Saturday, February 5, 2011

This blog is so dead.

Obviously, right? Anyway, just wanted to hang up my little "closed" sign and call it a night. Goodnight, blog.

Been a long time since the last post, and though my thinking about some of this stuff has changed, I'm still pretty okay with leaving it up for anyone that might find it useful.

I doubt I will blog on any subject in the future. I'm a slow writer and I hate sitting in front of the computer. It did help start some good conversations for a while, but I feel more at ease just starting those in person now.

So that's that. He lived happily ever after. LOL.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A word of warning...

... just in case you are my sister, or someone else who might not want to know more about my sexuality. This is that kind of post, and I'm happy for you to read, not read, talk to me about it or ignore it altogether. Just be yourself!

Okay! Every day I am more aware of how deeply my life has been affected by patriarchal values. The last few days I've been thinking particularly about sexuality. A very deep well of patriarchal values indeed. John Stoltenberg's book The End Of Manhood has been a useful resource for me lately.

It's hard to pick out a short section that makes its point without the need for a long explanation of his terminology. His basic premise throughout the book is that males can choose to relate to the world from their "manhood" (a competitive, hierarchical, oppressive, denial-based set of values) or from their "selfhood" (a collaborative, egalitarian, nurturing view of ourselves and the world). Anyway, here's an example from the section titled A Personal Checklist of Some Ways to Tell Whether Your Sexual Feelings Are Occurring in Selfhood Mode or in Manhood Mode.

You may be feeling sexual as your selfhood "I" if there has been beholding between you. You have been a witness to each other's subjectivity. You have recognized yourselves as two subjects, two whole human beings.

You may be feeling sexual as your manhood "I" if there has been objectification. Although one of you may have seemed to regard yourself as a subject, one of you was definitely regarded as an object. (Whenever someone in a sexual relationship is regarded as an object, whether willingly or not, they tend to become situated as ownable. This can present a problem if they later presume to assert themselves equally as a full human subject. For the sexual owner, such assertion presents relational difficulties - it turns him off. Sexual objectification only works so long as it turns on the owner, which may be contingent on various market factors - youth, beauty, etc. - but it becomes inoperative immediately whenever the ownable is incompliant about being regarded as closer to nobody.)

This is where it gets hard for me to write. My inner predator is telling me not to look at my patriarchal sexuality, but I think that if I look at it and write about it, I can grow past all its limitations and make my life more wonderful. Hooray!

So, yeah, my sexuality is almost always in manhood mode - selfish, manipulative, competitive, insecure, seriously unconscious. This causes major difficulties when it comes to having fun and sexy and emotionally connected times with my partner. Until recently, my strategy has been to ignore the problem and vent sexual energy by masturbating to fantasies that reinforce patriarchal ideals of sexuality. And then ignore the impact of that behavior, too. (I can't quite believe that I'm really going to publish a post detailing my problematic masturbation habits. Far out...)

So, without getting into the nitty gritty grit of it all, I'll just say that the real problem I see with these fantasies is the way they affirm the "two" ways of patriarchal sexuality. You're doing something or you have something done to you. You're dominant or you're submissive. Very binary.

I'm tired of performing sexuality this way. It's not sexy and it doesn't reflect my values. Right now, I'm abstaining from masturbating until I feel more confident and comfortable with my motivations. I'm excited about broadening my sexual horizons - real life and fantasy - to include the whole range of feelings, sensations and thoughts that I know are in me somewhere.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What have I done for myself lately?

Okay. A month between posts is a little much. Here are some things I've done lately.

I went to a feminist men's consciousness raising group. Not only that, but I provided a reading and facilitated a discussion. And not only that, but I emailed my man friends and invited them to come. None of them did, which, to be honest, was something of a relief. Thinking about that now makes me feel a little sad about the seriously deep fear I have about revealing myself to others, especially men. And despite my relief, I guess I am a little bummed out that nobody took me up on the invite. Unpacking patriarchal damage and privilege is a little lonely right now.

I watched Milk and partook in a post-movie discussion where I put my listening skills to good use. Meaning I didn't say anything. Which I feel okay about. I struggle with expressing myself, but I know there are times when it's more useful for me to just listen and learn about some new ideas from folks who have been thinking about certain things a lot longer than I have.

I went to my flamenco dance classes. And I bought dancing shoes. I thought a dance class would help me inhabit my body in a more sensual way. I often think of my body in terms of fitness, toughness, hardness etc. I'm trying to let go of my ideal of a superhero physique. I think I want physical fitness that is appropriate to my real life. I really enjoy riding my bike and playing soccer. I'd like to be fit enought to do those things. And I'd like to be able to stand on my hands for... I don't know, five minutes. And it's okay if I don't end up with wildly toned abs.

So! There's some of my life. I will try to post more regularly in the future.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Running with the women who run with the wolves

I started reading Women Who Run With the Wolves recently. Sarah just finished it and seemed to get some good ideas. I think it will be fun. Wildish natures, singing over bones, inner predators... Bluebeard. All sorts of things that will help me to feel my feelings and be more myself.

I think this is the first book I've read that is so specifically written for women. So far it makes almost no reference to men or any other gender/sex option. despite being able to see how I could apply some of its lessons to my life, I've felt very excluded while reading it. This makes me think of the vast majority of media that is created by men, and how exclusive it probably seems to anyone with a life experience that is not strictly male/masculine. That makes me think that I'm almost always speaking with the assumption that my experience of life is universal and that anyone can relate to it. And then I feel sad because I'm sure there is a pile of unconscious sexist/racist/capitalist stuff going on in my mind, and I don't want to alienate people or make them feel lonely or irritated when I talk to them. Did that make sense?

So! I'm keen to speak from a more conscious place and examine my assumptions about other people's experience and my own language.

Something else: Sarah and I were joking about something and somehow I got the idea to just imagine that I was a woman while I read. It actually worked pretty well. Made me feel more at home in the book and also reminded me that I don't have to relate to things from a male/masculine point of view and that there are parts of me that get excluded and undeveloped because they don't fit into my male/masculine idea of myself. Which is a bummer.

More on that later. Have to go to work.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

When I say "part gay"...

I mean that I'm sexually attracted to men and women. I guess that means I am, in the parlance of our times, bisexual, but I'm not crazy about that term. I don't really like its either/or connotations, and it feels clinical and unimaginative. I like the idea of being able to invent your own gender and just be whatever you are. So I say I'm part gay. I also like the word queer. Or gender-fluid, which I recently learned from Sarah.

Part gay also just sounds kind of funny, and I find it's easier to start a conversation with, "Did you know that I'm part gay?" than "Did you know that I'm bisexual?" Sarah suggested it was because I'm charming and pretty good at making people feel comfortable in social situations. I guess part gay is pretty vague and people can either find out more from me or keep it at whatever distance feels okay to them. I don't know. Bisexual leaves less to the imagination, I suppose.

I often use vagueness as a strategy to avoid looking at unflattering things about myself, a fact unsurprisingly brought to my attention by Sarah. I can see this at work in my half baked gender identity and politics. I'm embarrassed of not having everything sorted out, so instead of just saying something I believe right now and giving myself permission to change it later, I couch everything in language that's not specific. Better to not say anything than to say it "wrong." So I guess my goal is to speak more specifically.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

blogging is messy

Hello! I haven't written for a long time. Many reasons not to write, though fear and shame are probably my primary motivators. I now give myself permission to write messy, incoherent, rambling, embarrassing, perverted, gay, uncool... writing.

I hope that my writing connects with other folks. I hope that writing helps me start more real-life conversations about things I care about.

So! For a long time I've been telling myself that I deserve a miserable life. Forever! A long time, at least. And for a few weeks now I've been able to tell myself that I actually deserve a wonderful life and can do whatever I want to make that happen. It feels much better. This epiphany was facilitated entirely by Sarah, who convinced me that I could choose to be happy instead of killing myself. Then I spent several days doing affirmations in the mirror. Also Sarah's idea. "I love you Galen, and I love that you are part gay!" and assorted variations. Embarrassing, but effective.

Sarah has had a lot of good ideas regarding how to make my life more wonderful. It is a fact I often ignore, but that deserves more discussion on this blog. Could patriarchy have anything to do with my resistance to good ideas? I'll get back to that sometime soon.

I'm taking a flamenco dance class. Trying to do things I'm not good at. Hoping to build up the kind of self-esteem that allows me to suck at things and still have fun and improve and avoid a meltdown the minute something doesn't go "right." Also hoping that it gets me more connected to my body. "I love you Galen, and I love that you are a sensual person!" That is a hard one to say in the mirror.

Okay. Abrupt ending. Goodnight.

Friday, November 14, 2008

no title today

I'm interested in writing again. For a few weeks I was pretty overwhelmed. What will people think when they read this? How stupid will I look when it all comes out that I don't know what I'm doing etc? My solution was denial. I have strong tendencies to forget about patriarchy and its influence in my life. Looking back on this brief cycle of excitement-fear-shame-apathy, it seems so clear how much societal pressure there is to keep our feelings and ideas to ourselves.

To reference Terrence Real for something like the tenth time, somewhere in his book How Can I Get Through To You he makes the case that it is not permissible to tell the truth about men. I think this is true. I've felt my own instincts to silence myself and others. I should probably buy that book.

I went to a consciousness raising group for feminist men last night. It was a real relief to talk about some of this stuff with other folks. Good to be reminded that there are other men interested in getting to the bottom of this stuff.