The other day on Facebook, I wrote to someone that I was becoming more ‘militant.’
And I didn’t like that. At all.
Militant. The technical definition is ‘combative or aggressive in support of a political or social cause.’ The synonyms are ‘zealot,’ ‘extremist,’ and ‘radical.’
These aren’t necessarily words I associate with myself. And I didn’t really want to associate myself with them. They felt too pushy, aggressive (obvs), and hard. The word militant made me feel like I was suddenly wearing armor.
And even though I am fighting, I did not want to feel that I was hardened.
There is something about being armored or hardened that allows the feminine to shrink. The flowing, receptive, love- and creativity-centered feminine must be protected. And it is strong all on its own- the feminine does fight, and fiercely. But when ‘militant’ and ‘armored’ become my mask, the feminine within me recedes; I am fighting from a place that is not my true identity, which is the feminine.
As I began to play with the images and words associated with ‘militant’ I began to think of strength and power and how we grow those qualities within ourselves. And I began to think of swords being forged in the fire.
Sword makers put the original metal (which will be a blade) in the fire to warm it and make it maleable. Then they pull it from the fire to shape it and harden it. And they return it to the fire, repeating this process until the blade is finished.
The process of heating the metal, over and over, does something special to it: it hardens the ‘lattice’ of the metal and reduces any imperfections in the chemical structure. And as the shape and the edge and the clarity of the sword are forged, so is its strength and density.
It’s funny- when I was doing the work of letting go of the man I connected with during my Sex Surge, I forged myself each day. Stepping forward into my self, into self-love, and into what my soul knew was right every day. I failed sometimes, of course, but I always went back to that work- getting in the fire of my feelings, being shaped by what my soul knew was true, and pulling myself towards disconnection. I did not know how valuable that forging process would be to me now.
In my political work last week, I forged myself again. I knew, over and over, what I was fighting for. What I would work + plan + call + email + love + shout + pay + pray + live for. And each time I read something awful or read something positive or cried or got impatient, I knew I was in the fire- becoming stronger and clearer and ready to fight in my own way.
What is it that I fight for? The same old things: love, health, truth.
But now, with more strength and clarity than I have ever had before.
I am not militant out of hatred or fear, I am forged from returning, over and over again, to what I love most. Forged to fight.
One of the other words that came to mind as I mulled about ‘militant’ was ‘punk.’ Those wonderful singers and artists (and a lot of pissed off teenagers) from the 1970s who turned words + pictures + fashion + music on their very heads. They blew the doors off traditional culture by saying, “FUCK YOU” to everything ‘normal.’
Yeah, I’m down with that.
There are a lot of men from my generation who wish they were punks. Many of them were inspired by the movie, Fight Club. I read the book (because that’s what nerds do, even sexy ones). It is a Buddhist treatise on men who had inadequate or unavailable fathers and their inherent anger about a lack of role models and masculine support. In the book, the main character splits his personality to be one person at his day job and another at Fight Club. At Fight Club, our character feels real and masculine and adequate- something he doesn’t feel in his ‘normal’ life. In the end of the book, the main character ends up in a mental hospital – unsure of who he really is anymore.
One of the things the main character laments is a lack of meaning in life:
…I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars, advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of the history man, no purpose or place, we have no Great war, no Great depression, our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives… |Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk|
What they want, instead of their modern apartment full of IKEA furniture and their Audi, is a life of meaning. A life that fights the dominant system and standards and turns those men into feeling humans. They want to be punk.
What’s interesting now is that the men who identified with this book and movie are enjoying the fruits of the labors Palahniuk bemoans here. They like their power and money and position. Would they really give it up to be punk?
The Gen X guys (and gals) who identify with this novel and its characters are failing to notice two things:
ONE: It is the least punk thing in the world to wait for the fight to come to you.
You don’t need a Great War or Great Depression or anything to be given to you so you can have meaning and learn to fight. To wait for the economic or political (or whatever) forces to hand you a problem so big your entire generation has to fix it is to miss the point. Being punk means making a new system and bringing the fight to them.
Being punk, being in a fight to feel alive- you can do this with anything that undermines the dominant paradigm. You can be a punk on any subject that has an underdog. Racial justice. Economic justice. Reproductive rights for women. Hell, plain old rights for women (wouldn’t it be awesome if the women you knew never had to carry car keys in their fist at night, ever again? Fight for that). Gun safety. Healthcare for all. Political comradery (and some goddamn term limits- that’ll fuck the dominant paradigm quite well).
It doesn’t matter what you choose. As long as you choose and fight.
Billy Joe Armstrong, lead singer of punk band Green Day, said of their ballad, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” that it was the most punk thing they could do. They were ridiculed in punk music circles for singing a soft, thoughtful love song- they undermined the dominant paradigm of punk by recording that song.
Punk and fight are something you choose- whether life hands you the option or not.
TWO: The fight is here, now.
The U.S. election and political landscape have handed you exactly what you wanted: a problem it will take an entire generation to fight and fix. The selfish boy-king that was elected is not here to undermine the dominant paradigm and create something different. He is simply here to exploit the dominant paradigm to his own advantage. Exploitation is not punk; it is greed. Exploitation uses the current system to gain power; punk gives the down-trodden and overlooked power in a new system.
You want to fight for Something Important in your generation?
Do it now.
Because the fight is already here.
And I know where I stand.
I am a punk for love + truth + health.
Where do you stand?
This blog is about rebellion and honesty and eroticism. I’ve covered honesty and rebellion; where does eroticism join in? (It’s like a political threesome. And I dig that.)
The erotic is that which ignites our lust and draws us towards our pleasure. The erotic is what keeps us hungry and alive. And that is what is sexy about political action – the forging of our strength and the action we take as punks is fucking hot, if you’re paying attention. Because political action is what brings us alive. It is proof that we are human and connected and compassionate. And that shit is some head-spinning foreplay for those of us who believe life is about those very things.
In answer to what is sexy about all this, I leave you the words of Layla Martin, one of my favorite dakinis:
1. HELL YES to celebrating, respecting and empowering women and their bodies.
Yes to a thriving sexuality. Yes to women creating future on their own terms. Yes to ditching old-school shaming of women’s bodies and fear around their sexual power. Yes to laws that support a woman’s right to choose what happens in her own body. Yes to a woman having legal protection against sexual assault and rape. Yes to overthrowing the lasting effects of misogyny and female disempowerment and creating a truly pro-female world.
2. HELL YES to men.
Yes to men standing in their power and using their voices to create a just and equal society. Yes to us all rising together. Yes to men who are true leaders of integrity. Yes to men who are choosing love over fear. Yes to men who earn their privilege based on their talents, their hearts and their work – not through entitlement alone. Yes to men who are creating a future through their visionary wisdom.
3. HELL YES to diversity.
Yes to people of all colors. Yes to equality. Yes to acknowledging the lasting scars of racism and working to counteract that legally and socially. Yes to everyone having a fair shot at success in life. EVERYONE. Yes to a vibrant world of multiculturalism and real justice.
4. HELL YES to sexuality in all it’s beautiful and vibrant diversity
Yes to being gay. Yes to being queer. Yes to being transgender. Yes to being heterosexual. Yes to being bisexual. Yes to your big, beautiful sexuality and whatever you feel like expressing with another consensual adult.
5. HELL YES to truth.
Yes to being in integrity. Yes to leadership that is honest. Yes to science and facts. Yes to making conscious choices.
6. HELL YES to the environment.
Yes to stopping climate change. Yes to f**king nature. Yes to health and balance so we can relate and get sexy in the best possible ways.
7. HELL YES to love.
Yes to love in action. Yes to the kind of love that makes us not just kind and decent people – but also fierce and powerful in service of the things that matter.
8. HELL YES to sexuality.
Yes to our bodies. Yes to sex being gorgeous and artistic and free. Yes to LOVE motherf***kers!! YOU HEARD ME!!!
9. HELL YES to embracing our shadows.
Yes to embracing the nasty thoughts. The hidden thoughts. The shame and the guilt…and YES to having clear spaces and community to work through those parts of being human so our actions can reflect love and not fear more often than not.
10. HELL YES to freedom.
Yes to dancing in the streets. Yes to being playful for the fun of it. Yes to being joyful because too much seriousness is a f**king disease.
11. HELL YES to community.
Yes to embracing truth and freedom no matter what a government tells you is right or wrong. Yes to building loving connections that last. Yes to choosing based on your own inner wisdom. Yes to unleashing ecstasy and our wild souls on this world.
12. HELL YES to relationships.
Getting through this week from hell showed me so much about partnership and the power of love.
As state after state was turning red and I knew the inevitable with all the sinking feeling of dread and terror in my body on election night, I went into shock. And in that shock and pain, Andrew and I held one another into the night.
And the shine in our eyes…the magic of our love…I thought, the whole world could crumble and still…this…this…
So let’s be that for each other.
The warm hug.
The loving eyes.
The strength when it all feels really hard.
I’ll be there for you and you can be there for me.
And create that for yourself all around you…you deserve it.
I’m a big YES to taking action.
::: ::: ::: :::
In the end, what’s all this about? It’s about me, becoming a new person. Someone stronger and clearer and more ready to fight for what is right than ever before.
It’s also about you and what you’re becoming. What are you becoming?
Action and in-action create outcomes. Not making a decision is making a decision. And we are responsible for the outcomes of our choices as much as we are responsible for the outcomes of our not choosing.
I would rather have the strength and the courage to act on what I know and want for this world, than stand by, sheltered in cowardice. I will step forward in love – in what I value the most – and take action. To forge myself, over and over again, and become strong. To stand against the system and make space for love of every shape and size.
“The helping professions have traditionally concerned themselves with wellness, health, and wellbeing. Wellness cannot stand on its own. Unless wellness is supported by justice, fairness,and equality, it is bound to fail. Poverty, marginalization, exclusion, and injustice are just as deleterious to the body as they are to the soul. To heal the soul, we need to heal the community. To heal the community, we need to change it.”
Prilleltensky, Prilleltensky, & Voorhees in Liberatory Psychiatry