thoughts about feminism

http://sites.middlebury.edu/middmag/2012/03/15/gender-violence/

“‘[Gender violence issues] affect women at every level, but I am here to say that the very fact of just calling these issues ‘women’s issues’ is in itself part of the problem.'”

I have been unhappy with the word “feminism” for as long as I have known there was a gender-caused imbalance in the world. In my mind it makes issues related to gender only the problem of women. And men are as constrained by gender stereotypes as women. It usually (often? sometimes?) expressed differently, though.

It is expected that women will be raped and the victims of domestic violence. Men who are raped or beaten by a domestic partner become feminized by the very fact of having the act perpetrated on them. And “feminized” means weakened. Particularly in this context. So, they may be less likely to do something about it. You know, something like report it and get it prosecuted.

Parents doing childcare is a whole other bag of worms. Women are asked if they intend to come back to work after giving birth. Staying home to tend to children is a valid option for us (as a group, not necessarily individually.) Men who choose to be the one giving up a paycheck to do the homefront heavy lifting are often (usually?) required to justify it. Men who actually participate in parenting are praised, as though that isn’t something that should be expected. Who would say to a woman “Aren’t you a good mom bringing the kids to the playground?” Or to a man “Does your wife help with the kids?”

That’s not fair to anybody. Everyone should be allowed to care for their family, Everyone should be allowed to feel safe and to speak up if they aren’t. And language matters.

Racist, homophobic and sexist language is hurtful. Reducing someone to a body part is hurtful. Words like Nigger and Bitch and Dick are slap-in-the-face verbal violence. They all say very clearly “You are less than human. You are a lesser creature than me.” Those are obvious and easy to call out. There are more subtle microaggressions in our language that need consideration and adjustment, too.

I am a gender communist. From each according to their abilities to each accord to their needs. This, until a better word is devised, is what a feminist looks like.

Talking about Porn

I think artistic nudes are about form and light.

I think erotica aims to titillate. Where you draw the pornography line has to do with your own head. For me, it is determined by consent. And erotica that doesn’t have the consent of all participants crosses that line into unacceptable. That includes putting up your own photo of yourself being erotic where I will see it without warning me that you are going to show me your sexuality.

If you say “There is erotica here” I can choose to participate or not. If you put up a photo of you slipping your hand into your panties or your dick slipping into your willing partner without a warning, you have become a pornographer because my participation was without my own volition.

And work no longer has anything to do with “NSFW.” That has become code for “there may be nakedness here.”

Yoga philosophy

Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga

Yamas (Restraints)
– Ahimsa (non-harming)
– Satya (non-lying)
– Asteya (non-stealing)
– Brahmacharya (of Brahma)
– Aparigraha (non-hoarding)

Niyamas (Observances)
– Soucha (cleanliness)
– Santosha (contentment)
– Tapas (zeal for yoga)
– Svadyaya (self-study)
– Ishvarapranidhana (surrender)

Asana (pose)

Pranayama (breath)

Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)

Dharana (intense focus)

Dhyana (state of meditation)

Samadhi (state of oneness)

My dad died

I believe in the Big Bang and I believe it is the breath of God and it is God. Exhale creation, inhale entropy. And it is all Now. That part of the Now that forms into Ingram is part of Us before we are born and part of Us when we separate out of the moment we inhabit as individual particles and return to the greatness of All. And the part of Creation that was his life is still happening.

I am still laughing with my grandmother. I am still gossiping with my dad. I am still holding my infant son and I am still fucking up all they ways that I did that, too. And my future is unknown to me, but it is already happening, too. Not as it is supposed to happen, simply as it does happen.

So, that part of the liturgy that talks about “as it was and is and evermore shall be” really works for me. My dad is with me forever, I just can’t hold his hand any more.  The particle of Now that is “me” misses that and cries sometime.

I do not believe that the Breath and God are separate.  I believe Singularity.

House work

A friend on Ello posted about getting ready for a familial visit and, as happens, it put me in mind of a couple of shifts in my brain about household maintenance.

Once upon a time, when I was a young lass with no washing machine, a friend offered to let me do my laundry at his house. I was delighted. As I was trying to fold the fitted sheet and bitching, he said, “Is that what you want to be able to look back on at the end of your life? That you could fold a fitted sheet?”

I folded it into something that resembled a square and put it in the laundry basket. I have never worried about it since. As long as it will go in the place I need to store it, I just don’t care.

Another time, when I was grown, I was visiting my parents. Both my sisters and their families were there, too. I don’t remember how we got on the topic. At the time, I had a house keeper come every couple of weeks to help keep the big stuff done. And if my parents were coming to see me, I made sure that it was the weekend after the cleaner had been in. (I’m not stupid.) And she called me out on that. I laughed because I didn’t care. But, then she made the comment that none of her daughters were very good house keepers. And my younger sister’s jaw dropped. She thought she had managed to live up to our mother’s expectations.

My parents live in a retirement community and have white furniture, white carpet and no appliances on the counter top in the kitchen because they don’t cook. They have a cleaner come in every Wednesday. To an apartment that never, ever is dirty.

I don’t even want to live up to her expectations. Having had a spotless house is not what I want to look back on.

I think there are still bits of espresso on my kitchen ceiling from an explosion when a friend was visiting. I have had parties that took up my whole back yard. I have slept in my hammock under the stars. We had a scotch and waffle party, one time. My son helped me build a labyrinth in my back yard and that labyrinth lured Chuck into my life. I have tried beekeeping, but they don’t can’t thrive in our neighborhood. This yard blooms almost all year ’round. This house has been full of laughter and tears and spilled wine and hugs and shouts and good food and love.

And I don’t care if it isn’t clean enough to suit someone who doesn’t live in it.

No godliness here

I think you should be able to find the floor. I think vermin should not be encouraged. When there are big pieces of dirt, they should be removed.  That’s is, for the most part, my requirements about house cleaning.

This translates into dishes in the dishwasher as soon as possible (cooked on food soaking for no longer than one night’s sleep) and clothes going in the hamper as soon as they are taken off.  Old wrappers, tags from new clothes, empty cartons and boxes go into the trash or recycling bin immediately.  This keeps things, for the most part, picked up, making actual cleaning easier when the time finally comes.

My mother is a fan of what I refer to as “cleaning invisible dirt.”  She wants the bathroom cleaned every week.  I am fine with waiting until I see soap scum or whiskers in the sink.  Or when company is coming.  I dust when I see dust, too.  Not on a schedule.

When I was young, I put more effort into living up to my mother’s standards.  But, I was doing laundry at a friends house one day and struggling to fold a fitted sheet.  And bitching because it was something I have never been able to do with any ease.  And he asked me if folding a fitted sheet was something it was important for me to be good at.  Was that a thing I wanted to be known for when I was old?

Wow!  That was surprisingly freeing.

So, cleaning can wait a while.  But, because I don’t want to live in filth, it does eventually come.  And I do have standards of how much is too much.  Fortunately, my husband and I have a similar level of tolerance.  Sadly, my son does not.  I suspect my mother sees my house in the same light as I see my son’s room.

Time to work

Working non-standard hours has made me more aware of how we are aware of time.

I work 12 hours on each weekend day and 6 hours on one day in the week. Usually Tuesday, but that can be changed if either LabCorp or I need it to. And they pay me for a 40 hour week, so that works.

My husband has his office in our house and has to go out into the world for work related stuff about once a week. Usually, he does it on Wednesday. He’s a real estate lawyer and there are closings, title searches, recordings of deeds of trust and picking up and dropping off of checks all over 3 or 5 counties that have to happen in certain orders. That can cause his travel day to shift, but the shift doesn’t happen often. He is usually able to aim things so that one day in the middle of the week is the only driving around that is required.

I usually wake up in the morning and think “Today is …” and know when I am.

This week has been … off. I didn’t work yesterday because a friend was traveling through and we made plans for her to stop off here for dinner as she passed by. So, I swapped my week day work day to Thursday. And Chuck had to “do his running around” on Monday because that was when something that needed to happen was due.

Just now, I had to look at my computer to be sure what day of the week it is. It makes me wonder about how I will relate to time when I don’t have to go to work any more. My friends are getting to the age of retirement. I wonder if the things they do (classes, volunteering, religious services, regular visits to friends and family) are ways of regulating their time in addition to being interesting to them. Serving as a fixed point in the week.

I recognize that the way we divide days into hours and collect them into weeks and months and years is how we arrange to work together as a community. I suspect those collective nouns are also necessary for us to feel safe, to feel that there is some kind of personal control, in the enormity of infinity.

Perfect

“At 19, I read a sentence that re-terraformed my head: “The level of matter in the universe has been constant since the Big Bang.”

In all the aeons we have lost nothing, we have gained nothing – not a speck, not a grain, not a breath. The universe is simply a sealed, twisting kaleidoscope that has reordered itself a trillion trillion trillion times over.

Each baby, then, is a unique collision – a cocktail, a remix – of all that has come before: made from molecules of Napoleon and stardust and comets and whale tooth; colloidal mercury and Cleopatra’s breath: and with the same darkness that is between the stars between, and inside, our own atoms.

When you know this, you suddenly see the crowded top deck of the bus, in the rain, as a miracle: this collection of people is by way of a starburst constellation. Families are bright, irregular-shaped nebulae. Finding a person you love is like galaxies colliding. We are all peculiar, unrepeatable, perambulating micro-universes – we have never been before and we will never be again. Oh God, the sheer exuberant, unlikely face of our existences. The honour of being alive. They will never be able to make you again. Don’t you dare waste a second of it thinking something better will happen when it ends. Don’t you dare.”

Caitlin Moran