We all stand alone; men, women and children, regardless of the color of our skin, religious affiliation, gender identification, or political leanings. We have been pitted against each other in ways that allows us to lose focus on ourselves and each other. The more we find fault in each other, the less we are able to find the common ground that exists in our fractured, empty loneliness. We no longer resonate with the human experience because we are too committed to avoiding the pain affiliated with the inhumanity that has superseded our very natural and healthy need for interdependence.
Resources have been replaced by monetary exchange as the accepted form of barter for basic needs; food, water, shelter, and clothing. Currency is the only accepted exchange that is now integral to our physical condition because resources have become commodities for purchase to the highest bidder. Without acquisition of any of the aforementioned resources, we face death. Like the ringing of a bell in Pavlov’s dog experiment, we have had our most basic needs linked to monetary exchange as the ONLY way to acquire what we need the most. In Pavlov’s day the bell created salivation because it was paired with food. In our human experience we have learned to accept scarcity as the reality in a fallacious manipulation of resource acquisition. We believe we as individuals are in danger from those around us competing for their right to acquire the basic needs for human survival. Money is truly meaningless because its acquisition has NOTHING to do with the resources available for humans around the world. We have just been conditioned to believe otherwise. Because survival depends on this blind allegiance, we choose to buy in, hook, line and sinker.
As a result no compassion or warmth exudes from those who have chosen to monetarily buffer themselves from the cold, hunger, and lack of shelter that the less fortunate of us face. In fact people who have accumulated the capital needed to live comfortably have become so afraid of facing the manipulated reality of scarcity, they often choose instead to dismiss and ostracize those who actually are faced with these circumstances. They buy into these manufactured fears and inadvertently feed the corporate entities who live off their indentured servitude, lining their own pockets while depriving their minions of a larger and larger portion of the monetary exchange taking place. There is a very real reason that the minimum wage does not keep in pace with the cost of living and that fact has nothing to do with the worthiness of those minions now caught in a never ending battle to survive. We have accepted the large but fabricated burden of scarcity by working harder, even to our own demise, failing to realize the fact that we continue to receive less and less for our efforts while the very few horde the fruits of our labors.
In the most desperate of circumstances it has been those who have faced the most blatant forms of disrespect who ironically have given me the most hope… like the aging, white haired, disheveled gentleman reeking of alcohol who pulled out the money to cover my beverage when I came up short. During the fight of my life it was the social worker at the hospital who tried to find me a place to stay when my adoptive family refused to offer me a bed after finishing my 3rd cycle of chemotherapy and seeking refuge from a former boyfriend demanding sex for me to stay with him. It was my adoptive aunt struggling with Parkinsons who refused to allow me to be homeless. God bless her! I had mistakenly thought I could go back to my “home” traveling 3000 miles to receive the support needed to heal. The people I had placed my faith in had more money than I ever had, had homes with more than enough room and the ability to ensure that I did not go hungry. Instead I ended up without a place to stay, the food needed to continue healing, and most importantly, the care needed to feel safe. Remission from Cancer was complicated as a result. While I am now in remission and being supported by the same family, I had to face inexplicable horrors to be worthy of their attention and support. I still am reluctant to ask for what I need and continue to trust no one!
Being born to another family and put up for adoption created a view of me as “other” from the beginning. There was no consideration of my differences in the “human law” that transferred my care to my adoptive family. In order to be accepted fully I was only okay if I could look like, act like and be carbon copies of them. I failed miserably because the expectation was unrealistic. There was no consideration of my unique needs so I grew up having to perform to be worthy of the most basic human consideration, always falling short since my genetic background and beginning environment had NOTHING TO DO with their reality!. The fact that I was with my biological mother for the first 3 days of my life had no bearing on their treatment even though I had enough time to bond with her. The third day of my life, she just disappeared. When I started experiencing panic attacks at an early age expressing my preverbal confusion and fear with the only means available to me, temper tantrums, my adoptive mother became physically abusive. That was to be a part of my ongoing care by her. She was set up and so was I.
We don’t talk about shameful events so those of us who experience these very real injustices hold the shame of an existence that those in positions to judge refuse to grant credit. The enormity of emotional garbage we are forced to carry has less to do with our own misdeeds and instead points to those around us who find solace in diagnosing and pathologizing our lives, character and worthiness of participation in society. There are efforts to “fix” us instead of acknowledging the foundations of the creation and maintenance of the blame we endure.
With my adoptive fathers incestuous preoccupation of me my adoptive mother became more and more abusive as she competed for my fathers attention and affection. As I still struggle with her hesitance to face these truths that began to take residence in my body, I try to be understanding of the trauma and disregard they both experienced before my birth. I am both facing the rightful anger of my own mistreatment and mourning that time forever lost to me. The fact is that the answer to my pain and that of both my adoptive and biological families lie NOT in the perpetuation of the same treatment but the resonance of the common ground of intolerance groomed into all of us, created, maintained and reinforced by powers that continue to create and maintain inhumanity.
Considering the way I was treated it has become clear to me that our inability to be vulnerable both maintains and perpetuates our inhumanity. What we choose not to experience in ourselves becomes the seed of revulsion for those who mirror our own fears and struggles back to us. It is, despite the lie being professed, the underprivileged who by and large are forced to live with humility and grace so exulted in the tenets the major religions professed today. I recall the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 18-9-14 a self righteous Pharisee obsessed with his own virtue is contrasted with a tax collector who humbly asks God for mercy. It is said that the tax collector, able to acknowledge his participation in the mistreatment of his brethren was more worthy of the love and grace of God than that of his elitist peer. I contend that the mercy of God CANNOT reside in any person so willing to judge the supposed sins of another without consideration of HIS own. There cannot be grace or mercy in a world of people emulating the Pharisee position in the parable. Instead there is judgment, ostracism and punishment of those deemed “less worthy”!
As they say… It is NOT the oppressors that need to face the trauma we ourselves have endured. It lies instead in the responsibility for us as the victims of these horrors to heal ourselves and by our example begin to heal each other and the world!. The problem inherent in that philosophy lies in the fact that the oppressed end up carrying all the burdens for a society in denial. We have no allies who have the connections and money to support a growing movement of the oppressed and ostracized among us. The statistics bear this out… Blue collar crime is fervently punished while white collar crime goes unnoticed… Yet it is white collar crime that has a much more far reaching implication in the lives of those affected because of the monetary and asset resources available to them. As more and more of us fight for survival, the privileged resort to methods to silence our truths through correctional standards that pathologies the human condition for a growing number of us. Together we would be a force to reckon with… Given the current state of affairs, we need open minded powerful and affluent people to buy into these issues with the fervent veracity that those of us who have gone without continue to use in our efforts to be heard!
It is “those people”, who are portrayed as being unacceptable, living without their most basic needs who end up reacting to the inhumane way that they continue to be treated that face trouble with the systems of governance. “Those people” become the subordinates in the distribution of resources that the culture demands for inclusion separating “us and them” while encouraging an ongoing battle for those without voice wanting to be heard and respected. This dynamic explains the rise of the gang culture! Focus instead subverts responsibility of society at large and perpetuates the betrayal of “those people” traumatized and trying to survive the inhumane treatment that they have come to know. While at the same time those in positions of privilege and power escape attention and use their influence to paint a picture of “mental illness”, “addiction” and “criminal behavior” , conditions in which they themselves share complicity. As they play by the rule of the blasphemy inherent in “human law” the elite who choose this life path become complicit in the violation of all that serves humankind. Their actions become reinforced by the coverup and we all learn that to rise to power and position requires blind allegiance to the same.
In insulating ourselves from the mental and physical assaults of others, we wall ourselves off from our connection with all that is around us; that includes family, friends, peers, animals, and ultimately the resources we need to survive as a species. We end up consumed in trying to prove our worth for the money we erroneously believe ensures all we need. In fact it is quite the opposite, the more money we acquire, the more divorced we become with the reality that ensures our own and others well being. It is the biggest lie of our existence and one that we actively choose to embrace!!!
What is Wrong with Men?
I will try to share my insights of the male experience from a kind and understanding vantage point despite my life long experience of victimization at the hands of men who should have supported and protected me… I will speak from a place of vulnerability in the building of the masculine experience. I understand that this will not be tolerated by many men and the women who wish to buy-in to the masculine ideal of the world.. Being in a position of privilege and “on top” makes one very aware of how far they can fall from their position. It is the masculine acceptance of the lower status for inherent in those considered vulnerable that feeds this misconception. That explains the ostracism and segregation practices enforced on those who cannot produce at accepted levels; people with disabilities, the elderly, and children. The fear for many men every minute is that they are on the slippery slope to oblivion and it is that fear that supersedes all others! They (and now many women) now accept this fact as the gospel truth. This critical vantage point is conveniently shut down but has been needed for a very long time. Discussion by all parties must open a real perspective as to the reason why social change is difficult. The need for accountability falls on each and every one of us. Effective change cannot occur while a segment of the population with the most wealth and privilege turns a blind eye to those in a more subservient position.
Men come into the world the same way that women do. They have emotions that are in need of acknowledgment to create a feeling of safety and belonging. Instead they often are coddled less, breast fed less, if at all, and face the expectation to “be a man” long before they have the capacity to understand the meaning. So boys look for meaning in fathers who endured the same treatment. I can only imagine the anxiety provoked by expectations that have no meaning and the set up experienced when a boy exhibits very real human emotions that speak of needs unmet… “Man up.” “Don’t be a wuss.” and worst of all, “If you are going to cry, I am going to give you a real reason!”
Needs for boys go unmet regardless of their age and the generation from which they were born. When I tell women this they become defensive, “My son is not that way,” they inevitably tell me. Maybe not in their homes, there they perform as expected depending on the environment in which they find themselves. They adapt their behaviors to the environments in which they find themselves and each environment supports different expectations. This is a diagnostic feature for Borderline Personality Disorder and both boys and girls learn to exhibit these behaviors to have their most basic needs met. These youngsters learn to understand the desires of those in authority without first resonating with their own personal feelings and sense of morality. The brainwashing endured as we grow and develop creates a “external locus of control” with a child learning to “perform” for others expectations while lacking a true sense of self that has been denied development. This makes the individual pliable and easily manipulated by misguided and dangerous individuals. One need only think of the great human atrocities over the years where compliance by the masses contributed to the performance and maintenance of extreme violence and genocide.
Social Study Experiments
A social experiment by Stanley Milgram backed this perspective. Participants were willing to shock those being experimented on to dangerous levels just because they were pressured by those conducting the experiment in positions of authority. The shocks unbeknownst to the participants were being simulated but demonstrate the power of authority towards compliance. https://youtu.be/rdrKCilEhC0 Another study by Zimbardo in the “Stanford Prison Experiment” demonstrated the depravity of actions taken by those who were placed in the superior role of corrections officer over those who had been placed in a subservient role of inmate. Great atrocities were committed as a result and Zimbardo himself was reluctant to stop the experiment when a colleague voiced their concerns over the mistreatment witnessed. https://youtu.be/yUZpB57PfHs In both studies subjects felt justifies in using the socially accepted power granted them even when it was to instigating and maintaining another’s mistreatment.
The common denominator? These socialization tactics and behavioral expectations are the practices needed for effective cultural participation given our institutional pathology; blind compliance and obedience. Self accommodation through rebellion given a pathological system is adaptive if it ensures an individuals survival and despite the belief in “criminal behavior” has been neurobiologically predetermined in the development of the lower brain centers that ensure survival .
Boys never are allowed and supported to experience their emotions or given the tools to effectively learn to articulate needs and develop self soothing methods so instead they exist as needy people having to portray an air of superiority, and supremacy over women and children, both boys and girls. They become threatened by women’s desire to bond with their children and the inevitable emotions exhibited in the care of their own appropriately needy children. Men can and do resort to sentiments like “I went through that and more growing up” These utterances are verbalized in an effort to discount a mothers feeling of responsibility to her children. As far as I am concerned this is the most primal form of triangulation and it has become a foundational part of our familial socialization patterns. Having NOT received what he himself needed in childhood, a man will often end up in competition with his own children for his wife’s affection, a situation that is a no-win dilemma for everyone involved. In essence women end up having to raise another child and often become increasingly more resentful as time passes and the burden weighs her down, usurping her time while having to play a peace keeping role where she always falling short.
Within his gender role a man is apt to earn more money and have more assets than his significant other. That fact is institutionally sanctioned as evidenced by the discrepancy of pay for women. The practice ensures women’s dependency on a man and ensures our willingness to abdicate our natural feminine power to ensure the capital to support ourselves and the children we bear. We are put in no win situations and face systematic removal of our children for failing to be both the nurturing mother and the breadwinner often with a lack of support both emotionally and financially from many of the involved fathers. That leaves women at a financial disadvantage and helps create an intimidation that ensures the parental relationship is unequal. As a result she always worries of authoritarian intervention more apt to judge her than the father of her children. Men use these accepted tactics because of the injured little boy who went without the support of his own developing humanity. He is using his position to regain power through control of his wife and progeny since he experienced being both powerless and voiceless as a child. As he grows with the built in privilege inherent in his own gender role he chooses venting the built up rage with grave consequences for both himself and his family. He ends up confused and angry when his significant other gets tired of being controlled and begins to stand up for herself, calling the police and forcing him to get entangled with the legal establishment. Fact is… He was set up and so was she. Their children? Watching and learning their roles to be worthy of the same acceptance and support as they grow. It is survival in its most basic terms.
What is Wrong with Women?
In many cultures and families the preferred gender during pregnancy is that of a boy. In China during the “One Child policy” newborn girls were executed and thrown away (quite literally). There was an effort by some to retrieve the discarded girls before they died from exposure. It was the rise of the adoption business in China. Agencies would have you believe that they cared for these girls but they were instead motivated by charging top dollar to Westerners for the adoptions. The girls? Affected by the very real stress carried during their mothers pregnancy that set up these girls own survival neurobiological responses, their own brush with death and abandonment, they became easily tossed aside when their unseemly behaviors did not measure up to the privileged elite expectations back in the United States. Returns on the girls became a part of the story and so did the the commoditization of prostitution of these vulnerable and traumatized beings.
No matter where you live in the world girls are well aware of their subordinate status. We are often charged with caring for our brothers and enduring the lack of basic resources often doled out more liberally with the men and boys that share our residence. We acquire the responsibility for the domestic responsibilities with our mothers and are expected to be happy about it. We can be physically punished if we object. We learn to hold the responsibility for the family unit as much as our mothers. Boys are allowed to get away with misbehavior with comments like “boys will be boys”. Boys learn to accept their role because they are allowed to misbehave and get away with things that girls are not. Theirs is a place of entitlement and privilege that is hard to shake. They rely on this way of being to vent the rage burning within them. Frankly, that is the only emotion allowed them and they learn to use it well.
Boys are congratulated for their conquests regardless of the way they achieve them. Rape is better acknowledged if it occurs at the hands of a stranger. That social attitude lies in direct opposition to the truth of the matter, the fact that the statistics bear out that in most rapes the assailant is known to the victim. Boys grow up getting away with all kinds of misbehavior and then at some point feel the abrupt 180 degree shift when facing charges for the behaviors that they at one time got away with. They, unable to feel anything but rage, revert to what they know best. Women and children, in structured subordinate roles are forced to face their wrath, a position continuing to be supported by the artificially elevated male asset and money acquisitions.
We as women have tremendous responsibility in our own subjugation. We allow men to control us, dictate how we are to raise our children, turn a blind eye to the mistreatment and abuse of our sons and daughters despite the fact that our bodies scream at us at times when our men overstep their boundaries. There is a very real reason women bear children and not men, yet we give our power away.
Men have come to find find relief in pornography. It titillates them in unrealistic ways that no woman can replicate. Men devoid of human connection look for anything to fill the emptiness they feel inside. The monetization of sexuality continues to erode feminism. In fact “feminism” creates confusion in women as time passes. I remember the husband of a neighbor watching pornography who called out to me as I spoke with his wife, “You two should come here and learn how to really satisfy a man.” Does that mean that a feminist is someone who knows how to please her man? Hell, they were singing about that back in the 50’s. Does my objection to the sexualization of Beyonce make me less of a feminist or has the monetization of female sexuality gotten manipulated enough to destroy feminism itself?
The rise of Christianity brought a close to the reverence of Goddess religions and the understanding of the power inherent in the feminine state of being. We lost control by the aging crone who attended our births that were revered for their natural state and empowered by the shared feminine acceptance of its natural process. After the persecution of the midwives men took over our care and projected their fear of our power back on us making us more apt to question our own bodies. Before Florence Nightengale’s insistence on hand washing for basic hygiene it was men who had taken over the births of women who spread disease because they did not know enough to wash their hands before placing their hands inside a woman’s vagina to assist in birth. They were sticking their hands into cadavers and then, without basic hygiene into the vaginas of birthing women. As a result women experienced a tremendous rise in sepsis. The death statistics for women escalated and the myth of a woman’s incapacity to birth on her own was established and is currently perpetuated with the same misinformation. Florence Nightengale’s contribution never was accepted by the male patriarchy so the escalation in birthing deaths continued without acknowledgement. As a result we have learned to endure pregnancies with a focus on pathology and the fear created from the erroneous beliefs of men who choose to view the world from their own warped perspective of us.
It is my assertion that it is NOT women with authentic ideas and interventions that are paid heed. It is instead the acceptance by women who take on the perspective of men who acquire the assets and monetary acquisition who are given the right to voice themselves, not those of us with new ideas that challenge the status quo. This troubling development has replaced the feminine understanding of herself. Women of power are accepted because of their obedience and so therefore offer no viable alternative options than the perpetuation of the same masculine dogma.
As a result women now birth in hospitals in the lithotomy position once preferred by King Henry the VIII who “got off” on watching his mistresses give birth. ItThe position’s convenience for the male practitioners is still being used today and accepted by the females now granted admission into the profession. The position is antithetical to the position of the vagina. In the supine position a woman is pushing against the natural gravitational force aiding in birth because she is forced to birth her baby uphill. After each contraction the baby is forced back into the womb by the very same force that could lessen the time, pain and risk experienced in birth. Obviously that was not King Henry VIII concern.
Midwives prefer a squatted position or that of an elevated and supported back of the mother so that she works with the natural forces meant to support HER labor!The position creates less trauma on the connective tissues and that results in less tearing and stress on the baby.
Current practices also include episiotomies. The rationale states that the episiotomy is easier to heal than the tears that can result from birth of a child’s head, the largest and first part birthed. That is a blatant lie that does not consider the depth of the surgical incision which also cuts into and destroys muscle integrity. Tears are more superficial in nature.
Back in 1985 I was attending Rutgers University in the Nursing program. There was a woman who was preparing to birth. The FEMALE obstetrician decided that a cesarean section was needed and the woman was rushed into the surgical unit. There the mother underwent a c-section and I was given the responsibility of monitoring her in recovery. She started complaining of radiating pain to her right shoulder, she was losing consciousness, her blood pressure was dropping, her pulse becoming erratic and thready. I went to the nurses’ unit to express my concern. Between my attempts to get the woman the care she needed, I went back and stroked her hair encouraging her too “stay with us”. Finally after my third attempt, the nurses came in, pushed me aside when they saw her condition and she was rushed, yet again, into the surgical unit. Her hemoglobin had plummeted. She was bleeding internally. After going into the surgical unit, I witnessed the FEMALE obstetrician open her up revealing an 8 inch hematoma over the broad ligament. Her son was fine and had been born without incident, but this woman’s life was jeopardized by an unnecessary cesarean section! I went to visit 1 week later and she thanked me. “I didn’t know if my husband, my son or anyone else was there. I just knew you were.”
Our bodies are our foundation. Without unmitigated access to all our body is capable of, we are a fractured subordinated group of people. We have chosen to defile our bodies in order to be worthy of inclusion and have done so for so long we no longer are aware of what we have been missing. We are missing equal representation because we have NOT been allowed to be what we truly are.
I got in trouble in seeking my Masters degree at Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont when I shared my thought of feminism with my supervisor, a staunch lesbian feminist who saw my idea of feminism as a threat to her own. My desire to birth at home, learn to bake bread, tend a garden and my aspiration to self-sufficiency was extremely offensive to her. She was critical and unsupportive. She didn’t care WHY I carried the feelings I did, she just wanted me silenced and she made sure to do exactly that. For a woman who had suffered the atrocities I had growing up, the attacks on my person shut me down. She had “assumed the habits of her oppressors”. She called herself a feminist but I joked that she was supporting a hidden dildo. There was no room for me and so my developing thoughts were put on hold. It is my contention that many women choose to support dildos and fail to recognize or attend to the very real misogyny present in our society. In fact, it is my contention that they have signed on.
How many times do we as women choose to silence what we fear voiced in the narratives of our sisters? We have no power as a result. Men play us off of each other to have their way in all matters. AND WE LET THEM!
Men Need Us Now More Than Ever but NOT the way you think
We need to grow some ovaries ladies! Men are afraid of being vulnerable for good reason. Please coddle your boys and HUSH your men when they suggest that you are making a “sissy” out of your son. Breast feed no matter the gender and do it until he or she is ready to wean themselves. Give your sons responsibilities early and even let them care for your daughters. Teach them to cook, garden, clean and reflect words that help them describe their emotional experience.
Adult men need to allow you to be the caregiver if he lacks the skills but don’t be afraid to help him learn through your role modeling. This will not be easy because he will have to relinquish the ways that he has found to give him a sense of control and superiority. He has the means and the backing of a paternalistic cultural system. Give him the encouragement for what he does well and expect him to rise to the occasion. If he chooses to use his power over you be willing to keep yourself and your children emotionally safe (you are modeling healthy social interaction) If your man threatens you, separate yourself from him until he gets himself under control. Remember that he does not have the skills to understand what that kind of healthy control is so have an emotional safety plan with people to go to in any circumstances that threaten either you or your children’s sense of safety.
Remember that using threats mean nothing and can instead escalate a situation. Threats are a signal that the situation has escalated enough that the fight or flight response is coming into play. Get yourself out of there. Say what you mean and mean what you say consistently and often. That creates continuity in your expectations. If you trigger, that is feel a sense of panic that resonates in your body, you have are responding too late. You will be more apt to push his buttons than be effective. Your man has not been trained to understand your new way of being or to tolerate the demands you are making so gentle persuasion is preferable to escalation. Opening your mouth and trying to reason when he is escalated will only infuriate him. If any interaction is not possible an “Adult time-out” is needed. This models deescalation strategies for your children as well as normalizing “time-out” as a way to calm yourself after being triggered. If you need further assistance please reach out to a therapist who specializes in trauma.
Men are not BAD, they are misguided and we have come to expect them to act with behaviors that they have not been trained to embrace and be responsible for. The more we assume the power inherent in the true knowledge of our feminine HERstory, the more we can choose to be effectively participant in a new reality for both men and women. Our children will benefit as a result. Change is possible BUT women must be the key. We lack access to the key as long as the lies and misinformation buffer and sustain the status quo. This essay has been my effort to create common understanding with responsibility for all parties involved. What will yours be?
A private essay by Nanaymie Kasmira Godfrey, MS, LMHC, CDP MHP. She can be reached directly through: firstname.lastname@example.org