Posted in Verbose Redactions

Why toxic masculinity is an essential topic for the further development and evolution of social and relational interactions.

We’re going to start this off with a statement that may be controversial to some and may piss other people off. Toxic femininity does not exist. To me, that is like saying that there is a reverse to systemic racism. It’s just not something that exists because it is related to power. Now the women’s rights movement (in “white feminism,” womanism, black feminism, intersectional, et cetera.), has made incredible strides in women’s liberation, especially in the western countries where we see a lot of predominant fights for gender equality.

Now notice that I said gender equality because the battle isn’t men against women, it is inclusive to every gender that exists. Unfortunately when we say that we are battling patriarchy people assumed that must mean that we are in a fight against men and we’re not. We have been fighting to destroy the concept implemented that say that men have to be in control, run things, be and exist in a certain way. We struggle to say that women and all other genders have the right to be who they are and forge their paths. It’s destroying oppressive gender constructs that way us down and giving the power back to the individual to choose their path. Yes, women had to fight to get from under men’s rule, but the premise of the movement was never about men versus women. That’s so self-oriented thinking.

To do this however we have to tear down the concepts of a patriarchal society that dictates how people should exist in the context of culture, and with that comes the understanding that we have to break down what traditionally has been seen as masculine. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are waging war against men and their ability to be masculine. It says that we are creating a dialogue to expand upon the ideas of what is masculine and what has been necessary for our past that no longer serve society as a whole; The archaic social dictates that may have been necessary for the “cavemen” eras.

I know some people will try to argue that society should not try to dictate how men should be. As this is an opinion piece, I don’t feel the need to do a blow-by-blow of all of the articles that I’ve seen since I was a teenager that have told men, women, transgender folx and non-binary people how they should exist. Ever since the days where there were certain ways to court a woman for a man to be the head of a household, there is always something telling men how they should act and in turn telling women what their place must be. That is where the concept of “toxic femininity” really comes from. Not so much as a matriarchal society that was telling women that men have to treat us a certain way, but the patriarchal rule in which modern society it has been constructed that says this is how men should act and be so, therefore, this is how everyone else. Many women demand men should be a certain way and have lopsided views of their gross behavior because patriarchial concepts have reinforced that their projections are standard or less damaging.

No some of this, of course, has been reinforced by social and biological sciences and the misunderstandings from the past concepts that were unearthed. In the budding days of scientific discovery of any topic, over scientific evolution, there are bound to be theories we realized were inaccurate. That doesn’t make it a bad thing; it just means that we know better now. We know that men don’t have to be stoic. We know that men can be just as expressive as any other gender. We know that men can experience various types of trauma like any other gender. That not every man necessarily desires or is capable of being the head of a household. We know that not every home needs one person to be the head of it. We know that not every family will have a head of it. We also know a penis is not what makes you a man. You are more than an appendage.

So many people that still push the idea set up a little boy cries he’s weak. If a woman is a breadwinner for a household that she is a part of and the man is also a part of that household he is subpar or a disgrace. If a household doesn’t have a man or in a hetero appearing relationship the person that appears to be a woman (whether they are or not) is too opinionated in the man lacks discipline. Let’s tap into queer culture. In a male-male relationship, there’s are still questions of who is the man in the relationship. It often happens with women-women and visibly queer groupings as well. There have been quite a few articles about butch and stud culture and how toxic masculinity has touched it. In non-monogamy, we can’t seem to get away from the idea that our relationship must inherently mean polygamous. If it’s not monogamous and the only way that it can be polygamous is if there is one male and two women. If anyone who is a part of non-monogamous culture knows that this is not the truth, it’s just a representation that we’re constantly battling. Because you know a real man would never let his woman step out; He has to mark his territory, right?

So let me throw a few quick definitions at you and then we’ll contextualize them.

Toxic 

1 : containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation
toxic waste
a toxic radioactive gas
an insecticide highly toxic to birds
2 : exhibiting symptoms of infection or toxicosis
the patient became toxic two days later
3 : extremely harsh, malicious, or harmful
toxic sarcasm
4 : relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market

~merriam-webster.com

These are some pretty powerful definitions right here. Relating it to toxic masculinity, we are saying that this concept is talking about whether something is poisonous. It has infected the way that humans interact and exist with each other. That it is abrasive and even harmful to our existence and evolution. That masculinity as it is currently prescribed is no longer an asset to our development and needs to be re-evaluated.

Masculine 

1a : MALE
masculine members of the choir
b : having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man
a masculine voice
2 : of, relating to, or constituting the gender that ordinarily includes most words or grammatical forms referring to males
masculine nouns

~ merriam-webster.com

So this is where the hang-ups are because you know what defines a man. We say that masculinity defines the man but how do you define masculinity. That’s the thing we are mainly as a culture demanding that masculinity as a supposition is redefined because we’re noticing on a wide scale that traditional constructs are hurting men. Let’s think about it for a moment. Women are considered to be the best option for caregiving, even legally and, we know that’s not the truth. It’s patriarchy that is the problem with its predefined ideas of masculinity that we have been working with. What about domestic violence and sexual abuse? How often are we discussing the fact that men can be abused in their relationship, or they can be sexually harassed, or they can be raped? Because again if you are a man and your partner is out of hand it’s because you’re weak. If you are sexually abused, you are either weak or “damn man that’s every guy’s wet dream.” What we have to realize is that masculinity and femininity are constantly evolving concepts that are described by the overarching themes of the society that we live within. This consequence of masculinity and feminity not being used as flexible descriptions; they’ve been prescriptive and rigid in nature. This consequence is a dangerous and detrimental outcome of a patriarchal structure – How “patriarchy” has fucked men over, which has fucked women over, which has fucked all the genders over, and it’s hazardous to us all.

Patriarchy

1 : social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line
broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power
2 : a society or institution organized according to the principles or practices of patriarchy

~merriam-webster.com

So right here I want to be a little bit transparent. I am a queer woman in a hetero appearing relationship to my white CISHET spouse. He also happens to be our agreed and negotiated head of our household. That confuses many people because I am an intersectional feminist, profoundly rooted in the ideas of womanism. I always want to emphasize that my relationship purposely seeks to deconstruct the idea that if a household chooses to have a head of household that it can be a negotiated discussion and the head of household does not have to be a man. I mean honestly, it came down to who was more willing to make phone calls and the fact that we have a negotiated power exchange style relationship.

Neither of us believes in the concept that men reign supreme in society. I honestly don’t think I know anyone personally that believes that men should be in charge. I do know people who have that belief, and I know there are many people within the broader context of our society with that belief. Those folks are not welcome in my inner circle. You see as a feminist I can’t entirely agree that any gender should have overall authority over everyone else in a culture nor do I believe that a society should be built on the principles of that concept. However, historically we can see that our society (and others) has slowly relied on the fact that there is a man who is the head of a family. A man who is in charge of a larger society, then a group of men who are in charge of a larger society on top of that. It was fairly accepted that that was the way of things, then women decided that we weren’t okay with that (I won’t get into the gory details of racism and queer erasure in that its a whole different discussion). Unfortunately, women doing something about it has been seen as hate towards men or even the attempt for role reversal. The reality is that men themselves as persons are not what’s being challenged. Its men are having their privileged place in society disrupted. That can be scary. It feels like the rights and privileges that you have are being stripped away when they’re just being extended to everybody else because they are just as deserving of those rights.

Toxic masculinity

“Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits—which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual—are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away.”

~ “What We Mean When We Say, “Toxic Masculinity” . December 11, 2017. Tolerance.org

So here is a straightforward definition of what toxic masculinity as a term and concept is supposed to embody. We all know dictionary definitions lack nuance and context. That is why general definitions for large societal discussions reduce the accuracy and the ability to have a real conversation. Toxic masculinity is a multi-disciplinary term representing a concept that embodies the intersections of sociology, psychology, and politics. Honestly, there is a lot more to it than just those disciplines, but those are the big three that this topic focuses on.

As you can see the term toxic masculinity is about broadening the definition of what masculinity and femininity mean in society. This expanded definition is a necessary reflection of how language and our interactions as humans. Society changes as more people are introduced into it, as our needs as humans change, and as we have scientific and technological advances. As we learn more about who we are and our place in the universe we grow and the way we view and describe ourselves has to change. Toxic masculinity is pointing out that we’ve been so focused on violence and sexual repression that we have hurt ourselves and men. The use of “Toxic masculinity” is a call to make sure that in the movements of gender, sexual, and relational freedom we are leaving no stones unturned. I want to point out that not only was this a robust activist push. It’s also a psychological push where the American Psychological Association is asking our society to look at our definitions of masculinity because it is psychologically hurting men with the current state of masculinity repressive views and that is something that is becoming a crisis for everybody.

I’m going to drop some links that way you can do more research on your own get different perspectives other than mine and form your own opinions about why this topic needs to be discussed. We’re not trying to isolate anyone we’re trying to build a better future for all.

 

Links:

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Posted in Uncategorized, Verbose Redactions

Yuletide

Normally my family, my mate and any partners we have as we are polyamorous, our close friends, and I celebrate the Yule season together in various ways throughout the month of December.

Our inner circle consists mostly of people who follow spiritual paths associated with Paganism or some eclectic mix of various religions.

Generally, our yule season consists of feasting, drinking, and rituals. This year we have bypassed the ritual as my blood family is visiting and they do not celebrate holidays ( They are Jehovah’s Witnesses).

My husband and I have been very low key in our acknowledgment this year of the holiday. Where there are normally well-dressed altars and cakes there are empty spaces. This year our home is not filled with laughter and the ambiance of the great mother’s presence.

This year’s Yule is different and it’s an interesting experience to note.

Blessed Be

xox,
shalyse

Posted in Verbose Redactions

An open letter to the LGBTQA community from an asexual

You see me with my husband, you charge me as hetero. You saw me with my partner, you assumed I was gay. You saw me with both of them you say I was bisexual and for a while, I would have agreed except I wasn’t sexual. But I was romantic, right? So I was bisexual because that is all that can exist.

That was until my partner told me that I should look into something and wrote down the word “Asexual”.

“Wait you mean that sex doesn’t have to be part of relationships?”

“So I’m not broken because I never felt that way about people?”

“God’s I could have saved myself so much crap”

“You can have relationships with people even though you don’t love them like that!”

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Continue reading “An open letter to the LGBTQA community from an asexual”

Posted in Verbose Redactions

Emotional Literacy is Important. Seriously Learn it.

A transfer from let’s talk about poly which is now one of my deleted sites.

General disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist. I just like studying self-knowledge and becoming self-aware. While I am going to school for this stuff, I’m not an expert.

What is emotional literacy anyways?

To summarize the key points of emotional literacy, it is a form of self-awareness that allows us to communicate and take responsibility for our emotions and feel secure doing so.

I like Claude Steiner’s (1997) breakdown of the parts of emotional literacy.

  1. Knowing your feelings.
  2. Having a sense of empathy.
  3. Learning to manage your emotions.
  4. Repairing emotional problems.
  5. Putting it all together or emotional interactivity.

Because I appreciate the structure of this breakdown this post will follow its example for this discussion.

Knowing your feelings means you understand that there is an entire language to describe the sense of experience or relation to the chemical reactions from a stimulus that is usually but not always outside of yourself. Our language for emotions is very diverse. There is an entire spectrum of emotions and the lack of knowledge of these emotions unintentionally forces us to be dishonest with ourselves. What most of us fail to realize is that this spectrum is umbrella-ed to further explain the root emotion we are feeling, but there are degrees that we don’t necessarily understand and thus incorrectly express or communicate our emotions.

Below are two charts I absolutely adore in the context of relationships and emotional literacy.

The first is the feelings wheel which shows you the many emotions you can experience that are rooted in six base emotions.

feelings-wheel

The second chart is one that helps to give you a view that our emotions have various intensities which produce similar, yet different emotional responses.

feelings-chart-3

I feel like the charts are great visual aids in assisting with Emotions 101 of developing your emotional intelligence.

For example, according to the feelings wheel jealousy is actually in selfishness which is an extension just being mad about something. Do you realize how differently many people would handle their jealousy if they understood that their jealousy is a valid yet negative emotion that stems from their anger over a situation? And we also know that there are fear and sadness involved from further discussion and study of this, but finding your roots of your reactions is profoundly useful when relating to other.s

There are many other types of emotion breakdowns including the Plutchik model, so study up.

Plutchikfig6

Having a sense of empathy in relationships, in general, is a useful tool. Or at least being able to acknowledge and communicate your lack of empathy is. When your partner is upset if you lack empathy you may not be able to understand what they are feeling or communicate effectively with them.

We should also be aware that there are factors that impact empathy levels like mental health and experience, as well as different types of empathy. Like I don’t really experience emotional empathy and I experience limited compassionate empathy. That make my relationships super hard and requires far more emotional processing to make sure that I am understanding what my partners are communicating to me. It is exhausting. I’m more of a cognitive empathetic person. This is partially to do with my mental disorders which is why I have to do so much work on mindfulness and self-awareness in relationships. I am aware of how badly I can ruin someone, just from the fact that I only have certain empathetic responses.

Learning to manage your emotions is hell in a hand basket y’all. Well, at least it is for me. I have baggage, but my baggage is in the form of PTSD from abuse and assault and just general mental health disorder related issues. See, knowing your feelings is only part of the battle because once you know what is up, you have to figure out how to not project your feelings onto another person. Your emotions are your own reaction to a stimulus and sometimes we end up projecting because in reality we were not wronged, we just were not fond of what was said or done personally.

Now, this isn’t a blanket claim, however, that all emotions are not impacted by others. People can literally wrong you or hurt you. Managing your emotions comes in part from being able to separate whether or not what you think actually happened, happened and to communicate your consent to the situation.

There are five ways that you can manage your emotions that I do recommend experimenting with either by yourself or with your therapist.

  1. Choosing the situations in which you put yourself. This one I personally do myself. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and some days the world scares me so much that I can not leave my house aside from work. I will cancel plans if I have to. I will tell friends and partners I can’t go certain places because I am not sure what the emotional response I will have to the environment will be. Some people who don’t get it assume that I just let my fear overtake me, but in reality, I am managing situation that could go bad and make everyone unhappy, uncomfortable, or endangered. I go out, I have fun, I live, on my terms because I know what I can handle.
  2. Changing your perception or expectations of the situation. I personally still struggle with the ability to adjust my expectations when things start going wrong in some situations. This is greatly rooted in your ability to adjust to change or go with the flow. I personally can only do so much of that at a time.
  3. Change your focus. I also have OCD. I literally have to force myself to find a new focus so I don’t obsess and spiral into an overemotional ball of panic. My SO also has a tendency to hyper focus and that exacerbates his anxiety response to the point of physical illness that has resulted in a tendency to try to avoid dealing with anything that he feels will trigger that — so heavy emotions in a relationship where he feels he has caused anger or disappointment. I use these as an example to understand why the focus may need to be shifted. It is not to avoid the situation, but to allow you time to get your initial response under control so that you may address it.
  4. This, in the end, allows you to change your thoughts about the situations which 7411272_originvolve our ability to be mindful of the situation and move forward from that
  5. so that your responses will be adapted. Adjusting the first four help to manage things highly associated with anxiety-like symptoms or anger or even your sadness response. Yea, this reads easy, but it takes a lot of time, effort and support to change these.

Above I mentioned that I have baggage. Baggage in this discussion is a reference to unresolved emotional issues and trauma that affect your interaction in and outside the relationship. Part of becoming emotionally literate is being able to identify your baggage so that you can begin to deconstruct it. One thing that people often forget is that this is an incredibly uncomfortable experience and that is normal for this kind of self-discovery and rewiring.

E.B Resources: X X X X X

Once you have learned how to do these things you will be engaging in emotional interactivity for yourself and it will greatly help you in your relationships, to communicate, to relate, and to respect your partner(s) reactions and deal with them. It is also really helpful in identifying when your partner is projecting or just not able to communicate a problem to you. It improves your ability to read a situation

In polyamory, this can be our greatest help or hinderance. You have to be able to see where your partner is coming from no matter where you are on your journey and learn how to healthily compromise. You have to be able to negotiate your boundaries and discuss protocols for handling situations in healthier ways. All of this is unique to the individuals involved.

I notice that a lot of times in subcultures that emphasize DIY and designer relationships we forget that any self-help that is available is a template. You have to change it up and make it unique to you. This is why people often advise others to visit therapist whether alone or in a group to find ways to address issues unique to their situation.

I’m urging everyone to start working on their emotional literacy to help improve their quality of life and quality of interaction. It can only benefit you in the end and improve your journey of self-authenticity and awareness.

Resource list:

http://hprc-online.org/family-relationships/families/managing-emotions

http://ong.ohio.gov/frg/FRGresources/emotional_intellegence_13-18.pdf

https://www.cognitivehealing.com/depression/learn-how-to-identify-and-express-your-feelings/

http://eqi.org/elit.htm

http://www.6seconds.org/2013/03/07/enhance-emotional-literacy/

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic522933.files/Rose%20Wongsarnpigoon%20Portfolio.pdf

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/emotional-intelligence
https://www.cnvc.org/sites/default/files/feelings_inventory_0.pdf

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/great-kids-great-parents/201703/dealing-feelings

http://ed-psych.utah.edu/school-psych/_documents/grants/autism-training-grant/3-degrees-emotions.pdf

Posted in Verbose Redactions

Black, Poly, Intersectional Feminism.

A transfer from let’s talk about poly which is now one of my deleted sites.

Discussing polyamory as rooted in womanism, not your typical whitewashed privilege.

By: XXXX

This is a write-up I did for the Black & Polygroup that I assist in moderating in. This is a summation of my belief in why I believe Black, polyamorous spaces are needed (really POC need spaces to discuss things in general) and a summation of the group’s stance on the “Polyamory is Feminist at its foundation.” statement.
Polyamory is based on some pretty feminist ideas:
  • Sexual self-determination (which women often lack pre-suffrage).
  • Redefining and redesigning your love life rather than sticking to societies proscribed rules.
  • Establishing that women have a choice ( mostly by disrupting gender roles).
  • Providing an equitable way to achieve your goals.
  • Reducing the likeliness of force possession and control by addressing the fact that people are not objects and focusing on relationship negotiations.
  • And in theory, women should have equal footing to communicate their wants and needs, without feeling guilty or shamed for exploring them.
Let’s be real, our relationship style does have its roots in feminism, but for us ( read: black people and POC in general) it’s not this mainstream thing created to be palatable. You see feminism is a spectrum of socio-political movements and ideologies that have a base goal to establish equal rights for all genders in the political, economic, and social spheres, by focusing on the minority group who did not have equal rights. That seems relatively harmless right. Mainstream feminism, however, has been tainted by the historical focus on white middle to upper-class women and thus ignoring the intersection between all women’s issue. In short, it is blinded by white privilege.
Luckily for us, we have had some amazing strides made to address intersectionality, especially for black women.
Thank the activist for Intersectionality. It is, in essence, the idea that equality can be reached by creating equity to erase the boundaries that separate us. But where did this idea stem from?
Partially (well a lot from) womanism and black feminism.
Womanism(1960s)
— is a social theory that centers on the racial and gender oppression of black woman and other women in marginalized groups. Unlike white feminism, it makes sure to focus on the fact that women have been oppressed and POC have been further oppressed because race-based issues are not a separate category with no overlap. XX X X XX
Black Feminism (the 1960s)
–Is incredibly similar by positing that sexism, socio-economic oppression, gender identity, and race issues are irrevocably connected.
The difference, well to me there isn’t much of a difference, except that womanism is not about fostering interracial cooperation. Some people take this to mean that black women think themselves superior in negative ways towards white women. No, not necessarily. The fact is that womanism addresses that the black experience is different in western countries, and for white people, interracial cooperation has been historically contexted around POC assimilating to their “white” culture and leaving our culture behind. X
For black people, polyamory is about ( or at least it should be about) building and uplifting our brothers and sisters. It is addressing the fact that our communities have and to an extent today experience our humanity and rights being stripped away. If you have not had a chance to view it watch “13th” Directed by Ava DuVernay. This gives a great view of how slavery never really ended, just was reframed. But back to my point, we have had to recreate and define terms, find our own humanity, self-respect, and create things for ourselves.
The mainstream polyamorous movement has done a lot, but again it is erasing POC in a flurry of peace and love and the new modern family. Take for instance that the Article “Polyamory is for Rich, Pretty People by Vivienne Chen. In non-intersectional focused spaces this is met by the idea that she is complaining, when the reality is that her discussion is addressing the lack of intersectionality in mainstream groups by ignoring that there are some pretty bad risk for deviating publically from societal norms for the poor, non-cis, non-straight folks or just people who don’t fit the non-polyamorous person’s assumptions of poly.
A major contributor to this whitewashing is that people forget that non-monogamy has always been something that has been practiced in many cultures. Polyamory is a modern adaptation post the stress of hetero-monogamy. We forget that if we look back on the history of civilization and before the modern construct of marriage, people did work together and practice communal love.

I assert that by the POC polyamorous community saying that, yes polyamory is based on feminism, but not white-washed feminism. We are forcing ourselves and the surrounding cultures outside of our plural relationship doors to address that this is not just a relationship style. This is our socio-political stand that as POC we aren’t defined by other people and you do not get to sweep history under the rug and pretend that racism and classism don’t exist. For many of us, the reality is that until President Trump was elected, people had a tendency to push the idea that this is the twenty-first century, so these socio-political discussions weren’t a problem, but that was simply because it was not their experience. For black POC and POC in general, reframing your polyamory to be centered around intersectionality, womanism, or black feminism will force you and those around you to see that we have something different, yet similar we are fighting for.

I date not exclusively interracially. I do not date people who are colorblind because of the way many people try to apply the term. We don’t need a homologous world, we just need to be accepting that there is no dominant culture. Yes, my partners’ politics matter to me, because politics are more than personal opinions. They are opinions that become our laws and that affects our lives.
If you can’t understand or try to understand and learn that a POC experience is different in western culture, can you truly build a community with them? I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but the way the women’s suffrage movement was framed was that it was not a movement for us. Racism crept in and we were pushed aside. To me, this doesn’t say that we shouldn’t ever work with white people, but it does say to me that we must be careful to not let our experiences and our politics be pushed down for the sake of the movement. We must be critical of what people are saying when they push that polyamory is feminist in nature. Is feminism that solely addresses white equality, or is it being critical to address that all people deserve equality and it takes equity and time to actively deconstruct our country’s foundation.
To conclude I want to make one thing increasingly clear. What I am saying is to critique the hell out of feminism. Don’t just accept its feminist and that it must be right or always addressing equity. Polyamory foundationally seeks to build people up individually and socially. How can you do that without addressing and breaking the oppressive social ideologies that exist and fight against equality? And for this reason, I believe that for POC Polyamory can only be feminist for Black communities and other POC if it is intersectional in nature.

The Black & Poly stance.

In Black & Poly one of the primary things we want everyone to remember is that while we are not a Black ONLY space, We are a Black CENTERED space. We are about building up Black people. If you are not about that, this is not the space for you.Our experience is different. Racial oppression gives us a different view of authority, of fighting to reach our potential, of defining words and concepts that weren’t even meant for us. This space is one pebble that sends out a ripple effect of addressing how to break down the systemic oppression in westernized countries and how to give POC the equity we need to truly explore being equal.