care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, trust, honset and open communication #2

all-about-loveSo turns out I did finish this book a couple weeks ago. And like a typical person who loves clipping their fingernails, I neglected to follow up on the promise I made to my blog to post quotes after each reading. But alas, all is not concrete and though I may not be a big fan of never regretting, I am a big fan of second chancing.

I don’t think I’ve ever read the same book more than once. I often think about re-reading LOTR. That classic aryan fantasy always gets my empowerment juices flowing. “Legolas!, we need your fair skin and high cheek bones to pass through the high gates of Privilegeon, unabated by the predatorial gaze of the Gondor!”. Great stuff. Anyways, I think aal would be a great book to keep by your bed, like on a little nightstand with a cute DIY lamp. And every night after a hard days work, cutting wood and sewing by the river, I’d come home and flip to my favorite passage and read aloud to you while flossed your teeth. Or what if there were little tiny versions of aal and we put them in the drawers of nightstands at hotels and motels all around the country and they were free because we love love so much! So with that in mind, here’s some words from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

Estrangement from feelings makes it easier for men to lie because they are often in a trance state, utilizing survival strategies of asserting manhood that they learned as boys. This inability to connect with others carries with it an inability to assume responsibility for causing pain.

It’s not refreshing over and over again to get called out by a book the same way people in real life have called you out. What do you do if that’s a pattern in your life? Thinking about manhood and the shit hand that patriarchy has dealt everyone, often gets me thinking about which parts of me are truly me, worth keeping, and which parts are dickhead parts, ingrained to a degree that I can’t sort them out.

I’m not one for talking a whole bunch. Words don’t typically gush from my mouth. Stereotypically, unless its about Bo Jackson or the new Cleveland Cavs lineup. Lately, I’ve been realizing that I think a lot of people, men and women, are engaged in this secret, forever lasting game called, “Guess what I know”. The goal is to say as much stuff as you can at every possible juncture about as much stuff as you know for as long as possible. There’s no rules really. You can talk whenever you feel like it or wait your turn. Doesn’t matter as long as you are heard loudest and last. I suck at this game because I don’t know that much stuff. My ability to speak so matter of factly is inferior. But that’s really a different subject.

Kind of, I do know a good deal about myself and the relationships I’m involved in. So I do make conscious decisions about to whom and what I will say.  bell hooks talks about men withholding information as a means of obtaining power. Lying as a way to further control. Intimate terrorism. That’s dishearteningly true for me. I’m a pro at distancing myself and keeping the conversation surface level. I’m also mediocre at keeping information until it serves to give me the upper hand. However, I’m starting to think I don’t really understand the definition of ingrained. I’m trying to get rid of characteristics I have, but perhaps that thinking is too dichotomous. Some parts of me aren’t bad while others are good. Just like half of me isn’t white and the other is other.

Surely, smashing patriarchy isn’t as easy as dropping some bad habits and keeping some less bad ones. Not spilling my guts (origins?) certainly has its benefits. First of all in order to spill your guts you have to have some idea what’s in those guts. And to know what’s in those guts you have to put aside time to consider what your gut tells you. It’s easy to walk through life going through the conditioned motions of a man. It’s like being on a more aware version of drunk auto pilot. It’s harder for me to challenge myself to share feelings and put myself in emotional conversations that don’t have an easy way out. Whether or not I choose to engage in information withholding or lying, I could at least give the decision deeper consideration than my own immediate self preservation as an upholder of the man code. Be a gut man, asaya.

“Learning to live as a man of conscience means deciding that your loyalty to the people whom you love is always more important than whatever lingering loyalty you may sometimes feel to other men’s judgment on your manhood.” John Stoltenberg

This happens to me all the time. And I feel like you could replace man and men’s with any position of power, like white or heterosexual, and the same advice applies. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to put a twist on that treacherous ending to a statement – “like a girl”. It’s a hard one to reclaim. Especially if it’s not yours to reclaim. I want to make a shirt for my niece that has a positive mantra including “like a girl”.  When I think about it though I often get trapped in old sexist lines of thinking. Like A Girl Run The World. Like a girl live with this reality – 1 in 5 women have been raped. You make your dad a better person, like a girl.

Yesterday, while I was lifting weights with my big brother whom I love very much (Bryan you read my blog, right?), my nephew came in because he likes to be with the dudes while they make muscles and stuff. He is into football at the moment, so my brother had him doing some simple jumping and body movement drills. My nephew’s excitement about it quickly plummeted when he discovered it wasn’t instantly easy. My brother in turn told him that he sounded like a girl when he complained. I, in all my self-righteousness, said nothing.

As luck would have it, now I’m remembering that earlier in the month my brother told me that he cried like a girl when he saw an ad our cousin posted about how destructive the statement “like a girl” is. Hey, this seems like an opportunity to force in a “teamwork makes the dream work” plug.

One thought on “care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, trust, honset and open communication #2

  1. Hei man, I just read your post about reading the all about love book by bell hooks and I enjoyed it very much. It made me nostalgic about conversations I don’t have anymore very often -since all I seem to be reading and talking about is art lately- and that I miss so much, and find incredibly necessary to have all the time. It feels that since I have left Olympia I haven’t met many men who are interested or invested in talking about patriarchy and the way it has contaminated everything and make us all suffer in ways that are very absurd but also real and beyond our control. After dating Kai the sexist dynamics at the heart of hetero relationships became so clear that it make it seem impossible for me to date a man ever again. I hate to generalize but is so unsatisfying to have to deal with the silence, the walls, the shut-downness and from the “female” (whatever that means) perspective feels so foreign and unnecessary, like, what are your protecting yourself from? what’s going to kill you in here? what are you afraid of?

    I hear you about the struggle of trying to recognize what’s your true self from what you learned to be as a man… I feel like I am trying to do that all the time, although lately I feel I have figured out some stuff. Women have it easier though because if you show “masculine traits” depending where you are and who you hang out with it will be supported and cheered as a move towards empowerment -which is binary bullshit too, but helpful somehow. But men don’t get much of that if they show “feminine traits” even in the most progressive circles. One thing that for me has been very useful is to let go of those “masculine” or “feminine” labels because they only confuse things, in a very horrible way, and make it into a values issue: what are the kind of values I want to see enacted in the world? what is the kind of culture I want to live in and want, my nephew for example, to grow up in? and then act according to that and change what in me is not supporting those values. It is harder in Mexico because so much of the machismo culture is so ingrained and peer-supported. Like my brother, who I always thought was sensible enough to not reproduce my dad’s ways of being- and I still believe he is- and now that he is in a committed relationship I see him doing or saying stuff to his partner that makes me say or think: WTF??? The good thing about him and one of the reasons I respect him a lot is that he always listens and rectifies but if he is not called out on that shit constantly he just falls back on that -and I seem to be the only one who does that for him because I seem to be the only one who actually SEES the sexits bullshit. For everybody else is just the ways things are. Anyways, I miss you a lot and hope I get to see you this fall since we are relatively close again. Thanks for writing those posts, they are great! p

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