Archive for February, 2012

02/29/2012

Temptation and Cowardice

“There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.” –  Mark Twain 1835-1910

02/28/2012

Homophobia: The Art of Body Control

It’s no secret that access to women’s bodies has been at the crux of the issues we face in gender relationships. Feminists and many women in general in general will tell you that reclaiming and maintaining a woman’s governance over her own body is an ongoing effort, especially in the sphere of the media.

Still, there are a few LBTQ individuals who will make a similar claim that homophobic attacks have the underpinning of maintaining control of a LBTQ body by forced heterosexual means. I mean, one can lump both groups into the category of those being disenfranchised and subjected by the dominant heterosexual male archetype that litters society. But this archetype is most prominently reinforced by physical means in form of body control. Done by holding up the female body as an object for male sexual fulfillment and flooding us with images of how a heterosexual male should look and act physically, the good old boys are still reminding us of their preferred norms:

– A heterosexual male’s right to rule the roost

– A heterosexual woman’s place is behind the male in charge

– All other non conforming types – LGBTQ must be “turned to fit the role above” (lesbian women) or violently controlled (gay men).

To this end, one thing that gets me is this sexual double standard applied to gay men and lesbians. Yup, I’m talking about the whole “turning a lesbian straight business”. Ok, so if we follow “the logic” used from that perspective, we are defining the natural order of the universe to be “a man penetrating a woman”. Yes, the man’s penis (especially in the act of sexual penetration) is “the thing” to keep the woman in “her place”. So under that logic, since a woman cannot penetrate another woman, what a lesbian is missing is not being in her “right place” – which is being penetrated by a guy?

Are we really saying that all women, regardless of their sexual identity, are walking penis fiends that need their fix to be maintained and thus, kept into their “rightful place”? How is any of this ok? And you wonder why gender relationships between men and women can be so volatile at times, especially when men are trying to dictate or demonstrate power by accessing a woman’s body solely for THEIR own sexual desires.

Taking it a step further using this “logic”, let’s examine the possible fate of gay men. Since men cannot be penetrated by heterosexual men to be “converted” in a similar manner as a lesbian “could be”, then all bets are off. Bodily harm is “ok” because you’re trying to beat “the gay out of him” ; if you kill him “then it’s one less gay to worry about”. How twisted a viewpoint is that?

The fear of being perceived to be gay in large ranks can cause a man to become sexually disenfranchised in a social manner. Such a threat is often brandished at the drop of a hat by both other men and women alike, that gay men in more repressive cultures are forced to bury themselves deep within a no-win facade, banished to a fate that has no hope of escape.

Take a look at what the social implications of “lack of conformity” are in a more repressive culture. Once a male is “accused” as “being gay” – no heterosexual woman will have sex with him, and no man will respect him because he isn’t sexually exercising his “right”. Of course, this means open season on him for physical attacks or other ill forms of social discrimination. To cover themselves, family might distance or completely disown him. Let’s say that the allegations are “unfounded” – will someone ever come up to him and apologize? Of course not. He will more than likely be branded permanently, followed by whispers from those who believed that he really was gay.

And you wonder why the vast majority of victims of physical violence by men – OTHER MEN – often suffer in silence. It’s funny how we don’t talk about this as much even though heterosexuals experienced similar forms of discrimination – Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834) and the Salem Witch Trials (1692).

Even in the more forward thinking and supportive cultures, hate crimes towards LGBTQ are alive and well:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2053136/Gay-barman-Stuart-Walker-killed-set-victim-sex-attack.html

So what does this mean? How can we tackle this problem? Perhaps it means reaching deep down and rephrasing how we interpret some of the biological constructs that have gained distorted social meanings. In other words, violence against someone is never ok, especially when it is driven based on their sexual identity. Heterosexuals have more than enough to worry about body image wise than to be trying to go after those who are LGBTQ on those grounds. Perhaps the first step is for each person to take control of their body and how it is viewed by themselves and others so that homophobia can go the way of the dinosaurs.

02/27/2012

Optimism and Experience

“An optimist is a guy that has never had much experience.” – Don Marquis 1878-1937

02/26/2012

Looking For Love: Stranger On the Shore

Everyone knows Bob Marley is famous for a TON of songs, but one of his lesser know (comparatively speaking) and earlier works that I listen to and liked was Stranger on the Shore. In it, he touches on a powerful sentiment that inspired today’s post: being used by a partner.

No one likes getting played or feeling used. Outside of the actual break up feelings, this is one of those few emotions tied to a relationship that hurts like a mother. Nowhere does this feeling sting more after being dumped when standing faithfully behind a partner.

Some of us still take the relationship process very seriously. After all, it is a powerful thing to “stand firm in a partner’s life like statue” (paraphrased from Still Searching – Damian Marley). One of the best ways we show that we are down with the cause is to throw our support behind a partner’s goals and dreams. We all can think of countless stories where one partner – seemingly more often than not the woman – standing behind another and pouring their essence into the dream that wasn’t theirs. When it comes for time to partake in both the spoils of victory and the strengthening of the relationship, the loyal spouse is shown but no glory and the pink slip because their position is not taken by someone who better “looks” the part of where their partner is now.

How can this be? For the person chasing the dream, perhaps it was all a part of the master plan. But in many cases, communication is the biggest culprit. Sometimes people don’t check in and communicate as well as they used in the beginning, and now when things have fallen apart it is too late. People do change when they get caught up in long-term pursuits, and they can often neglect the strength and support they receive from a partner as the chase dreams. It’s an unfortunate thing but checking in with a partner can help to save people from some serious heartache if we learn to do it well.

Honestly, it doesn’t always help to make your partner’s dream fully your own. Perhaps it is better to know how to juggle two dreams at the same time – yours and theirs. I was reminded in a healthy relationships training for the teens I co supervise on the 9-5 many months ago that every relationship has three parts – you, your partner and the relationship. If the overlapping part that says “the relationship” becomes bigger than the “ you”, then that’s a problem. For those that their dreams are to support others, then it’s a very high risk, high reward tightrope to walk.

It could be there was some serious using going on as well on both sides. The supporter could be using the achiever’s success as a means of moving them forward in life. There are those who just like to enjoy the trappings of success from someone else’s hard work, and a partner is one of the easiest person’s to take advantage of in that regard. Maybe there was a mutual agreement in place from the outset; still, whenever feelings of desire, longing, greed and satisfaction kick in, rational arrangements get thrown out the window with veracity similar to the possessions of a busted cheated lover.

The elders who I have been fortunate enough o talk to that have been married over many, many years have said that learning how to do mange both their themselves in and outside of the relationship well is a big part of the give and take. The more honest one is a with a partner is the more likely that person can decide whether staying in this relationship is worth it, or find a healthy way to support these goals.

Still, it does hurt to be that stranger on the shore. It is one of those games no one likes to play. No one says it’s easy to break to it a partner when your feelings change, especially when you’re still dependent upon their support. But, explaining oneself while being upfront is always easier to do than to explain oneself after being caught in the act.

While some live to use others and seemingly get away with it, life has a painful way of making a great impression on them when the shoe is on the other foot.

02/25/2012

Opinions and Knowledge

“Opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.” – John Milton 1608-74

02/24/2012

A Star is Born

Jeremy Lin has taken the NBA by storm. For those who aren’t basketball lovers, here’s the quick 411 on Linsanity.

Lin is an Asian American from California. He went to Harvard and was an undrafted point guard. After being cut by two teams, Lin signed with the Knicks. He was on the verge of being cut by the Knicks too, who were searching for a point guard. Now, due to injuries, the current coach put him in the game during a blowout where he played well. He started the next game and he is now 8-3 as a starter, including a stretch of 7 wins in a row. His most memorable moment was hitting a game winning shot to push the win streak to seven. The Knicks, once buried in a disappointing season, now have renewed playoff hopes.

So what’s made his story so special? Well, he’s the first Asian-American (US born) to be so popular. He’s very humble, deferring all credit to his teammates and accepting responsibility for poor play. He plays with a youthful unselfish energy his teammates are responding to.

New Yorkers are loving him because he was so NY…lighting up the Garden with his play while sleeping on his brother’s couch! People identified with the vibe that he is just like us, on the daily grind while chasing his dream. While his run is only two weeks old, as a long time Knicks fan – from the Ewing days until now –  I say they have found the point guard they were missing. Let Lin play.

I guess deep down people just want the real celebrity and that feel good story. Sure, there are the Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians and Courtney Stoddens of the world, but people go for the Lin and Harrison Ford types more because they were in my shoes. Ford was a carpenter before becoming a movie star, and has stayed pretty humble and down to earth.

Anything can happen in a NY minute and that’s why many folks are Linning it as they ply their trade, doing the gritty stuff to pursue their dreams as they toil for that one moment to shine. Victor Cruz, a Hispanic football player, burst on the scene in the NFL for the eventual champion NY Giants with a similar story earlier this month.

People are doing the Cruz Salsa and Linning it a ton in NYC in February. I’m not a jersey guy but a Cruz and Lin jerseys are at the top of my shopping list. You cannot help but cheer these guys on and hope their success doesn’t change their stories.

Yes, every day a star is born here, especially in NYC. But you cannot help but root for a guy like Lin. Here’s hoping that Linsanity will rock the Garden for years to come. He doesn’t have to be great, just really good. His story – rooted in his grit and humility and talent – has already made him a NY legend.

02/23/2012

Handling The Rumor Mill

“Calumnies are answered best with silence.” – Ben Johnson 1573-1637

02/21/2012

Attitude of Faith

“But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.” – Allan Watts 1915-73