On October 28th Ending Patriarchy will be going away for good.
BUT THE FIGHT AGAINST PATRIARCHY WILL NOT!
460° Health, Forever Life
Aftermuch consideration and soul searching I am convinced that however revolutionary the content of EndingPatriarchy.org was, it was too complex and ghostly of a presence, and too far ahead of the curve to be seen for the danger it is.
I felt that after so many years in healthcare, as both professional and patient, I have the knowledge and experience to refocus our fight with Patriarchy onto a more tangible and accessible canvas; Healthcare and the Environment.
Even if the negative effects of patriarchy are not visible to many, that doesn’t make the rule of the father any less strangulating and damaging to our lives and history. And while it is present everywhere, nowhere is Patriarchy and the desire for control more imbedded in our sense of wellbeing than it is in medicine and how we care for ourselves. Yet, like the virulency of Smallpox that infected the blankets we Europeans once donated to oppressed indigenous peoples 200 years ago, only to kill millions; Patriarchy comes bearing “gifts” too; gifts of the bad Father that tells us how to do medicine and healthcare in the western world and beyond. Ignoring the deeper issues is for our own good because as you’ve told us, Father, “there are no deeper issues”.
I think I’ll name it, “460°Health”, because after 40 years in the healthcare industry, I’ve discovered that the way we do medicine today, despite miraculous technologies and progress, is dangerous and not different from the sick way we approach the environment. There is something more for us, and it is not more “power”!
If we can view these “systems of curing” differently we can unpack modern medicine-healthcare as gifted, yet amoral, shallow and a fraud. 460°Health goes beyond the usual 360 degree circle of wellness because it removes the bad father, bad mother and substitutes YOU, the quantum ingredient as the most powerful tool in the arsenal of individual and global wellness.
Together with the advances of medicine, there is a real possibility of Forever Life. Not that we can live forever, but we can extend our lifespans, and we can have the lives at 65 or 75, we might’ve had at 45 if we had known better.
DESPITE a virulent Patriarchy that controls anything it thinks is a threat. As Givers Of Life, the Feminine possesses an extraordinary power for healing & rebirth; and as the Divine Masculine, we carry the incomprehensible certainty of love and peace. “460°Health”, is about these issues and more:
How western medicine takes away your power.
The inclusion of healthy “mind” factors that truly completes the mind-body axis and how medicine keeps them hidden.
Why, when you mention certain supplements to your physician, they roll their eyes, tell you that you don’t need supplements and that a good diet is all you need?
How your happiness is necessary for world happiness?
How is healing different from curing? Why does it matter?
How patriarchy influences western medicine, big pharmacology, and how they triangulate to cause illness and to control us.
How birth became a “one man show”.
Motivating people to step outside the “victim” box of corrupt health advice and practices to take absolute control of their health and longevity.
In many cases, how to sensibly discontinue the use of inhalers and many other medications while substituting for healthy behaviors.
How to get the most out of your bones!
What the anti abortion groups are really afraid of… hint: it has nothing to do with fetuses!
The heart-lung connection and how male oppression breaks it.
How ignoring the deepest meanings of disease & illness keeps pushing medical costs higher and higher.
How the almost god-like authority and trust we grant most doctors is entirely undeserved and amounts to unearned privilege.
How chemicals sprayed on your food trick and lie their way into your body to cause illness.
How important is spirituality and a grounding in nature to health?
Exposing all the ways that big business, government and self-interested concerns control agriculture and tell us that GMOs are essential.
How simple actions like baking your own bread, planting a garden, and driving 55 mpg steals back some of your power.
The big business cycle of death. How fast food feeds western medicine with a never ending “production” line of cardiac and renal diseases.
Why your doctor does not expect (or want) you to take control of your own health.
What your parents taught you about your body is probably all wrong.
Patriarchy gets in the way of our happiness everyday in countless ways. It does this by removing choices, or by making those choices invisible to you because they disempower your ability to see what is really going on. 460°Health, Forever Life will take a step back from the enormously complicated picture of how Father Rule controls our every move, and takes aim at specific, health related topics that holds the potential for unlocking the power of your own revolution.
Health and environmental issues will be the focus, but Patriarchy continues to the real subject and sickness affecting us all!
•Sept 4th, 7pm: The Kansas Family Value Council is happy to welcome back to Brownback arena, that Good-Ole-Summertime family, Bill and Judy Marachras. Bill and Judy, affectionately known as Punch and Judy to their fans, performed to uproarious crowds last summer as we watched Bill famously bopping Judy with his bat, or dunking her in a vat of warm Budweiser every time she expressed an opinion or used any word starting with “F” (Feminism). Expect more of the same this year. Watch and learn how to keep your woman-folk in line while laughing your dang head off!
•Sept 8th, 1pm: Once again, sponsored by Monsanto and the Future Farmers of America, the 4-H club is having its annual farm animal freak show in the Ad Astra Pavilion. Among the hundreds of mutant farm animals that thrilled us last year were 2-headed goats, piglets born without spines, beakless chickens, Llamas and rabbits with limbs growing out of their backs. This year, tap your feet to our very own 4-H Blue’s band, The Acephalics, as they perform their lullaby hit, Born Without a Face.
• Sept 10th, 1pm: Come on down to the Tractor Pull Arena early and be one of the first to put a match to a replica of a Planned Parenthood Clinic, built at a cost of 500.000 tax payer dollars, and watch it burn in effigy. Don’t worry, the Kansas State Legislature will be on hand with sand buckets and water balloons to keep the blaze under control! Great lessons in how our state government promotes civic action for the entire family!
• Sept 12th, 7pm:Americans for Prosperity are hosting a public FYI on HB EZ69 in the Bison Arena. The so-called Patient Equal Rights Act is governor Brownback’s latest health-care proposal aimed at stimulating higher revenues in health-care. By requiring Kansas hospitals to lay off surplus RNs, economists from the Heritage Foundation say that HB EZ69will increase hospital admissions, especially among the elderly and disabled, stimulate revenue, help balance the state budget, guarantee equal-care for all, and improve the job outlook for hundreds of unemployed Kansas nurses. Co-sponsor, Fred Koch, will be on hand to answer questions. As Fred says, “A leaner hospital is a more equal hospital”. BYOB.
• Sept 18th, 7:30pm: The 2016 Pro-Fracking Expo is being held in the Pride of Kansas Building, near the Butter sculpture. For the first time, SandRidge Energy, Kansas’s leading fracker, is offering it’s newest line of products; earthquake proof structures, and do-it-yourself-home strapping kits as part of a public service to help hardworking homeowners deal with the devastating impact of these mysterious earthquakes.
Louisa sat cross-legged in the worn brown, overstuffed chair that was positioned in the corner of my office. A wisp of a woman, the bright afternoon light made her 40 years look more careworn. She carefully watched me cross the room, a tissue clenched in her right hand. Thinning jet black hair fell off her narrow, brown shoulders. Louisa had recently been diagnosed with HIV and was doing an intake interview with me to see how our agency could help her. I sat down in my office chair in front of her and made some introductory comments. She smiled politely, kneaded the tissue in her hands and began timidly.
When she was 15, her 20-year-old drunk boyfriend raped her on the front porch of his father’s house. He had gotten her pregnant, and because both families were Catholic she was forced to have the child and marry him. Once married, Louisa was forbidden from visiting with her mother or sisters without being chaperoned by her family-in-laws. As they told her, “We don’t want you getting any ideas”.
Living hand to mouth, she spent almost 30 years following him around from job to job, and had 2 more kids. He was a heavy alcohol and cocaine user, and frequently beat and raped her. It was during one of these violent episodes that he infected her with HIV. I sat in awe of such a fiercely courageous woman. Last year, her husband was murdered in the desert outside Lamar, Colorado.
No Wonder I have been riveted to the problem of gender equality for 20 years. In my work as a counselor, the issues that my female clients brought into the therapeutic space were a lot like Louisa’s. Misogynistic cultural, religious and family ideas about gender roles and sexuality are bad for everyone, but for a woman like Louisa, her culture carries a deep religious paranoia about her power and prospects, that promoted shame and set the stage for low self esteem, low achievement and depression as it does, to varying degrees, for too many women.
Misogyny is not some artifact of modern life. It’s roots are deeper than civilization. Yet, deep questions about historical misogyny are almost never asked about these days. In my graduate counseling program, hatred of women (or LGBT, for that matter) was rarely discussed. Of course, they taught us how to clear away the wreckage of lives ruined by a world culture in fear of its women. For all the harm gender in-equality has done, you have to admit that the religious script – How my Father came to be in heaven, and my mother came to be a whore is one of the slickest jobs of repackaging in the history of manufactured consent. From there, it seeped into the collective male unconscious and made devaluing the feminine into a global pastime. Confounding my work as a researcher and writer is the vast time frame I am dealing with; the further back you go, the less sure you can be. And, as usual, there are a few male researchers who apply an (un)conscious patriarchal bias to their work.
If we ignore the static, we will gain insight from a less biased, truer narrative about gender inequality than what we have heard so far. One that connects ancient pre-history with the violent sexism of our so-called modern era. Since there is a 7000 year unbroken line of hatred/fear towards women we will need a theory of everything. My theory begins with the primal assertion: Absolutely nothing happens without a dependence on prior conditions. That includes fear, hatred and misogyny. In this respect, we are as connected to our Paleolithic forbearers as we are to the latest hatreds coming out of the neoconservative, fundamentalist, and terrorist camps of today.
I propose that this unbroken line begins somewhere within the darker recesses of humanoid evolution. The line of hominids, like Homo habilis (handy man), Homo erectus (upright man), and so on, were among the earliest precursors of Homo sapiens (wise man). That we are the only surviving species of the Homo line should be a testament to our success and fitness as a species. Yet the legacy of sapient the wise doesn’t altogether live up to his brain size. For hundreds of million of years, hominid evolution was driven by natural selection, mutation, migration and so on; but around 10,000 years ago, something new was added to the stew.
During the Upper Paleolithic, or late stone age (30,000 – 15,000 BCE) evidence of creativity and symbolism began to emerge. Much can be deduced about early culture through the art work they left behind, and perhaps the most enduring impressions they left are the “Venus Statues”. These highly stylized female statues first appeared in old-Europe around 35,000 BCE (Venus of Hohle Fels), and hundreds have been found since, some carbon dating as late as 11,000 BCE, the Mesolithic era. Although the Venus statues are made from various materials such as stone, ivory or wood, they are united by a classic motif.
Breasts, hips, abdomen, and thighs are greatly exaggerated, in a roughly triangular formation, while the upper body, head and shoulders are small and lack detail. Venus figurines are often missing feet and hands suggesting perhaps, that the focus of the artist was on her critically important reproductive powers rather than her daily activities. Some are pregnant, and some are not, but the fact that there are far more Venus statues than male figurines cannot help but invite questions about the state of gender equality at the conclusion of the Upper Paleolithic period, about 15,000 BCE.
That the production of Venus statues was stable over 15 or 20,000 years shouts of a woman’s robust connection with ordinary, and extraordinary, Paleolithic life. There are many theories offered as to their origins and functions: from casual sculpting on a rainy
afternoon, to pornography, self-portraits and fertility icons. Yet I believe that the presence of so many Venus figurines uncovers the centrality and sacredness of woman’s work in giving birth, and in every other aspect of life, then as now. The very ideals that men often find intimidating today.
Although a few male Anthropologists like to gnash their teeth over the existence of an ancient matriarchy, there is little reason for their ardor. Not only is there is scant evidence for one, I don’t think that a matriarchy (as the feminine equivalent to patriarchy) is necessary to validate women’s power over nature and men, because few women have any use for controlling what they are; an implicit part of nature. For me, a women’s power is as self-evident in my wife, Suzanne, as she speaks to large audiences about birth advocacy, as it was to early women coping on the edge of survival. The same power I saw in Louisa’s brown eyes so many years ago.
But it does suggest a source we can draw upon to describe what might, arguably, be called a kind of Paleolithic Feminism. Clearly, their were no feminists in the stone age; yet a feminine ethos, perhaps even a Divine Feminine, when applied to the tribe as a whole, would have been essential to the survival of a nascent civilization.
Food sharing, lack of individual wealth, cooperative community and hunting strategies are a few of the elements of egalitarianism. Yet underneath all those activities is an implicit acknowledgement of human vulnerability. If you think about it, to upper Paleolithic peoples, vulnerability, in the face of death or injury was an everyday reality; and however odd it might seem today, vulnerability, I believe, was the cohesive genius of the Paleolithic era that bonded men and women together, and ironically, became the bane of 21st century men.
However little we know of it, caring for the emotional and physical health of the tribe has serious implications for survival. Without social workers, counselors or Prozac, stone-age psychiatry would have relied on the community, much as egalitarian tribes have always done, to absorb and transmute stress, another important Paleolithic innovation. Eventually though, the awareness of vulnerability became more than just about staying alive, and it was right around the time of the Neolithic period (8,000 – 6,000 BCE), that the fortunes of the ancient gatherer-hunter and Venus began to change.
The emergence of the proto-city can be found among the other remarkable trappings of the Neolithic period like agriculture and metallurgy. The Ubaidians, for example, were a pre-Mesopotamian culture that existed in the greater Euphrates/Tigris river region (6500 – 5000 BCE) of modern day Iraq. Their large settlements were un-walled and notable not only for the fine pottery recovered, but for the construction of the first temples as public architecture. Trade flourished widely among the Ubaidians, bringing new wealth, but at a cost. Amongst the burial goods of their dead archeologists found the first evidence that some Ubaidian men were being viewed as better than others. A new social order had appeared.
But what is of greater significance, and talked about the least, is that this revolution of social stratification butted up against the disappearance of the Venus Statues. Coincidence or not, female carvings that spoke in some way to women’s primacy in early cultures, that were produced for 20,000 years, vanished at about the same time as transitional cultures, such as the semi-sedentary Natufians, appeared around 10,000 BCE in Syria. We could hardly replace the reverent Venus, but she would be replaced with a unique kind of carving five thousand years later.
Everywhere you look in the ancient cities of Ur, Ukur, Sumer, and later on in greater Mesopotamia, women’s power was on the decline. While in some places she retained some rights, as it were, a massive social transition was on the move and this is seen in the remarkable sculptures of the day.
While they have inspired stories of ET’s and reptilian invasions, the Ubaidian Lizard Men (why they are called ”men” is unclear since they were obviously female) were clearly transitional objects created around 5,000 BCE. They portray a female-like body with a reptilian head, heavy shouldering, often nursing a baby and sometimes holding a phallus. No one knows what their true function was; but interestingly, they were created at about the same time as the status of women was on the decline, and seem to suggest that considerations of gender were in flux too.
Social stratification brought with it a radically new way to express power. Egalitarian cultures go out of their way to minimize power differentials, while late Neolithic or the Metal Age culture (3000 BCE) maximized power differences between people of differing status. Gender IN-equality has always been about men holding power over the more physically and emotionally vulnerable in order to control them. That is to say, men appeared who did not hesitate to use social power explicitly as a weapon of social control.
Why is this important? With their reptilian flourish and feminine style, the Lizard Men statues are a marked departure from the quietly powerful Venus. I am not an archeologist, but I have been married, and this suggests to me that women were pissed off with the way they were being treated, perhaps even worried about the direction civilization seemed to be headed, and that we men got tired of hearing about it and decided to create objects like the Lizard Men to satirize and demonize women to demean and control them. It was also likely the first time men had used a power-over strategy like this for the purpose of oppression and social gain. Of course, no one has a need for such power unless the perpetrator feels powerless to begin with!
So the collisions of Mesolithic collectivity with emerging Neolithic individuality were a seismic event. Indeed, the Natufians and Ubaidians are thought of as trans-egalitarian: a people and culture in transition from a more or less pure nomadic or pastoral egalitarianism to a brand new kind of social order. Perhaps it was an unintended effect of technological advancements, like agriculture and metallurgy, that created a new order of social selection pressures based less on cooperation between genders, than they were on accumulating personal wealth and social status that benefitted men alone. (e.g. a budding patriarchy)
As migrations into cities, like Sumer, proceeded (about 3000 BCE), the first experiences with gender inequality must have been quite a shock for an egalitarian people. Where natural evolution is glacial and impartial, I propose that over a few thousand years, a sociology of men evolved to produce synthetic class distinctions that had never existed before: distinctions that were partial to social power and privilege. Like all evolutionary changes, they were advantageous to some and disabling to others.
So this radical reboot of the male-as-Invulnerable was quite a turnabout, and by the time men had passed through the Neolithic into the Bronze age, roughly 2500 BCE, men had undergone a sea change. Far away from the ancient feminine ethos of cooperation, the evolution of a male hegemony took righteous hold of the world.
Owing to the enormous opportunities of the Bronze and Iron ages (900 BCE), the male social brain was overtaken by a evolutionary wave, and with a dangerous and tragic outcome. His once valued and precious vulnerability was now locked within the gleaming metal of his new Bronze facade. He was on his own for the first time. Severing himself from the safety and healing balm of his tribe, most men who surfed the wave of change didn’t know a lonely time was upon them. An epoch of separation, and probably real chaos, began, and all of humankind were the losers.
Where vulnerability was an asset to Paleolithic group cohesion, now, caught up in a world of social competition, vulnerability had become a liability. We men began a centuries long, slow motion coup d’état where we tried (and failed) to erase our vulnerability by erasing every trace of (divine) femininity from within ourselves, and from the public sphere. Making women even more vulnerable than they already were became our unspoken goal. This is not just the rapist’s silent credo. If vulnerability was the sacred glue of an earlier egalitarian time, then denial of that sacredness was the innovation and curse of “The Age of Man”.
Where the alchemy of the tribe once took on his suffering, the demands of this new social life no longer considered it manly for men to speak of their fears as they would have with truly equal peers. It may also suggest a time frame for men’s loss of connection with self, empathy and their ability to view feelings as anything other than a vulnerability to hide or to project onto another.
If cruelty and aggression are the transfer, or catharsis, of the most hated and suppressed aspects of ourselves (in this case, male vulnerability), then the degradation of the Paleolithic Divine Mother into the destroyer of men was an extraordinarily cruel betrayal; and so it goes today. Men have made women into their personal waste dumps, gradually forcing her to absorb more and more of his toxic fear through violence and intimidation.
Although the timelines vary depending upon where you were in 800 BC, the same general pattern of male dominance and aggression advanced across the known world, East and West. The repackaging of women as inferior was variously integrated into most of the civilized world by 2000 BCE. During the Roman period, women, as creators of future Romans, were treated relatively well, if not benevolently. Clearly some men were still gynophobic; as the Athenian, Menander reminds us in the 4th century BCE, if you teach a woman to write you are providing poison to an asp.
In ancient Egypt (3000 BCE), quite remarkably, women were treated as equals to men and by all accounts their culture appears to be something of a refinement of ancient egalitarianism. It also begs the question: If the Egyptians of 3000 BCE avoided trashing women, why were her prospects so much more dubious in ancient Iraq, much as they are today? Meanwhile, in Mesopotamia and old Europe, men were busy cramming women’s power into the domestic sphere, while establishing a near-universal “man-cave” known as Patriarchy that would not only write much of history, but grow to control and abuse virtually every aspect of life, and the chaos spreads further.
After the fall of Rome in the 2nd century the mood of Europe darkened. Whatever relative peace women may have enjoyed under Roman rule was about to come to a close. Misogyny got a leg up when the male-dominated Christian Church in Europe, eschewed community, and chose to lead itself through a quorum of men. And lead they did; principally through chaos and incitement to fire and brimstone fear, superstition and worst of all, exile. The Church shielded itself by glorifying men, granting them access to broad authority and unearned privilege. At the first council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the founding fathers of the Church cemented Christ’s divine nature and, in between the lines of the Nicene Creed, decreed the supremacy of men over the wild and uncontrolled passions of women. Given the violent and impulsive nature of men in this period, exactly whose wild and uncontrolled passions are we really talking about?The Dark Ages suddenly got even darker. The dishonesty is appalling and murderous.
The job of Christianity over the next several hundred years was to scour itself clean of the feminine menace through terror and by scapegoating those who threatened men the most. In The Malleus Maleficarum, (Hammer of Witches), a witch hunting manual written in the 15th century, women were now totally subordinate to the devil. Magdalene sinners and witches; those dangerous others, became patriarchy’s Maginot Line, as he heaped his fear and cluelessness into the breach.
For what amounts to a 7,000-year-old experiment in male pride, our pursuits of happiness have been tied up with his expressions of arrogance, according to his own history, virtually forever. Although misogyny will always be the hatred of women, gynophobia is the truer undertow that began it’s relentless drag on the feminine over five millennia ago and continues erasing woman’s rights, sovereignty, power and pay in the private and public spheres today.
Lost hope, lost dreams, lost income; betrayal steers many people into desperation, as it did Louisa. But what drew most of my clients into counseling to begin with was, to put it in general terms, a traumatically induced, aborted process of becoming, that, on a grander scale of 7000 years of historical trauma, misogyny, gender inequality and oppression, amounts to soul murder on a massive scale.
But how many perpetrators and victims of soul murder do we count? There are almost too many threads to even begin. In Louisa’s story, we have a young rape victim. We have the perpetrator, and like all perpetrators, he was a victim too, made powerless by a tangle of defeated parents, neglect and probable racism. Both parents were made victims of a rigid Catholicism that sentenced Louisa to the torture of forced childbirth and parenting. The Church doesn’t mind forbidding abortion; but what about the aborted life of the girl? Surely, the Church is an equal perpetrator, as is a deeply racist and patriarchal culture. Repeat this story of control and domination a million-million-million times over for women and men, and we run into a reign of progress damning, male perpetrators 7000 years long. Yup, those same fellas who are clawing at your vote in November.
Today’s neocon bully is just the same old face of brutality we already know from history. I don’t know where or when the line of misogyny will burn out, but I know there’s hope. We are on the tipping edge of a 2nd great enlightenment. Considering medical and scientific advances alone should give us cause for optimism. Yet, we still have to work for the same advancements in how we treat each other. Everywhere you look, though, women are empowering themselves and each other. More and more girls are being freed of cultural burdens and are making courageous choices for themselves. Many women and some men are making a left turn out of this gridlock of Patriarchal traffic. We are ripe for the next revolution: a quantum revolution just as seismic as the transition from the egalitarian experience of the Paleolithic to Neolithic men who first denied their vulnerability, and went on to rattle swords, wage wars and don Bronze armor to hide their vulnerable hearts.
Whatever else the second enlightenment might be, I propose it must first of all be about the great re-membering that the best of humanity’s vulnerable hopes and dreams are carried aloft on butterfly wings.
I don’t know where you are, Louisa, but I hope you’re listening.
On March 25th Indiana’s governor Mike Pence signed into law one of the most restrictive, if not cruel, abortion laws in the nation. HB 1337 is interested only in the contents of a woman’s uterus, and makes no allowance for the well-being of the mother. This means that if a woman is carrying what the bill describes as a fetus diagnosed with Down’s syndrome or other disability, she will go to prison if she terminates that pregnancy, even if it is within the 20 week time frame provided by current Indiana law.
Since Indiana’s governor and legislature are so intent upon clawing their way into a woman’s uterus, it seems that their idea of “small government” has taken another enormous leap into an intrusive over-reach by the state, and this time they are up to their elbows. Not only will neocon Pence have to fight for re-election in November, the ACLU will likely block implementation of the new law, calling it unconstitutional, and thousands of protestors have shown up at the capital in Indianapolis. Although HB 1337 is hailed, by its supporters, as an “anti-discrimination” measure intended to protect the lives of fetus’s with disabilities, it’s just another way that a small group of “elitist” conservatives are crowbarring their way past the law of the land, Roe vs. Wade.
Gender inequality is bad for everyone, so as a man I can’t help but feel a resonance, even a kinship with women, indeed, with anyone who has experienced stunning oppression and survived. From birth to death, women are constantly assessed for their “womanliness”, and probed for their “willingness” to have sex. Men too, face an assessment of their reproductive status and manliness (is there a difference?) every day of their lives, and in that sense we are all confronted with a global menace of male domination and control. It’s only proper that men should respond in kind to offer support to the 1,287,000 Indiana women of reproductive age, and women everywhere, who resist the ongoing objectification of their wombs and bodies.
I have suffered, as most men have, the wounds of objectification, so ever since an anonymous Indiana woman started a wonderful Facebook page called “Periods for Pence”, protesting Pence’s signature on this draconian piece of legislation, I have been thinking about what an appropriate response from men might look like. Since “Periods for Pence” asks women to report to the governor the exact contents of their vaginas and uteruses – to keep him apprised of their reproductive status – we men could respond by providing the governor with an assessment of our reproductive status and maleness.
To make it easy, I’ve created a handy test to help Mr. Pence assess our manliness. While this is mostly a tongue-in-cheek look at what qualifies men to be regarded, as the Velveteen Rabbit once said, as really real, it isn’t very funny at all. However, if my attempt at humor causes you to squirm a bit, there might be some “inconvenient truths” hiding inside that have everything to do with our perceptions of gender. Humor does not make it any less serious, so feel free to copy it and call or fax your own responses to governor Pence and the bill’s co-sponsors noted at the bottom.
Reproductive Assessment for Men (RAM)
Check here ____ if you are White. Add 10 points.
Check here if you are over 6 feet tall and 200 lbs. ____. Add 10 points.
Check here if you are between the ages of 15 and 30. ___ Add 5 points.
Check here if you have whined about being in pain in the last month ____. Subtract 5 points.
In the last year…
I had sex with ____ women, other than my partner.
I hired a woman over a man and paid her 21% less than I would have paid him ____ times.
I own ____ power tools rated in excess of 50 amps or 5 hp. (Electric toothbrushes don’t count!)
I supported the invasion of ____ countries.
I have ____ Confederate flags flying from my truck.
I quoted the Bible ____ times to my kids, especially the scary parts about fire and brimstone.
I cat-called ____ women on the street.
I signed onto avoiceformen.org ____ times.
I hung out at Home Depot ___ times, even when I didn’t need anything.
I shamed my boys ____ times for being cry babies.
I refused service to LGBT people ____ times.
I own ____ automatic weapons. (Add a point for each high capacity magazine.)
I have prayed my kids aren’t homosexual ____ times.
I have voted for____ legislators who are anti-abortion or anti-Planned Parenthood.
I have denied the existence of climate change ____ times.
I have thought that white men are superior and should have privileges ____ times.
I have gotten teary over old Promise Keepers footage ____ times.
I have refused to go to couples counseling with my wife ____ times.
I have been persecuted by women ____ times.
I have ___ American flags on my property.
Add up all your points. If they total 20 or more I’m sure the Governor’s office will be happy to update your manliness quotient. If your total points are less than 20, then your manliness is officially in question. To remedy this, we suggest 500 pushups a day, eating more red meat, and if either of those options don’t work, wearing a jock strap 2 sizes too small is sure to do the trick.
Governor Pence 317-232-4567
Co-sponsor HB 1337: Casey Cox 317-232-9863
Co-sponsor: Liz Brown 317-232-9400 email: Senator.Brown@iga.in.gov
When 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed in The Gay Science (1882), that “God is dead”, he didn’t mean it. He didn’t mean that god was literally ‘dead’; he meant that the idea of God was a bad fit with the rapid social and technologic changes of the day. Today, as any number of men’s right’s groups, and authors like Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men, come forward, with their Ameri-centric views saying that women have it better than ever; proclaiming that, yup, Patriarchy is kaput, finished; I wonder how blind they can be to the reality of the suffering of women and children all around the world (and men), including the U.S.A.?
I was also much disappointed by the lack of solidarity men’s rights groups or this author showed towards the impoverished and traumatized Syrian women and children, say, who are forbidden to speak frankly about anything as freely as Rosin, since these Muslim and Christian women are too busy avoiding being raped by a “devout” Muslim man, beheaded, or starved to death by an all-male militia. Still think Patriarchy is dead?
Even if you happen to believe that everything east of NYC is wilderness, the stunning inequalities and lack of gender justice in the Americas continues to overshadow significant gains made by women. But let’s get real. Apart from the obvious interest men’s rights groups have in cloaking their aggressions and squirreling away their power beneath a clever, if not twisted device of male victimhood; if it were true that Patriarchy is dead, then everyone, including men, would be feeling free to live their lives with a lot less fear, and we’d be hearing a lot less from groups like www.avoiceformen.com.
If Patriarchy is dead, then a global hallelujah, heard by all, would spread like a cool rain over a hot and thirsty Earth. We could realize the late Andrea Dworkin’s plea for “24 hours without rape”. If it were true, then women wouldn’t have to worry about workplace discrimination or equal wages. If wishes were horses, then..
The Islamic Pseudo State wouldn’t corral and sell off women to a fate beyond imagining.
If it were true, Afghani women would have lives of their own choosing.
If it were true, girls wouldn’t have to endure genital mutilation in parts of Africa, or incest in Alabama.
If it were true, no young man would ever be sent off to war again.
If it were true, women wouldn’t have to bargain for rights to their own bodies, anywhere.
If it were true, the lead from contaminated water in the children of Flint, Michigan, mostly poor and black, wouldn’t exist, and they wouldn’t face a life with permanent brain damage, at immense cost to the state.
If it were true, then children everywhere would get summer back.
If it were true, boys everywhere could throw off the obligations of dominator and aggressor, and be boys, just boys. SIGH…
Perhaps my thoughts are totally utopian and simplistic, but I find the claim that “Patriarchy is dead” insulting. Even so, a utopian vision is just what we need. If we aim for “good enough”, what will our children’s children face? In a future world culture that values happiness and equality (there I said it), we would ALL be free of the patri-cratic machinery that binds us to a god, a place and a role; feminism as a psycho-political construct would loose its resolve, and the Tea Party would blow away like morning fog on Highway 1.
Patriarchy will be dead when men no longer feel the need to bluster and bloat their way to everyone’s ruin. Even so, such shooting-stabbing-mindless arrogance is far from a corpus frigus, as some would have us believe.
For radical feminist Kate Millett, exactly how many light years we are from a “pulseless patriarchy” depends on how long we hold onto traditional cultural norms. Millet envisions these destructive norms in the context of the patriarchal, monogamous marriage that, she says, enslaves women (and men) (My brackets) (Mirkin, Harris, The Theory of Patriarchy). Nowhere is solidarity with this scheme more fleshed-out than within the conservative men’s rights movement.
For all of the noise coming out of men’s rights groups these days, like this familiar grind: “See? We gave women rights and they made us men the underdogs!”, sounds more like the plaintiff cry of a school child who just had his balls taken away. Let’s get real again. Research agrees, when you or I give something away that benefits someone else, we are the healthier for it. Yet when these men-as-patriarchy feel smaller and less powerful for having given up a trifle of what is rightfully women’s to begin with, I think that such a system is already dead.
When Nietzsche panned ‘God’ as dead in the face of say, atheism, he was suggesting that God’s offerings were empirically bankrupt before godlessness. Patriarchy is bankrupt because its accomplishments cannot compete with its disasters: climate change, racism, endless wars, and so on. And in a nod to slavery, even the Confederate flag is still waving somewhere in the South, (and, on a pick-up truck near you).
Oh yea, I would say that Patriarchy is a dead duck for sure. It just hasn’t hit the ground yet.
The recent occupation of a collection of vacant U.S. Wildlife service buildings in Oregon by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with a handful of armed, angry anti-government extremists, is manhood at it’s most aimless and stupid best. Out there on the edge of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge a few armed men were betting that by “storming” an empty federal facility, and occupying it, men of like politics and temperament would be inspired to join their rebellion.
After all, Ammon and Ryan Bundy were card-carrying rebels. In 2014, they stood with their Dad, Cliven, in a showdown with federal government officials over years of unpaid grazing fees and the subsequent confiscation of his cattle. This quickly led to an armed confrontation with authorities. Supporters counted it as a rebel victory when, in a bid to de-escalate tensions, the feds returned the cattle to Cliven, enshrining him and his sons forever, in the cloth of the quintessential rebel.
It didn’t pan out the way the rebel Bundy’s might’ve hoped though. Only a relative few showed up to support them, and the very reason they created the standoff to begin with, the release of the Hammonds serving extended prison time for burning Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, evaporated like so many clouds when the Hammond family disavowed any support from the Bundy’s. I imagine the publicized rejection of Bundy’s efforts was more or less staged by law enforcement, either way, Bundy quickly shifted his focus to his family’s grievance with the BLM over the matter of land use rights. And just as quickly, I shifted my focus to the fact that he owes over a million bucks in past due grazing fees and fines to the U.S. government. And they got smacked down again when both the Burns’ Paiute Indian tribe, and the town of Burns, the site of several rallies for the Hammond’s, asked the Bundy Bunch to stick a knife in it and call it done.
But they weren’t done, were they? Lacking any motion from law enforcement, they went ahead with plans to convene a citizens grand jury. One order of business would have brought their nemesis, Harney County Sheriff, David Ward to trial, in absentia, I would think. While these trials are shams with no legality to them, that the Bundy’s thought it was OK to devolve themselves into a rank court of cowboy justice is a frightening reflection of what really arouses the hard right everywhere; an echo of sharia law in the Middle-East beheading thousands of non-believers and destroying world heritage sites. It pretty clear why Noam Chomsky, noted radical and MIT professor emeritus, would claim that the U.S. Republican party is now so extreme that it “poses a serious danger to human survival”.
Despite their hopes and machinations, at the end of the day, Ammon, Ryan and their ragtag band of gun toting extremists, will have nothing more to show for their trouble than a lost cause, legal fees, jail time, lost wages, and unexamined rage. Several of these men have expressed an overblown wish to die for “their cause”, and who can blame them? Most will have a prison cell waiting when the dust dies down. Yet, for weeks, the feds never gave them the chance for a clear shot. Quite sensibly, they avoided confrontation and let the protestors stew in their own juices for awhile. The much anticipated confrontation with authorities, the wild shootout many of them literally hoped for, the shootout that never materialized, has left many of them trapped and hapless, with no outlet for their rage. Sadly, LaVoy Finicum did give his life to his cause, a cause some would call patriotic and therefore worthwhile, others would call a waste of a life.
Whatever we may think of their protest, the failure of the Bundy Bunch to galvanize their followers, and grow a revolution from their small rebellion is reflective, not only of bad planning, but of a much larger impoverishment of personal hope and power amongst men the world over. This becomes apparent when you consider their plans to put those who stood in their way on trial, in a kangaroo-style court.
While the descent into medievalism is alarming, it’s hardly news that men are in crisis, but not anymore of a crisis than he has been in for 2000 years. The men’s crisis is driven by ancient, inelastic patriarchal rules that we all agree to everyday. So-called authority figures and cultural norms mercilessly bind and judge boys and men across time. Men are in crisis because the primer on masculinity, in most cultures, does not expose boys to the full range of feelings, expressions, and ideas that boys and men require in a complex, post modern world. Moreover, this recipe trains boys to doubt themselves, their inherent goodness, and the value of tenderness should they ever wander outside the male-box.
Men are vulnerability-phobic. It is manifested, say, in our infamous inability to ask for directions or, more importantly, by our climate-change-denier U.S. Congress who repeatedly sinks legislation to address it, and then indulges themselves in one flawed analysis after another (think climate change, the Iraq invasion); that rarely reflect a true assessment of our situation – the true nature of the environmental, technological, and social changes swirling about us. Rather, because men are hemmed in by the male-box, he overwhelms easily, and strikes out at vulnerability everywhere. Since we are often traumatized by a socializing process most depersonalizing, we often lack the internal resources to cope with, or even thrive in the midst of a world of increasing uncertainty.
But man is also in crisis because the rest of US, the growing countless, have had enough of his headlines and arrogance, just like the folks in Burns, Oregon. The rest of US are sick of the macabre paradoxes that men create between life and death. Neither civilization nor the planet can afford the catastrophes that brittle, unstable men inflict on our world. Yet terrorism carves its way through innocent populations throughout the middle east, and the west too, like a scythe through a field of ripe wheat. Climate change is pounding on our door, yet eco-terrorists in Congress are still squabbling over whether it even exists; after all, they have other fish to fry, like defunding Planned Parenthood.
The connection between the Bundy Bunch and the larger concerns of terrorism and climate change are found in the fear and greed underpinning the origins of all three. However it happened that the Bundy’s racked up over a million dollars worth of fines and fees is, for the most part, inexplicable. However you look at it, I suspect it was Cliven’s lack of business sense, and not the lofty goals of a fight over Constitutional rights, that drove a relatively small debt into an enormously unmanageable one, which gave birth to his passion for Constitutional law.
A million dollars, I think, has more to do with radicalizing the Bundy’s to extremism than any other factor. Cloaking personal failings and lies about their family’s history beneath an anti–government protest is the perfect way to dump rage, sidestep responsibility, and to avoid feeling the cold sweats and knotted gut Ammon must be experiencing as he watches his political capital go south. He scrambles for a reason for his protest to exist… thinking it’s less messy thinking in black and white...He seizes upon an idea: Let’s put the bastards on trial!
Just like a home-grown extremist like Bundy, your average recruit for the Islamic Pseudo State (IPS) has black and white tunnel vision too. Socially isolated young men, especially 2nd generation Muslims living in the West, are prime targets of Islamic recruiters. But it’s the western kid too, sitting in the back of the room, the kid we took for an artifact of normlessness, the one we didn’t make room for, the kid that got boxed in. Not knowing what to do with his vulnerability, let alone know what to call it, he is easy prey in the hands of Islamic recruiters skilled in appealing to his disaffection, and supplying him with a direction, no matter how malevolent. Over 7,000 young men, from the west, have traveled to Iraq and Turkey to train as IPS soldiers.
Normlessness, often called Anomie, is an unstable condition brought about by a breakdown of social and cultural norms and values. What it means for us is that the rules for behavior are unknown, or misunderstood. It’s this state of normlessness that we, as a world culture, approach the environment with. Mankind doesn’t know how to act in a way that is cordial to Earth, instead he blunders in with all the skill of an Ammon Bundy storming a vacant Wildlife service facility. Aside from walking in her forests, climbing her mountains, and swimming in her ponds, men don’t know how to talk to her. Most cannot fathom her oceans, or think like a mountain, but they do know how to exploit her. If it weren’t for the rules laid down by the Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies in the U.S. that protect us from unscrupulous corporations and the like, we’d be more than awash in toxins. These are protections that the greedy U.S. House would love to dismantle.
Except in a few tiny corners of society, like Green Peace or the Sierra club, there is very little in the way of moral or ethical gravity lent to the conversations in corporate boardrooms that could appreciate the idea of planetary etiquette. Climate change and the environmental pollution is still all about the fear of not having enough which looks like greed. Lots of data, e.g. CO2 levels etc., tells us which way we are going, and how close the cliff is. That’s a good thing, I get that, but real change will not happen until we re-tool our hearts, not just our factories, in a way that reflects new thinking: Earth as sacred, child as sacred. I think Earth and the sacred child would want a divine or moral imperative that spoke directly to the matter of why, on Earth, would we pee into the same can that we live in??
I mean, isn’t that a little like pissing in the pews? I think it’s a good way to characterize how Patriarchy writes the rules that allows for profit before people and everything else; that turns a monument of sacred forests into a cash cow. And in the same strut of dogma, turns out a pile of boys into tidy boxes so someone can train them… We are well on the way to making the sacred uninhabitable: the sacred wood, the sacred feminine, and the sacred child.
But what about the sacred masculine? When it comes to squeezing a boy into his box, figuratively, and somewhat fantastically speaking, most boys don’t fit in right away, at least not until some of the girl is taken out of him. Erasure of the feminine is like this. Over a few thousand years most of us men have had a lot of the feminine juice squeezed out of us. There’s been an awful lot of forgetting and squandering of the sacred male.
The great forgetting has led to a great deal of confusion, disconnection, doubt, and fear among men. Although this common bond of fear doesn’t always grow up into greed and hatred, we are Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan Bundy. Many if not all of their fears are our fears too, and in that sense we are brothers and sisters. In the same way we are the terrorist, as repugnant and ignoble as that may feel. If the possibility of compassion is true for one, it must be true for all. In a pair of most primal of fears, “Will I have enough? Is there room for me?” is a cry for love and acceptance, and for those men who didn’t get enough of either, there could be no end to his struggles.
Not just because I believe in gender equality, or open, sensible dialogue between men and women, but because I believe in fairness and sustainable relationships.
I don’t pretend to be a feminist scholar, so rather than identifying with some particular “wave” of feminism, I’ll keep it simple: I am simply pro-woman, pro-child, pro-environment, and pro-man. Being pro-man is not feminism at cross purposes. It’s the recognition that we’re no good without each other, that there is an incomprehensible interconnectedness, a lullaby of entanglements between every living thing, one in which we deep-care for one another.
I am pro-men because across our lifespans we are far more vulnerable, biologically and emotionally, than are women. We suffer for it in ways that are culturally sanctioned, and therefore, virtually invisible. Take the idea that boys need toughening up. Toughening him up means depriving him of a most basic need in some way, in effect, extorting his cooperation. It could be love and a sense of belonging, food & shelter or a smack across the mouth. Either way, emotional and intellectual IQ’s suffer when boys are forced to walk alone, and lonely boys, who haven’t gotten their needs met, all too often, become emotionally brittle men, and only brittle men commit horrific acts.
From Palestine to Anchorage, all young children know what deep-caring looks like. We can’t trick kids into believing, in their hearts, that withholding love or being shamed can be good for them. They are too wise for that; so we overwhelm and silence their hearts with vitriolic gender rules that border on obsession.
To rescue him from that “branding” process, give him an “escape hatch”, a redoubt where he gets his needs met; boys need someone to show an authentic, day to day interest in them, all boys need absolute protection from harm pre and post natally, and also through toddler years, when they are practicing with their brand new sense of self, albeit vulnerable, separate from parents. A culture that values his uniqueness and acts like it is invested in his future cannot help but produce a renaissance of men.
IRL, boys and men are sorted according to how well they tolerate pain, how “hetero” they are, how aggressive they can be, and how un-female they are. These soul murdering traits are straight jackets to a man’s development. It is no surprise then, that in many respects, man’s social evolution lags far behind his technologic wizardry; and oddly enough, it is also the tail that wags the dog.
Oh, you can say what you want about the progress we’ve made, and no doubt, it’s considerable in light of the incredible advances made in physics, medicine, and communication, but there is a toxic paradox mixed in with all that so-called progress. How can we have come so far as a species, how can we talk to the Mar’s Rover on a planet 249 million miles away, and still fumble with words from the heart? How can we frantically rescue earthquake victims buried under tons of rubble? How can we can work ourselves to tears saving a life torn apart in a car wreck? How can we care-deeply for a lonely elder, or cure a cancer, when mankind still possesses more than enough destructive power to kill or sicken almost every living thing on the planet instantly?
Whatever the patriarchal fathers intended, when they made up the rules for women, the rules for men became so much polarized stone too. What we don’t want to talk about is how those rules abuse, depersonalize, even murder us. It’s easy enough to find gender discrimination when women are in such a “one down”, oppressed state as they certainly are around the world… but with strait-jackets being what they are, boys and men are also in a power-under, oppressed situation and every bit as depersonalized as girls and women. Far too many men lash out at women, and other vulnerable populations, from a sense of lostness, of not knowing who we are without our strait-jackets, and even more afraid of finding out.
I doubt very much that we would recognize ourselves without them.
Of course I’m a Feminist, because Feminism is about declaring a loud NO! to strait-jackets, not only for girls and women, but for boys and men too. It’s a stand against the depersonalizing, and devastating effects that stunning inequality has on women and men. We all know that men are in crisis, but consider: We are all in crisis; and our mutual liberation, sooner or later, will depend on honoring that interconnected, entangled “us”… that beloved alchemy.
No one could have predicted it would start this way. There weren’t any mushroom clouds boiling over once great cities. No mad dash to bomb shelters packed with frightened people. No flock of nuclear tipped cruise missiles screaming through the sky to their various points of detonation; just bodies of good men, women, and children over flowing the morgues and grief over flowing the streets. Not yet, anyway.
This is the moment that many in the world have feared the most: World War 3. If any doubt remains that men have pushed us over the threshold into another world war, consider that if the Islamic-Pseudo-State can turn a concert hall in Paris into a killing field, then no doubt, London, Denver, or Elko, Nevada, for that matter, could be next. (IPS, They don’t deserve official standing with a name like “The Islamic State” or ISIS of all things, the Egyptian Goddess of Life) Consider also, there are over 60 nations (98 in WW 2) actively committed to defeating IPS. Even so, the terrorists have demonstrated their willingness to murder and rape anyone they please, and with that threat going global, all nations are at risk.
There isn’t time or luxury for empty rhetoric or a “cut and run” mentality. By some estimates, the IPS has upwards of 200,000 crazed men fighting on 2 fronts with more joining everyday, so there’s nothing to stop them from thinking BIG. Jurgen Todenhofer, a German journalist who spent time with the terrorist group last year says, “it’s a nuclear tsunami preparing the largest religious cleansing in history”. People in the know reassure us that it is unlikely the IPS could get their hands on a nuclear device, but they also admit it is possible. I am not reassured. Even though it’s not clear what they would do with such a device if they had one, it would represent enormous leverage on the world stage.
OK, I admit it. I’m scared. We are at a turning point in history. We can’t bungle the job like we did in Rwanda or Nazi Germany by under reacting or doing nothing. It is in our best interest to avoid the morning after recriminations of shoulda, woulda, coulda. Compared to Hitler’s Nazi Germany, the IPS has the ambition to spread their brand of primitive Islam throughout the world. This time, they aren’t just targeting infidels in Syria and Iraq; its ambition is to convert everyone. (Read more: The Threat of Biblical Reconstructionism) That means they’d like to kill a few hundred million and drag civilization into a dark age. After the recent attack in Beirut, just a day before Islamic terrorists murdered 129 in Paris, we realized that the attacks are not just aimed at westerners, but innocent Muslims and Christians too. You and me. The target is anyone who doesn’t agree with their dark age mentality. Indeed, there is a razor sharp knife at all our throats now.
What’s worse, our leaders appear to be in criminal denial over the seriousness of the threat that this particular brand of terrorism truly is. Obviously the most dangerous thing we can do, which the international community seems to be doing, is to underestimate our vulnerability. After Beirut, Paris, and the downing of a Russian airliner, we lost over 400 good souls to an arrogant kind of complacency. Perhaps our greatest vulnerability is in forgetting what wounded people will do to recover their souls. I am again reminded of the genocide in Rwanda where not one nation lifted a finger to prevent the slaughter of hundreds of thousands Tutsi’s. We are reminded of the Holocaust, that even as Hitler was warming up his killing machine, Allied leaders, including the Vatican, were tone deaf to what the Nuremberg laws foreshadowed. Denial had to be enshrined at the institutional level for the Japanese government to disbelieve that Allied bombers could reach their shores. The American Doolittle raids in 1942 proved otherwise, but it only stiffened the Japanese government’s egomaniacal denial. The total destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the eventual results of such denial and miscalculation.
Whatever they want to call it, the IPS is not waging a holy war. At its core this is not about Islam at all, but a war unconsciously intended to heal 200,000 wounded souls. They may wear the mantle of Allah as they spread their inner terror, but psychologically speaking, these men are undifferentiated from their traumas. Put another way, they cannot separate themselves from the stunning trauma and psychological devastation perpetrated on them by almost continuous war. It’s a classic response for trauma victims to reenact their trauma on others, but no religious belief can account for the thousands of tortured, dead or beheaded non-believers. Where the perpetrators were abused, humiliated and made subjectively powerless by war and western ideological aggression, as men now, they make others powerless too. It doesn’t matter how organized or sophisticated they are, these men/terrorists are still the wounded dogs of a patriarchal machine that feeds on its own. It is the cycle of violence and revenge that began many many millennia ago, and like any vortex, the human race cannot, by any material action, pull itself free of the immense gravity of its traumatic legacy anymore than the terrorist can. It will require a change of heart.
All trauma is historical. The first Crusade was launched by Pope Urban II in 1096. 900 years later western interference continues with a vengeance in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine. We already know what European colonialism did to Native Americans and Africans, but we sometimes forget Arabs were victims of a (patriarchal) European colonialism that carved up the Middle East after World War 1 in the same way it devastated Africa. In the Middle East and Africa, the West sees a service sector that should supply it with raw materials like slaves and oil. We should not be surprised that the IPS has started a crusade of their own.
That much of the violence in the Middle East is home grown is not much comfort since we in the west created the stage for it. In the long history of western economic, social and military brutalism towards the region in general, transgenerational trauma has chewed through 30 generations of young middle eastern boys and men. Although no one talks about it, among the many ironies of war is the realization that the West’s malignant meddling in the Middle East has done more to radicalize it’s young men than any web site or mosque.
And why not? Western culture with its ethic of consumption and individualism is a cultural miscue for many Middle Easterners and some Westerners too. Large numbers of disillusioned, and broken hearted young men from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Belgium have traveled to Syria to die, if need be, for Allah. The U.K. estimates that as many as 600 Brits
have joined the fight too. But dismay at European arrogance is old news and so is the counter-shock of European violence against indigenous peoples like the First Americans. When will we learn? North American indigenous communities continue to suffer from the catastrophic results of the extraordinary arrogance of European colonists, my ancestors, as they spread over the land like locusts 200 years ago. Two centuries later, nothing has changed.
InAmerica, the Bruce Springsteen refrain, “at least in America I know I’m free” is the darling of the conservative cause. Freedom is understood and exercised in conservative America the way it was 200 years ago, with a sense of arrested, preordained arrogance. This narcissistic take on freedom continues to provide the rationale for committing acts of eco-terrorism upon the sacred land we live on in the name of economic progress, otherwise known as greed. The freedom to acidify the oceans, foul the air, change the climate, pollute the soil. The freedom to contaminate everything in between with the millions of tons of industrial chemicals produced every year to make the junk we westerners are raised to feverishly purchase, only to discard 6 months later.
Frankly, rebellion against such insanity is a good thing, but no one in the U.S., Europe or the Middle East has the audaciousness to effectively confront the confounding issues of our time directly: war, social injustice, hunger, climate change and stunning inequality and cruelty. What looks like indifference on the part of the west, produces a pathological indifference to life on the part of terrorists; those dead canaries in the coal mine – we could have seen the canaries falling like rain at Columbine High School, we could have seen them again at Sandy Hook and a hundred places in between. Our kids are mirroring our own truths, but no one is listening, so now their rage has turned to carnage.
Until explosions and gun fire rocked the French capital, European leaders were just as reticent to fully engage the IPS as the Americans were. After the attacks in Paris, France is pursuing a more aggressive course against the IPS. Russia too seems to be in the mood to cooperate, while the U.S. continues to rule out ground troops saying it’s the wrong strategy. Since World War 3 is already here, it is foolish to continue hiding from the obvious. President Obama and his advisors don’t know to what extremity a broken heart will go to heal itself.
It’s awful to think that as this generation of young men goes on fighting war after war; in the belly of Europe, in the belly of Syria, in the belly of the U.S. the next generation of war torn children are being conceived. We ought to know there is no such thing as a good war, but fighting the medievalist IPS is more than a common cause, it represents a choice about what sort of people we Earthlings are. Failing to fully come out against such medievalism serves to further normalize and desensitize us to the murder and suffering hundreds of thousands have already experienced. The only way forward is to utilize whatever resources are at our disposal to directly confront all terrorist organizations and in doing so, affirm life and all it means. We give a resounding NO to tyranny in any form, and a YES to decency. There is an opportunity to give the hellish patriarchy that authorizes this violence a shove towards the door. Either choice will have a major impact for generations to come.
The conditions that allowed terrorist organizations like the Taliban, al Qaeda and the IPS to emerge have nothing to do with guns and missiles. Military action may degrade the terrorist’s ability to continue fighting and acting globally for instance, but it’s a no-brainer; such action is worse than useless if we don’t understand where they came from and why this is happening.
Dainin Katagiri of the Minnesota Zen Center suggests that the origin of (nuclear) weapons is rooted in human life (Returning to Silence, p.17), not external threats. What he means is that the only way to end the violence is to heal the trauma within ourselves first. At the risk of over simplifying, people who have not been traumatized generally have no need for guns and bullets. Those who have experienced deeply traumatizing events however, will believe they need guns and bullets to defend themselves, ironically, against their own shadows.
Unnecessary death is always an occasion for great sadness, but the terrorists care more for their self-enlightened reading of the Koran; their puppet god and getting to heaven than they do for the misery they spread. IPS is not taking half measures to annex territory, they aren’t taking half measures to force Sharia law on their victims, and we dare not take half measures to confront the unprecedented terror and threat they are to reason, beauty and decency.
Alternatively, we can wait until the next terrorist strike; grumble about the indecency of being awakened in the middle of a nice dream. We’ll rattle our sabers a bit, mumble something about a regional issue, roll over and go back to sleep – terrorists are counting on it.
After WW II, Article 9 of the Japanese constitution barred Japan from engaging in military action as a way of dealing with international disagreements. Despite massive protests and over 50% of Japanese opposing the measure, in a sweeping ideological makeover, both male-dominated chambers of Parliament approved legislation that washes away Article 9 and 70 years of Japanese pacifism.
The Japanese Diet is a man’s world: the upper and lower chambers are both about 90% male. Given that, there’s no surprise that these men would overrule the outcries of their constituents and neighbors and take their nation another small step closer to armed conflict.
Not that Japan will suddenly become the aggressor of old. Their military is still limited in what it can do. Even so, Chinese and Koreans have not forgotten the Japanese atrocities of WW II and are already rattling their sabers. Of course, the Japanese people deserve to feel secure, and the shaky geopolitics of the region appear to threaten that. So while no one begrudges Japan it’s security, the expansion of its military-industrial complex suggests a wider scenario.
In 2014 Japan relaxed the ban on exporting weapons that had been in place for 50 years. While the sale of Japanese arms doesn’t contribute much to the Japan’s GDP, or global conflict, yet, a stagnant economy like Japan’s will benefit by selling million dollar bullets to the world. After all, the worlds 3rd largest economy knows how to turn a profit.
Even so, it’s the same old rusty wrench we men have been bruising our knuckles on for millennia. As tensions heat up in the region, it turns out that that rusty wrench is just our old companion, fear. Unskilled, fear-based, men in China and N. Korea and elsewhere are acting out of those unconscious fears thus making an already unstable region even more unstable. But it’s futile. As Albert Einstein is famous for saying, “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” Adding more guns and weapon systems to the mix CANNOT make peace in men’s hearts until men face their fears. And when that happens, arms control will be a no-brainer.
PAUL GOSAR, CONGRESSMAN FROM ARIZONA PLANS
TO BOYCOTT THE POPE’S SPEECH TO CONGRESS
So what? Devout wacko, dentist and House Republican Paul Gosar has decided to boycott Pope Francis’s speech to Congress. Why? Because he is worried the Pope will use the opportunity to talk about climate change. Oh my gosh, is this Congress or high school? Once again, a conservative male has reminded us that the combination of religious arrogance and science denial is one definition of DANGEROUS and STUPID. I doubt the Pope will miss him.
Gosar, a Catholic himself, said that “if the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change, then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous”. I don’t know what kind of education he received with the Jesuits, but Gosar seems to be ignorant that the Catholic Church has been peddling questionable science as Catholic dogma for most of its history. Christian men were the original science deniers, just ask Galileo or the thousands of women burned at the stake for witchcraft or midwifery.
Just when the Vatican starts to get it right, Gosar jumps in and throws a screwball at the Pope. Catholicism, according to Pope Gosar, should stick to things like abortion or the persecution of Christians by ISIS, something he forgets that Christian men did to the Muslims throughout the Middle Ages.
While he stopped short of calling Pope Francis a heretic, by putting a heretical spin to his climate change encyclical, Gosar, and those men like him, take a page from early Christian history. In those days the church fathers sanctioned power over reason, and today, Gosar wants to throw science, the EPA, and climate change on the fire. Who the hell does he think he is?
With the Pope working to quell revolt from within his church, this dentist from Arizona wants to decide what the leader of the Catholic world should say to Congress. Gosar and his shrinking band of climate change deniers will go on obstructing progress like this. If Gosar wants to dabble in Catholic dogma, then he should “do so in his personal time”.
When I talk about the problems of patriarchy with other men, a rare few give me a knowing smile, but mainly, after a few polite seconds, most lose interest. His eyes kinda glaze over just before he breaks eye contact altogether. His shoulders slump forward and I wonder if he is about to say something like,“but, but, I didn’t do anything!?” or the plaintiff cry, “what can be done?!”. We easily agree that the world has problems: poverty destroys childhood, climate change, ISIS in the middle east and genocide in Africa, pollution, and terrorism are all horrific threats, but we can’t seem to agree, or disagree for that matter, on exactly who is doing it. He often blushes when I remind him that the wizards behind ecological catastrophe, cruelty, and massive population trauma are 80% men. We could call them out worldwide and demand they stop putting their legislative hands on women’s bodies. We could demand that they stop producing radioactive waste, demand that they quit their jobs at Smith & Wesson. But most importantly, demand that men stop working out their lack of nurturing through dominance and aggression. Despite the violence that rocks cradles around the world, in a world that counts it’s warriors as saviors, it is alarmingly unpopular to claim that MEN are the problem.
Rather, we soft-shoe stage left and carry on by demonizing Republicans or Democrats, liberals and conservatives, Muslims and Christians; we make scapegoats out of people of color, women, gays. We persecute middle eastern refugees who are only trying to escape the horrors that the male led, European colonial period helped to create. It’s either too much government, or too little, but by any name, if you follow the signatures of environmental, social, and religious catastrophes as I do, you will invariably find that patriarchy writes the rules that directly and indirectly supports the acidification of our oceans, say, or the contamination of an entire food chain with pesticides, or promotes injustice like making criminals out of women who demand their inalienable right of sovereignty over their own bodies.
Once I had seen, experienced and learned enough I literally stumbled
Over what was hidden in plain view
It’s in the middle of the floor, it’s invisible, its influence is as common as air, yet to start a conversation about the consequences of patriarchy is like trying to start a campfire in the rain. To measure the effects of patriarchy over the course of world history, would, of course, be nothing less than a history of everything. Patriarchy, or Father rule, is so present, that like the air that surrounds us, we are hardly aware of that presence. Feminist, Adrienne Rich, wrote in “Of Woman Born” in 1976, that men’s power is hard to see because “it permeates everything”. That patriarchy is always at war with someone or something virtually guarantees that he will write, and rewrite, the history of everything we can think of, right down to the Happy Meal you bought for your kids at McDonalds.Big business agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry; large and small governments alike, law enforcement and most religions tend to concentrate male attitudes and power. We must wake up to the fact that it’s men, not some great amorphous institution out there that’s dragging us towards THE SIXTH GREAT EXTINCTION: it’s pure and simply, MEN. It’s me too, and through patriarchy we think we feel safe.
Like a blizzard, the ubiquity of patriarchy is what makes it so hard to clearly make out the details. But like the blizzard, once air starts to move, it can make a helluva mess. While it is not in the heart of a blizzard to kill or to destroy, we must find the courage to be honest about what’s at the heart of patriarchy: the willingness, if not enthusiasm for aggression and domination. With rare exceptions, patriarchy already controls most everything you do. It tells you what to wear, how to act, what to eat, how to feel, what to believe, and what’s important and what isn’t.
The fear of change, of losing power has held patriarchy in a trance for 5,000 years. Despite his science, the arts and mind-boggling accomplishments, from habitat destruction to traumatized mothers and babies, men are still causing suffering on a stunning scale. His best thinking about his own advancement revolves around endless financial growth, cultural, racial and religious homogeneity and gaining the advantage, at any cost. The masculinization of reason is on the move everywhere. Like the soldiers of ISIS, or the shareholders of Monsanto, few men will ever desire less.
And where did these ideas come from? They are all the pernicious handiwork of a riptide of chronic male fear that grows itself in a million horrific ways. It’s a hard scrabble road from boyhood innocence to suicide bomber, so much innate wisdom, summer dreaming and hope for human kind is lost. The loss and grief induced by trauma, hunger, death, and oppression are an Everest of a tragedy and a major reason why boys and men (and the rest of creation) are in so much conflict with meaning and vision today. Not only are we men primarily responsible for climate change, massive cruelty, and stunning inequality, we’re doing it, in large part, because we suffer from a deep vulnerability rooted in the very basics of our biology.
Exploring the crossroads of man’s biologic vulnerability with the stressful demands that patriarchy places on him, I found that across his lifespan, living up to patriarchy’s expectations is harmful. He does not handle stress as well as females and can be seriously harmed by it during pregnancy, the critical first year, and long after. Ironically, men are the truest and most numerous victims of their own fearful patriarchal scheme.
And so philosophical and physical infrastructures were built on those fears. The Christian bible and the counsel at Nicaea in the 4th century AD, gave men permission to get hooked into the illusion of dominance over all creation and the retreat from humility began. Epic male brutality, gender inequality and global mismanagement followed, all under the banner of someone’s patriarchal god. These conditions persisted, multiplied and festered for millennia.
The 21st century is a reflection of those unresolved issues. It’s so tragic, we men have critically important roles to play, but thanks to arrogantly miscasting ourselves as dominators and absolute leaders so long ago, we got civilization off to a bad start, and the future does not look good either. If the loss of biodiversity crosses a certain threshold, we will have terraformed our own planet to death. If we survive, I tremble to think of the prejudice and arrogance we will take with us to the stars.
Enough! Although the way forward is not crystal clear, the solution is deeply rooted in the very things that men have been blindly destroying for millennia. We don’t need a list, we know what they are. The greatest hope we have is not in new technology, but in a change of heart.
ENDing PATRIARCHY is devoted to going deep into the problem of patriarchy and of finding alternative ways of thinking about it.