Saturday, March 28, 2015

Keyboard Warriors

I have been on the internet for a long time, from back in the days of giant computers and painfully slow dial up connections, from the days of news groups and subscription feeds. I know how brave people can be when they’re hiding behind a keyboard, thinking themselves all cloaked in anonymity and the games they will play, the freedom they will explore and run with. People can be pretty astounding when they think no one is watching, when they believe there will be no consequences for their actions.

People have said many mean things to me over the years. There have been numerous heated debates. I’ve had photo shops posted showing me in a variety of unattractive poses, my identity compromised, my words mocked and misquoted. These things are to be expected when you engage with people on-line.

Something changed however when politics really came onto the intertoob scene. I do blame President Obama for changing the tone, for his piss poor leadership skills when he told people to go “get in their faces” and “they bring a knife, you bring a gun.” President Obama unleashed his campaign armies onto the internet and gave them permission to behave in ways we had not really seen prior. They weren’t just on a mission to share ideas or discuss issues, they were on a campaign of personal destruction, to seek out their targets and completely annihilate them.

Death threats became common, threats against your family and children, doxing, tracking people down and notifying employers. Trolls have always been around, but “trolls” became something new, they became warriors for a cause, people who took those words to heart, “get in their faces, bring a gun to knife fight”. People on the internet were no longer seen as people, but rather enemies of the cause. I do not make this up, many trolls were actually paid for the efforts.

With this came a culture that thought nothing of making death threats, threats of rape, dismemberment, assorted forms of brutality and various relentless psychological techniques, such as “why don’t you just kill yourself, you’re worthless anyway.” “Here’s the woman your husband is sleeping with.” “Do you know where your kid is right now?”

If they were particularly evil they could track you on facebook and discover where your kids might be on any given day or pinpoint your precise address. They could contact employers, make phony reports to child protective services, basically try to harass you into compliance with whatever belief system they were selling.

I’ve changed screen names, identities, blogs, trying to elude these kind of people a few times. It’s not a lot of fun having people come at you when you cannot see who they are and you do not really know how much of what they say is bluster and bravado and how much poses a genuine threat. It can be scary if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. The last nasty incident I had, I threw in the towel and just doxed my own self. Bring it on people, you’re not even going to intimidate me into hiding anymore.

That failed leadership from President Obama and the actions of some professional trolls, created a whole lot of amateurs who began to emulate that same kind of behavior. It’s how many people now believe they can “win” debates. It’s how some people try to promote their social causes. It doesn’t work, it is a complete forfeit. Such hostility and abuse does not engender people to whatever you are arguing for.  It can however, scare some people into silence.

I see our kids trying to emulate this kind of behavior on the internet, I see women doing it to each other on facebook, and I certainly see feminists and mens rights activists engaging in it.
I have stayed up half the night talking with the other collateral damage of some of this same kind of cyberbullying. If you’re already depressed or dealing with some life stress, having a dozen people telling you you should just kill yourself is a pretty tough thing to go through. If you’re a woman, threats of rape and dismemberment can have a powerful affect on your fear level. If you’ve ever been a victim of crime and you now have random strangers you don’t even know threatening you, it can send people into hiding. Men can and have killed themselves over this kind of thing. So have several teens.

It’s not a joke.

Words have power. At the other end of your words is a real live person, a person you cannot see, so you have no way of knowing what they are going through, what challenges they are facing, what their mental state is. When people go on the internet, it is putting themselves out there, it is like reaching out in a social situation. People are not your tools to vent your frustrations on. They are not avatars you get to shoot down, they are real people.

There are a handful of so called Christian men and women who engage in this sort of thing, mostly red pills and some mens rights activists. I’m telling you, don’t do it. Don’t. Just stop it. Not only does that become a stain on your soul personally, it drives people away from your cause, it creates and validates the precise caricature people already have of you and the issues you claim to advocate for. You don’t win hearts and minds that way and you sure don’t honor your own salvation.

Everybody loses their cool, everybody says something wrong in the heat of the moment. That happens, you apologize and move on. I speak of those who actually outright advocate cyberbullying as a tactic. That is the behavior of fools and weak minded men and women who really ought to know better.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

“Never Hide Behind the Fact That You are A Girl,”

“Never Hide Behind the Fact That You are A Girl,” -Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman

Jane Seymour is really starting to get on my nerves. There I was loading the dishwasher when I was interrupted by her words coming out of the TV. Naturally, like all celebrities she is wagging her finger and delivering these little social justice lectures, also known as public awareness campaigns. What makes celebrities experts on everything, anyway?

So, all decked out in her hoop skirts and long hair, daintily holding her little medical bag, she announces, “never hide behind the fact that you are a girl.”

Say what?? First of all, who’s hiding?? Come on Jane, get with the times here, like perhaps a hundred years into the future. With the NSA, drones, and now wifi barbie, nobody is hiding anywhere. Ever again. If Elf on the Shelf isn’t watching you, that little camera on your laptop can be activated by any unemployed basement dweller with half a brain. There are tracking devices on our license plates, our money, our cell phones.  Besides Jane, my TV was made in China and the little green light glows even when the thing is off. I assume the entire Chinese government is probably spying on me.

Second of all, even in hip waders it’s hard to hide the fact that I am a girl. Not that I would ever want to, but there are just some things you cannot hide, if you know what I mean.

Seriously though, “never hide behind the fact that you are a girl?” Like, “Hey Batman, take a hike, I fight my own battles!” How about, “Oooh, it’s dark and scary down there and I see spiders. Move over dude, I’m going first!” Or perhaps, “Someone dropped their ring down the drain, get out-of-the-way let me show you how to wade through toxic waste like a girl!”

Sorry Jane, this just isn’t working for me. I’m not liking this idea at all. I don’t know how you do things in your world, but in mine we kind of appreciate being able to play the girl card.

There are these raccoons I throw pine cones at to try to chase away from the garbage cans. They throw them right back at me. Have you ever heard a racoon growl, Jane? It’s a cross between a cat and a bear, the stuff of nightmares. I understand why men used to make them into hats. I AM a girl, Jane, and raccoons are not only smart, they have three-inch claws and big teeth. And rabies sometimes. I won’t come out so well in hand to hand combat with a raccoon.

It may be somewhat pathetic, but if there’s a garden snake sunning on the front porch, I’m going to need someone to handle it on account of the fact that I can no longer get into my house. Or into my yard. Actually if he’s still there, I’m hesitant to drive down my street without all the car doors locked…The same goes for dead rats in the driveway. Backed up drains. Groceries that are too heavy…anything mechanical…changing the oil on the car…chasing the prowlers away…screws with square heads…finding the stud in the wall…taking the garbage to the dump…fixing the dishwasher…getting the tree off the house….

What in the heck do you think the corset, hoop skirts, and long hair were for Jane?? Hunting? Fighting Indians? Tackling raccoons?

sanitized truth and fairytales

As a kid I was blessed to have gotten my hands on an ancient book of fairy tales, many ancient books actually, the original Nancy Drews, the Wizard of Oz. Some people don’t realize it, but these versions are different from what we see today. They have characters full of dimension, angst, suffering, sometimes a rare triumph and victory. We have edited and sanitized these stories, bringing them more in line with the political correct attitudes of today. The modern versions of Nancy Drew are so flat and two-dimensional, so full of stupid and boring, she has been rendered nearly impotent, transformed into something so unappealing many girls have no interest in her at all anymore.

I remember reading many of these tales and being horrified, traumatized even. But is that not the sign of a really good piece of literature? Isn’t it somehow wonderful to finish a book feeling as if you had just walked through those adventures yourself and to now look up and realize your very perceptions of reality itself have changed?

When it comes to fairy tales, disneyfication happened, sanitizing those tales into something pleasant and charming, something people would find appealing to share with their children. We don’t want any trauma here, no uncomfortable feelings, and certainly not any complex moral issues that might cause one to think too critically or to question anything. Also, everyone must always get their prince or princess and live happily ever after in a palace….

I’ve been known to run around singing like a teapot a la Angela Lansbury or trilling to the forest creatures like Snow White, so it’s not as if enjoying these versions are bad or something.

It’s simply that in the modern western world we now live a rather sanitized and insulated existence, walled off even from the nature of our own selves. Even love is now reduced to something akin to a Hallmark card, a somewhat flat and two dimensional thing involving receiving little commercialized tokens of affection and endless romance. It is no surprise we have so much divorce, so much unhappiness, so much frustration. Where’s my happily ever after, the trilling forest creatures, the palace I ordered??

In the Gift of the Magi, she sells her hair to buy him a chain for his watch, while he sells his watch to buy her some combs for her hair. Those somewhat comical stories of human foibles and sacrifice for love are all but forgotten today.

In the original Little Mermaid there is no fun loving Ariel. She gives up everything, her identity, her very life itself, just to taste what it is like to have a human soul, to suffer unrequited love. She sacrifices her very life just to know human suffering. She does not get her prince in the end, she sacrifices herself and finds God instead.

Cinderella isn’t really a story about true love and finding your prince, it’s a story about suffering and grief, about unfair circumstances and injustice and the cruelty of human beings. It’s about sexual competitiveness, power struggles, and the hierarchies of human nature. It’s a about preserving your soul and keeping your heart soft in the face of such challenges. It’s about the beauty to be found in suffering, graciousness, humility. “Cinderella,” the name itself, in all it’s different versions and translations, means one whose worth is not seen on the outside.

Beauty and the Beast is about sacrifice too, about letting go and learning how to love in the face of fear. Beauty must let go of all her preconceived notions, her fears and simply trust her heart, take a leap of faith. But the Beast must let go of Beauty herself and risk living under a curse for the rest of his life. There are lovely themes about freedom, sacrifice, and love, woven all throughout the original story.

These are such valuable and important life lessons to know, so I perceive the loss of these fairy tales as a kind of theft. We have been robbed of the truth about our own selves and deprived of the commonality of the human experience.

Pinocchio, he wants to be a real boy, but he is trapped in his own deceptions. Truth is something we as people tend to have a hard time with, always thinking we can improve the tale of ourselves, simply by retelling it in a fashion more to our liking.

It is not all about you...

At the Mad Hatters Tea Party, also known as the intertoobz, one is frequently provided the opportunity to hear all about one’s total failures as a human being.

You really have to grow a thick skin or you will go insane. If you are already insane, all the better. Freedom’s just another name for nothing left to lose. If you can try to develop some masochistic tendencies, you really got it made.

Sometimes I collect these things, when they show some particular skill or artistry, and post them in my Rave Reviews. Here are some of my recent epic fails as a human being: delusional.. indoctrinated… incapable of thinking for yourself.. powerless.. weak.. you don’t see your own shortcomings.. you have a blind spot the size of Uranus.. you are being judged and from the looks of it you are not going to make it..I hate you….your faith is weak….you’re a pathetic woman…everyone hates you….uneducated imbecile…troll…you’re a liar….IB speaks the words of a harlot..

That last one I was rather fond of and wrote a whole post about. Anyway, in most of these the YOU is usually put in all caps, screamed out at the whole world so there is no doubt who we are taking about here. It is YOU, YOU, I tell ya. YOU are a total failure as human being.

No, no it is not. The need for those caps reveals a defensiveness and doubt that is so typical of people caught up in knee jerk emotionalism and rhetoric. When one is in that state it is all about YOU. Often our mean little words projected out at somebody else reveal a great deal about what is going on in our own psyches and have very little to do with the person we are pitching our own little digs at. OUR OWN little digs, as in what we say about others are what we say about ourselves.
When you insult someone, especially a complete stranger on the internet, it is all about YOU. You do possess the truth, but all you possess is the truth about yourself.

Can’t we all just get along? No, no we cannot. It is not the nature of human beings to get along and agree on everything. In fact, when that happens it’s rather creepy. What we can do however, is act civilly towards each other. Stop personalizing every single issue as if it is all about YOU and your personal offense and how YOU feel.

It would be lovely if, when somebody writes something on the internet that speaks to their own experiences as a human being, we would stop and consider the fact that this is not all about YOU. This is about somebody else, a real live person with feelings, emotions, etc. YOU do not have to agree. YOU may even want to disagree. YOU may even want to point them in another direction. YOU may even want to start your own blog to express YOUR own views.

I rather enjoy controversy, debate, confrontation even, as long as it is somewhat civil and kind. The Stupid however, it just annoys me.

Cultivating Honor

Honor is to “regard with great respect.” Who? Yourself!

It’s a concept that has plagued men for centuries. I say “men” because honor is simply something different in women, something more along the lines of empathy or charity.

I say it has plagued men for centuries because it has, because honor has never been an easy thing to cultivate. The world is not very good at rewarding honor. In the modern world, we watch people become successful by lying, cheating, acting like thugs, and often getting themselves elected to public office.

Where is the pay off in honor? Good guys always finish last! In the mediated reality we call culture, we see a lot of thuggery and women pursuing it, as if it is some desirable quality in men. The most tweeted photo by women recently was of a good-looking felon with turquoise eyes. Kanye West comes to mind, people see his success, his wealth, his women, and think what the heck is going on there??

Honor is a somewhat irrational thing, in terms of it doesn’t always get you want you want immediately. That’s a real problem in our culture right now, we measure success with external things and we want quick results. Honor is a long-term investment requiring some sacrifice and often it will appear as if you are finishing last, while those with no honor harvest all the goodies.

When push comes to shove however, and everything else has fallen away, your own honor, your ability to “regard yourself with great respect” is a powerful tool. It is all you need and sometimes all you will have.

When I read these churchian gamers and some of the red pills, that is what screams out at me the loudest, all these men desperately seeking their honor, arguing with themselves over whether or not honor has any value, trying to define themselves by what they perceive women want.  It shouldn’t really be about women at all however, it should be about you. How you treat women who are often smaller, weaker, and sometimes even more confused than you are, is certainly a piece of the puzzle, but it begins with you.

Honor is a virtue you cultivate for yourself, because it is what speaks to who you are as a person. Honor is what defines YOU, not anyone else. It is where you find your authentic power, not the false bravado we often see on TV, but the real deal.

Your honor really matters. It is vitally important. It should be your work, your mission in life, to cultivate the ability to regard yourself with great respect. That concept seems to be getting lost in many places and it’s kind of sad because people are seeking external solutions for what is an internal problem and that will lead to nothing but despair and unhappiness.

Honor is not fragile like Venetian glass, it has genuine bouncibility, completely unrelated to those whose egos are so fragile, they must have everyone around them walk on eggshells. Honor is worth cultivating because it gives you a resilience that is simply unshakable.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reclaiming Femininity

pinkWe live in this chaotic world of ever-changing gender roles, built upon one contradiction after another. I’m still trying to understand how gender can be nothing more than a social construct and yet also so important it’s someone’s very identity and they have the right to choose whatever gender they want. So, “no one should ever be defined by their gender” versus “my perceived gender is my entire identity and it is my civil right to make the whole world acknowledge me.” Usually I enjoy a good paradox, but this one just gives me a headache.  

teacupsThere are many superficial markers of gender. Pink for girls and blue for boys, for example. Not long ago that was actually reversed, so we would dress our little boys in pink, pink being perceived as the juvenile form of scarlet and scarlet was the color of warriors and soldiers. Pink was a power color, vibrant, strong, masculine. In some museums you can still see the pink christening gowns we used to dress our boys in. Blue was the color of water, it was calm, serene, feminine. Also, unpredictable and stormy. Powerful however, as in the power of the ocean. Of course, outside of the Western world each culture has its own relationship between gender and color.

Pink is my favorite color, ever since I was a tiny girl. My grandmother had pink appliances and I used to love pink tights, pink dresses, pink roses. Pink was frowned upon however, it got dirty too easily, it was seen as a negative marker of girls. With the march of feminism, women and girls rebelled against the very idea of pink. I quickly learned to lie about my favorite color. Once somebody asked me what my favorite color was and I said orange. Orange? Orange is ugly! Well yes, but at least isn’t pink! I was judged acceptable at that point.

Pink-shame. It’s a rather silly thing but I hid my love of pink deep within me like a closely guarded family secret. We do this to little girls in our modern culture, we teach them to deny the nature of themselves, as if it is somehow shameful to think like a girl, throw like a girl, dream like a girl. Rather then teaching girls that there is also strength in gentleness, value in softness, glory in the color pink, we tend to promote this idea that all things perceived as masculine are far superior. We somehow manage to do this, not by elevating men and boys, but by shaming them too. They are allegedly hogging all the masculine things that women and girls are told we want.

Free-Vintage-Valentine-Image-GraphicsFairyDo we truly want them, however? We are never really asked nor do we ever really ask ourselves. We tend to march along with cultural expectation and norms, complying in a million different ways. So many little girls who want to have tea parties with bears and dream of white picket fences are steered away from those things in favor of the more socially acceptable, get an education, become a CEO, delay marriage, more girls in STEM, girls in constant competition with men as if we have something to prove, as if we must prove ourselves worthy. Anything you can do, I can do better.

Recently I read an article about men who are allegedly breaking the gender wall and disclosing their secret feminine side. It was full of praise for their bravery. I could not get over the first one on the list, “I like flowers.” Seriously, is that really a feminine thing?? Would you not simply be a rather miserable human being if you did not like flowers? We speak out a lot about the horrors of rigid gender roles, while at the same time assigning gender to every little thing. Naturally the men in the article were being called brave, strong, masculine, for having the courage to….embrace the precise opposite. Believe it or not, in the grand scheme of things, “liking flowers” is really not a significant act of bravery.

Somewhat amusing, but I imagine if those men had said something about enjoying and embracing all things perceived as masculine while rejecting things perceived as feminine, they would have learned a thing or two about bravery and the need to grow a thick skin, at least on the internet. Loving your own gender, living in your own skin, is somewhat frowned upon these days.

I love little boys, snips and snails and puppy dog tails, and I love men too, and the things they like, the way their brains work, how they perceive the world, but I do not really desire those things for myself and never have, because within me is an entirely different world that has a worth and value all of its own.
Pearl in Oyster

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Listen Up, Red Pills

You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

For those who don’t know, the Red Pills are those who fancy themselves having falling down the rabbit hole and managed to nibble off the correct mushroom, now bravely going about the business of perceiving the world as it really is, rather than as they want it to be. They and only they, have the intestinal fortitude to face the truth no matter how harsh and gritty it can be. Everyone else is still existing in a blue pill world of illusion.

A lot of men find this idea appealing, a lot of Christian men, and a handful of women. Some Red Pill women are, well….let me just say that you do not ever want to have to visit the female psyche in all it’s raging psychosis. It can be downright dark and scary there. I’ve met her several times. Trust me, she’s not for the faint of heart.

It’s not all bad. Some Red Pills may in fact have the wisdom to take what is useful and leave the rest behind. Some may actually have some powers of discernment. I pray this is true, but I do tend to get my mushrooms all confused, which is very bad thing indeed and can lead to blue pill delusions if you’re lucky, death if you aren’t.

Red Pills mostly focus on men, often relationships between men and women. They’ve picked up some nuggets of wisdom here and there, but their ability to come so close to the truth and then just go plunging into the abyss is really quite astounding. The cheese done slid off the cracker in many cases.
One frequent problem is that they often seem to confuse love and loyalty with Stockholm syndrome. For those who don’t know, Stockholm syndrome is when your psyche breaks and you start to empathize with your captors as a matter of survival. Crazy, I know, but when you think you have to crush somebody’s psyche to make them love you, you got issues.

Another problem they often have is they seem to forget that women are actually real people. This may well be because so many of them don’t seem to interact with women very often. So they become very male focused and their ideal for relationships seems to involve a matrimonial trinity of me, myself, and I.

So this “harsh gritty truth” they so bravely face often involves the idea that women can never really love them as they desire to be loved, that women are mindless victims of our own hypergamy, that we are incapable of loyalty and empathy, and that men must always remain in complete control at all times so as to never risk anything akin to sacrifice or vulnerability.

It’s just the same old standard and incredibly boring forms of emotional abuse, repackaged as some sort of great Red Pill truth. It is the process of dehumanizing women and emotionally detaching yourself so you can then justify your own ego and indifference.

There are many people in the internet working very hard to speak out against feminism, to speak in favor of marriage, to promote Christian values, to heal and nurture gender relationships. This can be extremely difficult when you have other people roaming around, promoting the exact opposite.

I have a Red Pill truth for you all and it is a tough one. Love actually requires risk, vulnerability, humility, and sacrifice, and it is often painful. Yes, it will cost you. The opposite of love is indifference, control, and dehumanizing the object of your alleged affection.

At the very least what so many of you are advocating is the avoidance of intimacy and the emotional abandonment of women and wives, ironically the most cited cause of divorce in this country. Some try to dismiss that as if women are just destroying marriages right and left on nothing but a whim. It is not a whim however, it stems from being emotionally abandoned by men who fail to understand the need to create that connection. That connection IS the whole point of marriage.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Gender Fears

Men and women really are different obviously, and that’s a delightful thing. It baffles me why anyone would seek to make us the same. We tend to try to do that all over our culture right now. Recently I’ve been observing this happen to our superheros, we must have a female Thor, so Thor has a sex change. The Green Lantern must be made female, why do we not have a female Green Lantern?? Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes must be portrayed by a female, and on and on the narrative goes, the rewriting of cultural memes and the transformation of our icons past.

This is actually kind of lazy and a bit demeaning to women, coming under the guise of feminism or not. I mean seriously, the world needs more superheroes, not recycled ones from long ago, freshly given a new politically correct persona. Not only does that deprive us of new and creative female superheros, it’s boring as heck because it’s been so overdone.
batmanFrom observing people and reading literature, I’ve come to conclude that what men fear the most is being rendered insignificant. To be edited out of the equation by women and tossed aside in favor of something more appealing. That makes perfect sense within the context of biology and culture, because the role of men and their place in society, in the family, has been getting rewritten for the past 50-60 years. Biologically speaking, that fear of being erased, rendered insignificant, would be innate. It’s cruel and cold and clinical but so much of men’s value in to the biological equation has revolved around their expendability. Men have literally been called to die protecting women, families, children, for centuries.

Personally I don’t want anyone to have to die for me, but this little bit of truth is a good one to be aware of, because women really are called to pour some honor into men, to value them, to let them know they are significant, that they do matter. Not just in the context of husbands and wives, but all over our culture. Men will die for you. We see this all the time in first responders, in our military, in men protecting families, in health issues and early heart attacks from working too hard. There are some real yahoos out there and women sometimes lose their lives protecting others too, but in general, it is men who more frequently lay down their lives. What’s fair, what’s equal, is to let them know their sacrifices are not insignificant. They matter. They are not invisible to us.

What women tend to fear the most is being feared by men. That is an odd one, but it begins to make sense if you consider that fearful men often pose the most danger to women. What you fear, you are driven to control and destroy. Instinctively women know this and most  tend to steer clear of fearful men. Also, when men are scared of us, so much for their ability to protect and provide. If little old me scares you, you won’t be of much use when a saber tooth tiger shows up.

There is a lot of criticism and confusion over women as thug chasers, men who don’t understand why women sometimes pass over nice guys in favor of felons. Because women get broken too! Because the best way to feel better about your own issues is to seek a man more messed up than you are, and because thugs generally appear not to fear women. Heck they don’t even fear social norms. Often dumber than a box of rocks, but no fear. No fear is attractive.

Women also often feel compelled to “fix” broken men and in a healthy context, this is a good thing. Women are designed to bring out men’s better nature, their higher selves. Some men don’t have a better nature, but hey, biology marches right along anyway.

Biology matters. Working within the framework of who we are as people creates a lot more harmony and joy in the world. This little dynamic with our superheros and icons past is really an odd one. It plays into men’s fear of being erased, of being rendered insignificant, and puts women in the position of now being scary. So men fear you, now what? What’s the next chapter in this story??

It is angst and longing and loneliness. Someday our female Thor will get tired of punching men in the face and realize that what she truly desires deep within herself is intimacy with her enemy, but by then it will be too late, because she will have annihilated them all.