considered an 'old soul' even when I was young, because my family believed I had a maturity beyond my years," said Stanton, a Cleveland native who remembers being a bit indignant that her surprised mother was questioning the unknown man.

American Judaism will mark the milestone June 6, when Stanton is ordained in preparation for leading a predominantly white congregation of about 60 families in Greenville, N.C.

"It has been a journey with many twists and turns along the way, but Judaism is the language of my soul, and it's what resonates with me," the 45-year-old Stanton said.

Yet Stanton didn't always feel accepted by Jewish congregations or some friends when she converted during her 20s.

"A lot of my African-American friends thought I'd sold out, the Jewish community wasn't as accepting then and some Christian friends thought I had grown horns," said Stanton, who had been a Christian.

"I felt ostracized at times, but I had to learn who I was, what my values were and move forward."

Her mother, Anne Harrison, instilled in her four children the importance of having faith and a spiritual path.

"She didn't care what that was, as long as it was God-based and that we knew there was something greater than ourselves out there," Stanton said.

Her mother wasn't surprised when she decided to become a rabbi.

"Alysa has always reached for the top," said Harrison, 78, of Lakewood, Colo., where the family moved when Stanton was 11.

Stanton, who is divorced and has a 14-year-old daughter she adopted as a 1-year-old, is fairly soft-spoken with a warm, engaging smile and a steady, confident gaze. Congregation Bayt Shalom in North Carolina eagerly awaits her arrival.

"We needed someone who is a magnet, who radiates warmth," said member Carol Ogus Woodruff, 54. "She brings a scholarly awareness but also has great relationships with kids and can talk to different kinds of people."

Questions about race or gender never arose at Congregation Bayt Shalom, congregation President Michael Barondes said. Stanton's ability to listen and to communicate with others immediately impressed members.

The 9-year-old Stanton started her religious search while living in a Jewish neighborhood in Cleveland Heights. The following year, an uncle gave her a Hebrew grammar book that she still has and picks up from time to time.

"I think some things are just destined," she said.

As a student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Stanton drove more than 140 miles a week to study with a rabbi in Denver for her conversion. She later moved to Denver, becoming very involved in the Jewish community.

She also learned to chant the Torah, the five books of Moses.

"That opened something in the recesses of my being, and I had a hunger and a thirst to learn more," Stanton said.

Stanton, who worked as a licensed psychotherapist specializing in grief, loss and trauma, thought she was too old and too poor to start rabbinical studies at age 38. But she believed it was meant to be.

She enrolled in 2002 at the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the nation's oldest institution for training rabbis, cantors and educators of Reform Judaism.

She believes her future is in God's hands but isn't satisfied with the world as it is, said Rabbi Kenneth Ehrlich, campus dean.

"She deeply believes that God calls upon her _ and upon all of us _ to make this a better world, a place that God wants it to be," Ehrlich said, referring to Stanton's work with a hospice and other community activities.

Her ordination is a politically significant and healthy step in the next stage of Judaism's development in America, said Lewis Gordon, founder of the Institute of Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. Many believe it could draw more women and blacks to the rabbinate and other leadership roles.

A check of major seminaries in mainstream Judaism show 994 women rabbis will have been ordained as of the end of 2009. And several experts said they know of only one ordained black male rabbi in mainstream Judaism.

Stanton said she is happy to be a face that reflects diversity.

"I want our synagogue to be a place of hope, healing and inclusion," she said. "I want it to be an oasis for anyone seeking spiritual refreshment."

Filed by Alex Leo

Saturday, June 6, 2009

On Men's Humanity and Women's Liberation

[this politically brilliant image was found here, and there is a more complete explanation of it at that site]

For me, the above image speaks to the way, contrary to popular opinion and corporate pimps' interests, industry pornography does not open the senses or expand one's experience of sexuality. Rather, it shuts down the senses and any meaningful notion of a free humanity, compressing them and sexual experience into a specific and rote set of fetishised genres, all of which require the destruction of human beings in order to be produced and mass marketed. Whether or not every woman feels exploited or degraded by pornography, and whether or not every woman working as a prostitute experiences gross sexual violence named as such by her, it is nevertheless the case that some women and girls must experience sexual slavery, trafficking, sexual violence including incest, rape, and battery, gross exploitation and callousness to women's dignity and human rights status in order for the pornography industry to exist.

As a pro-humanitarian sexual radical, not a pro-exploitation sexual liberal, I oppose all systems which require such abuses of female human beings. I care more about ending systems of misogynist harm far more than I care about creating ways for men to experience increasingly shallow and harmful, or significantly deeper and richer levels of humanity. This is particularly so when men's efforts to dehumanise or humanise ourselves occurs while women remain the primary targets, victims, and survivors of rape and poverty. To support such internal work by men without making that work contingent on women's liberation from male supremacy and all patriarchal dictates, is, in my view, to do worse than to just sell out women, as non-Jewish class-privileged Germans who knew of the Nazi atrocities did worse than betraying Jews while seeking more economically stable lives during the early 1940s. This sort of "men's movement" is a symptom of patriarchal atrocity, not, in my view, an antidote to it.

Anyone who calls a feminist a feminazi is seriously ignorant about history; anyone who thinks feminists have anything resembling the state, military, and police force of patriarchal states is an idiot.

Womanists and feminists, against the tyrannical forces of white and male supremacy, surviving thousands of years of oppression, fight for a form of dignity and humane integrity for all of humanity. White male (and female) Nazis fought, and continue to fight, for human destruction. Patriarchal activists are, overwhelmingly, pro-gynocide, pro-genocide, and actively ecocidal. Womanists and feminists, as I read, study, and listen to them, believe in the possibility of oppressive men becoming human. Patriarchs hold to the idea that men are naturally or ordained by a male sky-god to rule over and against women. Along with Nazi Holocaust deniers, patriarchs who believe feminists have more power than men as a class prove beyond any doubt that maleness and rationality do not go together intrinsically or genetically. And the rationality that such men use in their argumentation is one appropriately and thoroughly critiqued by writers such as Marimba Ani and Andrea Dworkin.

In my view, men become human as women gain liberation, and not before or until then. My focus, if not my views, vary somewhat from the content of the posts here between two white men, one from the U.S. and one from Australia. I will acknowledge that there is value in men speaking honestly to one another about our struggles to find our way, as women work so diligently and creatively to resist and challenge patriarchal rule. I hope the conversation posted here in many parts bridges a conversational-social gap between men who seek lives less controlling of other beings, and less constrained by the mandates of pornographers and pimps. I hope it calls men to examine and eradicate from our beings those social ways of being that require women to be subordinated to men in order for men to be "ourselves".

That MRAs and other white male jerks think feminists are calling for an end to male human existence, rather than an end to all oppressive manifestations of manhood, is a deliberate or astoundingly dense misunderstanding held to in order to make feminism seem like it is something it has never been as it has functioned in the actual world of social life. There will come a time, let's hope, when being "a man", in whatever language, doesn't mean and require what it has meant and required in the white West: gynocide, genocide, and ecocide.

Sam Berg wrote to me recommending that I link together the posts of the conversation on pornography and other violations. So I have done so, and hope that makes them easier to access and follow. Click here for the whole list. The conversation between USguy and Aussieguy isn't over, and there will be more posts forthcoming.

Thanks, Sam, for that recommendation.