Civil war isn’t coming

November 5, 2016

Cracked posted an article about the “coming” civil war:  http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2403-6-reasons-why-new-civil-war-possible-terrifying.html

#6. The Beginning Looks A Lot Like Where We Are Right Now

#5. The Violence Could Start With Farms Choking The Cities

#4. The Revolution Will Plagiarize ISIS’s Tactics

#3. There Will Be Hundreds of Sides

#2. Decades of Military Spending Will Bite Us In The Ass

#1. The Internet Will Make It Even Bloodier

All good points, and yet completely missing the point staring us all in the face:  how many of the pictures show women?  How many of our public terror incidents have involved women?  Clearly, this is an issue specifically affecting men and masculinity.  It’s not the only cause, but it’s definitely a bottleneck.

We are talking male-pattern violence, a product of patriarchy and masculinity.  Men are not inherently loose cannon hyper-violent control freaks.  I can’t take much more of this ignoring the obvious.  We need to get to cut to the main points, and one of them is masculinity and patriarchy.  Another huge one is control. If we crack down on institutions and norms that control others’ thoughts and behavior, much of this goes away.  Because it levels the playing field:  without the power dynamic of control, you have to engage and negotiate on equal footing.  That requires social skills.  And if you use controlling physical violence, manipulation, coercion, etc instead, and get punished, then it’s a form of meta control that forces you to adopt pro-social behavior, like emotional maturity and self-care practices.

This is eerily reminescent of how we ignore domestic and sexual violence as early-warning signs of more public acts of terror to come.  The public terrorists (whether independent or state-sanctioned paramilitary) commonly draw from a pool of people who terrorize others in their private lives. (http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/07/mass-killers-terrorism-domestic-violence.html; http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/16/world/americas/control-and-fear-what-mass-killings-and-domestic-violence-have-in-common.html)

Men shoot people.  Men plant bombs.  Men make public terror threats.  Men kick the shit out of people.  Men exert control.  Men rape. 99.9% of these things occur because men do them, most of the time.  Sometimes women do them (and often because they “toughen up” and start “acting like men”).

I don’t blame men.  I blame the system of behavioral control and masculine identity into which men are indoctrinated.  Men are even more often the victims of non-sexualized forms of male-pattern violence than women.  And we need to start engaging with the boys and men in our lives to change this.  Stop holding signs and shouting at random strangers.  Start having difficult conversations with the people you already know.

Because you know perpetrators of controlling violence.  And you also know victims and survivors.  You.  All of you.  All of us.  No one here does not know a survivor of male pattern violence.  I guarantee it.

I walked passed a church parking lot yesterday and was surprised to see several armored vehicles and few dozen cops (no women) prepping assault gear for something.  No “training exercise” signs, no lights.  Just quiet prep work.  A few of the guys looked downright blissful.  How you can get to the state of bliss prepping for murder is beyond me.  Except for the “Salem Police” labels I could not tell them apart from our imperial military forces.

When we bring masculinity in the discussion, we end up modifying the discussion:  the civil war isn’t possible.  It isn’t coming.  It’s already  here.  It’s unfolding right now.  In our midst.  At the most intimate of levels.

Packs of militarized, heavily-armed men roaming our cities (cops and gangs) and countrysides (militias and military) is only the most recent outgrowth, the cherry on top of the patriarchal sundae, peppered with little sprinkles of public bombings and shootings.  Whether we can stop or even reverse it depends on our ability to confront painful, difficult and terrifying truths about the most intimate aspects of our lives and relationships.

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An intimate elbow brush with epidemic pathology

June 18, 2015

Wednesday night.  We planned to head over to the fairgrounds to pick some ripe bing cherries from volunteer trees.  We heard a man shouting outside.  I went out to get mail and investigate.  Middle-aged white dude cussing out two teenagers at the top of his lungs, and shouting at one to get in the truck.    Cussing and shouting escalated and continued.  I walked toward the truck.  He saw me, pulled back and into parkign lot across way and stopped for a minute.  Truck windows rolled up, still heard him shouting and cussing.  I started walking toward them again. Driving aggressively, he pulled out of parking lot and started heading south by my house again.  I shouted at him as he passed something like, “Please show show people more respect!” The best I could muster.

He slammed on breaks, squeaked tires at intersection.  Burned some serious rubber backing up to me.  I readied myself for confrontation and thought briefly about my safety, the safety of the woman and girl in the car with him. “Does he have a gun?”

What happened next sent surreal chills down my spine:  He immediately calmed down and rationally explained away his behavior to me, like someone flipped a switch on the back of his neck.  Then after telling me everything he thought i needed to know about the situation, he said, without a hint of irony, that it’s really “none of my business.”

“Yeah, well, when I hear you out in the street yelling at the top of your lungs and cussing at people you supposedly love from inside my house, you make it my business.”

He launched again into all the rationalizations. He “didn’t know where his daughter was,” and “was concerned for her safety” and “found her with a boy he’d never met.”  Ok, those sound like reasonable things to be upset about as a parent, and decent excuses for a man to exhibit angry, controlling behavior. Any port in a storm, and the long, slow burn of persistent patriarchy provides one hell of a 20,000 year old storm for us to weather.

“I’m allowed to get angry and fly off the handle.”

“And there’ll be consequences when you do that.  Is that really how you want to show your love?  Is that what you want the people around you to think love is?”

“You know what, fine.  Call the cops on me.  I don’t care.”

“I’m not concerned about you being angry.  I’m concerned about the reasons why.  I’m concerned that if you treat the people you say you love this way in pubilc, how do you behave in private?” (yes i know that many abusers present with perfect angelic behavior in public).

“Then call the cops on me,” he said again, and drove off.

Neighbors (one of whom is a mandatory reporter) heard him shouting, and came out to see the confrontation.  And, unknown to him, they fulfilled his request without ever hearing it.  “Yeah, that’s not love he was expressing,” they said, “when you can hear it pretty clearly from inside over an AC unit running on full blast.”  They called cops, who tracked him down (apparently lives on a street a few blocks south of me).  I have no idea what happened from there.

I went back inside and cried out my own anger and frustration and tried to calm my own fight or flight response. I wanted desparately to sleep that night. I hoped and begged my body, mind and spirit to cooperate.

And for some reason, I was reminded of my next door neighbor, who, shortly after I moved into my house several years ago, asked me to cut down “my” tree so he could get better television reception. A casual request for the destruction an entire biome — thousands of lives — for the sake of the quality of his chosen method of consumer entertainment…Do we need to talk through the insanely corrupt entitlement and value systems embodied in such requests?

I think of how I know it’s spring, not because plants leaf out again and flowers bloom, but because I pass rows of zombies mindlessly spraying poisons on land they believe they “own” in droning acts of biotic cleansing to purge the landscape of edible and medicinal plants they call “weeds” (again, without a hint of irony) as they scramble to maintain the stunted monocotic symbol of socioeconomic desperation they call “lawns.”

I think of the people who I see walk within feet of destroyers openly preying on the destroyed, only to ignore and pray it away like an errant thought.

I think of how 99% of the perpetrators of public violence seem to be men, and, how most of those men have reputations or history of giving (and sometimes receiving) abuse in their private life. I think of how often men stalk women and white people profile black people.

The term kyriarchy comes to mind. Civilization requires slavery of any and every kind. It requires domestic slavery and wage slavery and chattel slavery.

I, increasingly, see these diverse pathologies of civilization, the alienation, the abject psychopathy, narcissism, entitlement, chronic fear, as varied symptoms of the same underlying problem.  It’s not so far fetched. Consider, for instance, that three people can have celiac disease diagnostically manifesting with a non-overlapping display of a range of hundreds of various symptoms in each person.  They can eat similar diets and live simlar lives, even have similar genetics.  Yet, one will exhibit no clear or overt symptoms, or maybe occasional stiff joints and headaches.  One will exhibit primarily gastro-intestinal symptoms.  The other will feel primarily neurological symptoms of anxiety, depression and brain fog.  Some unlucky, extra-sensitive few may suffer through all these symptoms and more. The condition underneath remains the same: a destroyed gut interacting with a socially and physically and chemically toxic environment.

In the same way, civilization throws these pathologies at us like a game of whack-a-mole, and our symptoms vary massively.  In refusing to play that game, we call into question the foundations of our existence and our motivations in life.  It requires going deeper and looking, first and foremost, at our own pathologies and addictions to the processes and substances threatening to make zombies of us all, even as we continue our agonizing participation. Waking up is painful.  I meet few people who seem willing to give it up their slumber, who wish truly for the embodied spiritual ecstasy of liberation (I have caught only fleeting glimpses of it myself), who have no desire to bring any of the pathologies with them on they paths they walk with increasing mindfulness into a life worth living.  But we exist.  And we become more numerous and more bold, more desparate and courageous with each new day we learn to tell the difference between life and psychopathy.

The liberal cancer syllogism would have us believe that humans are destroying the planet:  humans are to the earth as cancer is to the body.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The earth will survive long after civilized humans demonstrate once and for all our final incapacity to participate in and support life and love.   The war against civilization is purely a war against the spiritual devastation of humanity.  We are no grand saviors of the planet, because cancer is to the body as civilization is to humanity.  In a few thousand years — a blink in the eye of human’s existence — it has infiltrated and spread to epidemic proportions, supplanting nearly everything we know about life, replacing experience and feeling with pale parodies meant to contain and divide and distract us and keep us mired in crisis.

Leaving civilization does not mean flipping a switch.  It does not mean moving out into the woods (or else we might just bring it with us like a smokestack of trouble strapped to our backs).  It means depopulating the planet of humans and technology.  Depopulation means fighting patriarchy and supporting the empowerment of women and queers and other minorities in society. It means purging ourselves — inside and out — of the opulent minority ruling class.  It means supporting biomass as it asserts and protects itself against the expansive technomassive onslaught.  It means, increasingly, ignoring and outright-defying the institutions and laws and corporate mandates of empire and colonizing states.   It means disrupting the imperial flow of resources and other IV drips that slow civilization’s demise nad prolong its destructiveness.  It means purging the earth of the giant factories that dredge and scrape and squeeze and siphon the life from the land. It means prioritizing things like food, family, love, clean water and breathable air above money and social prestige.

It means an absolute refusal to martyr ourselves on the altar of pathology.  It means eating nourishing rather than poisonous foods, whatever that means for each person.  It means refusing to set our lives aside to come save civilization when it whimpers and calls out to us like a hurt child, and then spits in our face and stabs us in the stomach as we stoop in compassion to help.

It means any of these things, and all these things, and more.  For how pervasive civilization has become inside and outside of us, it remains extremely fragile to disruption.  When only a few dare to shed their internalized colonization, first and foremost, it will create an economic, physical disruption of oppression that civilization will fail to contain and suppress.  The only question in my mind is how bad we zombies will allow things to get before we wake up and fight for our right to live and die.

And I think about the purslane and wild lettuce and pineapple weed and sow thistle growing up through cracks in the middle of the intersection, how they resist and persist, day after day, year after year…the two-plus ton crush of metal beasts. The desertifying bake of the blacktop and urban heat islands…to create more life, more biomass, to displace, if only for a few months (or longer, barring civil intervention) the technomass that overruns and consumes and replaces earth’s life support systems as the immediate foundation of human existence.

The next day, we picked a half gallon of low-hanging bing cherries from feral trees. I thanked the trees, knowing that the timing isn’t always this perfect, and apologized for the small amount of damage I did. I wondered how long these trees will survive the endless hunger for energy when the urban fossil subsidies stop.


070710 tunnel vision

May 9, 2015

070710

we all play our parts in the game
bent hardened links in the chain
some of us ride neutral class
sipping suicide on the train
in comfort finding others to blame
some of us are hog-tied up
to struggle on our backs, we lay
in desperate wait like deer
spread across the tracks
for the light drawing near

inside our oil dark tunnel vision
steam-powered industrial precision
destructive engines of creation
burned so many times before,
now numb to that once-familiar sensation
drowned sorrow in the alcohols of negation,
so much pain
real men withdraw in isolation

individualist collective
begs salvation
severed tissue connective
antisocial way to cope,
no empathy here, slippery slope
we hide our fear, hidden
turning hostile toward
the faintest spark of hope

once pure, now corrupt we are
the end of the line,
the bridge is gone
and we’re all out of luck
how many have you seen self-destruct?
these words are my last spasm and
this voice is my last breath
because it only matters
how old we are
when we stand
the same distance from death


101212 our debts

October 17, 2014

101212

our bodies, our lives
your eyes, your lies

our desperation, our pain
your money, your gain

our privacy, our danger
your privilege, your stranger

our risk, your pleasure
our performance, you measure

your satisfaction. our action
no more, because you don’t own us.

but you do owe us.
we are coming to settle the score.

we are coming to collect our debts.
tell your family you love them,
say goodbye, and confess.

breathe a sigh of relief, release
your soul in God’s hands, soon
for your sake, we hope you believe
there is nothing here on Earth left for you.


Violence Against Women: A Man’s Issue

September 12, 2014

Yes, violence against women is a man’s issue.  It’s not only a man’s issue (obviously, violence against women affects women and children and non-human animals and, and), but it gets tiring to read all the defensive responses when someone points out that it is also a man’s issue.  This should be non-controversial. Given that

  1. societal and intimiate partner and sexual violence/abuse comes mostly from men
  2. men are most likely to be victimized by other men
  3. women who abuse tend to be taking on masculine gender roles

this is definitely a problem of masculinity that men need to address.  Since gender roles co-exist, this is a problem of patriarchy, namely, the rigid, unrealistic (for most people) gender roles patriarchy imposes on us all.  men need to participate in that conversation about ending patriarchy and replacing it with something more anarchistic — that is, lacking a rigid hierarchy, that is, allowing people to negotiate their gender roles on (inter)personal levels without culturally imposing a bunch of crappy baggage on us all.

In this way, feminism means liberation…for us all!   The only people I hear complaining about feminism are those (usually men) who seem to fear “losing control” over women, and who often seem to view women as inherently narcissistic or sociopathic (and use that as a justification for their behavior).

Ironically, these dudes are also victims of patriarchy, as well, whether its the social shame/victim blaming of being a male victim of sexual/domestic violence or child abuse (though it is high for everyone), not living up to unrealistic expectations of “what it means to be a man,” (which leads to other men/women policing their behavior, shame and overcompensation), developing unhealthy and counterproductive views of women, having to navigate the minefield of homophobia, or any number of other issues.  Feminism brings these issues up, like a societal-scale counselor, or a messenger.   Each time we raise the issue, some men try to shoot the messenger rather than address the actual issue.  Can you imagine how different the US would be today if people decided to shoot Paul Revere rather than heed his warning?  ha!

Women have been asking for men to participate in these conversations for decades.  Each year, more and more men listen to that call, and more and more men express the courage to step up and participate, for a number of reasons:  for their own sake (because they are sick of patriarchy), for the sake of their loved ones, for the sake of their relationships, and for the sake of the social fabric of our society (a fabric that domestic and sexual violence and its patriarchal underpinnings rips to shreds), and others.

James Brown’s wonderful speech is an example of that trend toward liberation.  Let’s keep on it!


violence against women is not the problem

November 2, 2010

As a bit of a preface, I am writing this as an activist working to end men’s violence against women. So this essay is largely a self-critical analysis of how I situate myself amongst the strategic landscape of the movement for gender justice.

Abuse, as Dr. Evan Stark argues in his book Coercive Control, is fundamentally a crime against liberty. Physical violence is, at most, merely instrumental to the purpose of subjugating women. Physical violence has been a powerful force in keeping women down, but is by no means the only (or even most) effective tactic available to agents of patriarchy (of any gender ;). Since feminists have successfully unearthed Read the rest of this entry »


Open Letter of Resignation

September 21, 2009

PLEASE NOTE:  Many readers have stumbled across this post while searching for example letters of resignation.  I am not suggesting the below resignation as a template or model if you are considering resigning from your workplace for similar issues.  Please be aware that there are repercussions for resigning publicly, and for calling people on their crap if they have more institutional power than you do.  One of the ways you can protect yourself from retaliation is to give your boss a letter of resignation that does not implicate or accuse them or wrong-doing.  Unlike the below.

Below is the letter of resignation I just sent.  I was doing anti-violence work under an executive director who has her entire staff terrified and purges the organization of all employees who show anything other than submissive assent to her.  Why does she bully her employees?  According to some recent peer-reviewed research in social psychology, it’s because she feels both incompetent AND empowered.  Scary combination, and completely unacceptable and inappropriate anywhere — let alone within the context of anti-violence and social justice work!

UPDATE (9/21):  The SATF Executive Director’s response is included, below.

UPDATE (9/24):  Another follow up from the Executive Director, which includes a message that Eva Kutas, Board President, sent to the SATF staff (but not the listservs).

UPDATE (10/7):  A follow up that came through RAINN, entitled “Just What Are We Afraid Of?”

September 21, 2009

To Whom It May Concern,

It is with a heavy heart that I hereby submit my resignation as Prevention Specialist of the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force. Read the rest of this entry »