Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Troubled Male Ally



Comment sections: what a hell realm, what a hungry ghost realm. I think of Kosho who once said, "Hey, you know how you feel like you have to make a work circle announcement? Don't worry, you don't."

Hey, you know how you feel like you just have to say something in a comment section? Don't worry, you don't. Actually, if I really, really, really feel like I have to say something I should just wait ten days and see how it sounds then. Because it's exhausting to ride the wheel of internet samsara. 

Remember this? Can A Man Be A Feminist? Well, I went back there to look at this: The Trouble With Male Allies. It was pretty good, except when it said this:

"I, of course, see this often as men try to comment here on this site by authoritatively stating “AS A FEMINIST______,” demanding that we lend him more credibility in these discussions because he self-identifies as an ally. These men tend to be become quickly irate when you tell them that their opinion on feminism or what is wrong with feminist ideology isn’t of much concern."

When I was called a Douche bag on Feminist Current ...

WAIT I'm sorry, no one actually called ME a douche bag, it went more like this:

Me:"I'm a feminist"
Comment: "Men can't be feminists"
Meghan: "Men who call themselves feminists are douche bags"

I've been told over and over again that Meghan didn't mean me. I have a really tough time seeing this and I give up. Maybe I need to rework my neural path ways. 

Anyway, when I was offended on Feminist Current, I didn't say anything but, "I bow out." And then I read that men who are called out when identifying as feminists are "irate?"  So I say: 

"I didn’t fight you all when I was attacked here and called a douche bag (self hate much?). I just left. Your logic is extreme, provocative, and has made you extremely popular. Congratulations.
However, what are you doing to, beyond a demagogic symbolic rally cry, to challenge patriarchy? Is calling me a douche bag using the the masters tools to destroy the masters house? or is it just another polarizing misstep that cuts resistances of common goal off from each other?
You and DGR can “keep it real” while the land base goes to shit, as I’m not REALLY interested in our phenomenal expressions of man and woman. It’s simple: Patriarchy, capitalism, ecocide= not one frog left standing."
Red Legged Frog Lover,
Kogen

You know, they really thought the frog add in was over the top, but I still disagree; there are even less Red Legged Frogs then there are male allies, and at least we can learn to speak human languages. 

Secondly, I said something about the effectiveness of the feminist movement. 

Right here, I'd like to extend my criticism that Nothing Is Getting Done to all movements. How do I know this? Because when I go to a protest the cops bring their guns and I have to leave mine at home. Okay, so I don't have a gun, but what I mean to say is that we are still facilitating the down hill flow of violence...My dad always said don't bring a knife to a gunfight...you know what I brought to the last "gun fight"? A sun flower. Then I "risked" arrest, only widely "escaping" as it took police at least an hour to arrest 20 people (though over 200 patient ones "succeeded"). Feminism included, all these movements seem to populate the board with pawns against a kingdom of queens, or rooks, or some fast moving powerful piece. So please, yes, we're building culture, we're educating ourselves and others, but largely things remain unchanged. The only real change I've seen is mutation: we have a black man in office who is known in the papers as the "king of drones." Drone strikes, brown person dropping bombs on other brown people. Why should white men alone be suspect? I say be wary of all in power. 

Lastly, about DGR, my awakening movement, to who I owe my approach to activism, I mean how did the leadership make such a huge deal about the transgendered issue that Aric left.  This, after my experience with Austin, TX chapter collapsing (with no response from the founder, nor anyone I talked to from DGR) and that the Bay Area chapter is non existent (I think? Can't find anything. Spoke to a DGR table person last year in Berkeley and he said there was nothing going) I can say that DGR seems like a cluster fuck. Great hearts, rallied the eco warrior spirit, but fell into the same in house fighting they warned against. I still love them, but good god. 

And about the transgendered issue, why couldn't the non-cis women just stand down and accept that cis-women wanted their own space? My personal policy is that if someone feels uncomfortable with my presence, I'll give them space. No justification necessary. It's not about me, or transgendered women, it's about some humans that want a space they feel comfortable in. 

Given that, I reject that transgender is a post modern manifestation and a coup of gender co-opters. That's some Scientology shit right there. Transgender has roots that reach back 3000 years. Hell, 9/8 of our Buddhist statuary looks trans and manifest as male, female, non-male, non-female. 

And that's what I learned in the hell realm of Feminist Current. And I'm thankful. There are so many mean spirited comments over there directed at me, at least 10 people can't be wrong; there's something for me to look at. 
1. I mansplained ( in clever enough way that I didn't notice and no one else called it our either-the worst)
2. Why do people have to voice they're not comfortable for me to leave on my own accord?
3. I derailed the main point of the blog post (which is actually a very good post).

Yeah, so, I don't fit in over there. Does anyone know of a movement that actively combines resistance to patriarchy, capitalism, and ecocide from the Buddhist perspective that these things spring forth from greed, hate, and delusion, which cause the suffering we see in our world? 

Maybe Buddhist Peace Fellowship will be nice. But who cares, really. Feminist or male ally, I think back to last month as me and my friend Claudia waited to be arrested. There was a calm as we wrote the Know Your Rights hotline on our hands with big black markers; Feminist or not, we didn’t feel so separate then. The gravity of big men in black armor suits with practical baseball bats brought together the IWW, Idle No More, Earth Sangha, some socialists, some anarchists, and our little contingent of robe wearing Ecosattvas from a Zen temple in the hills, aged 20-70. As we were rounded up, these titles fell away. Elbow to elbow, sweating on hot black pavement, wishing for sunscreen and water, it didn’t matter, and it sure didn’t matter to the fucking police department as to what faction they should place us with once protesters were zip tied. 

For the record, I'll never call myself feminist again. I agree with Meghan here- it's not for me to decide. And it doesn't really impact my actions. 

May Avolokitsvara lend me her ears so that I might hear more suffering in the world. May Manjushri help me cut through the delusion. May Samanthabhadra give me courage to move toward obstacles. 



13 comments:

  1. I've got no problem with men calling themselves feminists or feminist allies. I'm glad we're finally getting to where some men are willing to do this and to speak out against sexism and misogyny. When I was younger, most of the men I knew either mocked feminists, criticized them, or retreated into awkward or disapproving silence when women started discussing these issues. Even the ones who basically agreed with feminists were embarrassed to admit it in front of their male friends.

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    1. Hey! Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for the support. And one of these days, I'll come back to the writer's forum...you know, temple life and harvest days...But winter is coming!

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    2. Cool. I've missed seeing you online, but I know life gets busy. Thinking about the whole male feminist thing, the only time I find it irritating is when males try to "talk down" to women by A. explaining how we shouldn't take something personally or that something isn't *really* sexism because [insert one of a kajillion arguments], or B. Try to tell women how they "should" approach the issues of equality. The old, "You ladies just need to learn to be more assertive" or "To kick the rapists in the nuts" thing gets old sometimes.

      Perhaps some of the women who are asking the men to butt out have experienced these things too many times? Still, I think it's a mistake to toss the baby out with the bathwater. Issues of equality shouldn't be (in my opinion) couched as "us versus them." Not all males want to perpetuate patriarchy, and even if they sometimes screw up, I think it's better to point out the mistake than to kick someone who means well to the curb (or say that men who call themselves feminists are douchebags).

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    3. You know, ironically, when I left the dinner table last night my friend experienced what you describe. Actually, that's not ironic since it's prone to happen all the time in patriarchal dominant culture. Guys with degrees in gender studies proceeded to drown her out and make bold statements. I could die just hearing about it.

      And that's the thing- these guys took feminism classes, consider themselves allies, and they misstep. What's that tell me? I can misstep. That's the thing with entitlement, we hardly know it's there...

      For the record, I'm thankful for all those over at Feminist Current. They don't pull punches.

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    4. Wow is this just another reason why I don't go to meetings (web or otherwise) with any group that specifically identify themselves by gender, religion, or political party. The so called core group is always ready to disrespect anyone they feel is not in the club or deemed unworthy to be members. Let them be.....

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    5. Well, to be honest Uncle, I'm guilty of my fair share. And I hear you on the religion, politics, and gender clubs...But the biggest thing here was that these radical feminists were asking me to check my privilege at the door, and the more I look at, the more I feel I missteped.

      All and all, the people over at the feminist current are dedicated peeps pushing the envelope and share an eye i'm not blessed with. Love you!

      Thanks for stopping in! I didn't think you read ALL my stuff!

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  2. I hear the pain this post. It feels very familiar to me. Some days, I think nothing beneficial is happening, despite all the activism, movements, etc. And there's so much bullshit and ego to deal with, regardless of what's happening.

    One of the problems with a lot of these groups, be it online forums or on the ground activist groups, is that they lack compassion. They don't cultivate it, nor embody it. And many have been so burned by life that anything remotely looking like compassion is dismissed as bubblegum. It's difficult to step into the middle of such situations, say or do anything, and not feel burned yourself.

    This morning, I took some solace in learning about this teenager, and all the others standing up for the planet. http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/14/13-year-olds-wise-words-public-speaker-activist-xiuhtezcatl-151268

    We really don't know what will come of all that's being done right now. I'm not sure if I'm optimistic or pessimistic. Neither seem accurate. All we can do is do what we can, and let go of the results.

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  3. I'm still feeling a little traumatized from my time in the Feminist Current hell realm of the comment stream referred to above. I also had the feeling that there was no compassion, they didn't want to give you a pat on the back, they called you infantile and a cry-baby and disturbed and it was all okay because they are oppressed women and you are the oppressor. I guess you invited the responses by posting in the first place but there was still this same feeling I get when I read comment sections on newspapers in south (remember Marcel's shooting?) and people are just being extreme and unforgiving and inhumane...because they don't have to look you in the face. It seemed like they were saying you have to do the "work," the self-examination etc. but do it in a vacuum, don't ask them for help, and god forbid don't do it in their comment stream or you'll be crushed. These women just don't seem like people I want to meet, they may be passionate and getting out there but I am just am not convinced their tactics are effective at reaching anyone but the choir. The same way I felt about DGR's tactics and look where it's getting them. Although I guess they reached you and maybe its helping.

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    1. I'll never forget NOLA.com's spin zone on the shooting. I agree, it's similar. But the thing about Fem Current and DGR is they're done preaching to the choir. I understand this: it's like at Zen Center, if we keep going over the 4 noble truths and 8 fold path in every single class, we might lose the core of practitioners who don't want to talk about that anymore. Do you believe me when I say hanging out at Feminist Current has actually helped me develop a softer focus, a wider focus?

      But there has to be a time and space for beginners to enter the conversation. It's just not at Feminist Current.

      But yes, I agree, there's a level of language and aggression there that I wouldn't invite a friend to come along. But if you seek it out...we'll...you'll get what's coming!

      I do wonder where men should go to discuss patriarchy. Nothing has popped up yet.

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  4. "The gravity of big men in black armor suits with practical baseball bats brought together the IWW, Idle No More, Earth Sangha, some socialists, some anarchists, and our little contingent of robe wearing Ecosattvas from a Zen temple in the hills, aged 20-70. As we were rounded up, these titles fell away. Elbow to elbow, sweating on hot black pavement, wishing for sunscreen and water, it didn’t matter, and it sure didn’t matter to the fucking police department as to what faction they should place us with once protesters were zip tied. "

    For a time, you felt unity with other activists, but you retained this "us vs. them" attitude. As long as you can't see unity with the "big men in black armor suits", you'll continue spinning your wheels, struggling to no end.

    Now that you've learned a lesson about calling yourself a feminist, why not aim higher? Why identify with any "-ist"? Or with anything?

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  5. You know, I knew these lessons were coming, but I had no idea how. I was hoping for a gentle pebble and a willing limb of bamboo.

    However, I'll aim no where, as that's what got me into this trouble in the first place.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Before I even read the previous comments (fearing ouch), you write -
    Does anyone know of a movement that actively combines resistance to patriarchy, capitalism, and ecocide from the Buddhist perspective that these things spring forth from greed, hate, and delusion, which cause the suffering we see in our world?
    Yes.
    Zen, as I see it. My personal vow to be right here, fully engaged in nonharming, beneficial action, free all beings, in whatever way I can.
    p.s. Have you written to your congressperson and senator? And Obama, who needs to not be too stubborn?

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    1. Dear Dalai Grandma,

      We did write to Obama and he wrote back! Well, maybe it was one of his cronies.

      This question- resistance to patriarchy, capitalism, and ecocide, from a Buddhist perspective is something I'll bring to the next Ecosattva meeting. We do have some anti-capitalist action items. But we never talk about the patriarchy piece and I wonder what my role should be as male.

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