Sunday, January 29, 2012

Farewell to aMusing

It's time to retire this baby.  This is post number 466, I think.  I had hoped to get aMusing to 500, but I fear it's not to be.

I'm going to start a new blog at some point but it's obvious that blogging regularly has been a very low priority for me this past couple of years.

This is...for now... the final post for this title.  Thank you Muse for adding spice thus far. <3

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Closed lids of peace: A Poem

In the leaning towards the laying down
I veil these eyes and relax my frown.
Casting aside all earthly graces
To feast upon the open spaces,
Within the heart.
All those that flash sight behind closed lids of peace
That bring forth healing for daily griefs.
All this I lean towards in laying down;
To be a death, a little one for little while.
All this, so that tomorrow's rise can smile.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Teenagers having babies? So what's the real problem?

There's a bit of brouhaha in Australia this past 200+ years.

It's been happening - off and on - since Captain Cook first spotted Botany Bay and subsequent hordes of disadvantaged and desperate "criminals" left English shores to be bound forever to the land Downunder.

Teenage pregnancy.

It's not new but every generation judges women on the basis of it.

Interestingly, it's always; always; always the young women who are "at fault" for this "alarming and unthinking act of irresponsibility".  Rarely have I heard pop culture news and current affairs shows on TV, such as A Current Affair, Today Tonight,  or other reports of this ilk decry the actions of the males involved.

Apparently, despite all the work of the feminist movement since suffrage, it is the fault of a girl when she has sex.  It is always her fault if she has a baby.

Time this idiocy and shaming stopped.

Not the pregnancies per se: there will be pregnant females throughout time and history.  Some of the mothers will be young, some will be old. This isn't the problem. The thing that MUST be stopped is the judgement.  It is time to stop the unnecessary judgement of teenage mothers.

It is time to provide these young people with responsible sex education which is health and pleasure centred.  I'm not insisting on abstinence only sex education but I am insisting that our young people - both male and female - are given the information they need to make an informed choice about their sexuality.  They need to understand how to respect the autonomy and rights of others, including those they are sexually attracted to.

Young women who insist that remaining a virgin at age 12, 13 or 15 is "really uncool" must be asked why this is so important?

My hunch is that it's about male hegemony even now days despite the apparent progress women have made for equality.   Female competition for male attention comes about through a socially embedded belief that females "control" male desire and attraction.  This belief has been around it seems,  forever.  Women are consistently and subtly blamed for having sex, being sexual beings and inducing sexual behaviours in males.

Our young women have been, too long, educationally and emotionally ill equipped to assert their rights.  This is especially true with regard to contraception and even sex itself.  Our male dominated culture has ensured that sexually active young females are not only shamed, vilified or made objects for sexual gratification for males, but that they will also be prevented from making good choices under the duress of this shaming. This shaming occurs if a young woman says yes or even, no to any kind of sexual expression.

To this day, the problem is society's insistence that men are weak and entirely incapable of showing restraint in the presence of female sexuality*.  It's a lie and our kids are not learning that this is a lie. It means that young men are let off the hook and are  abnegated of their responsibilities.  It's always the woman's fault right?

So, our young men need to have this embedded myth and their beliefs about female sexuality challenged.  Young men need to understand that women are not responsible for their "need" to have sex, let alone their decision to indulge in risky sexual activity.  Regardless of physiological erection, a man is quite capable of making a compassionate ethical choice as to how he will engage with another person in the act of sex. Another person, by the way, includes a woman.

Young men need to be given permission to say "No" too.   They need to be taught that they are  capable of engaging with females respectfully, with empathy.  And if desire and attraction are mutual and consent is given with no coercion, in sexual pleasure.  They need to be taught how to recognise genuine female desire and not its culturally stultified version which is often one of compliance as a favour done in return for masculine attention.  Sometimes it is very hard for young women to know the difference between their real desires and the culturally imposed ones via this myth of male weakness.

Young men need to understand that young women are their equals in every sense and that that equality demands they respect a woman's right to say no if she so chooses.  Young men need to be given the social and emotional tools to ensure they do not turn a sexual rejection into a backlash of sexual violence.  Young men need to be educated to the fact that contraception is a mutual decision and that practising safe sex is equally their obligation.

And on the other side of the coin; young women cannot be counted on to say "No" to sex while there is  buy-in to this myth of male weakness.   As a society, we cannot have it both ways.  We cannot expect males on the one hand to be wanton and destructive forces of nature when it comes to sex and then expect young women to be the epitome of virginal purity on the other.   It cannot work like that.

Women are entitled to their sexuality and its expression.  It is not their fault for owning a clitoris or a vagina.  These are however, things about being a woman which should be amazing and wondrous with their discovery one of immense mutual satisfaction for both partners.

Women need and want to feel safe around men. They need to understand that sex has been created to be a mutually joyful experience; an experience they can say Yes or No to when they are ready. They need to feel that they can express their personal sexual identity without needing to use it as a form of competition against other females and as currency for male attention.  They need to know female sexuality and its expression need not be attached to shame.  They need to know that their sexuality is a thing to be celebrated and enjoyed; a wonderful aspect of the human experience.

So, let's stop this idiotic ranting about taking away the Baby Bonus for teenage mothers.  In fact, let's include the young fathers in this payment.  Let's give our young men - who are helping to create the next generation - permission to step up to their obligations as parents, empowering them to become good fathers.

On another point:  let's also stop our cultural obsession with promoting the youngest of models in our advertising; portraying girls as sexually alluring objects of desire and yet vilifying women of the same age for being sexual, having sex and giving birth!  The confusion is too much so let's just stop that now shall we?

Let's work to develop healthy sexual expression in our teenagers.  Stop the shock, horror and judgement and instead, teach our youth, effectively, about sex and sexuality with open honesty and compassion.  Let's stop being coy about sex and give it full candour in discussion.  Let's provide the youth of today with healthy pleasure-centred sex information which empowers them, helping them to see themselves as precious, wondrous beings, capable of choosing for themselves how they want to express their personal sexuality, safely and joyfully.

* With thanks to Hugo Schwyzer of Pasadena City College U.S.A for teaching me this.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Alone in the crowd because I want it that way

This series of photos over at the Behance Network are beautiful and tell a story about our modern lives - at least in the wealthy First World.

I wonder what the real story is though.

Perhaps it is that people "need" tools to protect themselves from the crowd.  In the early 20th Century, it was the cigarette that created that elusive forcefield of protected space around a person's body.  Now it's our phone.

It's like a security blanket now isn't it?  It feels safe because we don't have to look into another person's eyes and see what we think we can see there.

It's like a silent statement of "Do Not Look At Me!"  It's like adopting a non-threatening and passive aggressive stance when one feels cornered and in fear.

I'm not sure it's actually like that for everyone, but I know for me, I use my smartphone as a replacement for the book I used to use for the same reason... to "lose myself" in the crowd.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Crazy time: Cave time

Describing 2011 as the globe's "Annus horribilis" is probably a bit cutesy! Even so, it has been one hell of a year so far, eh?

Crippling droughts to rip roaring storms and floods; riots, terrorist killings, Coup d'Etats and civilian rebellions; wobbly economies, Wikileaks and stock market crashes; earthquakes and volcanic ash plumes; the tsunami to end all tsunamis, killer tornado's, hurricanes and cyclones; nuclear meltdowns, extreme famine; phone hacking, Amy Winehouse, pageant mums and carbon tax. Whatever next?

Unless you're living - by choice - in a cave somewhere quiet and news free, you'll probably be feeling the effects of massive disaster/compassion/shock fatigue like me right?

I'm so over the manic quality of 2011.

It's as if the gods were about to use us as the ball in a celestial cricket match. Some Shane-Warne-wannabe-demi-god up there, is intently rubbing this little blue planet against his crotch, licking his upper lip with focused glee as he sights poor goddess Diana down the other end of the pitch. Lord help us!

Meanwhile, those naughty gods have forgotten that their ball is a indeed, a planet...with human beings. Human beings they're supposed to be looking out for because we're fragile and silly but ever so precious and rare. Every one of us.

The human race and this ball we call 'home' are definitely taking a beating this year. At least that's how it feels. Are we being carefully prepared for even more catastrophic happenings just around the corner? I hope not!

I sense that there is already way too much compassion fatigue. I know I have it in spades at the moment. There are just too many shocks slugging at my emotional spidey senses.

I always try to dig deep for anyone caught up in unbelievable tragedies, but this year it feels like my pockets aren't nearly deep enough to make a dent of a difference. It's easy to think 'Why bother?' It can seem so hopeless sometimes. That isn't an excuse to stop helping, just that keeping up with this apparent onslaught of tragedy after tragedy is so draining and soul destroying.

Perhaps this is why Will and Kate's wedding was I think, pretty much, the one genuinely collective joyful moment we've had this past year. How gracious of them to choose 2011 as their year to marry. A day to celebrate incredible lightness of being and for setting our hearts aglow with wonder and delight. Their wedding day gave us a tiny ray of inspiration and hope that we can overcome anything. I'm not even into the royal family that much, but I do remember the simple joy I felt on that day, knowing that True Love does indeed, exist. It was so sweet and romantic, so pompously pleasant. All those miles of lovely smiles to warm the cockles of our anxious hearts. God Bless 'em for that amazing, wonderful moment!

A few months on and again there's that uneasy undercurrent of anxiousness about what next egregious event lays in wait around the bend. Things feel uneven, distorted and the energy seems "off" - although don't ask me what I mean by that as I have no idea, it just *feels* that way.

Am I reading too much into things do you think?

I have had the thought that, given the enormity of tragedy this past year, countries around the world will soon be drawing down their metaphorical shutters, . Battening down the hatches, so to speak. I think people everywhere may suddenly decide to go back to being "tribal" rather than "global" for awhile. The more depressing the news, the more these tribes will hunker down, ever more vehemently protective of their own. And this will be true for internet tribes too I reckon. It'll be like the worlds people are under blankets, too scared to peep out into the dark, too terrified to hang a toe over the edge, lest the monsters underneath nibble at them.

The risk with this happening is that creeping fear will become blatantly open xenophobia and we all know what happened the last time somebody decided a particular race was to blame for the world's woes. That mustn't happen again... ever!

So? Is this the Armageddon? End Times? The Great Tribulation? The Beginning of The End of All Life as we Know It?

Well, I don't think anyone actually believes the world will end on the 21st December 2012 but...sheesh! With events of this year, one does do a mini double take at the concept! It does feel like there's major change afoot on all sorts of levels, both human and terrestrial. I guess my grandparents generation must have felt similarly at the beginnings of both world wars and that nasty economic depression in between. Nice thought? Not!

Maybe I'm over dramatising! I certainly hope so. But, if we are going to have more large scale floods, riots, terrorist attacks, coups, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, droughts, tornados, cyclones, hurricanes, nuclear meltdowns and mouse plagues within the next year and a bit, I'm defs off to find me a nice quiet, news free cave! Care to join me?

Friday, July 22, 2011

The inconvenience of gender polarity.

Gender to most people in the North World is probably defined as being either male or female depending on biological sex at birth.

If you were born with a penis, you were placed into the gender category "Male". You were given a name that reiterated this measurement and clearly marked your polarity for all the world to know and concur with. You were "encouraged" to wrestle, explore, dissect, investigate, grunt and idealise your mum.

If you were born with a vagina, a whole host of other social polarity views were conferred on to you out of deference, indignation, hatred, and objectification. All of which were just because you ostensibly have or had a vagina.

Your sex your gender doth not make. Not anymore.

Gender in modern sexuality is becoming a blurred concept. Gender is now more than just a biological constraint of genetics; it is now a personal and very individual concept of identity.

You have now - at least in the opulent, self-actualising North - opportunity to completely and dynamically redefine the paradigm that is your sex. You can now place your gender role anywhere along a mutable identity scale regardless of whether you have a penis or a vagina.

For example:

You can be completely and utterly Cisgender. This means that you will concretely and resoundingly affirm your biological sex with your gender role. If you were born a boy, you will identify with all things society has deemed to be "Boys do as boys will". You will co-opt all the social expectations for being male unto your Self. If you are female, you will completely identify your role in society within the social structures of "Being a Woman". This is who you ARE. You cannot be otherwise! You were born with your sex and you identify your gender role with that sex.

If however you are any of the following, your gender identity becomes a little more obscure to the rest of world - if not yourself.

You can be male biologically but *feel* female and ergo *gay* - as in sexually attracted to other males.

You can be male biologically but *feel* very male but still *gay*.

You can be male biologically but *feel* female but not *gay*

You can be male biologically but *feel* either female or male and be attracted sexually to both sexes. You can be this and be attracted to only one other of these sexes.

You can be female biologically but *feel* incredibly male, whilst being *straight* according to social sexual pairing.

And so it goes on.

Gay men who like to dress like *blokes*.

Gay men who dress androgynous, so no one can really tell what sex they are.

Straight females who feel like they just never fit with the stereotype for being female...

The variations are as many as there are those who question the polarity of gender.

The simple answer is: There are no two genders.

There aren't even really two sexes as some people can actually be another type of sex altogether - Intersex. There will come a time when this term will be included in the little boxes on documents entitled "Sex".

The inconvenience for most Cisgendered people in North World societies is that we're decidedly uncomfortable with this inability to package people into either "male" or "female". It's uncomfortable because a Cisgendered person simply cannot comprehend gender outside of their experience: that being, identifying completely with their biological sex. We are so accustomed to feeling that we're male or female according to our vagina or our penis, that the idea of being anything else is confounding, confusing and even terrifying!

The reason I muse on this is because I was watching an episode of Glee Project tonight and a character auditioning on the show for a spot in the Glee cast is decidedly difficult to label instinctively as either a *male* or a *female*.

Turns out that S/He is definitely a male biologically - although I had to go to Google to source that info. How s/he presented on the show was this confusing mixture of both female and male behaviours and a decidedly hermaphroditic physique.

I was astonished at how uncomfortable it made me feel.

Of course I am ashamed of this discomfort. I pride myself on being as non-judgemental and as open-minded as I can be about people. I accept - at least on a theoretical level - that people come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, postures, creeds, races and so on. I love that about humanity - at least on a global scale. When I am confronted by the reality of this diversity it leaves my inner bean feeling more than a little discombobulated! And I need to understand why.

As a Cisgendered female, it was hard to figure out just WHO this "Alex" person actually was! I absolutely had to place this person into a gender labelled box. And there were only two boxes! Male or Female! All this transpired in my mind in a nano-second. All this in order to feel comfortable about who Alex was/is. Hence the Googling!

For me, identifying "Alex" as male made the pieces of his gender identity and his sexual orientation feel more normal, comforting, absolute and understandable. Not being able to identify his biological sex made me anxious, nervous. His gender role was too indeterminate and amorphous to understand. I found I had to focus so much on him/her just trying to figure out which sex s/he was that I ended up missing a fair proportion of the other activity on this tv show.

Accepting that gender isn't a polarity and that some people will choose to move themselves around the gender spectrum is far more difficult for Cisgendered people than I thought it would be. Of course, I do need to learn how to do this. For people who don't identify as male or female but somewhere else on that curve it must be hell. Feeling comfortable with ones identity is critical to a whole host of mental, emotional and psychological successes in life! Being unable to even pinpoint where one would fit on the gender curve must be positively awful! The simple fact of knowing instinctively that your identity is ... 'Thus'.... be it male, female, intersex or on a point anywhere around there is a rather sublime blessing I would have thought.

There is much complexity in the way our civilisation structures notions of sex and gender. A part of this is simply to keep society in some kind of order, preventing too much "difference" creating or causing anarchy, fear and the potential break-up of the Tribe, leaving it vulnerable to attack and dissolution.

Our language, art, politics, environment, our philosophies and religions all tell of the human struggle to understand identity. Polarising identity down to just two social sexual gender roles is just not good enough any more.

Diversity means we have to expand our dreaming and our concepts to new levels. Can we do that?

Can I do that?

It's time I should.

Our very survival may depend on it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Aspiration to Resolve: The journey between

As much as I aspire to nearly everything - except gardening and sewing - I really don't do Resolve very well.

Aspiration comes from the Latin 'aspiratio' meaning desire. It has various other meanings but in this context it is about a strong desire to achieve something tangible and real. It is the aim of such a desire.

Resolve is both a noun and a verb and comes from the Latin 'resolvere' meaning to unloose or dissolve. As a verb, resolve is to solve a problem, As a noun, resolve is a determination to achieve a given purpose or objective.

Resolve is not my strength. Both the doing and the being.

I aspire easily. Aspiration requires no obligation; only amorphous wishes based on self-created fairy tales. Aspirations publically announced look fine and worthy but they mean absolutely nothing after a time has passed.

Resolve however means to commit in full to stepping out onto the path to the destination - regardless of the effort required to get there. Resolve is always defined by the present - not the future. A proper resolve is evident in the actions of the Now. Aspiration is usually about something that may or may not occur in the future and is not yet proven.

Resolve means to be so sure of ones ability to achieve something that the will is set into a permanent state of determination and physical action. Perception, side-tracks, fate, perspicacity, do not sway the resolute soul.

Because I am a commitment-phobe of the worst kind, I find resolve to be inordinately difficult. Resolve is "easy" if the goal is small and achievable. If the outcome desired is practical and objectively useful, resolve becomes either a habit or a usual task that "must be done". But, resolute commitment to those dreamy, schemey wonderful illusions that make up many of my aspirations is impossible.

The disconnect between aspiration and resolve within is as vast as the universe is wide. Nothing but nothing will *make* me resolve to do anything but myself. My Self is an ornery, stubborn romantic who aspires to nearly everything so long as that Self doesn't need to physically or psychologically do anything to actually achieve those dreams.

It's not a question of "how do I achieve this dream?" It's more along the lines of... "This would be nice but it's too hard so I'll just enjoy the fantasy of it and that is all"

I'm a child in this respect. I lack the mature will to grapple with self-discipline so as to create tangible realities from dreams and wishes. I would rather lose myself in the wonders of imagination and the pleasant pain of longing than ever think through the practical implications of action for achievement.

So I will aspire to losing weight, being a beautiful person inside and out, owning a property portfolio, writing novels that sell in the millions, reading all the classics of literature, become famous without losing my privacy.... the list goes on....

but I shall never actually resolve these things. I am simply too lazy to do so.