Welcome to My World#6. I’m really starting to do these things quite a bit faster now. I’m getting a lot more help in the form of other people writing things for me. Living inside has been doing me good. Since I got clean 25 months ago I’ve gained about 55 pounds. On the down side, I lost another friend in a drug related murder. His name was Chris, he was from Arcata/Eureka. This makes number six in terms of just drug/alcohol induced or related deaths within my circle of relations in the last three years. I think I’m about done with the so called community here in the east bay. It doesn’t have much to offer me. It doesn’t seem like it has much to offer in general. Sure there’s a lot of political stuff going on, but what good is that if you are dead?
I’m hoping to move out of here next summer.
Also it looks like the city of Berkeley is going to finally get away with criminalizing sitting, sleeping and asking for change. Which definitely makes it time for me to go. Follow up from #3, the Bart cop officer Crabtree that murdered Jerold Hall for no reason was found dead hanging from his bedroom ceiling in what his girlfriend described as a “weird sexual practice”. Justice.
CULT OF MANHOOD.
cult (kîlt) n.
1.a. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader. b. The followers of such a religion or sect.
2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
3. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
4. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.
5.a. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing. b. The object of such devotion.
6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.
I recently read a book that got me thinking about what we call manhood. It’s called Refusing to be a Man, by John Stoltenberg. The basic premise is that what has come to be called manhood is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. I always thought that was the case but I never really thought about how the whole thing was put into place. I couldn’t really put it all together in my mind until I stumbled onto the idea of putting the concept of “manhood” into the context of a Cult.
When I was younger I was apprehended by a cult called the O.T.O. or Ordo Templi Orientis. They did the usual cult things to get kids into their cult. They gave out a lot of free pot and speed. They attracted guys with the allure of sex from their women, and visa versa. They presented the promise of being able to reveal the mysteries and secrets of magical power and so on. Personally I was into the speed and the “free love”, so I hung out with them and they happened to move into the house where I was crashing at the time. I was lucky, I was such an addict that I was too interested in getting more dope in my arm, and I never ended up joining them. None the less when I started to back away from them, one of them tried to stab me. Every time I try to question them there are more implied threats of violence/death, even today. The reason I said that I was glad I never joined is because the penalty for unjoining or resignation is supposed to be death.
So any way once I started thinking about my experience with them I realized that it was basically the same experience as the one I had with being socialized into my gender role.
This goes in two stages:
1. Lures and Encouragement
2. Threats of violence or actual violence for lack of compliance
When I was little they tried to lure me into the manhood thing by showing me the advantages it held for me, power over the women, being higher on the hierarchy ladder, etc. They told me lots of lies about why it made sense to not have my emotions. They told me I was good and/or rewarded me when I played with guns and trucks and dirt and sports equipment. There are probably tens of thousands of examples but if you are male I probably don’t need to tell you about them cuz you already know. The basic equation is that if you act in accordance with how they defined your gender you get praise and encouragement.
On the other hand if I didn’t go along with their brand of manhood a very different reaction would occur. It would usually be something like, “when your father gets home I’m going to tell him and he’s going to…” or I would get beaten with something out of the drawer of the kitchen or they would laugh at me in a way to intentionally shame me. If it wasn’t my parents and it was my peers or my brother, they would call you a sissy and a faggot and if you didn’t immediately disprove that you weren’t a sissy then they took that as permission to beat you when ever they felt like it.
So today things aren’t much different. Out in the world most of the “men ” are still out there trying to prove their “manhood”. I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding them, but sometimes it’s impossible. It’s always the same thing, they violate your space until you give some sort of reaction to acknowledge their action, then they do the physical intimidation thing to prove that they don’t have to abide by any sort of agreed upon social conduct. The stupid thing is that these are the same asshole’s who are constantly verbalizing the American worker’s mantra “yes sir, no sir, kiss your ass sir? oh, of course sir!”, at work. They are probably trying to prove their “manhood” all the time because they feel so powerless inside.
I find it most difficult to call people on their sexism when they are people inside the punk scene. I guess I still hold the fear instilled in me that if I question them they will take back their approval of me or that they will publicly question my “manhood” or that they will react violently.
There is this other part of manhood I noticed. It is the structure called hierarchy.
There were once kings. If the king abused, taxed and violated everyone equally no one would tolerate it, they would collectively kick his ass. However if every man was told that he was the king of his own family then he wouldn’t have to redirect the abuse back to the original abuser, he could just take it out on his wife and kids. This is the same way that manhood resembles a cult, there is someone at the top who receives all the benefits and privileges. This might sound a little weird but you know what they say.
A man’s home is his castle.
Furthermore it hasn’t been until lately that some women aren’t considered property. Also children are still legally considered property until they are eighteen years old.
So sometimes I get kind of discouraged because sometimes it seems punk is built on a foundation of “manhood” and not much else. It makes me wonder how much I want to invest (emotionally, physically, intellectually) into punk. It all seems like macho guys, subservient worshiping women, stratified classes that include a “ruling class”, arena rock star attitudes, etc.
I have been finding it increasingly helpful to try to define for myself what manhood could/should be:
A man should be emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually available to his partner.
A man should be emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually available to his children.
A man should be emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually available to his community.
A man should strive to nurture his family and his community.
A man should be responsible for respecting his connection to the Earth and her inhabitants by not harvesting resources beyond his own needs.
A man should not only be present for his own children but also to the other children in his community.
In a sexual relationship a man should be primarily concerned with the new life he may be creating rather than his own personal want for sexual release.
A man should find himself a gender identity through the experience of being a responsible, respectful man rather than proving it with sexual or violent conquest.
A man should take responsibility for speaking his mind to the other men and not withholding his opinions and feelings on the basis of their common gender.
A man should act in defense of his family and community in a way that might include violence but does not necessarily include violence.
A man should abandon the notion of POWER OVER.
A man should embrace the notion of POWER OF.
Finally, I thought I should reprint the page from John Stoltenberg’s book that set the spark in my mind.
“All the time I was growing up, I knew that there was something really problematic in my relationship to manhood. Inside, deep inside, I never believed I was fully male-I never believed I was growing up enough of a man. I believed the someplace out there, in other men, there was something that was genuine authentic all-american manhood-the real stuff-but I didn’t have it: not enough of it to convince me anyway, even if I managed to be fairly convincing to those around me. I felt like an impostor, like a fake. I agonized a lot about not feeling male enough, and I had no idea then how much
I was not alone.
Then I read those words-those words that suggested to me for the first time that the notion of manhood is a cultural delusion, a baseless belief, a false front, a house of cards. It’s not true. The category I was trying so desperately to belong to, to be a member of in good standing-it doesn’t exist. Poof. Now you see it, now you don’t. Now you’re terrified your not really part of it; now your free, you don’t have to worry anymore. However removed you feel inside from “authentic manhood”, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the center inside of yourself-and how you live, and how you treat people, and what you can contribute as you pass through life on this earth, and how honestly you love, and how carefully you make choices. Those are the things that really matter. Not whether you’re a real man. There’s no such thing.”
1. Are you afraid of your partner?
2. Do you feel like you have to walk on pins and needles sometimes to keep your partner from getting angry?
3. Has your partner ever hit, slapped, or pushed you?
4. Do you ever feel like you deserve to be punished?
5. Do you ever feel like you’ve done something wrong but you just can’t figure out what it is?
6. Have you lost all respect or love for your partner?
7. Is your partner very good to you most of the time — sometimes downright wonderful, but every once in a while very cruel or scary?
8. Does your partner drive you crazy or make you feel like you’re going crazy?
9. Do you find yourself sometimes thinking of ways of killing your partner?
10. Have you believed that your partner would kill you?
11. Have you been told by your partner that he or she would kill you?
12. Has your partner threatened to commit suicide?
13. Were you abused as a child?
14. Have you been forced by your partner to do something you didn’t want to do?
15. Have you lost all or most of your friends since you’ve been with your partner?
16. Do you feel isolated, like there’s nowhere to turn for help, and that no one would believe you anyway?
17. Have you lost a job because of your partner?
18. Do you feel emotionally numb?
19. Do you feel like you have to say that you’re doing okay even when you really aren’t?
20. Are you afraid to tell anybody about what’s going on in your life because you don’t want your partner to get in trouble or go to jail?
21. Have you ever been in a relationship where you could have answered yes to these questions, but right now you’re past all that?
Did you see yourself or a friend in that?
Five years ago, I could have answered YES!! to all of these questions and that’s exactly what I did. About 8 years ago, I was living in NYC, enjoying what I thought was a very grown-up life. I thought I was totally cool, bartending, making lots of cash, meeting people everywhere, doing lots of drugs and alcohol and living alone. One night I went to this club and this guy offered to sell me some ecstasy. That was the drug that was popular, and I never turned anything down. (The rest of this story will demonstrate where addiction took me and the types of pitiful decisions I chose to make.) So the x-dealer saw me as an easy target and hung around that night–I invited him to my house–the drugs continued to flow, etc. The next 36 hours is pretty much a blur but somewhere in there, during sex, the dealer freaked out and tried to strangle me. I was terrified…in a t-shirt and little else, I climbed out of my second story window and hung from a tree, crying, scared and still deeply under the influence. The dealer was quite a salesman–extremely good looking, dangerous and an excellent smooth talker. He told me he didn’t know what came over him, and a bunch of other lies just to get me out of the tree, back into what would be a den of hell for the next three years.
Most people might think I was pretty stupid to stay with this guy. To tell ya the truth–stupid is probably the last thing I am, or was. When I think about it now, it was partly my logical mind that kept me in this abusive relationship for so long. I thought I could change him, I could help him analyze his pain, help him overcome the tragedies of his life. Later on in the relationship, I vowed to not let him do these horrible things to other women (this was my martyr phase)–What were some of the horrible things he did to me? Aside from the near daily slapping, punching and kicking, he psychologically tore me down, to a point where I was no longer sure of anything. What little self- esteem I had left was completely gone. While I was with him, I allowed my relationships with my family to deteriorate–I lied to them, assuring them I was o.k., even though I wouldn’t call for 6 months at a time–I let the relationships with friends and co-workers go away, or if I did hang out I would focus all of my conversations around him and what he was doing (these times were rare because for the entire time we were together he hardly ever let me out of his sight). I was losing my identity, I was letting myself be dominated, out of fear for my life. Things in my life during that time hardly ever changed, I was eternally feeling stuck-stranded and sorry for myself. I now realize that much of my situation was a direct result of the fact that I am a drug addict and every time I put drugs/alcohol into my body, I don’t make good decisions for myself. I end up in places I don’t want to be and with people I don’t want to be with.
The day finally came where I couldn’t stand my life the way it was, I was sick and tired of being treated the way he was treating me and my pets. A kind of force came inside me that was completely centered in courage and faith–that I could get away and I could have a better life. One morning he tried to strangle me for the last time. I was able to get away–to get free. I went to a neighbors house and called the local battered woman’s shelter-they took me in for 9 weeks. They helped me get my life back together. I had to leave my faithful pets, my possessions, my job and all of my friends, no one, not even my parents knew where I was staying. It was the only way I could begin to find out who I was again. I got clean and sober the day I left him because it was obvious to me that my relationship to him was part of my addiction too. My life since I left him has been a slow process of recovery. It is amazing that even five years after leaving him I still sometimes hear his voice in my head–making cruel remarks–making racist remarks–making sexist remarks. My life is so different, my heart truly goes out to both women and men caught in this distractive cycle of hurting one another. I am sure today that the main ingredient in my leaving him was a gift of COURAGE that was probably with me all along , but for some reason I had to go through that horrible experience. The very sad part is that some people don’t get to survive domestic violence. Every year thousands of women and children and men die as a direct result of this senseless violence.
There is a way out of a bad situation–you have to leave! My situation with him was never going to change until I did something about it–if I had stuck around waiting for him to change, I might be dead today.
This life’s lesson was a hard one for me, it took not only years to learn, it took many more years to recover from.
My relationships today are for the most part healthy. I have learned how to say no, to say yes and to assert my hopes, needs and fears–there is a life after domestic violence!!!
I have learned that it works both ways:
How about these questions:
1. Is your partner afraid of you sometimes?
2. Are you jealous of your partner?
3. Do you need to know where your partner is at all times and with whom and doing what?
4. Are you very protective of your partner?
5. Do you consider yourself the ruler of your castle?
6. Do you feel like sometimes you have to put your foot down to straighten things out in your relationship?
7. Have you ever hit, slapped or pushed your partner?
8. Have you ever said “Don’t make me angry!”?
9. Have you ever threatened your partner?
10. Have you ever said something that your partner might consider a threat, even if you never really would do it or were just joking?
11. Have you ever said or thought “If I can’t have you, nobody can!”?
12. Have you ever thrown things or hit walls during an argument with your partner?
13. Do you find yourself “convincing” your partner on a regular basis to do things that he or she would rather not do?
14. Do you consider it important that things go your way?
15. Do you think that your partner sometimes deserves to be hit?
16. Do you think that your partner sometimes wants to be hit?
17. Have you ever found yourself smiling or laughing when your partner is hurt?
18. Have you ever intentionally harmed or broken something which was important to your partner?
19. Have you ever been afraid to tell someone about something that happened between you and your partner because you were afraid that they wouldn’t understand and that you would be in trouble (maybe even legal trouble)?
20. Are you sure that you don’t have an abuse problem because you see people around you doing worse all the time?
21. Have you ever followed your partner when he or she didn’t want you to?
22. Have you ever physically stopped your partner from leaving?
23. Is it important to you that others, particularly your partner, agree with you?
24. Do you find yourself answering questions here with “yes, but…”?
SEX AND LOVE.
When I was fourteen I started dating girls. It was pretty much all about two people getting loaded enough to get through their anxieties and fears about being in the situation in the first place. After the first girlfriend, I ended up switching from the fear of being in a sexual situation to obsession with being in a sexual situation. All of the men/boys around me seemed to completely echo the sentiment. As much and as often as possible. Talk about it a lot when peers are around. I thought it was normal. Two days before I turned fifteen I was with my second girlfriend and we got drunk and ended up having intercourse. It was totally unplanned. It was my first time. Since it was unplanned, we didn’t have any birth control, we never felt like we could ask our parents to get us some cuz we weren’t supposed to be sexually active according to them. Being fourteen and fifteen we didn’t feel like we could go buy some at a store, that was too scary a proposition. Needless to say we got pregnant my first time.
This experience showed me one of my big lessons. All the Christians out there who say that kids shouldn’t have sex until they’re married and the folks who pass laws that say kids can’t have sex until they are eighteen are just not sane. First of all, obviously our creator made us so that we start procreating at 12-14. And for the legislators who aren’t basing their judgment on the idea of a creator, but instead on biology, kids are biologically ready to reproduce at about thirteen. Not only are they ready, the hormones create a very real urge. So irregardless of people’s legal or moral laws/codes kids will just start having sex at about fourteen. The real problem here is the way life is artificially structured so that your stuck in the situation where your someone else’s property until your eighteen, and not allowed to make the choices that are actually yours. So when ever a young person has a child while still a teen, they are immediately stigmatized as a bad parent. That’s a pretty nice introductory gift to parenthood right?
So many of you will be thinking that a teenager just isn’t responsible or mature enough to raise a child. Well I really want some one to show me who is. Mature, responsible parents have been sending their kids to war for thousands of years, telling them that their own aspirations are stupid and to give up because money is king, encouraging them to get drivers licsences and engage in one of the most deadly pursuits we have going today, pressuring them into jobs that damage the body severely over time. The list is endless.
Many of you will still be thinking that fourteen is too young to have kids. This could be easily solved with birth control. However they seemed to start raising the issue with me in high school after I already had a child. I think teaching about it in the sixth grade would be infinitely more valuable. You would also have to annihilate the catholic church which is so desperate for supporters and their money that they make up lies about how god hates birth control just so their congregations will give birth to more potential Catholics(donors). Lastly I think that most people think kids aren’t very emotionally mature at fourteen and don’t know how to get by in the world. Of course their not. They were trained to be that way at school. The first two years at school they teach you the basics of scholarly stuff. Then they repeat it over and over until your eighteen. Then you can go to college and learn how to get a job that pays more than the $4.25 an hour job that your high school diploma gets you. So where do you get an education on how to live in the world. You don’t. The corporate run government that creates the schools needs workers, not self sufficient people. They will never teach kids how to not be dependent on their system. Do they teach you how to farm, build a house, heal yourself, etc.?
I don’t think a person’s age has much to do with it. Most of the people I know who went through sixteen years of school only learned how to say “yes sir” and how to pick up a paycheck. And those are the exact same “mature” qualities they pass on to their own kids.
All of these things and experiences have brought me to a place where I spend a lot of time thinking, how is the whole thing supposed to work? How are families supposed to happen? I have been able to recognize that marriage was made up so that there would be a cultural institution to ensure that a nest is present for the future child to be raised within. I have also recognized that the severe power inequality between men and women has finally come to a head and the way marriage is supposed to be(man is king, woman and kids are loyal subjects) no longer functions. I don’t know if it ever did (I’m not that old). In my life time we have seen a transition from most of the marries lasting to 50% of the marries lasting. We obviously need a new plan.
All around me the activists and punks all seem to think that since their parent’s relationships were sexist or tyrannical, anything that contained commitment or monogamy would be the same thing. They seem to mostly decide to do casual sex and serial monogamy. I can’t seem to find a place in that thinking where a child could be raised.
I think this issue is totally key to our future on Earth because I think our assumptions of fault for the world’s ills always falling on “others”, is false. There have been tons of revolutions (most notably the American revolution) where the old tyrants were kicked out and the new governments would be ten times as bad as the old. I think it is totally obvious that this keeps happening because our problems are not just external, we carry them with us and when given the opportunity we abuse people and act out on them.
My father was emotionally unavailable to me. It was manifested in his “need” to work all the time. I am similarly unavailable to my child on account of my drug addiction. Punk rock would lead us to believe that it’s OK just because I’m not working all the time so it’s not the same thing. But it is the same thing. We constantly look at actions rather than patterns which is why we fail to see the bigger picture and is also why we can only change the clothes that our problems wear, rather than doing away with the whole problem. I really hope that we can find a way to give our internal problems the attention and care that they deserve. The alternative of production and consumption, whether it’s products or drugs, just pollutes and destroys us and the Earth.
Recently some weird things have been happening at the Gilman street project. People have been raising questions about what do we do when people in the scene here are acting with misogyny or sexually harassing others or even raping others. It’s not really weird in the sense that it’s unexpected, cuz it’s not unexpected to me. The first time it happened, I instigated it.
I was told quite a lot of stories about the singer of a band from the east bay. The stories included threats of rape, sexual harassing, and the beating of women. I made a flyer about the allegations and passed it out to the audience at the band’s show as they were setting up. Members of the band confronted me in Berkeley a few days later and said everything on the flyer was untrue. A while later somebody at a Gilman meeting brought it up and the membership decided to ban said individual until a committee could be formed to investigate the charges.
That sort of opened a channel to more things being brought to light.
Two weeks later at the next Gilman membership meeting a kid came forward and said another member of the club had gotten him drunk and tried to rape him while he was passed out. This was instantly a very heavy issue. The person he named plays a very important, pivotal role in the scene here in the east bay. The person accused is also a friend of basically everyone who was at the membership meeting. We decided to do the same thing as the last meeting, which was to ban the person from the club and form a committee to investigate charges against the person. My self and five other people have been appointed to collect facts. It’s a pretty weird position for us all to be in because we all have a personal and a business relationship with the person. I’m not saying anything I’ve been told is or is not true but one kid I interviewed told me that there are lots of other incidents with the person and that a lot of people have sort of known about it and not brought it up.
This brings me to the point of what I’m writing. As a scene we say things that are politically correct. We say that we do not tolerate sexism, sexual harassment and rape, but we do. We are these things. The first show I went to in 1983 a woman passed out from drinking too much beer. Immediately two guys grabbed her off the floor and put her in the back of their pick up truck. As they drove off to rape her about 4-6 other guys ran after the truck and jumped in the back. All the guys standing on the street laughed like it was hilarious that this girl was going to be gang raped.
The next thing I noticed was when a roadie for Blast! locked himself inside the side room of Gilman with a passed out girl, until some one kicked the door down and found her with her pants around her ankles. Those are the two severest things I witnessed.
Since then I’ve seen countless guys in bands(including myself) use women interested in a relationship, for “meaningless” sex. I’ve seen a member of NOFX piss on a woman another member of NOFX was having sex with. I’ve seen the whole band(NOFX) wake up a roadie and a woman he had sex with the night before by applauding and then announcing that by sleeping with the woman the roadie had won the “who gets laid the most times contest”.
I guess what I’m getting at is that we function in the same way as the society we seem to be against. Certain men get huge power within the scene and get away with anything.
Right now this is being called into question within the forum of membership meetings at 924 Gilman street. I sure do hope that we don’t drop it or let it slide.
A few years ago I read and heard about a group of women who were trying to get the united nations to include the unpaid work that women do world wide in the gross national product of all the nations. They basically wanted to raise the issue that women’s work isn’t just underpaid in the way we talk about the glass ceiling in the US(women are paid 63 cents for each dollar a man makes, for the same work). Most work that is traditionally done by women in the world is not paid at all. Child rearing. Cooking. House cleaning. The list is endless. I think this has developed as a way to keep women economically powerless, so they can’t leave.
Anyway I had an idea. Since you couldn’t really strike for wages, because it would effect the children most, I thought it would be interesting if there was a world wide strike where sex would be withheld until women’s unpaid work was paid.
You might be thinking that no one would be willing to pay women for there “domestic labor” because there is nothing being produced. This is exactly the problem. Women “produce” children, the most important thing there is and we collectively decide that since we can’t sell them (usually anyway) that they aren’t worth anything. What would it be like if we made people build other things for free. If we didn’t pay the doctor who operates on you, do you think she/he would care much for the quality of work, what about the people who build the cars and planes, those who build the buildings we live and work in? Do you think that they would even do it at all?
So anyway I don’t have a date to start or anything I just wanted to raise the question.
1 in 5 adult women will be raped at some point in their lives.
More than 4 out of 5 rape victims know their attackers.
1 in 15 rape victims contracts a sexually transmitted disease as a result of being raped.
1 in 15 rape victims becomes pregnant as a result of being raped.
Only 7% of all rapes are reported to police. By comparison, the reporting rate for robbery is 53%; assault, 46%; and burglary, 52%.
The number of women raped in 1994 is fifteen times higher than officially reported in the National Crime Survey.
The number of college women raped in 1994 is fourteen times higher than officially reported in the National Crime Survey.
Life’s Lesson was written by Cynthia
All else was done by me