Thursday, January 24, 2008

S2 responds to Freeslave

Maxjulian said...
I was enjoying the posts with DD as well until we reached point zero. We all need to grow - not just me, men, patriarchs. All of us do. In order to do this kind of work, I have to be around safe people and also teachable people. I need to be around loving, sensitive people.

When I got sober, if people had been coming at me like DD - with a lot of intellectual assertions, without a sensitivity to where I've been, where I'm coming from and what I need - I wouldn't have lasted a day.
Okay, hold on Max. DD not sensitive? Are you reading the posts over at 1tbm? FS, can you please take some time to think, reflect, and think some more b4 commenting more about 1TBM and your exchanges. I like you. You’re smart. When I re-read the conversations, as I’m sure you have – I can see you’ve had a reaction to what she’s said. I know where you are coming from. Your anger and frustration at DD is exactly her point. Her role isn’t to take care of you. That’s what women do. They take care of men. All the time. Come on FS – you know this.
Maxjulian said...Recovery for me was a supportive environment. Most of the people who appealed to my drunk, weren't pushing people to think any particular way. They shared their experience, strength and hope. They encouraged us to use the tools of recovery. But there were no overlords who knew everything, who taught everyone, but who weren't teachable - who appealed to me. That model doesn't work for me, be it man or woman.
You are a smart man. Surely you don’t believe that DD’s comments are hers and hers alone. Like she made Black feminism up. Have I missed something?
Maxjulian said...We typically don't point the finger at folks and indict them as alcoholics. So this process was doomed from the start. What was most disappointing was to open up about myself and have the tenor change to "you are a patriarch, dangerous, etc." It was like this switch: I went from being me, getting butt naked, to being the a choirboy for patriarchy. Everything was you-patriarchy this, you-patriarchy that and I'm like, "I thought I was talking to DD about myself.
Well, what can I say here Julian is: Seminalson? Meet Seminalson.

I know this is hard Julian, but this is exactly why I believe we need each other. Just because we are wounded, and hurt – you know that I am if you’ve read my blog – it doesn’t mean we get away with patriarchal stuff. But, again, this is precisely what I do to DD Max. This is why I see it so well. This is the dangerous part of the work we are doing. We are still patriarchs. >Whether it is said once, 5 times, or a million times, we are patriarchs. Now it is up to us to talk about our emotions, our automatic role in this society as patriarchs and how we can start supporting ourselves and the women around us. And I have a jump-off point, if you’re willing.
Maxjulian said...Little too overthetop cerebral for my little boy's taste. And also, I have issues with the bravado: "you're not going to like me/some people call me a castrator" and then basically trying to live up to those boasts.
Of course you’ve got issue with it, I’ve got issue with what you have in quotes. And that’s because we don’t like hearing those words come out of woman’s mouth. Max, really, the reality for women is that they are second-class citizens in Black community -in the your city and mine, in your state, and in my province; on this continent and world wide. If I were them, I’d be really fucking pissed off too.

This isn’t some theory DD is making up. A long line of women have been doing this work. My mother, a Black feminist herself loves DD. She is 70, a published university scholar and has conversation with DD all the time about these exact same issues. FS, thank god (I’m not religious) you’ve come into my life cause really I am not just talking to you here, I’m talking to myself. You and I need to move past the DD this, and the DD that and start our dialogue. I’m not saying ignore DD. I’m saying that DD is not really the issue. She’s a brilliant person committed to growing and learning. Everyday. I don’t want to fall into a trap where we are communicating like "she said this, and she meant that.." - that’s not useful. If you want clarification on what she’s meant, go to her place and ask her.

Again, let’s start our dialogue.
Maxjulian said...Now, to say that I guess makes me the ultimate patriarch. I felt reduced, in each disagreement, diagnosed, put in a box. And I felt completely unheard by her and I didn't feel a whole lot of heart/emotional stuff coming at me.
I’m a little confused here Julian. The ultimate patriarch? Seems to me, she’s saying we have a lot to work on. And we do. >It’s hard for me to hear, because I pride myself on being super-smart. On being a leader. I can tell you were raised to be entitled to have access a woman’s energy, to be the spotlight. That’s how I was raised.

I was raised Black middle class patriarchal, heterosexual. This means that I was raised with a sense of entitlement to access as much privilege (even as a Black man) as I could. It meant being sent to affluent schools, affluent summer camps, hanging out with affluent white children, going to affluent health clubs, speaking with an accent that sounds Anglo-Canadian, and making noise and complaining if I was denied any access to any of the "privileges" I thought I was "entitled" too. It also meant knowing that I would have access, safe automatic access, to all the Black events, Black women’s spaces where men who were patriarchal would not be welcome; access to sometimes queer events, spoken word nights, and galas – all knowing that my privilege as a middle class, Black, hetero, arrogant, patriarchal – just generally privileged except for my Blackness, would allow me access to nearly everywhere.

And the icing on the cake were having parents who were professionals academics– all markers of significance in Black Community. My father was/is the totally and completely patriarchal – and very, very respected EVEN by feminist. It’s ALMOST LIKE the fact that he could tolerate living in a house with a feminist gives him big points.

But let’s not forget the relationships. My safety pass was also having a Black woman on my arm. Even more points if she was feminist – because I would have the respect of the men (wow! You got that power house! You managed to bring her in line, you must be a real man!) and from the women (for being with a woman with brains) – most important it would mean that people would think that I had politics, and that I knew things and was progressive. But, really at the time, I treated the women as tools for my advancement.

And you know what? The women (straight women) still lusted after me, and who I was. Regardless of what I understood, which wasn’t much. The straight women never really spoke to how I was treating them. They smiled. They may have been angry, but they smiled.

The 2 Black queer women I was seeing at different points back then did however try and speak to me about my actions. They were the only ones who tried to call me on my stuff. They were the only ones who realized that I was doing something wrong.

With them I was extremely dismissive. I ignored their requests to be accountable. I ignored their feelings. I didn’t think they had significant enough value in my quest to "achieve" and "lead", so at the time, I stopped interacting them. Period.

With the straight women, I didn’t think they wouldn’t cause a fuss because had stuff invested in everything in Black community looking a particular way. They hold the community together. The homes, the gatherings, it’s all done by them, or by their mothers. That’s their respect.

So, they said little about my actions and smiled. I didn’t really care. I was arrogant. Anything they might say wouldn’t touch me anyway cause I’m a man. People would just say: well that’s how men are, he’s doing what men do... I didn’t have any problem kicking any of these women to the curb if they weren’t serving my needs.

Basically, if I couldn’t suck from them, gain knowledge, and get "more" they were of no use to me. My needs were paramount and needed to be taken care of.

Well, you used my blog to communicate with DD without really addressing what I said in my original post. I’d love to be mad at you, but I have a bigger issue to deal with. My sanity, building actual friendships that mean something, and being able to look at my children in the face in the next few years. Gotta go pick up Stinkapee again… I’ll write more later...


Maxjulian said...

S2: I don't know what I didn't get to from your previous post. What is the question.

I feel like you're telling me that I just need to accept in whole cloth what women, or you say no matter what. Is that correct? I don't know. I'm confused. I feel like I should consider where and how I agree.

Having someone wag their finger in my face and holler: "YOU'RE AN ALCOHOLIC/YOU'RE A PATRIARCH" doesn't seem a very effective strategy to promote self reflection, particularly when one is opening themselves up, trying to remove the shrapnel at the same time. Removing shrapnel from yourelf is hard enough without someone repeating, "you've got shrapnel in your leg, you've got shrapnel in your leg." No, I need help ID'ing the shrapnel, specifically, not restating the obvious. And some awareness that I have removed some of it and am committed to removing all of it.

It probably feels good to the person doing that, but having been a part of a little personal transformation, it seems doomed to failure. But that's just my opinion.

I also grew up in the United States, not Canada, so I didn't experience it through books, or television or visits. I've been a black man all my life - who grew up in the good ole USA of lynching, castration - physical, emotional, spiritual.

So, I know that I have male privilege, male power. And it cuts both ways here in the larger culture. Nigga men are the greatest threat to the white man, thus they have received the full force of his oppressive machinery.

Certainly, I have power over women. I, as a male represent a group that poses the greatest threat to women. Its kind of like the concept of "all white people being racist suspects" from 'TheCode.Net.' I get that.

But after we've been beaten over the head with theory and studies and books and told we are patriarchs, we who need and must change have to be met on a heart level by somebody, don't we? Otherwise, its going back to doing my work on my own which I ain't got a problem with.

I'm looking at the opportunities that I have to exercise patriarchal power; I'm looking at how I've used it in the past; I'm disowning and backing away from it when I recognize it, when I see it in real time. Its not like I don't know that I can be a patriarch - but I'm not married, I'm not in a committed or uncommitted relationship; I'm not a minister, pastor or officeholder. I work from home. I don't know whether I agree that because I have a dick, that I am an unequivocal, practicing patriarch, particularly because I've been working at this for a little while now.

S2, you say I didn't like what was coming out of DD's mouth because she is a woman. I wouldn't have like it coming out of your mouth either.

I know DD is a brilliant person, aren't we all? We are all brilliantly human, growing, with much to learn and I think its important to keep our individual growth up front.

I am moving through and past this moment with DD, but it is a process and that whole encounter will continue to percolate within me. If you can't hear how I feel about that, please let me know and I won't mention it here again.

A part of the messy of this path is that we never get "there;" we get closer, better, stronger, more flexible, but we are never there. Even those with an analysis are weighed down by life, family upbringing, pain, beauty. It is how we negotiate it that is important. I don't want to be a wooden, patriarchal, archetype and have my humanity deleted or reduced.

We have to allow each other our own individual humanity, our unique story or else we're talking behind masks, poses, positions.

One more thing by way of metaphor: One of my favorite quotes is by Sonny Rollins - "It took me years to learn what notes NOT to play." And another by Lee Morgan: "I think a definite style comes with living and experience and travelling until you play what you are, you play yourself on the horn.”

Theory is great, as is technique. But it is the fusion of them with lived experience, wisdom, patience, a little distance that counts for much. Listen to any great artist; they've discarded the youthful exuberance and know how to play the notes that count. We're all learning this; so we should recognize.

So, I look forward to engaging with you where I talk to you about my shit primarily and you do the same, where you can be yourself and I can do the same. But this stuff just had to be as it was. Again, sorry you had to be on the receiving end.

s2 said...

FS, I here you.
You want me to speak from an emotional place. Well talking about how I used my privilege in Black community was hard for me. I feel hurt when I think about how I've moved through the world. There were things that got in the way of how I could deal with how I was treating women. I was angry.
I still am, to some degree. That's why I need to blog/ talk to you...
I was shut down. I wanted to lash out because of being consistently disempowered by my brother. I think it made matters worse that no one acknowledged my pain.

I'd be crying. ..
and crying...
and crying..
and my dad was like -
Seminalson, what's wrong? You ok?!

"No I'm not fucking OK...
and you know why I'm not fucking ok!
It's been 10 years of fucking terror!

What is your soul made of fucking STONE!?"

no answer.
still no response...


Are you even in there?

You're family is suppose to care, Freeslave.

You're family is suppose to fucking care! YOU'RE FAMILY IS SUPPOSE TO FUCKING CARE!

Freeslave, I'm in pain.
I was seeing a counselor, but I've stopped for too long...

Okay - back to how I treated women:
Now, true - this doesn't excuse my abuse of patriarchal power. All men are patriarchs. If you are born a male on this planet - you're automatically one. But part of me reaching out to you is (and any other men) is to talk about this, share our feelings, thoughts, and do what men are not suppose to do with each other - CARE.

You wrote: "I'm looking at the opportunities that I have to exercise patriarchal power; I'm looking at how I've used it in the past; I'm disowning and backing away from it when I recognize it, when I see it in real time."

Can you expand on this?
You and I exercise patriarchal power just by walking into a room filled with women, and them giving you attention - simply because you are a man. (And let me be clear: I grew up a Black person - as you can see from my picture (!), with the police following me all the time, me not being able to get a cab home, etc. I'm saying this because I want hold the racist experiences I have had, together with the privilege I can wield. I think doing this will keep me from just seeing myself as victim, victim, victim... I'm not saying that is what you are doing. What I am saying is that I want to be friends, and this is one of the ways I think it would be nice to get to know each other.
I also think this work will improve our relationships with other women, and ourselves.
It's all about looking at ourselves.)

I have an experience of trying to have this discussion with other men over the years - which I am going to post about - and they aren't emotionally ready, and back away.
You should know, I feel extremely cautious when it comes to opening up with a man, because I was abused for a long time by my brother. I know you've talked about AA a little with DD, but I would like to hear what you have to say too, Freeslave.
Talk to me. I'll listen.