I just watched a couple hours of men’s rights activist Karen Straughan on YouTube, and was often encouraged by her intellectual approach to appreciating what men have done to protect and provide for our world for millennia. In the end, however, I was left disturbed and dismayed. The heat around feminism is a lot hotter and the fight much uglier than I realized, with people flinging mud and hand grenades at each other. While Straughan presented a variety of important and reasonable points, she also littered her talk with a generous helping of emotional appeals, strategic omissions of reality, and other propagandistic methods of delivery. It seems like no one can stay on the intellectual level for long in this conversation.
Straughan’s presentation reminded me of Rachel Maddow, whose views I tend to agree with, but whom I can’t watch because of her condescending attitude. To her credit, Straughan was far less sensational than Maddow, but still unable to keep a lid on the sarcasm, mockery and other emotionality that has no legitimate place in an intellectual arena. I call logical fallacy, and I find it disheartening.
Hopeless, really. Growing up in a household where emotional grenades and gender bashing (on both sides) was the norm left me with an aversion to emotional argumentation. I’m hoping my blog can be a place that’s free of this kind of reactivity, but I’m thinking that this topic may be too fraught with anger on all sides.
Plus, the topic itself creates unnecessary tension between me and my partner, and I don’t think it’s worth that. Before Brad, I was mostly oblivious to the depth and breadth of this cultural conversation. I was just surviving a household where traditional gender roles were believed to be God-ordained, and in my particular family, that belief was enforced with violence, overt and covert. I just wanted the fighting to stop, and I wanted to get out of there and live my own life. I didn’t want to be dependent on a man because I saw how unfortunate that deal was for my mom.
I decided that my survival was my own responsibility, no one else’s, so I pursued an education that would afford me a paycheck that would allow me to take care of myself. I was also compelled to offer something meaningful to the world, something that came from resources I had within. So I became a teacher, then a psychotherapist. I love my work, and my clients make real and lasting progress when they take ownership of their healing journey. I don’t care if the person sitting across from me is male or female. Solidity is sexless, and my job is to help each person I see become increasingly solid in who they are as a human being.
Now that I know Brad, who is deeply invested in this feminism vs. men’s rights debate due to his own experiences in his previous long-term relationships, I have learned more than I want to know, I think. I’m not sure I want to carry this torch. I have other torches to carry, torches that my life experience has made me more passionate about.
Besides, I miss my innocence, my uninformedness about feminism and men’s rights, which is probably just another way of saying ignorance is bliss. I’m sure that seems to some like sticking my head in the sand, but from my perspective, it’s just not my fight to fight. It’s been difficult enough trying to fight the demons of my own past, trying to reconcile the injustices of my upbringing. Carrying those old wounds around with me eventually became too cumbersome, and I realized they were only stealing from my present and my future. Continuing to cry oppression and victimization after one has escaped the battlefield and healed from the wounds inflicted there only allows perpetrators to continue to win, long after the blood has dried on the battlefield.
So rather than allowing the harmful people of my past to keep stealing from me, I had to stop seeking justice some someone else as a proxy for those who’d done me wrong, and let it all go.
Plus, I just want to enjoy my present life with my awesome boyfriend, without tension sparked by unresolved wounds from past relationships. Letting go is just a more certain route to freedom than clinging to justice sometimes.