Recently, I came across a status update in my newsfeed from a friend of mine studying to become a midwife. She wrote that she was reading about PTSD and childbirth and that everything you need to know about it is right there in her brain. She later clarified that she meant specifically PTSD that comes as a result of childbirth and not PTSD that comes prior to childbirth.
I responded that I personally loved being treated like a baby-making machine/worthless lump of flesh because it taught me the invaluable skill of dissociation. If I hadn’t learned it by then, that surely seated it firmly in my bones. And, hey, who doesn’t love a good flashback?
I then wrote parenthetically, “(Christ, how is it that we come to treating people with such inhumanity? And at their absolute most vulnerable, too…)”
We have this stupid and pervasive notion in our society that some people are worth less than others and, therefore, we don’t have to treat them with the same dignity and respect that we deem ourselves deserving of.
Nobody is worthless. Nobody is worth less. There is no such thing as someone beneath you unless you’re hosting a party and one of your guests just had four martinis (see Dorothy Parker). You are not better than another person. Neither are you worth less than another person. This is no longer a four-legs-good, two-legs-better sort of society; like it or not, we’re moving past that. The notion of ‘underlings’ is a false concept.
My mother is a secretary and has been for pretty much most of her life. Do I really think she’s worth less as a human being than her executive boss? Well, sure, right? That’s what society teaches all of us, isn’t it? She’s just a secretary. Why is that even remotely a respectable career choice? Why couldn’t she have aspired to something better.
As a society, we generally treat janitors, trades people, office workers, administrative assistants and secretaries, nurses, cab drivers, and those in the service industry, whether waitstaff and delivery drivers at a restaurant or housekeeping at a hotel, with a sort of repugnant disdain, overtly or indirectly, failing to remember that – holy shit, guys, wait for it – they’re people. Just like you and me. They’re people.
For me the solution has to be primarily spiritual and secondarily political. This, too, is difficult terrain when the natural tribal leaders of the left are atheists, when Marxism is inveterately Godless. When the lumbering monotheistic faiths have given us millennia of grief for a handful of prayers and some sparkly rituals.
By spiritual I mean the acknowledgement that our connection to one another and the planet must be prioritised.
This is what is being exemplified by the Occupy Movement, what the hippies brought into mainstream consciousness in the 60s, and most importantly, how the indigenous peoples of our planet live. What is happening in New Brunswick Right Now is a huge illustration of this, where the Mi’kmaq are taking a literal stand against fracking and are blocking roads. They’re being painted as terrorists, of course, because they’re brown and because they’re standing against Big Oil and standing against multinational corporate interests, which are antithetical to the interests of humanity and life in general: Elsipogtog Protest: We’re Only Seeing Half the Story
“…[W]e are faced with a choice. We can continue to show the photos of the three hunting rifles and the burnt out cop cars on every mainstream media outlet ad nauseam and paint the Mi’kmaq with every racist stereotype we know, or we can dig deeper. We can seek out the image of strong, calm Mi’kmaq women and children armed with drums and feathers and ask ourselves what would motivate mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters and daughters to stand up and say enough is enough.”
This little girl is tired of your shit, Oil People.
When Brand states that we no longer have the luxury of tradition, he is referencing, in part, the suffocated politics of snuffing life in myriad ways in order to pad the bank accounts of a tiny elite because hierarchical politics is just how it’s always been done. He’s referencing all the ways in which men and patriarchal political structures work to maintain their (perceived-as-being) self-serving way of life and notion of being in and remaining in power, without regard to the rest of us who live on this planet. With increasing frequency, the idea of maintaining tradition is being pushed around in many ways across the world. This recent news story from Botswana about four sisters who took on Botswana’s chiefs and won has a beautifully apt pairing of quotes illustrating this tug-of-war that Brand alludes to.
On the one hand, we have 80-year-old Edith Mmusi and her three sisters having successfully fought a 5-year legal battle in order to gain legal rights to their family home:
“Customs and culture have no place in the modern world because women are still oppressed in the name of culture.”
“What makes men [especially the staunch traditionalists] think they have power over us? We are all equal in God’s eyes,” she adds, the smile now gone.
On the other one hand, we have a chief, who was not impressed with the idea of women getting said legal rights, something that is traditionally reserved only for men:
“Yes culture is dynamic but tradition is important, the role of tradition is to preserve our identity. We would like to preserve our culture and live in the way that our great-grandfathers lived,” says Chief Gaseintswe Malope II.
Earlier today, I watched the following conversation between RuPaul and Marianne Williamson. She’s considering running for public office. RuPaul, initially, was completely against it, but after she explained why she felt the urge to do so, he understood and agreed. What she wants to bring to the table is something, I think, that Russell Brand could appreciate. Have a look/listen:
RuPaul Drives… Marianne Williamson
It’s exactly along the same lines as what Brand is aiming for. Williamson says we do not have time to indulge in our mistakes. Brand says we do not have time to indulge in tradition. Go-time is now. It is always now. We are building momentum in this revolution. Brand continues in his article:
Buckminster Fuller outlines what ought be our collective objectives succinctly: “to make the world work for 100 per cent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous co-operation without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone”. This maxim is the very essence of “easier said than done” as it implies the dismantling of our entire socio-economic machinery. By teatime.
Colonialist implications and associations aside, there always needs to be time for tea. I’m not being flippant or ironic, frivolous or sarcastic. I’m being 100% earnest. I know that Brand is saying that we need for things to happen yesterday, if not sooner, and I agree, but this notion of teatime is not to be dismissed. It seems a small, insignificant digression at first, but it is, in fact, enormous. Taking time to sit and drink is deeply important and deeply vital to being able to discern if we’re heading where we want to go. It is one of the many tools we have available to us to more effectively achieve Buckminster Fuller’s collective objectives. Tea time is not ‘thinking’ time. It is ‘being’ time.
When I began the Reiki-leg of my journey this past summer, it was reaffirmed for me through my instructor and what his mentor had taught him that we always need to make time to sit and drink tea. Just sit. Just be. Just tea.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” ~ Thich Naht Hanh
“A cup of tea is a cup of enlightenment.” ~ Gassho
We need to remember to sit and be. Doing so will help us reconnect with each other, with ourselves, with the earth. This is what this (r)evolution needs more of: sitting and being, being present. Feeling the warmth of the tea, noticing the nuances of flavour, learning to pace ourselves, so our mouths don’t get burnt. There is a vast amount to be learnt that is applicable for all aspects of life in the acts of making and taking tea. We no longer have the luxury of many many kinds of tradition; we need to be able to discern in a heartbeat what traditions serve us and all our relations and which do not. Teatime, taking tea, tea ceremony is traditional, yes, but it is not a luxury; it is a vital and necessary spiritual act that calls us to be present in the moment.
I am signing on wholeheartedly with the zest and vigour of what Brand is aiming for, and I don’t give one drop of dribble piss about the stereotype — Essex breeds good people. I am thrilled with what Brand envisions. He is so keenly spot on in so many ways that I can’t help but feel successive ripples of joy course through me as I read his article in The New Statesman and listen to him banter with Paxman.
Enjoy this unfolding revolution with me and have some tea:
I have found myself simultaneously reading a Barbara Cartland romance novel and a Jane Austen novel. I actually can’t stand romance novels (well, ok… medieval french romance gets a bit of a pass, but I like the merveilleux and the bawdy, cheeky fabliaux far better). SO… because I have obstinately refused to give any sort of non-medieval-novels-billed-as-romance any attention at all, with the exception of the first few chapters of a Danielle Steele novel back in 1990, I am completely green when it comes to such things. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve never read Jane Austen before. *hangs head in shame* As well, I have only seen Mansfield Park and, well, if we’re stretching things considerably, Bridget Jones’ Diary.
I’m about halfway through Pride and Prejudice, and I love it. It’s utterly intellectual without entirely sacrificing the emotions and just brilliantly written. I can’t stand how repressive the culture is, but I’m learning quite a bit on a historical level.
The Cartland novel I’m reading is called The Magic of Love, a Jane Eyre takeoff with a little Martinique voodoo thrown in to spice it up a bit. Continue reading →
So we’re at a socio-cultural crossroads of dealing with the disempowerment of women and the reempowerment of women, with our bodies and our sexuality taking centre stage. Personally, I think Miley Cyrus is to thank for all these conversations, but I have to ask, why her? was all this brouhaha happening when Britney Spears shed her good-girl image? I wasn’t really paying attention then and I’m only half paying attention now. I’ve yet to see a single Miley Cyrus performance or video. I’ve only read about her. Maybe it’s just that it’s time for us as a world culture to really start looking at this intelligently and critically.
What I do know is that the slut shaming and body policing need to end. The lack of comfort with women choosing to show skin needs to end. The expectation that women should show skin needs to end. The reasons behind why women want to show skin or not need to be fully explored.
Is Cyrus stripping down because she wants to? Is it because she’s being told to? If she’s being told to, then are those demands implicit within the culture or are they explicitly advised by her PTB? If she’s doing it because she just really wants to, then why? What’s behind that? Are some reasons better than others? Why?
Amidst all this I’m caught somewhere in between in my life as a sex-positive middle-aged parent of young boys.
I want to talk about respectability and the notion of having class — is someone who strips down to their altogether automatically classless and deemed unworthy of respect? If so, how does this attitude serve feminism? How does this attitude serve women?
And what of this idea of attention-seeking behaviour? When dealing with children, we many times say, dismissively, “Oh, s/he’s just looking for attention,” and then we continue to ignore the negative attention seeking behaviour, thinking that’s somehow going to give everyone what we all want. Meanwhile, the kid goes ignored and doesn’t get *any* attention. Or gets negative attention, when they really do need positive attention. The kids who we believe ‘deserve’ the least amount of loving attention need it the most. Which brings us to Miley Cyrus and all the claims of attention-whore, attention-seeking behaviour, desperate cry for attention, etc. What’s going on here with this need for attention and why is it important? She’s 20. In my eyes, she’s a child, but I’m close enough still to 20 to feel the pang of invalidation at being referred to and looked on as a child. Why are we so dismissive of people needing attention? Isn’t that what the entertainment industry is built on? Spectacle? People who want you to look at them and/or listen to them?
See also sociocultural ideas regarding the construct of purity, virginity, the male gaze, covering up, saving ourselves for our husbands, rape culture, victim blaming, violence against women, porn culture, objectification, ideal beauty, etc. I’m not even touching the racism aspects of Cyrus’ performance to Blurred Lines, though that’s woven in, too.
There is so very much that is inextricably intertwined, and we have a lot of introspective work ahead of us here. These are all conversations that we desperately need to have with each other. Respectfully.
And if you’re totally into this exploration of the intersection of rape culture, porn culture, and pop culture, listen to the following talk by Dr. Gail Dines, who does a fantastic job exploring exactly these influences in our culture. No, she’s not anti-porn. She, like many of us, is against a specific type of porn, which has grown out of obscurity and has taken centre stage. This ain’t no Playboy here. No graphics or visuals, but descriptively NSFW. Completely and utterly illuminating.
and because this fits in somehow, even if only tongue-in-cheek: