Destroying toxic masculinity, delivering a death blow to racism

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My daughter is a brilliant soul of pure light.

I know that she will, in the years and decades to come, face the stresses and struggles of a sexist, racist world held together by a historic colonial-dominator-guided patriarchy and oppressive social order. I know she will face it with a lot of courage and determination (not to mention breathtaking chutzpah).

Daya’s a mixed race child of Tamil-Germanic heritage, whose skin gets darker and hair gets lighter as she moves into full-blown toddlerhood with a firecracker mind and ancient soul. When I think of the learning, security, and community that Sus and I are trying to ensure for her, I also think of the different contours of oppression our little one will have to face as she charges through life. She being my daughter, me being a bumbling feminist, I always lean towards addressing the sexism and structures of patriarchy she is going to have to fight, indeed already is fighting.

She might face some forms of racism that her father faced. Maybe. I don’t know. She’s likely going to live in a mishmash of transnational American urbana. And she often looks like a white toddler with a really deep tan, you know, like one of them Mediterranean types so meh, I really don’t know how traumatizing the racial microaggressions are going to be in her life. I know it’s something to guard against and develop learning around, but in this current day and age…

…let’s face it, she is far more likely to face the myriad forms of patriarchy and sexism her mother and my mother, and all of our mothers and sisters and aunties faced. More even. Hopefully less, but misogyny is making its last violent stand, one that could last for many, many generations. She’s going to be waging epic battles in the midst of that shit for a while to come.

Because when I see the nastiest and vilest parts of this world, including all the violence, hatred, and destruction…yeah, some of it is couched in religious nationalism or ethno-racial supremacy or whatever (like a few thousand man-babies thumping their pale pigeon chests behind internet chat rooms is the real problem with structural racism in America)…all of it is led, savored, and sustained by men. Cis men. Men with some ridiculously overblown and self-aggrandizing crisis in masculinity, when what they should be doing is looking deep within themselves to undo that toxic crap if they truly want to find love and belonging in this world.

That might take a while.

(Now, you see why I think patriarchy and sexism are at the root of all evil?)

But I see no other way forward and it is as clear a truth as I have ever realized, especially as a father to a brilliant warrior soul and a man of color. We must destroy the toxic masculinity within us all in order to suck the life out of the historic racist structures that still plague our world today. Then our children can finally be free of all this crap.

My daughter speaks truth.

To power and the world around her.

I and my fellow dudes need only follow the light of higher souls like her.

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The alt-right are entitled man-babies, their symbolic leader a predatory rapist (so isn’t patriarchy at the root of the problem?)

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Entitled dudes from privileged ethno-national classes accessing the worst of themselves in order to garner more power and privilege for their self-described “people” have been a pain in humanity’s ass for a while now.

Of course, in the process (and very much by design as has been documented) these whiny little shits incite anger and violence with progressive forces who fight them with no small amount of courage on the streets, albeit tragically ensuring more whiny little shits gravitate into their hateful embrace with the subsequent rise in polarization.

Just to be clear, I’m not coming down on organizing tactics or whatever. For starters, what the fuck do I know? You think fighting these whiny little shits in street battles is going to drive them away, by all means, go ahead and fight that fight. I used to think that way too until I realized that political street fights in America don’t really work out too well for folks who ain’t young cis white dudes. For me it’s less to do with tactics and more to do with egalitarianism within the resistance movement.

What happens to those who don’t have the social privilege to take part in such battles (who are also likely to be the most vulnerable to the kind of hate propagated by right wing forces)? Why is it primarily the over-romanticized tactics of street violence that are given “cred” and progressive media attention?

Antifa type fights have great imagery and symbolism, but they only privilege a particularly masculine, and for the most part Western/white-dominated, form of resistance. Something that hasn’t worked for damn near a millennium of this colonial, capitalist shit apart from some very temporary and fleeting victories. Why then is this the primary form of organizing that’s highlighted and valorized?

It is alienating for large numbers of people, including families with young children, undocumented folk, other vulnerable communities, our community elders, and more. It further prevents us from addressing what I believe lies at the root of this giant steaming pile of inequality and injustice we call our society, even with a cursory glance.

The whiny-ass white supremacists who are occupying media air time right now are almost solely man-babies. Their symbolic man-baby leader and megalomaniac-in-chief is a rapist and unabashed misogynist. It really doesn’t take much to probably deduce that toxic masculinity and patriarchy are at the root of the problem. Shouldn’t our resistance to this oppression then privilege the words, actions, and needs of mothers, women, trans folk, and children – i.e. those who face the worst that patriarchy has to offer? And especially those voices from black, latino, and other communities of color?

It has been documented time and time again that far-right forces across nations and societies provoke violence to further their own recruitment needs. Wouldn’t our mothers and wise matriarchs fight this in more nurturing, egalitarian, and multi-generational ways (albeit with less angry flash)? Might looking into the eyes of our children give us a more sustainable vision for fighting this good fight?

When you have to worry about nurturing those who will live long after you, your ideas of resistance and revolution must also necessarily be nurturing to those who will live long after you.

If we have the community, the love, and the solidarity to weather the storm; They will scream their hatred from their rooftops and no one will listen. They will brandish all the guns and they’ll shoot into empty air. They will choke on their own ill-gotten falsehoods as they wait endlessly for a fight, for we would have moved on to better things. Eventually “they” will be reduced to nothing more than the trauma of the past we all had to endure to toughen our souls for a brighter tomorrow. Rather than continuously sowing that hateful seed onward for future generations, their hate will die with them.

And our children will laugh and play together.

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The path of the male nurturer (and the struggle to prevent easy complacency)

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There is a way in which my ongoing struggle to ensure a nurturing core as a parent has helped me reflect on my internalized and toxic masculinity in a way no other endeavor or life experience has. It isn’t enough to just be a “good guy” (a title for which the bar is set so shockingly low across this globe that it barely qualifies you as a half-decent human being). It isn’t enough to just love in the lazy, entitled (and often infantile) manner that so many guys do with their life partners, something that is celebrated across pop culture as cute and charming rather than being highlighted for the damage it creates. It isn’t enough to just show up and compare ourselves to guys who are more dickish and ignorant than we are to make ourselves look good.

I know now that the male nurturer has to have the humility to start from scratch, to pay heed to the matriarchs around him, and actually learn from the times he messed up. Often it feels like suspended animation. My ego is both my worst enemy and best friend when it comes to parenting. He is a scumbag when it comes to dragging me down from evolving further, but he is also my most honest counsel when it comes to dealing with my shit so I can be a better father.

I’ve realized that us men cannot hope to love and nurture by just following some passive dictum of doing no harm. Our mere existence in this patriarchal world causes harm. Yes, even all us “good” and occasionally feminist men. Reflection is not just some smug asshole we see in a fucking mirror.

For if I’ve learnt anything from the last 17 months as a parent to a brilliant and liberated soul like Daya, it is this:

If loving and nurturing well isn’t the most important thing a guy’s doing with his time, he ain’t living right.

Not in this patriarchal world at least.

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On freeing myself mentally and spiritually (aka the myth of the blue pill)

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The Gratitude Project – Musing 15

I’m grateful for the ongoing process of freeing myself mentally and spiritually.

I have a long way to go of course.

For instance…

Freeing myself, say, from capitalist cultural values both complements and competes with my ongoing struggles to free myself from internalized sexism and patriarchy;

Which further complement and compete with my ongoing struggles to free myself from internalized racism and trauma;

Not to mention that gosh darn little decolonization of the mind thingy I have going on that just keeps kicking me in the balls.

Why oh why didn’t I just take the blue pill?

Oh, that’s why…

Because the blue pill is a fucking myth.

It was never an option for me.

Which is why I’m grateful for a mind and soul that yearns for love, liberation and all that hippie dippie shit;

(The rabbit hole might stink on occasion, but it’s still my home.)

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Today I feel like I can connect with a past life – TGP Musing 14.75

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The Gratitude Project – Musing 14.75

For the longest time, ever since I was a wee little one (you know, growing up in a post-colonial, commonwealth-English-speaking country where I imbibed paraphrases like “wee little one”) – I’ve always felt like I was meant to thrive in a different era; An era when capitalism, religion, and patriarchy didn’t exist.

I was meant to romp around with my loved ones, human and non-animal alike, in the somewhat scary freedom of the natural world.

I say somewhat scary because the feeling is real in these visions of mine. And these “natural worlds” that they take place in span the spectrum of environmental bounty and wretchedness. Real freedom and liberation is indeed something to feel a little afraid of, I’ve come to realize. And the natural world is not some romantic paradise-like land, but a very real, occasionally dangerous place that needs to be lived in with care and caution.

It is the reason I’m never alone in these visions.

I’m always with people and animals. Because that relatively scary freedom is turned into a nurturing liberation with love and community. And the natural world we live in is respected, even feared a little, for what it is and can be to us all.

It’s why I realize that these aren’t visions of a life I was meant to live.

These are memories, past and future, of a life I’ve already lived.

And it’s the reason why I’m so fucking grateful for flashes of consciousness that smash the unidirectional linearity of time.

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(That’s for the Kindle version – if you want a nice, matte-finished paperback, click on this link to get to the e-store: https://www.createspace.com/7359893)

I’m grateful for Dravidian matriarchy (TGP Musing 14.5)

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I know it hides under many layers of violent misogyny and sterile Manuwadi patriarchy.

Indeed, I know that many of the Dravidian lands and societies of today are certainly not the best places for women. And though they might not be the worst, with the world as fucked up in its sexism and cowardly masculinity as it is today, that’s really not saying much at all.

As a father to a brilliant warrior girl, I necessarily think about the various forms of patriarchy and misogyny in the world around us that my daughter will have to struggle and fight against. We are a border-busting family, or at least we try to be, so these thoughts always take place across multiple societies and possibilities, be they Minneapolis, Toronto, southern India, or who the fuck knows what the future might bring?

I have no doubt that she will fight those fights of collective liberation, wherever she may be, with far greater glory and courage than I could ever muster in a million lifetimes.

But I still worry. And thus want to arm her with as much knowledge and as many skills as I can cram into her brilliant little mind. I am doing that, I believe, with slow but hopefully ever-increasing success. I better prove I’m no slouch. I’m a warrior-appa after all.

Her soul however is far greater than I can ever imagine.

Her soul, like her mother’s, is far older, far wiser, far braver, and far more divine, than mine ever will be. I have no way of meeting her spiritually, other than in obeisance and, dare I say it, worship. It liberates me as a man to really engage with the nuances of fatherhood from the standpoint of awe, occasionally infuriating awe (she’s a toddler after all), but awe nonetheless.

This inclination of mine to understand my happiness and well being as a human being in direct conjunction with my sense of reverence for my female loved ones is, I believe, partly due to Dravidian matriarchy, somewhere, somehow, surviving spiritually in my being. Overcoming the many millennia of misogyny and patriarchy embedded in our times, Dravidian matriarchy remains in me, as do other matriarchies – guiding me, nurturing me, despite the inherent ignorance of my maleness.

As a small realization of the self in connection across time and space, universes and lifetimes, that kicks a lot of ass.

For I know that when Daya and her sisters finds themselves tired and weary, battling on, in whatever way they must, as the freedom fighters of tomorrow…

They can always wrench hope from the matriarchal roots of their warrior selves, be they Dravidian or Germanic, indigenous or adopted, somewhere or everywhere.

And for that, I am very, very grateful.

Kaliamman vazhgai.

 

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I’m grateful I can put myself out there and have writing to peddle (TGP Musing 14.25)

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I’m grateful I have a brain that doesn’t shut down, multiple streams and flashes firing off simultaneously till sleep renders it temporarily dormant, albeit with frequent vivid dreams about anything and everything.

Why am I grateful for such a seemingly burdensome organic part of my being, you ask, oh random, mythical person I invent now and then for a segue in my musings?

Well, this brain that doesn’t shut down, occasionally can be directed and put to work, thereby providing me careers, experiences, and adventures across nearly two decades of adultish living.

And perhaps even give me a shot at making a living from peddling various renderings of that never-ever-shutting-down noggin via the written word (and eventually maybe even a YouTube show, who the hell knows?)

All to say that I’m grateful I have no problems telling you…

Buy my latest book (please?)

Fresh off the plane – An immigrant diary (Vol. 1 – Pennsylvania to Baltimore)

 

(That’s for the Kindle version – if you want a nice, matte-finished paperback, click on this link to get to the e-store: https://www.createspace.com/7359893)

Stay awesome.