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The new page for Issa Glastonbury Shamana is now live.

ermine moth

https://issaglastonburyshamana.wordpress.com

Please visit, view, like and share.

For chaplaincy and magickal services, please contact me through the above site.

For comments on this blog, please add your comment on the individual blog post so I can respond appropriately.

Many thanks and Blessed Be!

Issa xx

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GODS, WIGHTS, SPIRITS, ANCESTORS… OFFERINGS AND FLYING ON THE WIND.

Priddy ritual 1

 

I went for lunch with my ancestors today.

More accurately, I drove up to Priddy on the Mendips, hiked across a field full of long grass and cowpats, to the burial mounds, to make offerings, sit, meditate, chat, walk a circuit of the barrows. Not the Nine maids, who are further away over a wall, barbed wire, and past a sleepy looking herd of cattle, but Ashen Hill cemetery, which comprises 8 definite mounds and a couple of long bells which have long since fallen in.

I heralded my arrival by ceremonially offering urine. I then walked the barrows, straight up the left side, back down the right, circling each barrow clockwise as I went.

I lit incense and cracked an egg on a conveniently placed altar stone at one end of the bell mound (number 9, I call it). I retreated to the far end, lit incense on another conveniently located stone. Sat. Lit my jar candle. Offered an apple. Poured water. Got my lunch out. Broke some off and placed it by the apple. Ate. Talked.

The planetary day is Jupiter. The hour was also Jupiter. (If that matters to you – more on it later). Maybe my walk reflected a journey on the Kabbalistic tree of life. Who knows?

Thor’s Day.

 

Priddy sky view

 

Recently I yet again have been taken to task for what I call myself. What I did above is the kind of thing I do ALL THE TIME.

I call myself nothing. People give me titles, according to their own beliefs, and I accept them out of respect. I am as dust on the wind. I am not Wiccan, ceremonialist, shaman, necromancer, volva, witch… I am all and none.

I have danced round bonfires. I have swum naked in the sea. I have calloused my hands grinding incense. I have written spells with wax from candles. I have burnt locks of hair, collected menstrual blood, had my body splattered with purifying herbs, had gay sex with a gay man, straight sex with a woman. Both and neither with either/or, sometimes in the name of ritual. I have been in trance so long my body was like ice and I could draw a street plan of the medieval town in which I was pursued. I have shared my head with Isis, and my love has dripped from my fingertips into the eyes of the blinded ones. I have sacrificed to Brigitte and Samedi in a burning necropolis, and put out the fire with nothing but mugwort tea. I close my eyes and see stories of heritage and the Gods being told. There is a hawthorn tree by a three way crossroads near my house, and during various parts of the wheel of the year will you find eggs, rice, weavings and other such items by it.

I am a priestess of the land, sea and sky. It does not matter what you call your Gods.

Over the last two years I have worked extensively with Norse belief systems, especially in group settings using shamanic techniques. My DISIR, my female ancestors, are important to me. Spirits of place must be honoured.

I have flown on the crow’s wing with Freyja, even as I am Frigga in my home, matriarch of an unruly clan. I grew up in east Yorkshire, surrounded by Dane and Viking history. I was at Jorvik when it opened, it was a school trip venue. My near forebears are east Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire born and bred. The great grandma, who was the slum wisewoman in her locale, came from who knows where, bringing her brown eyes and skills with her. Married a local man whose surname has its own Scots tartan.

So, you see, I am everything. And nothing.

By the mounds I called to the Norns, to give me signs to work with.

URD. URD. URD.

fehu

FEHU. The rune of cattle, wealth, Freyja. What does cattle mean as wealth? Food, drink, clothing, mobile currency. In many places, cows are sacred. They can give everything, or walk away and give nothing. Stolen by thieves in the night.

Freyja was given as hostage to the Aesir, and lived in Asgard with them. Her tribe were Vanir, of whom we know very little. She was a stranger in the midst of the winners of a battle, shown as different, possessing the magick of the runes. Desirable but always Other. On the fringe. NOT One of Them.

Urd spins the thread. This is what the foundation is made of. My thread is one of the ability to move, change, have many different values. FEHU is my thread. Provide everything, or walk away in the night. I will always be Other, that’s the stuff of which I am made. This is why people challenge me. I am dust. I blow on the wind.

VERDANDI. VERDANDI. VERDANDI.

dagaz-inverted

DAGAZ. The rune of a new dawning, a new day. The sun rises and the world is illuminated. The way ahead is clear and the steps are confident. The new beginning is successful.

Verdandi weaves the thread, weaving what we are becoming in the now. I see I am dust. I am all the things and no thing. Yet, by this becoming I see success. DAGAZ is my proof. I remain Other, ostracised, challenged, yet the light blinds me as I see the way forward and understand. I belong on no path, in no kindred, no clan but my own. And yet, at times I will be visitor to all.

SKULD. SKULD. SKULD.

Tiwaz

TIRWAZ. TYR. Brother of Thor, who lost his arm to Fenrir’s maw. Willing to take the risk. Self sacrifice for the good of all, and the balance of these choices. This is about law and justice, the North star around which all others seem to circle, and sailors navigate. Every man and every woman is a star. And each is as bright as another. As am I.

As I am dust, yet can blow on the breeze into every heart and none. Sometimes, like sand, getting in every nook and cranny, other times as a lone tumbleweed on an empty highway. I am alone. There is no God where I am. I am everywhere. And so are the gods.

Skuld cuts the thread, or ties it off when the job is complete.

The Norns have told me that my leap in understanding is the right one. I can move between paths and touch hearts or no. As I understand this constant shifting, so none can attack the titles I am given for they shift as the sand in the desert shifts, a different landscape from one day to the next. I am all and none.

So why the Jupiter bit?

Well, western mysticism still holds on to a lot of these old associations, so as Jupiter is also the ruling planet of my sun sign Sagittarius, I dare say this has important correlations too… religion, faith, law, a generous ruler. Correlates to ODIN as a ruler, and therefore points to the wisdom I have discovered today. A wise king, and just. Jupiter is the Lord of Thunder, as is Thor. This is about good luck, and having a fair and just outcome, even if things have to be done somewhat briskly. This means I must be brave and speak my truth, for the right things to come about and to be assured of a fair outcome. At times this may also means hitting things with a large hammer, as a clap of thunder may not be enough.

So by asking the Norns at this time I was able to tap into many correlations about faith and justice, speaking up for myself, and acknowledging the changes I have gone through as part of the weft. Accessing my own strengths.

Therefore. I’m a witch, sorceress, seer, volva, shaman, Wiccan, ceremonialist, necromancer and oftimes churchgoer. I fly on the wind. I am dust. I am none of these things, but to others I am. That’s their choice, and I sacrifice for them, as mother, friend, chaplain, voice of the gods, keeper of the mundane.

We are all merely stars.

 

With many thanks to those who have assisted with this transitional period. May your light shine ever brighter xxx

 

Issa xx

 

The Outsider…

It’s been an interesting few months. Right now, I’m looking back on a cold and lonely winter, where the me I was turned into something… a bit different.

So, for the first time in a good few months, I am turning back to my blog. I need to share what’s in my head and heart. I’m now learning how.

A new website will shortly be built, very simply showcasing what I can do, what I do do, and what I will do.

I’m trying to consolidate my spiritual activities in a way that makes simple sense, and makes me available to those who need me.

As the saying goes…. watch this space!

Why the gender question matters… and why the world won’t change any time soon.

DISCLAIMER: This article will really piss some people off. Consider before reading this whether you are open to all sides of the gender discussion, because I’ve learned those who are not don’t enjoying hearing the opposite side of the story to their own experience.

I am CIS female (born female and brought up as a woman, for those that don’t know the terminology). Some people think, because I’m not generally seen as part of the LGBT community, that I do not have the right to speak my truth. I’m a person. So are trans-people. So are alpha males, non-gendered people, radical feminists, in fact everyone. We all have a right to speak.

I have been considering the whole gender debate this week as a result of responding too readily to some posts on Facebook, and the furore that has resulted has driven me to really think about this thing. I have had several relationships over time with men at various stages in the transition journey to becoming women. As a result of that I have seriously investigated my own perceived gender to see whether or not I might be a trans man in hiding, or even a closet lesbian with no gender issues.

I am none of these things.

I have spent this year going through the menopause. The person whom I have been for the last 35 years is gone. Physically, emotionally and hormonally. It’s likely I will live at least the same amount of time again, as a person for whom these aspects are radically different, a “new me”, even. Defining myself is really difficult. I hadn’t even noticed I’d had a definition for myself. That definition was what I called WOMAN. Because that was my experience of being a woman was, the same for many similar beings around me, and society in general supported this, from education in school, to fear of molestation on the street, TV adverts, shopping experiences, and reactions of the other humans I met on a daily basis.

I consider myself a disabled woman. I have been recently diagnosed with joint hypermobility syndrome, but actually much of my life has been spent managing unexplained injuries, damage to my body, surgical procedures, and of course the issues around equality of physical access. For a long time I worked promoting the rights pf people with a disability, especially women. Inserting a tampon if you cannot sit or stand safely or without help is a uniquely female experience. That’s just one example.

This week, a transwoman called me out about how I described my life. I shall paraphrase it here:

My life as a girl/woman has been about having periods. (When you are a teenage girl, especially one with heavy irregular periods, it completely rules your life. Free-bleeding is for the modern hipster few. It is expected that you will not bleed everywhere and make others embarrassed or uncomfortable by letting them see it. Starting age 12).

Prior to that, of course, I had it drummed into me that every strange man was a potential assailant, and to scream for help and run if any such person approached me. Starting at about age 4.

When I grew breasts, all the boys who had previously bullied me for being clever bullied me because I had breasts. As time passed, I realised this was because most of them wanted to touch them.

As a result, I had to learn about birth control, because if I let any of those boys near my breasts, I’d be the one potentially ending up “in trouble”.  It’s troublesome to get a girl pregnant, sure, but getting pregnant can mean something that will be there for the rest of your life. Not to mention all the attendant discomfort and the very really possibility, even in modern times, of actually dying while giving birth to aforementioned lifelong commitment. The boy COULD just walk away.

Of course, not every touching of a breast can lead to this result. But it was drummed into me that it COULD. So I had to consider that EVERY TIME.

I was never warned about the gut wrenching, absolute physical need to get pregnant and procreate that literally throttled me with its urgency and led to me having my daughter by choice at 19. That was a surprise. So were the terrible stretch marks, absolute agony of birth, the fear, terror, the complete intrusion of emergency cesarean section to get at the baby before she died in transit, confusion, post natal depression…. and the sudden realisation that without a grandma living next door to babysit, everything Thatcher’s Britain and feminism had promised me, about being able to have everything, being able to be a mum and have a career, was a LIE.

I sat in a council house at the back of beyond, smoking cigarettes, eating cheap food, buying cheap baby clothes, wondering what the hell went wrong. The only thing that kept me sane was the company of other women like me, thinking the same thoughts, sharing cigarettes, cooking in bulk and sharing together so our kids had social skills and a half decent diet. No men were involved in the making of that movie, they were on the periphery.

Aged 26, after some months of calendar watching and coitus interruptus proving a reasonable method of birth control which did not interfere with my anti-depressants, I felt sick as a dog, and couldn’t stomach coffee, not even the smell. Oh, and I was instantly constipated. Coitus interruptus, as they had told us at school, is NOT a reliable form of contraception.

For the entirety of the nine months carrying my son I felt like I was inhabited by an alien. The sickness, the brain fog, it was nothing like carrying my daughter had been. I knew he was a boy before a scan told me. Or a male. Whatever. He was not the same as me, and I could feel it in my entire body. Especially when the (we now know) hypermobility caused my symphysis pubis ligament to fail, so that from six months on every step was an agony of red hot lancing pain through through my groin and, my mum tells me, I waddled so much it looked like the child was literally going to drop out of me every minute. I sat home in the searing heat and the humidity, crying, naked in front of a fan, looking at the ever expanding welts on my tumescent belly and wondering how it could possibly stretch any more.

I’m sure that you don’t need a blow by blow account of what a ripped vulva caused by an emergency forceps delivery feels like.

After three months I finally got my brain back after giving up breast feeding with enormous boobs that were bigger than the baby’s head. I got rid of the stoner boyfriend who, my parents told me, was a millstone round my neck who would never amount to much. (He still is, and hasn’t amounted to much, but he saw his boy like clockwork every school holiday via trains. planes, automobiles and every kind of access visit juggling, remains a friend and very close to our boy. Because I considered it my responsibility to do the best for my boy and allow him a relationship with his father). Oh, then I was made homeless by a callous landlord and was in temporary accommodation with a six year old and a baby.

Wind on some years, and I went back to college, begging childcare and financial support from every agency available…. met a man who said he could only date me because I was at college, as his family would have a fit if he took up with a single mum on benefits.

Moved in together, like a good girl I went to uni to get my degree, took a semester off to have massive hip surgery, juggled the childcare, got married, got pregnant, as you do, had a beautiful son, got my degree despite the brain fog (yet again, I knew within the first fortnight he was male), got a job, and the childcare bill was more than my wages.

My marriage fell apart because I was unable to fulfil this image of a working mum that my generation was told to desire, that was supposed to be attainable but was not.

I took my kids, begged my way into a tenancy with a guarantor, moved near my parents, dipped in and out of periods of self employment when I could work from home at 11pm. I got sterilised to prevent any more surprise family members, and so I could stop stuffing my poor body with fake hormones to achieve the same result. Then my periods became so bad I couldn’t leave the house, more fake hormones and iron supplements to control it and a potential hysterectomy were added to the mix. And a couple of hip replacements, and rehousing due to the unsafe conditions I was living in.

Fast forward to this year.

Two years of massive night sweats, daily bed changing, and I’m 9 months without a period. 9 months of brain fog and ridiculous hot flushes. My handbag is still full of “just in case” sanitary equipment, but I’ve now added Tena pads because urge incontinence is not only part of a hypermobility disorder, but also very common during menopause. I’ve entered into the secret club of “women of a certain age”, where a hot flush at a checkout elicits a conspiratorial whisper from a complete stranger: “I used sage tincture and it was really good.” For the first time, I feel part of something that is deeper than cultural norms, more real than anything Thatcher fed to us. For time immemorial, women have whispered these secrets to each other.

It seems my 30 years of fecundity is drawing to an end. What will I be now?

There was a rather untidy online altercation with a transwoman who claims publicly to have actual bleeding periods and wants access to women-only Red Tent spaces because of this. Rumour has it she has not even had gender reassignment surgery yet. Even if she had, where would the blood come from actually? When I privately messaged her with great concern for her health, I was told abruptly that I wouldn’t ask such a question of a biological man or woman. WRONG. See above. Women DO discuss these things together. If a female friend had no uterus and was bleeding, I’d be driving her to a hospital.

I have been publicly slated as a TERF and transphobic because I challenged this woman. To back me up, she CANNOT have uterine bleeding, reassignment surgery or not:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uterus_transplantation

I was completely flattened. What hope is there, if I treat a transwoman as a woman and then she tells everyone I’m transphobic???????

What the fucking hell would be the right thing to say or do, actually?????

Yes, lovely Readers, I’m getting to the crux of the matter here. In brief, here is what I have recently learned:

  • There are some great trans people out there, some of whom want to educate people to gain support and understanding.
  • There are people out there who are so self centred that even if you treat them the way they say they want to be treated, it will never be enough.
  • Every single person I have met with a gender issue can tell a story about a difficult or restrictive upbringing

I had a great meeting with a young trans-man and his partner. In which the young man said actually he’d always been a tomboy, but really wants to display whichever gender he feels on a given day, because he is really non binary. He also wants to be referred to as a man while using his uterus to have a child before reassignment surgery. He feels transitioning to a man is the only way he can access his true self. He is 19, and a kind, smart individual. But because gender neutrality is not forthcoming in this country, his wants and needs will not be met. This is why.

If you think, act and present as a man, women are less likely to share “women things” with you. So the entirety of cultural support that kept me sane as a mother will not be forthcoming. Men will not be able to use shared experience as a basis on which to offer mutual support.

That’s not transphobia. It’s PEOPLE.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/XZjhcLhQW08Ylw5b0p9xgH/gender-dysphoria-transgender

1% of the population are unhappy with their gender. That leaves a whopping great 99% who are fine with theirs.

http://www.dlf.org.uk/content/key-facts

Almost 1 in 5 of the population have a disability, yet television is being made today examining how inaccessible the world is.

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/sep/15/without-limits-vietnam-review-ho-chi-minh-trail

And finally, 2% of the population regard themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity/sexuality/bulletins/sexualidentityuk/2016

I’m told gender and sexuality are completely separate. I disagree. I haven’t met many trans people who do not maintain the straight orientation they had pre-transition. Actually, I have met one. Most transwomen still want a female partner. Most trans-men want a male partner. This is my experience, please provide me with the statistics if I am wrong.

So, on these stats, 3% of the population are LGBT. GIRES ( https://www.gires.org.uk/ ) states this might be as much as 7%. OK, in the interests of being pro choice and a decent person, I’ll go with the higher figure.

93% of the UK population consider themselves a man or a woman, and have sexual relationships with the opposite gender.

What I’m saying is, we should all be good to one another as best we can. But if 20% of the population cannot change the attitudes of the rest, even when disability is something that could happen to anyone, why is it that a 1% of the population gender dysphoric group seem to think they can, on a pinhead, turn around the views of a 99% who operate under the societal norms of a binary gender system based on biological furtherance of the species? The societal and cultural norms are what made me seek help from other women when I wanted to throw my child at a wall. Without that gendered support, the human race would not survive.

Communities have broken up, people move around. A lot of valuable menopause support I received came from absolute strangers, and that could not have happened if we did not have the cultural norm of “WOMAN” as a behavioural guide.

One thing the trans-man I spoke to did say, is that no way would he consider reassignment surgery until he’d had massive amounts of therapy to be sure it was the right choice. A woman I spoke to recently almost had gender reassignment surgery when she was younger, chose not to go ahead, and now enjoys a simple relationship with a guy, and presents as a woman. She reports a horrifying number of suicides among her transgender friend group, from people who had reassignment surgery to then find that gender was not actually their issue and reassignment destroyed their lives.

Frighteningly, it is now in many wys easier to get through the system for gender reassignment because the whopping 93% of straight, binary gendered people are too afraid of being branded transphobic by the loud mouthed militant fascists who think we should all be like them or we are evil incarnate, that the paperwork gets signed.

Children are now being branded as gender dysphoric, when maybe they will grow up to be gay. How homophobic is that?

Dare I say it, it’s also possible that it’s a phase they might grow out of. Like my daughter nattering for an action man and a gun, because her friends had one. Or because her father didn’t want to know her and she felt her Barbie dolls needed a male role model she herself was lacking?

What about the sweet, kind, caring and gentle guy who cross dresses, claims to be non binary, doesn’t want surgery because he likes sex with women, but then acts a strange version of femininity when dressed up….. whose mother made it clear he was the result of an accidental pregnancy that ruined his life, and did as little guiding and nurturing as she could possibly get away with? Who is constantly told by the conditioning he received in public school that he is not a MAN. (Like most of our countries leadership elite, by the way).

The world IS changing. Funny, that. These things happen. But when I see a tiny minority forcing a dialogue onto the majority that does not reflect the vast majority of life experience they see, I also see people messed up and needing more than a change of clothes to fix them. In this dialogue I see so much sadness, lack of love, and lack of care, that people are being damaged by it. And this means that the people around them suffer too.

This is not about gender, it is about people. It’s about people who do not have the love, care and intrinsic value for themselves as an individual in the first instance. The overwhelming majority of these people need help to look into themselves and find the person they really are.

Some people really are born into the wrong body. I do believe that, and I believe that gender reassignment has value for some.

I believe that the biggest problem on post war Britain is the breaking down of communities and the elevation of the “Individual” at the expense of the rest. An Individual without community is alone.

Alone and unloved people try to make communities with people like them. Not being part of a community, with its rules, norms and support providing a safety net for the ever changing risks associated with the human experience makes people AFRAID.

Afraid people fight or run. It’s a biological impulse. In the dark underworld of this impossible gender dialogue are introverts who hide away, people who run from relationships, radical feminists with unfeasible demands for an equality they don’t even understand.

In a good community, an individual lacking love from a parent would get love from someone else, and still feel nurtured. The rise of the insular middle classes has allowed isolation, while championing the right of the individual. So a clever woman resents her child because she can no longer pursue the individuality she is taught to desire. A beautiful man becomes a lonely small boy obsessed with with the gentle femininity and nurturing he craves. The girl who likes to climb trees and wear jeans and a hoodie rather than a pretty dress has to define herself in a binary way and consider dangerous surgery to become the opposite of her biological drive.

When did this appalling state of affairs become ok?

Ask one of the 93% of straight men and women who are just trying to get along and, as they rush to work or hurriedly acquire more consumerist crap with the cash they earned in a job they hate, they will mostly say it doesn’t affect them. They don’t even notice it, until someone shouts in their face. They are far too busy trying to survive in a world which says they can have everything, however impossible, and does not celebrate what they actually have. Why would changing the majority view of gender or sexuality have any value to them whatsoever.

We need therapy. We need community. We need sexy tomboys to climb trees, beautiful men to care for children, workplaces to value the full range of human skills, regardless of whether they are displayed by a man or woman. We need men and women to love who they are, and to have that reflected back at them with joy. We need families to be able to care and support each other, because as a whole we will become more than the sum of our parts. I think you’ll find that was how we moved out of the caves, how we changed, grew and became what we are today.

What’s been lost needs to be found.

Issa xxx

EDIT: Where possible I have used stats from decent sources. I haven’t met anyone in same sex relationships who do not identify as gay or bi, and I haven’t spotted any stats on the topic. I appreciate that coming out is tough, but I can’t apply equality to people I know nothing about. Remember, I’m just an ordinary woman. Even allowing for a margin of error in my numbers, in favour of all the diverse groups I have not mentioned, I stick to my guns and say, I’m an ordinary woman, and a very large majority of the population consider themselves to be pretty ordinary too.

 

 

#metoo….Part 2, the revealing of more unpicked bits by the men.

Welcome back. I’m not done yet. Although I am a bit bored, going back over the same old stuff I’ve heard for much of my life:

“Feminism has disenfranchised men”

“We don’t know what our roles are”

“Society has trained me as to what a MAN should be”

“We can’t overcome our conditioning”

“Men are just men, when they are with other men… we can’t help it”

Someone close to me, during the #metoo campaign, drew my attention to a very good article about how difficult it is to overcome early conditioning as a boy and then a man, which makes it almost impossible to understand the issue of consent which underpins much of the #metoo campaign.

Read the article here:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/how-men-are-trained-to-think-sexual-assault-no-big-deal/

This point of view which blames conditioning of various kinds is incredibly relevant to the whole #metoo argument. However, it has also in various ways at various times been used to justify sexism, abuse and an almost deliberately blatant lack of self development.

Broadly, the premise is that men are taught as boys to be tough, to value competitiveness and sports, not to cry, to do “man jobs” like putting up shelves…. the inverse of this indoctrination is therefore the denigration of gentleness, ridicule if lacking in sports prowess, crying being seen as “weak”, and a skill such as cookery or child rearing not being respected.

This, I am told, is rigorously taught as a world view to all boys, especially within the public/private/independent single sex schooling system. Which, I may remind you, provides us with the majority of our ruling classes. Our elected officials.

This myth of what it is to be a man is perpetuated across society, and wholly supported by those in charge. It made them – they have an interest in retaining that status quo.

Within that, you find cultural icons which represent such a view of manhood – and, as per the above article, pushing their luck with women, being rough, not taking no for an answer, Han Solo or Indiana Jones being prime examples (sorry Harrison, it’s not personal)…. all these things are depicted as being part of this constructed male ideal.

So for some men, #notme was all they could come up with.

#notmebecauseIamsubjectedtosuchaprescribedbehaviouralsetofnormsofwhichIamawarebutnotactivelytryingtochangebecauseIamtoobusytryingtoliveuptothissetofnorms wasn’t a catchy title. But it was closer to the truth.

Not much digging, and this information emerges. Bear in mind it’s the 21st century, people are online, they have more than a dusty set of Britannica at their disposal. So, if this cultural conditioning , this normalisation of behaviours which simply support self interest but for many women represent abuse, is widely known, why are these men not standing up and changing it?

Are they really spending all their time watching crap on YouTube, or porn channels, trying to escape reality until it’s time to go to work again???

This is a much bigger and wider reaching concern.

One answer is “this pervades all of society, it requires constant vigilance”. Indeed it does.

Stop for a minute.

If that’s true, it requires constant vigilance from all the #metoo women who fall victim to it. So we are constantly vigilant. And our vigilance fails, and we have #metoo stories to prove it.

Does that mean we cease to be vigilant? Of course not. We keep trying.

Now, the person who brought this side of the discussion to my notice has spent his whole life trying to be vigilant, trying to escape the male stereotype force fed to our young men, hiding away, suffering bullying, dealing alone with gender dysphoria in various ways, all because he is sweet, gentle, crap at sport and not especially ambitious. After all, if not a man in the accepted sense, must be a woman, right?

(There will be another article on my thoughts about gender later, as I’m finding out some more things today which will inform my discussion).

Society, and members of it, bully and victimise individuals who do not conform to an accepted set of norms. This can be subtle, fatal, or anything in between. The biggest problem is we sit back and allow that to happen.

We allow lovely gentle men to feel that not being a “real man” is bad.

We train our young men to a set of norms which give them the skills to look at #metoo and say, “What on earth can I do about that?” because to cope with it means unpicking everything they have been taught about their role in society.

What we, as a society are NOT doing, is seeing what CAN be done.

You see, feminism already started unpicking that role. Some men feel disenfranchised, some relish being a house husband. Lots of changes have already been made. Equality acts force employers and others to treat people equally, even if their difference is not understood.

What we are not doing is turning round to the individual and saying “THIS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.”

Change is the responsibility of us all.

Governments change legislation.

Voters change government officials.

Voters only bother to vote if they give a shit. And that’s usually under 50% of the population (we managed 70% in the snap general election this year due to Brexit panic).

So, how do we make voters give a shit?

It’s a known thing that people will act on things that are meaningful to them personally, and often the bigger picture is missed. People need to see the issues on their own doorstep, because they are often lazy and can’t be bothered. And that’s key.

The bigger picture in this article is that men are fed a stereotype of masculine behaviours which in some cases can result in abuse to women, and/or confusion to the men themselves. Associated relationship problems, some (but no means all) gender confusion and experimentation driven by this, can destabilise all but the strongest of ties.

This is fundamental to our society surviving.

We get our meat from Tesco or the farm, not by hunting. This construct of man, masculinity, alpha male, is no longer fit for purpose. We no longer accept that a woman’s place is just in the home, so why are we teaching this to our boys?

Because the grown up boys are watching crap on YouTube or Porn channels. The clever ones can find articles like the one above. but they are DOING NOTHING.

Change starts from the ground up.

Look at yourself. If you don’t fit, look at why. Is it because what you have been taught is not you? If the prevailing world view does not support you and you are struggling, get therapy, be strong as a PERSON, tell the next guy. And so on.

Therapy is not just for women. That’s the construct talking.

We all need to be the change. Mothers and fathers need to discuss openly with their kids and teach them something new. Mates need to discuss this with each other and learn to say NO to the apparently stronger one who is resistant to change, blind to the effect their stagnation has on those around them.

To do this we need to work on ourselves. Find our inner strength. Stand up to the universal bully that is the constructed world which constrains us. Find ourselves, and present that as a beacon for change. Value the parts that serve us, and ditch the parts that don’t.

I’m trying to do this, and it’s bloody hard. I upset people with my questions, by not accepting absolutes, by always questioning, seeking understanding, of myself, and of others.

The only way to make this change is with pure self responsibility, not enforcing legislation which people will resent, or feels irrelevant to them. Show each other how relevant it is. As a society, every individual needs to get off YouTube, and get onto making themselves be the best they can be. And then help others to do the same. Then our boys will be allowed to cook and cry, or have a pink bike if they like. Just like women are allowed to be engineers.

See how that neatly morphs across to gender identity? This is a massive topic. More another time.

Issa xx

 

 

 

 

#metoo….. what the men said.

I’ve been putting off this bit of commentary, mostly because I’ve been getting myself into trouble on Facebook, posting about modern gender dialogue and trying to understand other people’s points of view, whilst trying to build a cohesive personal opinion.

To this end, later today I have a meeting in the pub with a young couple, one of whom has gender dysphoria and considers himself ftm trans. I hope to gain a greater understanding, but I also realise it’s difficult because I’m 46 and they are early 20’s. I always considered myself fairly open and modern, but I realise the new generation see a totally different world to the one I do. I hope this doesn’t just mean I’m getting old!

Hopefully I will post more about this in future, but today’s post very much links to the gender debate. If I upset anyone, my apologies. Like any real person, I’m trying to understand and formulate my own constantly changing point of view. In other words, by tomorrow I too may not be operating from the viewpoint of today! So be nice 🙂

What I noticed during the #metoo campaign was a defensive response from so many male friends, and I’d like to unpick that a bit.

The first gut response was overwhelmingly:

#notme

So many of the guys I know, from so many walks of life, felt attacked by the proliferation of #metoo stories. They failed to grasp the point of sharing the stories, which was to show how many of us have endured attentions which we deem to be abuse. That one woman considers a thing to be abusive that another wouldn’t is hardly relevant. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, women worldwide spoke up with their stories. It became apparent that behaviours women consider to be abusive are part of the fabric of life for women on this planet.

This simple truth is not changed by a bunch of men saying “not me, I don’t do those things!”

Maybe you don’t. Maybe the guy sitting next to you on the bus does. Maybe the guy at the corner shop beats his wife. Maybe your boss is scared shitless because he asked his secretary out on a date and is now thinking she will claim harassment.

The only actual data we have to work on, and that mostly unverifiable, is that an overwhelming number of women feel they have endured abuse at the hands of men.

It is worth noting that the majority of crimes committed against trans women are also recorded as being perpetrated by men.

What this tells us firstly, and can be backed by stats from somewhere – feel free to post a link – is that abusive crimes towards females are mostly perpetrated by men. Those that are reported and/or involve charges being pressed. Secondly, culturally, women see abuse towards women by men as a pervasive and ongoing, widespread issue. So many of us have stories to tell about it.

It exists. It happens. It’s widespread. Men, you may not know who does it, but that does not mean it does not exist. Just because #notyou , that doesn’t make it an issue for you to avoid looking at. If #notyou then unless you stand up for those of us shouting #metoo and do something, even if it is simply acknowledging our pain, then you are turning a blind eye. You are making it about you, and how uncomfortable you feel looking at the thing.

To make it clear: the correct emotional response should be to want to help, to stop abuse, to root it out from the depths of society. To protect those most vulnerable or who are suffering. That is the HUMAN response.

Take responsibility for being part of the problem if you felt something different.

Or, bring your #notme to my bedside when I’m in a hospital bed with broken ribs and a busted face, and the impossibly young safeguarding officer expressing concern about the safety of my children in this obviously dangerous and violent situation… and tell me straight that “I don’t do things like that!” is of relevance to me. Feel free to go after the bastard that did it and teach him that’s #not us. In your own time…

If #notme is important, then start a campaign against the men who do it. Find them, refuse to drink in the pub with them, leave the guy at the bar alone if he thinks getting a sneaky one over on his wife is clever. It’s not just about beatings, it’s about psychologically belittling someone too. Be vigilant. Don’t allow something so real to continue.

A good friend of mine expressed genuine concern that the #metoo campaign would create a fear or phobia against men, and expressions of masculinity.

You can read a great article by Helen Pluckrose about it here:

https://areomagazine.com/2017/10/17/androphobia-and-how-to-address-it/amp/

A quote from the above, to let you know I’m engaging with it:

“… Cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of irrational fears focuses upon realistic assessments of risk, determining reasonable precautions against it and then, having put one’s fear into perspective, living a full life. It is possible that any man a woman encounters in her daily life could violently attack and rape her but almost every such encounter results in no such thing. Dr Bruce Hubbard describes it like this, “CBT helps replace catastrophic cognitions with reasonable beliefs. When fear begins, it’s important to remind yourself to review the evidence that this is a false alarm, you are not in danger. The goal is to develop a nurturing, coaching inner voice to help stay grounded and effectively accept and cope with panicky feelings as they run their course.” The already tiny risk of violent attack can be reduced further by taking the same kind of precautions one takes against other kinds of crime and using the same kind of judgement one uses with other kinds of relationships. If we live life in constant fear and distrust of men, we could possibly reduce the risk further but at what cost? Avoiding interactions and relationships with half the population reduces the likelihood of having friends, lovers and meaningful bonds too….”

IT IS COMPLETELY TRUE THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF MEN ARE SAFE TO BE AROUND!

So at this point I can see clearly the male fear of being tarred with the same brush as abusers, and the fear that militant feminism might push this fear even further.

So do something about the problem.

From one #metoo female to all the #notme males: challenge cultural mores that allow denigration of females in any way. Ostracise men who normalise casual violence of any kind towards women. Call them out. Tell them it’s wrong. Discuss the problem with your neighbour. Make it clear where you stand. TAKE a stand, WITH us. Be part of the solution.

Then come back and read part 2, in which I will look at the expectations of men by society. And I will challenge you on that too.

Issa xxx