WARNING: Death and Highly Distressing Images (if you click on the US Uncut link below)
Last week, I saw a US Uncut story about the recent strike on Syrian civilians (mostly children) that happened while the world was distracted by the US Republican Convention and the theatrical plagiarism of Donald Trump’s wife. As a friend of mine said recently, “If all you care about right now is plagiarism, you are part of the problem.” Mass Distraction. Artfully distracted we are. Too busy to care. Too preoccupied to notice. Too afraid of our own emotions to lift the veil of materialism and convenient distance; too afraid to click on the link, and allow ourselves to be motivated to the point of actually acting on our often hollow words of concern and care about humanity and social justice issues.
The ugly truth is, ‘we’ don’t give a fucking shit. ‘We’ who sit on our asses and watch the goddamned Real Housewives of Wherever scream at each other about their cars and houses and jewellery from across the room. ‘We’ who gossip about the people that live in our neighbourhood, who work in our offices. ‘We’ who have lost all notion of loyalty and sacredness and goodness. We who get to go home to our families after a long day and go to bed in peace and silence without the fear of death or the sounds of bombs dropping in the distance, possibly on people we know. By ‘we’ I mean the collective whole of humanity that is, according to globalisation theory, supposedly united by a myriad of increasing commonalities thanks to our good buddy Capitalism. While our ‘common good’ may exist and be true to some extent, it is not appreciated across the board, particularly because and in spite of the structural inequalities that white supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy brings with it. Meanwhile, the innocent women and children in Syria have nothing, and the pregnant victims of Boko Haram are left to fend for themselves, child porn and rape victims are sold to men to abuse, and homeless youth in major cities try to sleep wherever they can, wishing they were safe and fed…and loved. Et cetera.
Our collective silence and inaction in the face of grave injustices is shameful. The ‘civilised’ West is a spiritual disgrace, soaked in white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, lip service to social justice, normalised male violence, and neoliberal self-aggrandisement. Where is our silence and inaction getting us?
All the Syrians have left are their lives and whatever remains in the rubble and destruction, which isn’t much. All the innocent children sold to be raped – daily – by foreign male tourists in Thailand have nothing but their… innocence? Nope, that’s gone. Hope? What can you hope for when you are 9, and raped every day by adult MALES who know better than to violently abuse and torture innocent life? What do they have at the end of the day – our collective inaction? Our silence? All the young girls, the child victims of Boko Haram, who were violently raped and abandoned by adult men, left alone to be single mothers in a community that ostracises and shames them have nothing but themselves, and now their children to raise – alone. Someone, please, ANYONE – tell me how patriarchal globalisation, misogynistic religion, white male supremacist capitalism, and all the male pattern violence that goes along with it is helping them or any of us ‘advance’.
No, I know, I know. I know it’s hard. I know. Even though none of us work or have any direct contact with trauma victims on a daily basis, we still somehow manage to have compassion fatigue. I know. Please, why don’t you tell me more about the Kardashians and butt implants and botox – I’m all ears. Or hey buddy, HOW’S THAT FANTASY FOOTBALL GOING? So glad you have the time for that in your life. And porn. Porn! And tell me more about your shitty white privileged ‘problems’ in your gentrified boroughs and gated communities (thank God we don’t live in Palestine, amirite?). When you’re finished, tell me why you continue to turn a blind eye to structural racism, sexism, and injustice in the world. Hell, in your own neighbourhood. Tell me about why identity politics in an advanced capitalist economy matters more to you than the murder, rape, and genocide of innocent women and children, and the ongoing violent oppression and erasure of literally half the human race (women). Tell me why academics in the social sciences continue to study things that literally do no good for anyone but themselves and their usually white, almost always male, frequently class-privileged peers.
“You’re right. We need a kindness revolution,” you say. Yeah. That sounds great. But wait… does that mean us women doing all the emotional labour and men continuing to reap all the benefits from that labour? Isn’t that the way it’s always been? Women practice selflessness, empathy for others, nurturing, and kindness, while men literally do the complete opposite more than half of the time? Shall we drag in some statistics about this that prove this point? Why is it always up to women to make everything better? Why aren’t men doing more? Why aren’t men rising up in droves and starting campaigns against child pornography? Considering how many men around the world have children, their lack of action on issues like this, and rape, is confounding. Why don’t men do kindness more? Or, to put it another way:
“We know statistically, if we look, who is committing violence on this planet—and it is primarily the male species. Why don’t men stop verbally, physically, sexually and financially abusing females?” – Trista Hendren
I read an interesting article today in the New Statesman about how ‘The “Kindness Revolution” Sounds Like Yet More Women’s Work‘. Check this out:
“The revolution will come, not when we recast such [kindness] work as “feminist” but when women do less of it and men do more… Women’s unpaid labour supports men’s paid labour. Far from symbolising a revolutionary opt-out, women’s [kindness] work is, as Marçal explains, “a natural resource that we don’t think we need to account for. Because we assume it will always be there. It’s considered an invisible, indelible infrastructure… I’m getting tired of seeing men on the left call for a more caring, sharing world when actually, if they practised what they preached, they wouldn’t be the ones standing on a platform with a microphone. They’d be behind closed doors… and someone else – maybe even a woman – would be in their place… And this is the ultimate double bind for the political woman. The feminine role you’ve been conditioned to perform would be radical if men performed it too, but they don’t. This is understandable. But if you don’t, you’re a traitor. Hence men can call for a kinder, gentler politics, but you’ll always be the one who’s expected to be kind and gentle in practice. It’s not flattering to women to tell us self-sacrifice is radical. It will be flattering the day men fall on their swords, too.” – Glosswitch (4 August 2016, New Statesman).
Super interesting article. There are aspects of it (not included in the quote above) that I don’t completely agree with, but I think the writer is right on with most of it. There are men who are doing kindness; they are out there. The question is: why are they so few in number? Why don’t men do kindness more? Personally, I think the ugly truth is that because of the way they’ve been conditioned, they don’t care. They don’t understand the experience of being born a female, they don’t understand what we have to endure through girlhood and patriarchal socialisation, abuse, rape, financial struggle, etc. This isn’t intended to make excuses for them and let them off the hook of responsibility, I’m just throwing possible reasons out there. But still, even considering all these things, why don’t men do kindness more?
Because of men – because of their mass inaction on issues that matter to women and children in real life every day – there is an even uglier truth that stands out like an elephant in the proverbial room of our collective social lives: that the karma of our collective inaction in the face of these grave injustices against our sisters and the innocent children of the world will be upon all of those who choose (because it is a choice whether we admit to it or not) to do nothing. Or to recoil in horror from the distressing photos in the news and post comments underneath articles with sad-faced emojis and a plethora of “truly heartbreaking”‘s and “so sad”‘s. I know I’m not the first person to vent about these things, but for the love of GOD/GODDESS – whomever your Divinity is – DO SOMETHING. Starting to hold men to account is one step among many others that we can take toward a better world. We need to rise up and hold men to account for their gross inaction, for their irresponsibility, for their selfishness, and their violence.
As single mothers, our energy, time and resources are usually limited, and often exhausted. It’s not easy to make time for self-care most days, let alone to make time for caring about the suffering of other people in distant places, or even those close to home. As human beings, we have a responsibility to raise our children to not only believe in a better world but to actively build and improve our collective conditions. To actively do things to make things better. We have to do something. We must teach our children, albeit in safe ways (when they are old enough and ready), about the oppression that other people face. We must teach them that it is the violence of male forms of oppression and domination that have gotten us, as a species, in these horrible wars. If they grow up in a world that only knows convenient materialism and wilful ignorance, the chance that they will live their adult lives in a similar bubble, repeating tired old patterns of ingrained misogyny, leading a wilfully ignorant existence is that much higher, and that much worse for everyone.
In a world like this, where over half the population hates us and abuses us and exploits our natural resources for their own benefit, we may not be able to count on men to practice kindness more. Their track record is obviously poor. This is not to say that this can’t change, or that they are not capable of it; quite the opposite. However, the present reality is that in this world – a world that is hurting, and bleeding, and crying out in pain – we strong, empowered, deeply spiritual women are all they (those who suffer) have. Innocents are paying the price with their lives, daily, for our collective silence and inaction. I realise that some people will not agree with this but if you can’t give or provide resources, pray for those who suffer. Despite what a lot of people have said in the media about prayer, prayer does work and it is something. Don’t buy the popular garbage narrative that prayer is a crutch or an ‘easy way out’ of distress or an attribute of the weak. On the contrary. Prayer – real, focussed, intense prayer/meditation/whatever you want to call it – is powerful and is an attribute of the strong. The willingness and ability to pray is a mark of wisdom. Positivist patriarchy tells us that prayer is for fools because it can’t be qualified; science hasn’t been able to measure it, therefore it’s a waste of time and is associated with stupid people. This is also the same Positivist patriarchy that loathes the Divine Feminine, seeks to control and exploit women and children, and toss anything it can’t explain out the window. Women’s intuition and spiritual power, and the innocence of children is both feared and resented in this oppressive system.
If you yourself are broken and exhausted, take care of yourself and your child(ren). Take real care. Be good to yourself and heal. Rest. If your energy is low, take it easy. If you yourself have energy but are struggling financially, you can pray. Pray for our world. Pray for the children. Pray for the victims, pray for their mothers and their safety. Pray for their healing and for their protection, send them light and the Hand of Justice against their oppressors and attackers. Direct good energy to them.
We must do what we can to change the paradigm. I don’t know what that means yet or how we can do it, but I believe we can. We must start holding men to account. I think that is the first and most important step.