Aging Superheroes

 My mom and partner playing cards. 

My mom and partner playing cards. 

I loved Logan, the Xmen film that came out in March 2017. It had an indie movie feel to it, despite being a big budget action film. And, poignantly for me, one of the main characters, Professor X, was afflicted with dementia. Watching a movie with Wolverine, a crusty, action guy with anger issues, navigate the responsibilities resulting from loving people was surreal. It was also beautiful. In the midst of high speed car chases and impossible stunts resulting in gory violence, Wolverine deals with the realities of caring for someone with a disability. He pushes the wheelchair to the car; unloads Professor X; and then folds the wheelchair up and puts it in the trunk. And THEN gets into the driver's seat and engages in speedy, highway shenanigans.  

Aging is inevitable. And, as my grandmother used to say, it beats the alternative. The humanity Logan brought to the experience of the effects of aging to a broader, action oriented audience is really beautiful to me. I hope more mainstream media starts broadening the content of their stories in this way. 

Others Must Also

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It is not enough that I succeed, others must also succeed.
It is not enough that I have peace, others must also have peace.
It is not enough that I have abundance, others must also have abundance. 

Competition can create the inspiration to push ourselves harder and farther. And the need to win, to be on top, can become a lens limiting our view of others as only obstacles to overcome. Recently some things have occurred in my social circles to remind me of the dangers of trying to be right or righteous. I have been reminded of the ways in which misery loves company.

I am grateful to know and love people who want to live differently. Who seek to embrace a doctrine of support and seek to life one another up. Thank you. May we spread our view to a larger circle and see an increase in compassion and curiosity.  

 

International Women's Day

Cultural misogyny is so often heard as "men treat women badly". As if only men can be misogynistic. As if misogyny always looks like being treated badly. Misogyny is a dangerous word. It's a misunderstood word. People tune out and turn off when they hear it. It has been overused. So, in some ways, misogyny is a useless word. 

So, what is misogyny? I can look up a definition and copy it here. I tend to love Merriam-Webster as my generic answer to life's questions. Instead, I thought about what it looks like in my world and the world around me.

Misogyny is when I am treated better and differently when I have long hair. And when my male friends are treated worse and differently when they have long hair. Misogyny is the way women distrust beautiful women. Misogyny is the way strong women feel the need to apologize for their strength. Misogyny is my mother telling me not to work out and get too muscled or I would be unattractive. Misogyny is my neighbor telling me she didn't understand why I was a lesbian since I was "pretty enough to get a guy". Misogyny is knowing my hair is only attractive on my head. Misogyny is I apologize when someone bumps into me. Misogyny is men being afraid to wear skirts or share their emotions with other men. Misogyny is women denying their sexual desires. Misogyny is effortless perfection. Misogyny is Prince Charming. 

Misogyny hurts us all in different ways. 

 

Strong Enough to Be Gentle

 The first time I ever shot a gun.    

The first time I ever shot a gun. 

 

My ex mother in law used to say this. As I experience the America of mass shootings, I am reminded of her wisdom. It takes strength to be gentle. Or as Utah Phillips sang, force is the weapon of the weak. It feels powerful to yell or punch or dominate. We have all had those moments of feeling ourselves fill with rage that feels like power and acts like fear.

The current national conversation around gun violence focuses on more gun control and blames the mentally ill. This ignores the numerous gun control laws in place that are neither funded nor enforced. And we ignore the most glaring and obvious traits of the shooters. They are men, white men often. Obviously they are mentally ill, as they shot lots of people. Women are 40% more likely to experience some form of mental illness than men. However, out of the 134 mass shootings experienced in American since 1966, 131 were men. Being male is a much higher indicator of potential gun violence than being mentally ill.  

Why do American men feel the need to shoot school children and movie goers and gay dancers? When #metoo got legs in the fall, a friend of mine posted on his Facebook wall, what is good about being a man? I was startled and ashamed to realize I couldn't think of anything. I could think of things like "men have privileges in our society", things I didn't feel really spoke to what is good about being a man. Somehow in our efforts to identify and embrace female leadership, we have created a void for men.

With all the best intentions, we have left our men behind. And the most sensitive, most lost, are using the tools they have to tell us. Rage, violence and lust are the emotions we affirm for boys. So they express those emotions in ever increasing extremes. Traditional masculinity is either viewed as suspicious or bad, and literally fought against ideologically. And we haven't replaced it with a new way to be. Sites like the Good Man Project  do a good job addressing some of these challenges. Our national culture is lacking in leadership and examples of how to be a man in today's society.

#metoo and mass shootings have a common thread in my view. A thread that underscores what we are doing isn't working. The men in our communities feel repressed and isolated. They have unclear directives about how to be as people. They have uncertain acceptance of themselves as men. And as long as that is true, no one can be strong enough to be gentle.