Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977) popularized the song “In the Ghetto” written by Mac Davis in 1969. The following TikTok video, featuring an artist with whom I am not familiar, is better—in my opinion—than any other rendition I’ve heard. Such depth! Such raw passion! Such strength! Such vulnerability!
Woke Man is often a Leader of some kind, someone Well Respected for his Work in some sort of Important Progressive Cause. Woke Man may, understandably, think pretty Highly of himself. He’s got quite a Clever Sense of Humor, you see. He’s got Helpful Insights and Wise Advice. He is Compassionate and Committed to Justice. He’s forgiven for being a bit Smug, because he is Popular in Certain Circles, or Admired in the Movement. He is Smart and Well Read, and/or good at Expressing his Informed Opinions. Often Eloquent or Pithy, he enjoys a Good Debate and likes to Sneer at inferior chumps who are Ignorant and Conservative, especially those Troglodytes who thump their chests in a brainless display of Toxic Masculinity.
He has Lots of Women Friends. Many of them consider him an Ally because of his Outspoken Criticism of certain problems such as Rape and Intimate Partner Violence. He may even Support these women when they bring up subtler issues such as Language or Equal Rights. He Proudly votes for Women Politicians and even Condemns the media for its Sexist Bias.
It must be hard for him. I get that. Our culture roars continuously at him in a deafening media cacophony that females are inferior, males are superior, and any male who is not clearly dominant in “masculine” forms of social currency (physical strength, wealth, fame) must be failing at manhood. So men who are getting older, or who are frail, or a bit on the plump/skinny side, or short statured, or less than wealthy, or losing their hair, or small-jawed, or didn’t do very well in school, or haven’t climbed far up a career ladder, or are rather Unremarkable… our culture tells them that— well, perhaps they aren’t particularly Successful at being Men, but at least they are Male.
Judy Chicago, The Three Faces of Man from Power Play, 1985
On December 1, 2018, I most reluctantly moved off a stable yard where I had kept my beloved mare Boo, aka Queen Boodicca, for ten years. I loved the place. It was horsey heaven. Unlike many other local stable yards, the horses were allowed to go out in the pastures 365 days a year. Previously I’d kept my mare on a yard where they could only go out three days a week in winter, which was not at all good for horses’ physical or mental well-being. But here, on my dream yard, Boo was turned out in a 24 acre mares’ field with 360 degree panoramic views of the rugged East Lancashire landscape, including stunning views of Pendle Hill. Even the most traumatized, wound up horses chilled out in those big pastures. Our only worry was not letting them get too fat on the rich summer grass.
Queen Boodicca in action
I had nothing but respect for the older woman who owned the yard and ruled it like a matriarch, keeping prices low because she was more interested in accommodating suitable horse owners, regardless of their income, than in making a profit. The other women horse owners were wonderful and supportive. They was hardly any of the snobbery or competitiveness that can spoil other stable yards. Continue reading “Toxic Masculinity: We Need to Talk”
Speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering.
Take only what you need.
Think about the consequences of your actions for seven generations.
Approach the taking of life with great restraint.
Practice great generosity.
Repair the web
In Rebirth of the Goddess, I offered Nine Touchstones of Goddess Spirituality as an alternative to the Ten Commandments. The Nine Touchstones are intended to inform all our relationships, whether personal, communal, social, or political.
The seventh touchstone asks us to approach the taking of life with great restraint.
Excuse me, but I thought you should know your misogyny is showing.
I have read with deep interest the article written by Ayesha Fakie and Khadija Bawa entitled: Dear Indian Muslim Men: We Need To Talk published by Huffington Post South Africa on March 7th of this year. I would like to add my two cents to this conversation, one that I believe is relevant and very necessary that we address as a community with genuine sincerity and accountability.
The diversity of the stories of people who have experienced sexual harassment or assault shows that this is not a partisan issue. Conservatives and liberals, rural and urban, religious and non-religious, sexual harassment and assault cross every boundary. It happens on college campuses, in the workplace, on the street, and, yes, in church.–Rev. Kira Schlesinger
When I was a teenager, a friend in my church youth group somehow mustered the courage to come forward to disclose the sexual misconduct of our youth group director. What happened next was ugly and my first real-life, in-your-face lesson about how patriarchal systems treat victims who dare to speak truth to power. Later, after the initial chaos began to subside, grown women with jobs, lives, and families of their own who had once been teen girls growing up in that same church community began disclosing to their families that he had preyed on them as well over the years.
Before hashtags were even a thing, that was my first experience with the essence of #MeToo — with women finding strength and solace in validating each other in their shared trauma.
As Rev. Schlesinger states above, this is not a partisan issue — or at least, it shouldn’t be. Nor, I would add, are Christianity and its churches the only religious institutions in which sexual harassment, abuse, and assault happen. While this particular teenage Confirmation class drop-out went on, as an adult, to find a spiritual home in a Pagan tradition, I am well aware that Pagans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. all see the same abusive situations play out over and over again within our traditions and our specific faith communities. Cardinal Pell, Kenny Klein, Rabbi Greer, Imam Saleem. My old youth group director, your former JCC teacher, her current archdruid. Big names or just locally familiar ones, the tragedy of it all is that as we continue to stand at the crossroads of feminism and religion, we’re hardly surprised anymore.
Last year, the leader of the (un)Free World was elected by ‘right choice’, much to the collective dismay of liberal leftists, a huge proportion of people of colour, progressive educationists, environmental conservationists, human rights defenders, religious reformists, and a large fragment of the developing world in the south of the globe. Today, Donald Trump has brought the world to the brink of World War III. Amidst accusations of undeclared tax returns and unabashed grabbing of female genitalia, the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is thrown about in a variety of media platforms. Many critiques lament how “inflammatory” the term is, one that is not quite “hopeful” for men, whilst the criticisms by media oligarchs reflect a hatred towards femininity.
Entitlement, sexism and narcissism can no longer be virtues of a millennial masculinity – we have lost so much already to corporate greed, warlords and racist bigots. Traditional, armorial masculinity is breaking our homes and our planet. At the ecological scale, the lungs of the earth mother are clogged. Wisdom-keepers decry the daily rape and plunder of their lands. The planet’s heart valves bleed toxins that can no longer sustain flora, fauna, fungi. Continue reading “What Could ‘Masculinity’ Mean in 2017? by Meghana Bahar”
There have been so many times
I have seen a man wanting to weep
Beat his heart until it was unconscious.
— ‘Masculine’, Nayyirah Waheed
PART I of II
There have been many times when I have wondered whether the world has reached a peak in a broken kind of masculinity.
The notion that there is only one kind of masculinity deserving pedestalisation, or even just one kind of masculinity, has long been discarded in the enclaves I have access to as a grassroots activist and scholar. These are not secret societies that are password-protected. They are protected, of course, by communities that uphold principles of freedom, dignity, equality and justice. But anyone is welcome.
A few days ago I watched the movie An Unfinished Life starring Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford, and Jennifer Lopez. Though it was recommended as a sensitive psychological drama, and though on the surface level it criticizes (male) violence against women and animals, on a deeper level, it confirms the association of masculinity with violence, suggesting that violence is the way men resolve their problems with each other.
At the beginning of the film, Robert Redford, who lives on a ranch in Montana, picks up his rifle with the intention of shooting a bear who mauled his friend Morgan Freeman. This act of violence is stopped by local authorities who arrive to capture the bear. However, the bear is not removed to a more remote area, but rather is given to a local make-shift zoo where it is kept in a small cage. At the end of the movie, Redford frees the bear after Freeman realizes that it should not be punished for injuring him. The bear is last seen crossing a mountain ridge in the distance.
Redford is grieving the death of his only son who died in an automobile accident while his son’s wife (played by Jennifer Lopez) was driving. After being beaten by her current boyfriend, Jennifer Lopez escapes with her daughter and ends up on Redford’s doorstep, announcing that her daughter is Redford’s granddaughter. Redford, who believes Lopez is responsible for his son’s death, grudgingly allows them to stay.
When Lopez’s boyfriend tracks her down in Montana, Redford drives him out of town, threatening to kill him with his rifle. When the boyfriend comes back, Redford shoots out the tires of his car, smashes the car’s windows with his rifle, and beats the boyfriend bloody before putting him on a bus out of town.