Monthly Archives: March 2011
I think the taking off of ones shirt when upset is a masculine performance that is learned. Any women take off their shirt when upset?
I can’t imagine many women taking off their shirt to notify the world that they are indeed frustrated, but I could be wrong. Thoughts?
LOOK AT ME MY SHIRT IS OFF AND I AM ANGRY! MY BARE MALE CHEST COMMUNICATES MY RAGE! Yeah so… about masculine performance.
Also, as a man, I will show that I am upset by breaking stuff: windows, walls, doors, people, etc.
You see, in order for me to prove my masculinity, I have to react violently in very scripted and/or predictable male sanctioned ways.
Suppose I was upset, like super duper upset, what if I channeled that rage through say.. writing or meditating? Would patriarchy allow it?
Being a man is kind of difficult, so instead I will act like one… whatever that means. *consults patriarchal code of conduct*
Patriarchy approves when you break THINGS, but if you really want to win its favor you have to break PEOPLE. That’s impressive AND macho!
I identify as a man, but patriarchy isn’t satisfied by identity alone, so I must also act like a man. That is where the script comes in!
The “bitch,” the “hoe,” and the “lady,” are all inventions of the patriarchal imagination, so simply substituting them won’t transform us.
The idea that being a lady is anymore liberating than being a hoe, or a bitch, is an illusion, and one that patriarchy eagerly encourages.
If we think Black women perming their hair and wearing weaves are the only ones consumed by the White aesthetic, we’re already losing. The overt is always the easiest thing to critique. Let’s try examining the casual things too. Not just perm boxes, but Christianity too.
No one wants to talk about the religious perm we use to relax our religion. How we throw Christianity on to straighten our spirituality. Who “going natural” with their spiritual beliefs? Who gone give up the religious crack they put on their head known as Christianity?
What happens when we stop perming our head, but continue to perm our mind?
“I screamed to the heavens….loudly screamed….
Trying to change our nightmares into dreams…” – Maya Angelou
It’s unlikely that Maya Angelou had the struggles of gays and lesbians in mind when she wrote the poem “In & Out of Time,” but I feel the lines quoted above speak to the experiences of many gays and lesbians.
Much has been said about Lisa Lings latest documentary for the Oprah Winfrey Network titled “Pray The Gay Away?” which explored differing perspectives on whether or not one could be gay and Christian. I chose not to watch the documentary, and I probably won’t, because I have lived what it seeks to explore, but I have paid close attention to the conversations taking place because of the documentary.
I have heard people refer to the attempt to “pray the gay away” as sad, pitiful, and stupid. My own thinking tends to agree with those assessments, but I turn my comments towards the society and culture that makes someone feel they need to pray away their sexual orientation. Yes, heterosexism and homophobia are sad, pitiful, stupid, and a lot of other horrible words.
I believe that those who seek to “pray the gay away” are as the quote states, screaming to the heavens, loudly screaming, trying to change their nightmares into dreams. My own attempts to “pray the gay away,” were ultimately attempts to change my nightmare (homosexuality), into my dream (heterosexuality).
It’s important to understand that I, like many people who are told that they are inferior, less than, or abnormal because of who they are, had no choice in whether or not I saw homosexuality as a nightmare. I was raised to believe that being gay was a sin and everywhere I looked in society there were confirmations of this teaching. TV shows, movies, songs, and playground culture all reinforced the gay as nightmare message.
Like others who are told by society they are not “normal,” I searched for a way to be normal. How could I cleanse myself of the stigmas of being gay to become and benefit from the privilege of heterosexuality? As a gay teen I used the tools I had, and that involved turning to the god I had been raised to believe answered all prayers. I wanted to be what the dominant group said I should be, I wanted to be heterosexual like everyone else, and so I prayed, prayed and cried, prayed and cried.
I never became straight but I did learn to love myself unconditionally. It wasn’t an easy journey, but it’s one that I am proud of having walked. I have come to realize that the nightmare is not my sexuality; the nightmare is the homophobic society that I live in, and the rigid religious belief system I had been indoctrinated in. The dream for me, and perhaps for many others, lie in accepting myself, no longer internalizing homophobia, and no longer being a slave to mythical belief systems.
I have the utmost sympathy for the gays and lesbians who are trying to turn their nightmares into dreams. I hope and know that many of them will avoid trying fit snugly into the nightmare. I also know that many won’t, and will continue to miss out on the dream that is self acceptance and self love.
My advice to gays and lesbians, who are praying to become straight or anyone else struggling with self-hatred, is to remember that we have to be taught to hate ourselves. None of us emerge from the womb ashamed of who we are. We must remember that anything that is learned can be unlearned, and self-acceptance starts with unlearning the self-hate that we have been taught.
Active self love, not prayer, will help us change our nightmares into dreams.