Friday, December 27, 2013

A sad, sad thing

The most difficult promises to keep are the ones we make to ourselves.

Think about it:
The promises we make to ourselves seem deceptively easy to keep; yet these are the ones we break over and over without batting an eyelid. It's easy to break a promise to yourself, seeing that you hold all the aces. Only you have the power to do and undo. Being lord and master, all you need do is change your mind and adjust your goals. Only you have the power to validate or declare non and void.  Remember the Invictus: I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.

Breaking a promise to yourself is easy:
You just alter your perspective, slide down the ladder a bit, ease up on self-discipline, sell out on your personal integrity, let yourself down one more time. All you need do is wrap yourself warmly in the familiar cocoon of self deception. Big deal.

In truth, the inability to keep a promise to oneself is really about these 2 things:

1. Cowardice 2. Lack of sufficient self-love.

In reality these are actually 2 sides of the same coin.
Because if you really, truly, fiercely love you and hold yourself in the highest esteem, this Greatest-Love-Of-All is sufficient to make you muster all the discipline and courage you need to alter the status quo and challenge your cowardice.
This Greatest-Love-Of-All is what is missing when you end up not getting that divorce, not getting that degree, not stopping smoking, not loosing all that weight, not pursuing that dream, not making that life-changing decision.

The sad thing is that everytime, every single time you break your own promises to yourself, you lower your standards. You loose a bit of your personal integrity, you let yourself down a little, you give up on yourself.
Every single time you break a promise to yourself, you’re telling yourself: You’re not worth shit.

And in a world filled with people who hurt one another everyday in every possible way, hurting your self like this is a sad, sad thing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Rapist Is No Animal

Truth be told, I am profoundly sick and tired of people referring to rapists as animals or monsters; because quite frankly, they are not.

Rapists are not animals.

Animals as a rule, never rape. In the animal world, the male only mounts the female if she is in heat and receptive towards his advances. In the animal world the male courts the female. He woos her, dons his brightest colors, sings his best song and performs the most amazing feats  to attract her attention and win her confidence.

In the animal world the male is prepared to- and fights other males for the female he wants. He gives the fight his very best, will do what it takes to have her, and sometimes die trying.

In the animal world it is always the female who decides when, where and with whom she copulates. The male does not feel insulted when she leaves him to carry on with her life. He does not attempt to diminish her in anyway; whether she mates with him or not.

Animals as a rule, never rape.

The homo sapiens on the contrary, are quite the opposite. Come to think of it, there is nothing even remotely animal-like about rape.

It is only in the human world, the advanced, civilized world of the “thinking man”, that rape and all sexual-related abuse exist. It is only in a world of rapists that a living, breathing species would sexually violate it’s own kind. In the animal world, male desire is about ensuring progeny. There is nothing sadistic or political in his intentions. It is not the desire of the male animal to hurt, maim, violate or kill the female by means of forced intercourse. It is not his intention to use her like a toilet and discard her battered body like common refuse. It is not the desire of male animals to seek sexual entertainment from- or attempt intercourse with a young or immature member of its own species.

 It is all too easy for the human psyche to create an instinctive distance between oneself and abominable acts that are too horrendous to fathom. Hence, we differentiate. We create a WE and a THEM. The rapist is stripped of his human status and is no longer part of WE. We then proceed to establish our elevated status of correctness while reinforcing the wrongness and inferiority of the rapist. This is why we demonize the rapist, calling him an Animal or a Monster. Understandably, this is society's way of denouncing atrocities and sympathizing with victims. Sadly enough it is also society's way of sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the problem.

The painful truth is that the rapist is a part of us. The rapist is one of us. He is our beloved brother, father, or son; a part of someone’s family. The rapist is you and I. The rapist belongs to us.

The fact alone that humanity, regardless of race, nationality or social circumstances continues to produce copious quantities of men who sexually violate others, indicates that we all, directly or otherwise are a part of an malfunct system. This makes us - the denouncers of rape also responsible for the problem of rape. Since it is the men who do the violating (with exceptions here and there) the responsibility falls more on their shoulders than on that of women. No one likes to discover that one is a part of a problem. It is by far much easier to elevate oneself, to smugly fold our hands on our laps and demonize and denounce, tut- tutting from our high horse and actually not doing jack shit.

The first step towards solving any problem is owning it.

The magnitude of any illness in humanity’s core is commensurate with the appropriate care and responsibility to which we direct to that aspect of humanity itself.  Women, being on the receiving end of the stick have known this for ages and many have been struggling to change the abuse status quo. Unfortunately tipping point has not- and cannot be achieved as long as the protagonists- the men, remain absent from the table.

Punishing or eliminating the rapist doesn’t end rape: more will rise in his place. What will help is addressing that glitch in the human male’s psyche that makes rapists of otherwise ordinary men. A feat that requires commitment from all men.

No man is born a rapist.

Healing the rapist, is a complicated, perhaps impossible venture; but it starts by bringing him out of the evil forest, back into the society. By continuously engaging the hidden Divine in him which all humans possess; coaxing it out of its hiding place, nudging it carefully to life and giving it room to flourish. To heal the rapist we must start by telling him this: ”for better or worse, you are one of us. Whether you agree or not, you are human”. To heal the rapist we must never let him conveniently degenerate into the sub-human or forget that he is a human being no matter what.


On that day when all men will awaken to the fact that all acts of violation directed towards the female or the young, are a threat to life and per definition their own existence; the day that non-rapist men finally choose to step away from the sidelines and get involved in order to own and prioritize these issues, that day is the beginning of the eradication of rape.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Letter To The Decent Guy

Dear Mr Decent Normal Guy,

For a long time, I’ve been longing to have this talk with you, but was at a loss for the right words. I wanted to ask you stuff in a respectful and cordial manner, a manner that encourages dialogue and open answers. I wanted to be able to trust in the safety of your goodness, to bare my soul and be vulnerable with you without my twitter account being hacked or overwhelmed with cyber aggression. The last thing I want is to attack you, for I need your strength and solidarity more than ever.

Let’s talk about the issue of violence and abuse towards women. I need to ask you certain questions, I need to know where you stand on this.

You are the good husbands, sons and fathers. The men we love, who make us proud. The men we dream of marrying, the heroes we hope our sons will become. You are the breadwinner and the job holder; the decent guy who supports, respects and honors women. The man who pulls his weight at home.

Still my question is about a problem that also concerns you. It concerns the plethoric display of violence, abuse and undiluted misogyny which the “bad guy”,  your fellow specimen of the male species, (let’s call him) your evil twin, has been dishing out to women worldwide.

You know, for a long time, I was convinced that you and your brother are not identical at all. It seemed easy enough to tell you both apart. You were as different as night and day.

But today I am not so sure I know who you are. I can no longer blindly vouch for the honor of your convictions. Today, in this age of internet anonymity, the situation has changed. Thanks to the wonders of internet your brother and you now deploy the same avatar. One can no longer tell you apart.

It is hard to say where one brother ends and the other begins. I thought I knew you so well; that I would always recognize you inspite of any given circumstances.

 Today I have come to realize that I don’t know you at all. I can’t in all certainty identify what you stand for, it seems you and your brother have morphed into a bizarre siamese entity.

Recently, I saw the Tedxwomen video of Anita Sarkeesian. It was about cyber harassment and misogynism. The magnitude of rape threats, murder threats and other acts of cyber aggression channelled to this woman was staggering. The lengths to which hundreds of men went, to try to make her life hell makes one speechless.

I wonder at the identity of the guys who did this.  Are they the same guys as the rapists in the Congo, South Africa and Srebrenica? Of course not. Those are the “bad” guys. Those are the savages. The monstrous, kingless, uninitiated creatures who have never learned that the quality of a true warrior lies in the fact that he is a protector of boundaries and is in service to a purpose greater than himself. These gruesome and pathetic manimals, these wretched creatures enslaved by testosterone and madness. These underachievers, losers who evolution left behind. Surely, these blights on humanity can’t be “our” men, right?

Uhm.... wrong.

I wish the answer was all that easy and concise.

You, the normal men, are the guys who did all that stuff to Ms.Sarkeesian. You, the very same decent guys we are married to, the same guys who call us mom and grandma, the very ones who work in offices beside us and raise our kids together with us. You, the guys we make love to at night, the guys who take out the trash in the morning. You, the normal, decent, savage, good, bad guy. Of course there is no evil twin. You are all of it; he’s all contained in You.

For as far back as history goes, women have been struggling with issues of gender equality. We have fought to obtain every right, every privilege, every square inch of equality that we possess today. It was never handed over freely, it has been an eternal struggle with you.

Granted, you have supported us along the way and without you, the struggle would have been futile. It was you, the decent man, who convinced the other men to open their eyes, to expand their intellect, to hasten their evolution so as to comprehend the urgency of our plight.

Today females all over the world are still victims of grand scale violence and abuse. Today women all over the world are regrouping and fighting back by educating themselves; by empowering one another and externalizing these issues. Women have made this problem a women's issue and men like you have supported us from the sidelines.

But you know what?

What I miss the most in this whole violence-from-men-against-women-issue; what profoundly breaks my heart, is the absence of the avalanche of outrage from normal men like you. How come this male perpetrated problem is perceived by all as a women's issue? Why aren’t men rising up in masses, hitting the streets and taking a stand against this horrific misrepresentation of their gender?

Why are decent normal men like you not publicly rising up in multitudes and redefining manhood and saying: “We don’t want to be associated with these monsters!” Why aren’t men teaching their sons, brothers and peers what real manhood is all about?

Why aren’t men volunteering their time en masse, in service to their communities to intensely re-educate and initiate boys into what real, hate-free manhood is all about? Why aren’t the decent men voluntarily spreading the gospel, going to- and speaking up in prisons, educational centers, sport clubs and offices?  Where are the male evangelists preaching love and respect of women to their fellow men?

Why do female crisis- and domestic violence centers exist worldwide and not one male-initiated prevention center? Why on earth is this male generated problem still a women’s problem?

We are your mothers and your sisters. Your daughters; for crying out loud! We are in this together, as your only partners on the planet. According to an ancient african proverb, “When the eyes weep, the nose cannot fail to join”. We need you as much as you need us. How can you claim to love us and yet stand at the sidelines, watching your brothers maim and destroy us? Don’t you care about us at all?

Aren’t we worth fighting for?

Until men make this a MALE problem, until you, the decent guy, stops being an accidental tourist, until you step out of the secondary supportive role, into the primary protagonists’ role; unless you take the full responsibility for this culture of violence towards women,  I am afraid that all the efforts we women have been making will never be more than that and misogynist inspired violence will never end.

It is alright to try to cure the "symptoms" of an illness: making women self aware and empowered: battered women's shelters and assertivity classes, pepper spray and self defence lessons; blah, blah, blah.  But the crux of the problem, the missing link in this issue sadly remains the absence of primary male involvement and the fact that enough men do not feel enough outrage, shame and compassion to own and prioritize this issue.

Yes I know that even women are violent too, that there are enough cases of women battering men. This too is very wrong. Nevertheless, compared to the magnitude of the atrocities that men have and are perpetrating, these cases are practically non-existent.

I believe that until men wake up with the burning conviction that these acts are an insult to manhood and everything humanity stands for; until most men evolve to a level of compassion where the wellbeing of humanity becomes priority number one; until the unlikely hero, the unobtrusive decent guy, steps into the gaping vacancy and assumes his cataclysmic role in the process, there will never be an end to rape and violence towards women.