But I’m A Nice Guy : A quick editorial cartoon about the intersection of self-pity, entitlement, rape, territoriality, misogyny and fear of women. You see it all over the place online…
There’s just something about men who tell you, over and over, what nice guys they are ….
I’ll begin this by saying I am writing this post because there’s a creeping, nagging feeling that I should not write it. This creeping, nagging “don’t say it” feeling bears examination, as I pretty much talk about whatever I want to talk about. What’s the deal?
My World of Warcraft guild and raid chat … specifically guild chat and vent chat during recent raiding.
I talk pretty nicely about my guild. Overall they are a good bunch of eggs. From time to time, I experience a bit of irritation. I do get tired of hearing guys say things like, “let’s rape the bitch/slut/cunt/whore” prior to a fight. I do get tired of tiresome sexual innuendos. I do get tired of unfunny sexist jokes. I do get tired of listening to men talking smack about their girlfriends, wives and partners (ex or otherwise). I do get tired of hearing about men’s sex lives, or their fantasies thereof. I do get tired of sex being inserted into every freakin’ conversation.
I’m a good egg too. Even though I frequently have some very scathing things I could say in those sorts of moments. I don’t. I roll my eyes, keep my mouth shut, turn up the tunes, master the fights, cross my fingers and hope for good lootz.
I was raiding last night and I turned vent off. I have also turned guild chat off from time to time. I’m getting saturated. Last night’s guild chat was full of discussions about sex, sexual aggression, menstruation, tampons, whores, sluts and eating pussy to mention a few.
Raid chat included the usual sexual innuendos, stale jokes, sexist comments blah blah blah … but also amped up to include a conversation about a female player putting her legs over her shoulders and being used as a beer/stubbies holder … and another conversation about the first time a couple of the male players ever “ate pussy”[age 3 I believe was the youngest] and how it tasted [like piss if I recall correctly] the usual crap about ex wives and partners, how much pussy/sex these ‘gentlemen” are getting etc.
Of our 10 (wo+)man raid team, there are two guys that I cannot recall ever speaking like this. They don’t say anything against the bullshit, they just don’t join in. (Kind of like me overall). We have three men who regularly kick off or instigate the bullshit and a couple of guys who will chime in when they can. Plus one guy who doesn’t speak on vent. Leaving myself and one other (lovely and gracious) female player who advised me that English is her second language and she is able to filter most of what is being said by simply switching her brain into her first language. (What a bonus!)
Sadly, guild wise, we are taking in new members who seem to think this obnoxious, sexualized conversation is good times. The social calibre of the guild is nose diving (in my opinion). More guild chat is centred around sexualized or derogatory toward women conversation and no, its not just a man problem. We have a couple of the usual women suspects who take it in, giggle about it and say things like …. ”oooo you’re so bad” and “I’m soooo drunk”…. and otherwise encourage or participate in the shit behaviour.
I had a chat with our raid leader and GM last night. I said I was going to mute vent – that I was sick of listening to the bullshit. He took it in and was okay with what I was saying. He told me that if chat content was getting to me, it was ok if I muted vent. (Thanks, but I shouldn’t HAVE to!) and to his credit also said he would try to check the crappy sex chat when he noticed it. He also acknowledged that he’s one of the worst offenders and that he eggs people on.
Back to the beginning. Why didn’t I want to write this post?
Well, I know as soon as I open my mouth, or let my fingers scamper across the keyboard … this will become my personal, Fiona problem. And I know it’s not. I could get into a whole expose about sexism in MMO’s but its been done, and done a lot these past few months. If you want to read an article that has liberal links all the way through it, you can check out Carol Pinchefsky’s, Sexual Harassment in Videogame Culture in Forbes and clicky her links and have a read. There’s some good stuff in there like:
According to psychologist Scott, “My thought is that we continue to live in a real life culture that continues to be alarmingly misogynistic under the surface, but the hostility that many males feel towards females is suppressed by social forces (like mothers, law enforcement officers, etc.). In secondary virtual worlds, like MMOs, those controlling social forces are largely absent…. In secondary worlds, males can be anonymous, and allow aggressive impulses to have free reign – and some seem to feel very empowered by this. These are likely men who don’t experience a sense of strength or personal power in their primary lives. Perhaps they are threatened by women, and deeply angry at them. They carry those feelings to secondary life and it feels really good to them to act out that hostility – and they are able to do so with impunity.
Pretty sure the guys engaging in the behaviour won’t see it in that way, or at least won’t acknowledge that they do. I have some good male friends in WOW, who don’t engage in sexist assholishness. My favourite guy friend says this sexist stuff is an issue of men having no class or manners. Another guy friend says men do it (are sexist) because they can, it’s like stealing something, in this case, women’s self-esteem, confidence and freedom to join in without feeling harassed and assaulted/insulted. Yes, there are some smart, switched on, wonderful WOW guys.
Anyway, I know that I don’t want to debate the issues, argue them, get into a social justice fight over them, discuss feminism while I am playing a video game or defend women (especially against other women). I don’t want to be backed into corners where I have to come out with witty little zingers to shut the bullshit up. I don’t want to be told that I don’t have a sense of humour, or that I need to lighten up, loosen up or get laid. I don’t want to have to have conversations about sexism in my gaming. I don’t want to have to write this post. I just wanna play the fuckin’ game, without feeling like I need to mute the other players.
At the end of the day, we’re all replaceable. If this is how the guild is gonna go, and how the raid chat is gonna be … it might better for them to take on another sexist bastard who can raid heal and it might be time for me to move on. It wouldn’t be the first time I have left a guild because of sexist bullshit. My last major raiding guild I left after being asked if I wanted to switch raid teams as the other raid team needed “fresh pussy”. Yeah, so this is not new.
I’m off to Bali on Monday and will have a 10 day break from WOW and from raiding/gaming and am looking forward to it. Not because I don’t like gaming – but because seriously, I can hear you and I can’t keep my mouth shut much longer.
“This is all nonsense. I can’t believe that in the 21st century a judge in a secular court is talking about devilish movements. I can’t believe that a government official is quoting medieval church councils.”
- Boris Akunin, well known Russian author
I’ve been following along with and writing a bit about the Pussy Riot arrests and trial. Although the news of the Pussy Riot sentencing came down yesterday, I was too despondent to write about it. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Marina Alyokhina have been found guilty of ”hooliganism” and sentenced to two years in prison.
A friend just said, “Well it could be worse, they could have got seven years.” See, not feeling the “it could be worse” vibe here.
These young women have been incarcerated since March – that means they have already served 5 months in jail, while the circus … emm .. I mean trial … has been under way. They have been accused of ludicrous motivations: “destroying 1000′s of years of orthodox church tradition”, ”undertaking the work of the devil”, “abusing god”, “blasphemy”, showing “religious hatred and enmity”…
Let’s pause to recap what they actually did do.
They sang a song.
Yes in a church, yes about Putin, yes questioning the division of state and religion. Peaceable, creative, protest about social justice and political accountability and fairness.
I’m reading the news reports about the sentencing this morning.
Support of celebrities and Amnesty International has been suggested to be “a magnet for vapid celebs…” International protests are questioned as being merely fashionable and not helpful. [ To see some wonderful shots of the protests, have a look HERE]
A recent poll suggests that Russian support for Pussy Riot is low,
“… only 6 percent sympathized with the women and 51 percent found nothing good about them or felt irritation or hostility. The rest could not say or were indifferent.” – Independent Levada research group
Some suggest that “clueless” non-Russians are simply unable to understand that what might be seen in their countries as “provocative political protest” is seen in Russia as considerably more serious. Some people even seem to think these young women are getting their just desserts.
The issue is complex. It is about the inter-relationship between government and church in a country that doesn’t want to address the issue, any more than our countries want to address the issue.
That’s right. The division of church and state is not a Russian issue.
The Pussy Riot women, could be you, or me, or anyone who believes and values separation between church and state.
So who cares about what has happened to Pussy Riot? I care. I care that this trial has made a mockery of secular justice and has highlighted the lack of separation between church and state. I care that all of this has happened at the expense of three young women’s lives.
Were Nadezhda, Yekaterina and Marina foolish or brave? Did they know what they were signing on for? Do they regret their actions?
I think no. I hope no.
“I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of you and I am not afraid of the thinly veneered deceit of your verdict at this ‘so-called’ trial. My truth lives with me. I believe that honesty, free-speaking and the thirst for truth will make us all a little freer. We will see this come to pass.”
Marina Alyokhina (Pussy Riot)
An appeal is on the way. It ain’t over til the punk girls sing.
The Pussy Riot trial continues on in Moscow.
A state prosecutor on Tuesday demanded a three-year jail term for three women from the punk band Pussy Riot, saying they had abused God when they stormed the altar of a Moscow cathedral and sang a “protest prayer” against the Russian Orthodox Church’s close links to Vladimir Putin.
There is so much that keeps going wrong with this story, where does one begin?
“Using swear words in a church is an abuse of God,” Nikiforov said.
The notion that a human being, or three of them, or a punk rock band full of them can abuse God is ludicrous. How do puny, imperfect humans “abuse” an allegedly omnipotent, all powerful god? The notion that swearing, that words can abuse a god is also ridiculous. What sort of god has such fragile and pathetic sensibilities?
“The actions of the accomplices clearly show religious hatred and enmity,” federal prosecutor Alexei Nikiforov said in closing arguments…”
The young women sang a song for under 2 minutes. Yes in a church, yes about Putin, yes questioning the division of state and religion. Peaceable, creative, protest. Does protest = religious hatred?
And so what of it, even if that were true? Must we unconditionally love and respect the church? I certainly don’t. I have very strong, negative opinions about the power of the church(es) and the many injustices that have been committed under religion’s wing. I have significant concern about the lack of separation between the church and state.
Which part is the problem here?
The defendants have said that their protest was not intended to offend believers and was aimed at highlighting the church’s support for Putin. Sounds reasonable to me. Putin has suggested that the protest was “nothing good, but didn’t warrant harsh punishment” so it would seem that the Russian Government and Putin are not the problem.
God is not offended. At least if he is, I am not reading his comments in any news articles, interviews etc. God is not the problem here.
“The insult is not to Putin but to the social group of Orthodox Christian believers,” Nikiforov said.
Ahhhh people are the problem. I get it, church goers are offended.
Here is the thing though. They are offended and three young women are to be imprisoned and lose 3-7 years of their lives because they are are offended? Get the fuck over yourselves. Seriously!
What is going to happen to Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich?
When last I wrote, I thought it was possible that the trial would be dragged out, the young women imprisoned for the duration – but that the charges would eventually be dismissed. It would undoubtedly look good politically for Putin to show himself as “lenient” in the face of dissent.
Yet, with the church having its knickers in knots, the powers that be will have to weigh whether or not a lenient sentence might lose Putin and his government the support of the Russian Orthodox church, which is no small matter.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and infuriated church leaders have described Putin’s 12-year rule as a “miracle of God” and described the women as doing the work of the devil.
It would seem that this trial has very little to do with Pussy Riot or their protest and a whole lot to do with balancing the powers of state and religion. What happens to Pussy Riot, will in the end be determined by politics and religion, not on the actual charges these young women face and quite probably not on an independent Russian judiciary.
How much punishment will appease these offended church people who believe in devils and political miracles: who believe it is possible to offend their God with a song?
What’s the problem in Russia? Well apparently three feminist punk rock singers from a band called Pussy Riot— were arrested in March 2012 after staging a political protest against Vladimir Putin. In a nut shell, they are being accused of aiming to destroy 1000′s of years of orthodox church tradition. No, not threatening – are destroying it.
The stupidity marches on. Care2 has a petition up about the plight of these peaceful protesters.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, could face seven years in prison for chanting “Mother Mary, drive Putin away” at Christ the Savior Cathedral. Amnesty International has stated that the women are to be considered prisoners of conscience for their peaceful protest and the draconian punishment they now face.
Five months after they were thrown in prison, the women are receiving their first trial. Though two of the women are mothers to small children, the women’s detention was recently extended for an additional six months.
The muddy relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and government has created serious conflict in the trial of these three women.
I think it’s worthwhile to take 2 minutes out of our privileged lives and sign this petition and stand up in solidarity for these young women whose “crime” was peaceful, creative, political protest against the Russian government, but is also being turned into some bullshit crime against the Russian Orthodox church.
I am a stickler for reality, a doubter from waaayyy back. So my spiritual quest has been hampered by my rather substantial need for reality, evidence and so forth. In hindsight, It might be more accurate to say, I have always been an atheist, and my spiritual journey was about me looking for evidence that I maybe had it wrong. Sure I’d have preferred if this evidence was scientific, empirical and quantifiable but I was willing to generously settle for any direct spiritual experience that would lead me to believing. I actually really wanted to believe. But no. It never happened for me, in any sort of sustainable way, no matter how I tried, and boy I tried.
So this then, is the Readers Digest version of how I got to Atheism.
It begins with a little girl who used to carefully juggle her Sunday mornings so she could hit at least 2 Sunday school classes. I was really into Sunday school. The stories, colouring, songs, snacks. All of it. This is interesting as my family were not religious. My grandmother was a non practising Presbyterian. My mother, who really was just a kid herself, demonstrated no real sign of religious belief. Sure we might go to church at Easter time or Christmas, but we weren’t praying, or Bible reading, or talking about God at home. About the closest she got was sending me off to Salvation Army summer camp … and I suspect that was more to get rid of me, than to teach me about God. I suspect this was also why she got involved with the Mormons and their church and exposed my sister and I to that too. I remember wanting very much to convert to Catholicism as a teen (all my best friends were Catholic, there was a really cool priest at the nearest church, the services were very impressive, youth group was good fun and I attended a Catholic high school).
However, I was also really interested the Jewish faith, the Kabbalah and in Zoroastrianism. I wanted to know what those 7th Day Adventist people were up to, and the Scientologists, and what the heck was up with heaven and hell, sinners and saints. I wanted to know how different religions saw these things (and of course, I also wanted to know which one of them were right). So I went to Baptist churches, and Lutheran churches and Anglican churches, and even a fundamentalist church, with my then, very devout, Mexican boyfriend.
I was at the end of it, interested in non-denominational religion, something that might distil religion down to mutually agreeable, shareable and enduring beliefs, across all religions. So I visited the United church and the Unitarian church. Across all these churches, I got dipped a few times (baptised) usually as a precursor to belonging, and wanting to realize whatever it was that the rest of those people were experiencing. I was even bully-baptised on more than one occasion. I read the Bible, several versions, more than once. I went to Bible study classes. I even thought about studying theology at one point, if for no other reason than to sort out how anyone could believe in the Bible … any Bible.
I don’t know what happened. I think I might have just gotten saturated on religion, like eating too many Oreos gives you a bit of a queasy tummy. I was queasy with my religious or spiritual progress, but more often disenchanted altogether. I was no closer to God than I ever had been. I was pretty sure I didn’t even like God. Or Jesus. Or most of the other people in the Bible. And anyway … I wasn’t just interested in religion, I was also interested in mythology and fairy tales, collective consciousness, archetypes, metaphor, poetry, literature and mysticism. I leaned away from mainstream organized religion, and slipped sloppily into “spirituality” loosely organized under the New Ageism banner (I blush).
I got older, had more formal education, had became a stronger, better informed feminist. I looked for She gods (goddesses) and a form of belief that would be truer to myself as a woman, that would recognize and celebrate women, even. I got caught up in a view of Earth Based spirituality that talked about, honoured and respected “Mother Earth”, The Goddess and the planet (I could get behind that, and still do: respect the planet, do your part). It’s also the only belief system where as a woman, I felt completely at home. I found Wicca, called myself a witch, looked for the Divine Feminine and tried hard to be a good, conscious and conscientious human being and resident of the planet. This was okay for awhile, until what I believed could no longer hold up to the weight of my scrutiny, or offer even marginal comfort. The fluffy bits, the softer bits and the sparkly bits seemed silly. Ritual lost its magic, it didn’t work and it was work. Believing in the unbelieveable takes an incredible amount of effort and energy for a girl like me and I had neither.
I fell back into the spiritual, not religious camp. I didn’t need to believe in a god, I just needed to accept that “all was energy”. I read pseudo science and pseudo spirituality books voraciously. I believed (somewhat arrogantly) that my thoughts created my reality, and that if I could only get a grip on my thoughts, I could also create my own reality, manifest prosperity, and experience the Universe in an expansive, loving way. It all felt a lot like an endless spiritual infomercial but I gave it my best and it also did not work for me. “The Universe” was no more responsive than any god, goddess or my toaster.
The beliefs that fall under this “new age spiritualism”, often serve to re-victimize and blame (marginalize and oppress too) people who already have plenty of problems, and these beliefs grossly conflicted with my social justice framework and feminist values. I had huge problems with the extreme “don’t worry, be happy, recite affirmations, think positive” crap. The therapist in me understood implicitly that while optimism is great, shutting off from what is real is a bad idea, just as slipping into any truth avoiding, reality dodging behaviour can be. The regular person me, knew it didn’t work, it didn’t feel authentic, and it often felt dismissive of the very real problems or challenges I was faced with. It was not hard to decide to give this up (although these ideas are now so pervasively linked into our social fabric that I still work very hard to stay conscious and confront the “happy clappy bullshit”as I call it, when it gets to be too much).
More life happened. Actually, shit happened, lots and lots of shit. I got angry. This was the period of my Dark Night of the Soul. Very, very dark. Existentialism was my friend. I didn’t want to believe in a god, or a goddess, or an undefined energy who could be so fucked up, so oblivious, so utterly unconcerned with social justice, or what was fair. My sense of ‘not okay’, continued to grow. At one point, I looked at Dark Spirituality and Satanism, and explored the idea of Self as god, and personal accountability and responsibility as decisions that were made over and over, with conciousness and a firm awareness of what is real and truthful. I gained a good appreciation for how ludicrous right/wrong/good/bad/sin could really be. Alas, Dark Spirituality and Satanism no more had the market cornered on “real” than any other organized system of religious or ‘spiritual’ belief. And so I walked forward and away (though I still think I am the god and boss of me).
I know something about religious intolerance. I have experienced it when I “church hopped”, I experienced it when I questioned and when I doubted, I certainly experienced it any time I deviated to exploring anything spiritual that was considered ‘on the fringe’ and a fair bit of my exploration took place on the fringe. I will pause here to say, that fringe spiritual/religious beliefs are no more preposterous (or less so) than maninstream religion. When you get down to it, it’s all much of a muchness. I have directly experienced religious intolerance. I have some pretty good stories about what people think about a girl who dabbles in Wicca/witchcraft, satanism, or dark spirituality. It’s ain’t airy fairy and it ain’t Light and it makes people really, really uncomfortable. There have been … consequences. I wasn’t burned in the town square, but too bloody close to it, for my comfort. Perhaps that intolerance and those consequences, also pushed me along the road to atheism. It certainly helped me grow a thicker skin. People’s shit or judgements about my identification with atheism doesn’t rumple me in the least.
I had studied philosophy in University, and was drawn back to looking at religion and spirituality from this place. Again, my reading was voracious, and more satisfying overall. It didn’t give me any answers, it gave me more questions and it challenged me to think, to approach my spiritual quest from a place of logic and reason. It gave me a framework to more closely consider my values and ethics. It gave me the big questions (more or less) neatly laid out. What is the nature of the universe? Is there a supreme being, a god? What is good and what is bad or evil? What happens when we die? What is reality? What is mind? What is thought? Is thought real? Where do ideas come from? Are there laws that control thought? I’m still reading, still reflecting, still thinking.
I took up yoga, and explored Eastern religion. Buddhism sang to me, or at least the Westernized version of it did. But I never could get into gurus, lineage, books that tell me what I ought to do, or be, or think and I was not the least bit interested in enlightenment, transcendence or the rejection of ego and self. Buddhism was no more women friendly than any other religion. Asana practice, breathing practices and meditation still work for me, the rest I discarded, more or less.
I had finished my education in psychology, sociology and social work. I learned to be critically reflective. I learned to read and understand and undertake research. I learned to measure the things I know against the things I experience. I work in my field, bumping up against reality, mine and other people’s, every single day. Much of this reality is about marginalization, oppression, personal and social inequity and the systemic constructions and deconstructions of who is deserving, and who is not. This also, whilst not turning me into an atheist, certainly supported me when I got there.
Somewhere in here I began looking to science. I’m a social science/humanities girl (which had already significantly challenged any religious beliefs I had). I considered myself “no good” at “that sort” of science and reading the physical sciences was/is hard work. It’s not written in an approachable to outsiders sort of way. So I think I started this journey with reopening my bio-psych text books and really thinking about what was going on with biology, cognition, memory and personality. But I also pushed on to physics, quantum physics, evolutionary science and more biology. I continue to read and challenge myself to connect with science in a meaningful way. Science didn’t turn me into an atheist, but it certainly better supported my questioning and leanings.
So then what happened?
Well, I quite simply gave up on a spiritual quest, and concentrated on a far more compelling quest for knowledge and figuring out how things work. I am far more interested in social justice, understanding this world, and building a better world – than I am in any religious or spiritual quest. This was not sad, not at all. This was a relief. A HUGE relief. My energy and time were freed up.
For awhile, after I gave up on religion, I used to say I was a spiritual, not religious person. I am over that now too. I don’t consider myself particularly spiritual, if spiritual means to believe in things unseen, unverifiable, or connected to any supreme or divine being or ‘energy’. I’m ever more insistent about reality and evidence, ever quicker to resist anything that organizes on the basis of belief or faith or anything that deflects what is. I have great reverence and wonderment for the beautiful, complex world we live in, for all the people and creature who live and for the life that is mine and that’s enough. Really.
I am not ashamed of any of my journey, regardless of where it has taken me. I find it interesting how many people don’t want to admit to their search for belief and meaning, or how involved and emmm … unconventional that search may have been. I am also bemused by people’s need to fit us into one part of our search or journey, and call us hypocrites, or heathens (grin) and never let us get past where we have once been. Hey baby, I’m a work in progress, and proud of it!
And so here I am. Feminist. Atheist. Godless Heathen (my favourite).
It’s been an interesting journey. These days I am interested in atheist activism, I am interested in the intersections between atheism/feminism/social justice. I’m still reading. I’m still questioning. I’m still thinking. I’m just not thinking about finding or practising religion, or spirituality any more and you know what? It’s a good thing.
People sometimes ask me how I keep going with nothing to believe in. I don’t find it difficult. People ask me if I am less happy. No, I am far happier and more peaceful. I don’t feel a sense of urgency to figure anything out or to find anything or anyone. I’m pretty peaceful with myself and with stuff.
And so it goes.
Even back in Canada – where I was born and raised, I had people comment about my passion. I perceived passion to be a ‘good thing’, connected to my intense interest in most things I thought worth any attention at all. If I undertook it, I was very probably passionate about it. No passion, no interest. I also understood people who commented on my passion to be approving and supportive of it. Passion was good.
Without having looked up the exact dictionary definition of passion – I would have said passion had something to do with a keen, strong interest in something. Passion assumed a degree of interest that perhaps developed across time, experience or study of a thing.
Well weird thing. Since living in Australia I have continued to have my passion remarked upon. However, with a bit of a twist.
Now I am told, “you’re awfully …. passionate, aren’t you?” usually said with a rather disapproving tone.
At first I thought I must be mistaken … after all, how can anyone disapprove of passion?
So I’ve been looking around at definitions and images related to passion. Suffice it to say … having now looked at the definitions, passion is far more encompassing that I thought. It’s quite interesting how passion is related to desire – sexual , but also spiritual or theological (think, The Passion of Christ).
We can find articles or how-to videos, that that teach us, for instance, to ‘kiss with passion, because of course, no one wants a … wet fish, passionless kiss. Passion is entwined with relationships – where we both want and reject passion. The right amount of passion, fantastic, the wrong amount? Well, we call that obsessive, compulsive -stalker-type love. Too little passion hurts relationships, too much passion destroys them as well. Have a look at Pete Pedalla’s article, Negative Passion.
We’re told passion is positive – think self development gurus who exhort us to “live with passion” and to “follow our passion” . [this was my sort of understanding of passion] We are told if our lives are feeling lackluster it’s because we just haven’t discovered our passion – but there’s a lot of people out there these days (life coaches, counselors and therapists) who, we are assured (for a minimal cost), can guide us to the discovery of our passion, which once identified, will move us closer to happiness and life satisfaction.
We’re also told passion is a problem. Control your passion. When passion is used in this context, it really means control any and every strong emotion; anger, jealousy, lust etc. There has been some acknowledgment in psychological literature that passion is indeed polarized. Take for instance, Psychology professor and researcher, Dr. Robert Vallerand, Ph.D, who identifies harmonious (positive) passion when the person controls the passion and obsessive (negative) passion when the passion controls the person. [If you'd like to find out where along the continuum you are with your passions of choice, check out Dr Vallerand's website for the measures he has developed.]
What does any of this have to do with my passions?
Well, I’m not too sure. I tend to be passionate about ideals; social justice, fairness, equity, human rights, freedom. These are the cornerstones of not only my work, but also my personal values and they are informed by my education, life experiences and professional work. I cannot fail to be passionate about issues which profoundly impact my world. I also cannot help but wonder how a passion for social justice, for fairness, or for human rights can be dismissed as a matter of my personal passion, especially by other people who do the same work, within the same framework of ideals. I will go to the mattresses for such ideals and I will invariably be confused and even a little repulsed by people who do not share these ideals, or at least have well defined, passionate ideals of their own.
I very, very much like and respect passionate people.
Recently, having gone through all sorts of nonsense, I have come to realize that some people equate, associate and confuse passion for anger. These people seem to think anything indicative of passion – an excited tone, an animated discussion, an informed opinion and willingness to stick to it … as a scary and personally or even professionally, threatening thing. I have also not untangled any cultural implications. Do Australians feel particularly suspicious of passion – or did I just not run into any memorable passion smashers in the other countries I have lived in?
Maybe at the end of it, the issue is not my passion, but rather other people’s lack of passion. Perhaps it is the people most deficit of passion, who have the greatest difficulty managing other people’s passions. Or perhaps passion is like so many things …. infinitely appealing from a distance, when it has no direct impact on someone else’s values or beliefs, but terribly confronting and challenging when passions collide, or even worse, are lost in a passionless void. Passion for me is not the issue. I sit very comfortably with other people’s passions. My fear is that I will be conditioned out of my own passion; have it diluted, watered down or transmuted to something more palatable, like… compliance.
Don’t worry. I won’t be giving up my passion any time soon nor tiptoeing around people of fragile sensibilities. See you on the mattresses
I am writing this post today because I find myself bombarded with US (and other) media about the recent health care reform in America. I must begin this by saying, I am a Canadian chick, who is living in Australia. I am not American. American politics are not mine and I will not be impacted in the same way the American people will be, by the US health reform. However, it is unquestionable that US politics have a ‘dribble’ effect on the rest of the world, and very often, other countries, (Canada, and Australia, the two that are near and dear to me) are impacted in a sort of precedence setting way.
I belong to a number of social work groups (I am a social worker and clinical therapist by profession) as well as a number of women’s groups (I am a woman) and in each of these groups I am being asked to ponder and comment on the health care reform and whether or not I think it serves the interests of social justice and women.
I don’t feel able to truly debate American political initiatives. I am not American. Nor do I have the power of voice or vote, so my views have little direct relevance. I do have some brief thoughts however, that I will share. Any health care reform which provides health care as a basic human right to all people, would get my vote. The right to quality healthcare should be universal in my opinion, rich people are not more worthy of health and no one should ever die for lack of money.
Perhaps the US health reform has taken some positive steps in this direction, and if so, I look forward to seeing how that works for the American public.
Where the health reform is woefully falling, in my non-American, female, opinion, is with the Stupak Amendment. I think people need to really investigate the implications this amendment will have for women, children, families. I think we need to carefully consider how any loss of reproductive choice and freedom is a terrifying leap backwards, not just for women, but for all people.
As found in Wikipedia:
Control over reproduction is a basic need and a basic right for all women. Linked as it is to women’s health and social status, as well as the powerful social structures of religion, state control and administrative inertia, and private profit, it is from the perspective of poor women that this right can best be understood and affirmed. Women know that childbearing is a social, not a purely personal, phenomenon; nor do we deny that world population trends are likely to exert considerable pressure on resources and institutions by the end of this century. But our bodies have become a pawn in the struggles among states, religions, male heads of households, and private corporations. Programs that do not take the interests of women into account are unlikely to succeed...
I believe we must consider the Stupak Amendment from a reproductive justice position, marrying women’s reproductive rights and freedoms with social justice. As a social worker, advocate and woman, I heartily support the following statement, also found in Wikipedia under Reproductive Justice:
For reproductive justice activists, the primary difference between the reproductive rights and health frameworks and the reproductive justice framework is that the rights and health frameworks focus on protecting individual rights and choices, while the reproductive justice framework focuses on broader socioeconomic conditions and bringing about structural change.
From this position, I will and do concern myself with the American Health Reform and will speak to the Stupak Amendment. What is at stake here are not only the individual reproductive rights and freedoms of American women, but also the broader implications it may have on health care, reproductive rights and freedoms, and indeed, social justice – across the world. It is from this place I believe people, women in particular, need to wake up, stand up and get active. It’s not okay to say, ‘oh well, at least we got some health care reform‘. Its not ok to say, ‘oh well, we lost reproductive rights and freedoms, we’ll just work to get them back’. Women worked their collective asses off to buy us those rights and freedoms. It didn’t take them a few decades to get it together – it took CENTURIES. Fighting to prevent the loss of those rights and freedoms, is far more sensible (and timely) than is fighting to have them restored after the fact.
So what’s the Stupak Amendment got to do with me?
My fear is the reverberations from Stupak, will rock my world, all the way over here in Australia.
I wait with fingers crossed and bated breath that America will not allow the essential human rights of women to fall. Because if they can fail in America – they can fail anywhere.
Please Stupak, don’t rock my world.