I am grateful for dreams. I don’t know what they are, of course, in any absolute sort of way. Defining dreaming is as elusive as dreams themselves. Moreover, I find that understanding dreaming is complicated by the vastly variegated quality one finds in hearing people speak of their experiences of dreaming. Some say things such as “I can never remember a dream,” while others say they only remember bad dreams. Some place no stock in dreams at all, while for others they are the numinous truth realms beneath all waking phenomena. I have spoken with hard-science minded colleagues as well as artists about dreams, who regardless of professional vocation can be utterly untouched by their nighttime journeying. On just a few occasions have I ever heard people speak of their dreams as definitively shaping their lives in the way that my dreams, or more precisely, in the way that the faculty of dreaming, has impacted my life.
Continue reading “In Dreams by Natalie Weaver”
Several weeks ago, Liam Neeson was doing a press tour for his latest movie. He caused quite a stir by bringing up an event from his life from 40 years ago. Actually, it was an event that happened not to him but to a female friend. She had been raped and characterized the rapist as “a black man.” In typical male bravado, he took offense and set off to act out a what has been called “a racist revenge fantasy” by taking a weapon and looking for a black man to beat up and/or kill.
Here is a link to an article of his interview.
I am in a fairly unique position to respond as I myself was raped at knifepoint also about 40 years ago. On second thought, and truly sadly, it is unlikely that I am in a unique position. Rape is the coin of violence. It is used in war, arguments, power plays, where our bodies become the battlefield on which such violence is played out. There is truly nothing sexual about it.
Here is what rape does to the psyche. It tells us that our bodies are for someone else’s ephemeral pleasure, not our own. It tells us that we are not safe in the face of someone, usually a male’s violent whims. It tells us that we are objects without full personhood. It slashes a hole in our core selves that fills with rage and pain instead of love and wholeness.
Continue reading “Liam Neeson and White Toxic Masculinity by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”
Adult Daughter (“AD”): Hi Mom, Alex said to tell you “hi.”
Me: That’s nice. How is she?
AD: How are “they?” Alex uses “they,” mom.
Me: Oh right, sorry. I am having some trouble wrapping my head around using “they” and “them.”
AD: Well mom, that is something you’re going to just have to get over.
Using “they” to refer to one person short circuits my long life of grammar training. I found my mind resisting the plural no matter how many times I reminded myself that Alex uses plural pronouns. As I considered my brain’s resistance to “they/them,” I realized that singular gendered pronouns are truly a cultural construct. I went on to muse that maybe Alex was on to something bigger than themselves. I began to think about the Bible, arguably the foundational document of our patriarchal society, and how it uses a plural form while referring to a singular or one God.
Continue reading “What Gender is God Anyway? by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”
Second Class Citizen
When he backed me
up against the tree
inching towards me
with his big powerful car
I couldn’t believe
what was happening.
I was holding the space
for a car full of dogs
waiting to park
just behind him.
He got out of the car
And I said
You can’t do this
this spot is taken.
Six feet tall, he sneered
You can’t save spaces
in a parking lot.
Continue reading “Second Class Citizen by Sara Wright”
It’s been almost two years since I lost someone I loved. The relationship was short, tortured, unhealthy (as all my romantic relationships have been, but that’s another story…) However, I fell particularly hard for this one. When we separated, the pain was unthinkable. I was surprised by how deep it ran. I didn’t know until he was gone how much I really cared about him. I became physically sick, and even now there are days when I only have to bring him to mind to conjure a familiar pressure behind my eyes and in my throat.
Why did he leave? Why did I love him so much? What went wrong? How can I stop suffering from this? I’ve discovered that satisfactory answers are nonexistent.
All I could find were platitudes. “It’s his loss.” “Now you know his true colors.” “You’ll find someone else eventually.” And then there are the hollow religious comforts like, “God has someone better.” Unsurprisingly, these flippancies don’t help much, but they are predictable and forgivable. Continue reading “The Dangers of Learning Your Lesson by Abigail Smith”
For many feminists, experience is crucial. Experience has long been associated with feminist epistemological theories which suggest that reflection on and analysis of one’s experiences offer crucial insight into society. In the history of the women’s movement, this insight and analysis has many times translated into direct action to change the way our society functions.
Experience too has been problematized by various postmodern and postcolonial feminist theorists. They rightly point to the situated-ness of all experiences along class, race, gender, ethnic, religious and other lines. (For more on these ideas, one could read Postcolonialism, Feminism & Religious Discourse edited by Laura E. Donaldson and Kwok Pui-lan.) The context of each and every experience is different. It would be unwise therefore to assume that experiences produce adequate knowledge about societies and how they function. For example, the experience of white middle-class British women living in India during the British occupation is very different from her indigenous contemporary and completely different from lower caste men and women of the same time period. It is important to remember here that patriarchal privilege rears its head and favors some people’s experiences over others, often codifying an experience as “the experience.” When we talk about experience then we should acknowledge that there is no such thing as a generic experience. In fact, some post-modernist feminist thinkers think that situated-ness can color experience so much that our experiences may not even be reliable descriptions of the way society functions. Continue reading “My Experience of Community by Ivy Helman”