Should we kill the N-word, already?

Image courtesy of polygon.com

How simultaneously harrowing and splendid it is to live in a world so full of possibilities, so overrun with apparent contradictions and complexity! Always a hurdle to cross, a new, heavier mental weight to bear. Then just when you reach the cliff of your wits, a Royal Super Negro in a Vibranium microweave suit swoops down and carries you over the chasm… and to the next valley. It keeps you on your toes, doesn’t it? Yet, despite any of the clouds that may sometimes hover over the parade for our Blackness, we have many things to enjoy, reasons to celebrate, and so much to look forward to. #WakandaForever!

Now, to more pressing matters…

Words are my stock and trade. And since it’s Black History Month, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t take some time to examine one word that has been analyzed and scrutinized within and outside of the Black community ad nauseam. The hot, ongoing debate around this word remains relevant for a number of reasons, especially because it evokes such visceral reactions within so many who hear it. That word is, of course, “nigga”.

As a writer, I am a firm believer that words hold the power of life and death, that each one has its purpose (or myriad purposes), especially the purpose to teach. I am uncomfortable with the idea of attempting to prevent anyone from using any word. Of course, many would agree that there are circumstances under which certain words are inappropriate—professional settings, in houses of worship, in the presence of elders or highly respected persons who would be offended, etc. However, proposing a wholesale moratorium on any word, in my humble opinion, is unnecessary and possibly even a waste of precious time. So, for the purpose of this article (for the purpose of my own personal expression on and off the page), and to avoid patronizing the very audience with which I’d like to engage, I will not be referring to it as the “N-word”.

I was compelled to do some soul-searching regarding the use of ”nigga” after watching a recorded Ta-Nehisi Coates interview over the holidays. A white audience member asked Coates for his insight, because she did not believe in saying it, but wasn’t sure how to help her white friends understand that they also “should not” say it.

At the heart of Coates’s response was this: It’s about context and relationship. As an outsider of a community, with no meaningful relationship with that community, there is no way for an individual to understand the nuances of words used in an ironic fashion. They’d get the context wrong every time and expose themselves as ignorant and insensitive at best.

Image Courtesy of steemit.com

He gave the example of his wife and her best friend playfully referring to each other as “bitch”, along with an explanation of why it would be wholly inappropriate for him to join in their jesting. He also talked about a white friend of his who regularly jokes about escaping to his “white trash cabin” for vacation, and that he wouldn’t think to follow suit with something like, “I’m coming to your white trash cabin.” He mentioned the fact that some people in the gay community have used the term “fag” with each other for years, but that it is not something he would take the liberty to do with them. These are all circumstances in which he’d have neither the community relationship nor the contextual understanding to use these words in the way these people did.

He broke it down even further by explaining why he thinks so many whites take issue with being told that they cannot say “nigga”, regardless of the fact that some black folks throw it around with abandon. Whites invented the word, he explained, and what’s more? Whites navigate a world where they are told from birth that they own the world, that they can do what they want when they want. To be told that they can’t use a word that they invented, in a world that belongs to them, may very well feel like the ultimate affront to some whites. The question Coates was ultimately led to ask was, why would individuals who have no significant relationship with a community insist on having access to terms that they do not fully appreciate the context of?

This was a very intriguing explanation to me and one that I had never seen anyone articulate in quite this way. (You can view a portion of the talk here if you like.)

Now, I believe in letting people say whatever they want so we can see who they really are. And yet, while I don’t agree that anyone should use valuable time explaining to whites why their use of “nigga” will be seen as a threat by many, I think Coates’s commentary made a lot of sense. So, I decided to dig deeper and see what some other celebrated black thinkers have to say about it.

I started with a cursory search for related videos and came up with some material from Reverend James David Manning. Now, if you know anything about him, you understand that he’s hardly a celebrated black thinker in the sense that I mean it. But even a broke clock is right twice a day. When he defended his prodigious use of “nigga” for the following reason, I couldn’t deny the resonance of his comments:

“Why rob society of one of the best descriptions of behavior I’ve ever seen?… We need not kill the word, we need to kill the spirit.”

In a talk with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West,

Michael Eric Dyson had this to say about his own use of “nigga”:

“Nigga is a global phenomenon. That’s why I use the word with promiscuity.”

Explaining that it can be used to illustrate the ways in which the oppression of people all over the world is similar, he says he prefers to “Put it on front street… I know you’re calling me nigga. I won’t allow you to have the ultimate terminological privilege of naming me and fixing me with your narrow category…”

Killer Mike once described how he came to a deeper understanding of the history of the word “nigger”.  “The root word simply means ‘black’…negro, nigro, negre”, He commented. So, for him, the word is not the problem. The problem is that those who use it as a derogatory term hate all that is black. They’ve made black loathsome and therefore turned the word into something loathsome. (You can view his explanation here.)

Cornel West had this to say:

“If someone actually loves the people—Martin King, Malcolm X, Nina Simone, Fannie Lou Hamer—if they wanna use the n-word for me that’s fine, ‘cause I know they love me. The problem is that there’s not enough people who use the word who love the very people who have been terrorized, traumatized, and stigmatized by the powers that be. I think we have to be very, very careful and cautious in terms of whether the love is at the center of that word.” ( “The N Word” on The Stream, Aljazerra 2013)

West has advocated for a moratorium on the word. He’s concerned about an internalization of self-hatred which he believes will result when a person is not learned enough to understand the nuances of the word. However, is it true that using “nigga” disconnects people—particularly young black people—from their history? I’m more convinced that usage can possibly reveal that disconnection if a person already lacks understanding of history and context. In that case, you could take away the word and still have an individual who is aimlessly navigating the world with low self-esteem, little self-awareness and a grossly insufficient understanding of the world and life itself.

Image Courtesy of mymindfulmoment.com

Really, I can understand the sentiments of those who think the word “nigga” should go the way of chitlins and greens seasoned with fatback. Much like the artery-clogging variety of soul food that some still choose to partake in without restraint, the modern-day use of “nigga” is very much a choice, the responsibility of which lies squarely at our feet.

Still, unlike hog maws, “nigga” is a living, non-concrete thing. It has that transcendental quality that all words have, and it cannot be linked to our symptoms in a neat and tidy diagnosis like fried chicken and butter beans to diabetes.

We and our words have the ability to be many different things, to hold many different meanings and perspectives, without true contradiction. Actually (in looking ahead to Women’s History Month) I’m reminded of a famous song by Meredith Brooks where she declares, “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint—I do not feel ashamed.” This couldn’t be a better illustration of the complexity of life and humanity.

She goes on to say, “Just when you think you got me figured out, the season’s already changin’ “. And change is, I think, what makes so many uncomfortable. Intricacy in ideas, in character, in words and communication, is something that many people simply wish to avoid navigating.

Yet words are not static. They are living things in and of themselves which change and expand and conform with time. Why else would you do an online search for a religious text and find dozens of interpretations for one holy book?

Many of us cannot accept that the word “nigga” holds valid meaning today, because the hateful acts around its root word, “nigger”, have simply been too heinous to accept. The idea that such a word can be reclaimed seems nonsensical to some, since it is still used as a weapon in the society at large. However, the fact that one person crafted and subsequently used a hammer as a weapon does not mean that I cannot use it as a tool or an instrument to simply make a noise that is pleasant to my own ears. Whether others understand my use of it is neither here nor there. It’s helping me build the kind of house, the kind of music, that I choose to enjoy.

I’m sure this debate will rage on for at least as long as the poison of white supremacy infects us. Still, no appearance of propriety conveyed in our speech, no moratorium on a word will stop emphatic bigots from seeing us as subhuman. And I’m pretty sure that the kinds of people who would use “nigga”, or “bitch”, or “fag”, or “cunt”, or any other word as a weapon wouldn’t care less about respecting the abstract notion of a word ban.

In the beautifully succinct words of a commenter from The Stream show noted above, “People will speak. THAT must be accepted. Relinquish.”

I’d much rather spend my time immersed in the cultivation of my intellect, character, sovereignty, and community, whether others believe that I have the right to do so or not.


This article was originally posted on http://www.delawareblack.com.

Is the Bible Ground Zero for Rape Culture?

1. bible ground zero pic

When the recent “Me Too” campaign—intended to bring awareness to the pervasiveness of sexual violence—took the internet, and my Facebook news feed, by storm, I tried to avoid it. I tried to sit quietly and let it pass while looking on with empathy and an encouraging nod to those who were brave enough to tell their stories. I really tried to silence that overzealous, inner kid who raised her hand to answer almost every question in class years ago.

“Friggin know-it-all”, I told her, “stay out of it!” It looked too messy and was too emotional for too many reasons.

I sat on my hands (figuratively) for a good, I guess, fifteen minutes.

And then, in my mind’s eye, I got a glimpse of that same kid sitting in teen church, shooting her hand up to quote bible verses, dashing to the altar in tears for this or that altar call, sitting in her “prayer closet” begging God to forgive her inevitable, human idiosyncrasies time and time again. I saw her, and I remembered…

I spent years studying the Good Book, anxiously running around school and my neighborhood witnessing to people, trying to turn them away from hell, thinking that their blood would be on my hands if they missed God on my watch. I offered to minister in prayer to my classmates during lunch, presided over my high school’s bible club, walked the halls every day with a bible housed in a creatively decorated, pink canvas cover. I stood before a packed house at our senior year Baccalaureate Ceremony and gave an inspirational speech that brought many to tears.

Then I graduated from college and got brand new. I grew into a fuller understanding of who I was and what I genuinely believed.

I de-converted.

When loved ones ask why I “turned my back on God”, to this day, my answer is the same. I never left God, I left behind a doctrine that my conscience couldn’t bear, one which I felt was an insult to God.

It wasn’t hypocrites that turned me off. It wasn’t the Pastor in the Maserati. It wasn’t the fact that God never “delivered” my dad from addiction or that my young adulthood was full of failure and difficulty. It was that Book…that Book that I finally looked at with fresh eyes, through the eyes of a flesh and blood human being who could no longer read it as a woman or as a person of color and not have my stomach turn.

When the scales began to fall from my eyes and I recognized the beast of blind belief for what it truly was, I couldn’t go for the low-hanging fruit, the typical excuses for backsliding. This was too important for that. I went for the jugular. I went for the doctrine.

There were many problems with the doctrine, but what immediately stood out was the ethnic cleansing of the non-Hebrews. It was the barbaric acts of genocide committed by the Israelites all throughout the Old Testament. And it was, especially, the rape, sexual slavery and pedophilia that the Book normalizes.

It was Numbers 31:7-18 – …“Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man…”

And Judges 21:10-24 – …“They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, ‘Go and hide in the vineyards. When the women of Shiloh come out of their dances, rush out of the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to be your wife…’ “

And Deuteronomy 21:10-14 – …”When you go out to war against your enemies and the Lord, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as your wife, you may take her home to your house… However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom…”

And Exodus 21:7-11 – “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again….”

It was Lot offering his daughters up to the mob of savages who were beating down his door to get to the angel he was harboring.

It was an apostle instructing married believers that “your bodies are not your own”.

It was the rape victims forced to marry their rapists because, according to God’s law, they were subsequently considered “unclean”.

It was Deuteronomy 20: 10-14 – “When the Lord your God hands [the town] over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the Lord your God has given you.”

It was the fact that God’s leaders COMMANDED these heinous acts, and that the perpetrators were never punished. According to the bloodthirsty authors, God never objected.

After a decade of fierce, fundamentalist loyalty, my eyes were finally opened to the fact that the bible refers to women as “PLUNDER”, as “SPOILS OF WAR”. How could I have simply ignored that?

In some translations, the exact word used to refer to them was “booty” (namely the King James Version). Ever wonder where that term came from and why it refers to a pirate’s treasure as well as sexual conquest?

Many would dismiss my sentiments saying, “that was the Old Testament”. But if God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then the God who condoned this barbarism is the same one who led Jesus to the cross.

(And if the Old Testament directive concerning tithing, for example, is still relevant, why wouldn’t the implications of these other verses be?)

I could no longer numb myself to these scriptures. I could no longer accept that God had some mysterious reasons for condoning such horrible things, “way back then”. The doctrine itself was enough to make me walk away. It was enough to break the fear of the hell I’d been threatened with my entire life. It was enough to make me see that it was not truly faith, but fear that I walked in all those years, and I walked out of the prison of blind belief and into a whole new world. I joined the ranks of many other (specifically) young, Black Christians who would always love Christ but could no longer accept “Christianity”.

**My God is not a sadistic, genocidal maniac who condones rape. My God has not fashioned me as property.**

This was my resounding thought. I’d spent too many years wrapped in grace, seen too many prayers answered to stoop back to what felt like such a barbaric belief system. I became insulted by the notion that this is who God is, and I had a feeling that God was, too.

When these kinds of heinous acts were committed in Rwanda and Sudan we called it genocide. When the Chibok girls were abducted we called it sexual slavery. And yet, some think that because it happened thousands of years ago at the supposed command of the God of the Israelites, that makes it okay. Are we to believe that those captured women gave of themselves freely to the men who had just murdered their brothers, fathers, friends, loved ones and children?

Where does our sense of humanity go when we become pious? Do we become so heaven-bound that we are no earthly good? How do the faithful come to ignore all the things that should make us uncomfortable when we delve into such scriptures?

If you didn’t know, THIS IS WHERE RAPE CULTURE BEGINS: It is the perfect habitat for its growth. It is where the mentality can incubate, in the guilt, the shame and humiliation, the ownership paradigm, and the stratification of individuals into categories which later justify their mistreatment. It is not the only place, but is the perfect place where slave law is established. It is not the only place, but is it a primary place where women are separated into wives, concubines, whores, and spoils of war, where the less “clean” the less “moral” people are considered undeserving of a voice, of life itself. It is certainly not the only place, but it is a well-known place where pedophiles are glorified, where they sit satisfied in pews, fat off the very life blood of the unprotected and the praise of the cowardly majority, where the affected spend their lives picking up the pieces in obscurity while the savages sit on holy thrones.

Is this your God?

Rhetorical Question.

The purported mother of Jesus herself was something close to 12 years old when she married Joseph. We can assume so because the age of marriage for girls then was around 12.

When children get sold into marriage to dirty old men in some far-off place in the world we call it tragic. When men lined up in droves to have sex with underage girls on To Catch a Predator, we gasped. But when the preacher waxes sentimental over Mary and Joseph we throw our hands up in praise?

Rhetorical Question. Please pardon me, I know Christmas is coming.


*Sexual assault is a crime that impacts people of all ages, genders, and walks of life. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault and you’d like resources for support, here are links to two trusted, Delaware-based organizations through which you can seek help:

ContactLifeline:

http://www.contactlifeline.org/contact/

(302)761-9100

From their website: “ContactLifeline strives to provide the highest quality telephone counseling, crisis intervention, information and referral, education and prevention services for persons in crisis and for persons in need of listening services.  Additionally, ContactLifeline provides comprehensive statewide services to victims of sexual assault and secondary victims of sexual assault.  ContactLifeline crisis responder services are provided by professionally trained and supervised volunteers and professionals who respond anonymously and confidentially to human needs, state-wide, 24 hours a day.” 

YWCA of Delaware:

http://www.ywcade.org/site/c.ahKKIZMHIlI4E/b.9285749/k.3AA2/Sexual_Assault_Response_Center.htm

(800)773-8570

From their website: “The Sexual Assault Response Center (SARC) provides comprehensive, free and confidential rape crisis services to sexual assault survivors aged 12 and older and their non-offending family members, friends and partners throughout the State of Delaware. SARC is committed to providing healing, hope and empowerment to individuals whose lives have been impacted by sexual violence whether the assault happened yesterday or many years ago. If you or someone you care about has been sexually assaulted, reaching out for help can be the first step toward recovery and healing.”


This article was originally published as an opinion piece on DelawareBlack.com. Click here to view it on the site and to explore news, entertainment, events and more in the lovely first state of Delaware:

http://www.delawareblack.com/is-the-bible-ground-zero-for-rape-culture/

 

(…And if it seems ironic that the Young Women’s Christian Association would be added to the list, it doesn’t have to. I commend anyone who’s trying to be part of the solution.)

The Heart has its Own Mind – REPOST

You can’t choose who you fall for, but can you fall for who you choose?

I’m pretty convinced that Love is a choice- one that a person makes to wake up everyday and be dedicated to the well-being of another person. “Falling in love”, on the other hand, appears to be something that is completely outside our control. It’s something that catches us off guard and can attach us to the most unlikely people under the most unlikely of circumstances. Sometimes it seems to attach us to people and situations that aren’t best for us, and we have no choice but to walk away.

At the end of the day, most people would agree that “Falling in love” is a somewhat illusive feeling, and it is certainly not one that can be contrived. You either got it or you don’t. And yeah, you can live without it… but do you want to?

Is it Settling or Facing Reality? – REPOST

DETACHSomeone once told me that while detachment can be a very useful survival tool in certain situations, it should not be a way of life. Yet I’m finding that there are some circumstances and people with whom I have had to adopt a lifetime strategy of detachment. Well maybe I’m not employing the strategy of detachment so much as I’m just learning to accept people as they come.

Sometimes you simply have to do away with unrealistic expectations in order to enjoy better relationships without the baggage of resentment or the negativity that comes from simply throwing people away. Clearing away the webs of expectations that we use to keep people within our reach can give us the clarity of vision to see (and be thankful for) the good that exists in them.

The first person that I ever learned to accept on his own terms was my dad. He was the kind of guy who wanted nothing more after a hard day’s work than to kick off his shoes, turn on the game, attach a beer to his hand, and have one of us turn out the lights on our way to our rooms from–which we would not bother him for the rest of the night. Sure there were those nights (which I’ll never forget) when we’d all sit around laughing at those crazy episodes of Cops or crack jokes during episodes of National Geographic safari or whatever. But usually, he kept his distance.

I spent my entire childhood being friendly to him, wearing him down with good night hugs until he had no choice but to hug back, and learning to small talk with him. Small talk with my dad made me feel like I at least partially knew him. It didn’t make him uncomfortable, because I never got too close.

As a teenager, I thought I could change the world, or at least MY world. So I had a talk with him hoping that he would hear me out and start spending more “quality time” with my mom, my brother, and me. I can still hear his response clearly after all those years. It was a bit of a rant, but the ending went something like this: “Fathers and daughters don’t need to be close, and I don’t need to be close to you. Stop trying to turn me into something I’m not.” In that moment I had a most potent experience of clarity, and I began to learn the art of detachment, which serves me well to this day.

resistance

STOP RESISTING

Eventually I came to learn that getting the love we want the way we want it from others is not always the point in life. As much as I needed my dad as a child—his approval, his time, his interest, his opinion of the guys I dated—he was just as much in need, or even more so. He needed something just as badly as we needed him. As lacking as he was in parenting skills, it seems he had been equally neglected and even more so.

As much as I wanted an affectionate, talkative dad who would wear a wedding ring, stay clean after rehab, and accompany my mom, my brother and me to the movies on weekends, I eventually made peace with the fact that that simply was not the hand that fate dealt to me.

Furthermore, it wasn’t about what I wanted for him or from him. It was about what each of us were supposed to learn in our individual journeys. He’s not beholden to my expectations. I don’t get to decide the timeline across which he should learn his lessons and finally “get it”. I am not fully aware of all the circumstances, memories, demons he has to fight through on the way to becoming the person he needs/wants to be. And it’s no one’s fault.

Now our relationship has evolved into one where the small talk remains, but I can immediately interpret his tone, his insistence that I call weekly to check in, as proof enough of his love, of his pride in the people that my brother and I have become. When he does say he loves me, it’s sincere. When he calls, again, to make sure we’re coming to town for that visit we talked about, I don’t feel bad about the fact that the call only lasts five minutes.

I understand his personality and appreciate some of his tendencies more now. I appreciate the artist in him–I only wish he would draw or paint more. I admire the debater in him, the objective thinker who won’t simply give President Obama a pass on everything because he’s black. I’ve come to agree often with the independent thinker who always so vehemently resisted religious dogma. I understand his need to be free.

acceptance

This was a situation in which I had no choice but to adopt a strategy of detachment and acceptance. The slash and burn, just cut people off who make you uncomfortable sentiment that seems rampant these days just doesn’t work on a parent. I only got one dad.

And I’m learning that even in the relationships that I’ve chosen, there’s still room for detachment from certain expectations. I’ve learned to recognize those fair-weather friends and simply appreciate them for the fun and breaths of fresh air they provide when they’re around. Instead of resenting them for being themselves and entrusting them with things that they cannot handle, I keep them in the proper compartments. And yes, I have absolutely no problem with compartmentalization.

For me, this thinking goes hand in hand with developing a more balanced and realistic perspective on relationships, one where we stop expecting other people to be our all-in-all (or to be what they do not have the ability to be), stand on our own feet, and learn to appreciate people for who they are. Of course we need relationships, we need those relationships to be healthy, and we need to back off when they are not. We can also learn to appreciate each unique individual for the small pieces of the puzzle that they bring to the table instead of expecting each person to be one completed 1000-piece puzzle that we can simply look at and admire. We are each in a continual process of refinement.

So long as our interactions are not toxic, we don’t have to toss out the people who aren’t the “complete package”. And we don’t have to go without the relationships we want and need. We can simply seek out relationships with others who fill in the gaps. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!

What do you think of this way of dealing with relationships? Some people may call it a form of settling or allowing others to get off “scot free” for doing “wrong”. But is it really our responsibility to police the behavior and emotional/mental/spiritual development of others? Aren’t our own individual plates already full enough? Does trying to get another person to “do right” ever work, anyway? Who gets to define what’s “right” for a particular individual for a particular point in time?

Female Viagra? Not Quite – REPOST

addyi 3I love Bill Maher and all unabashed commentators like him who know how to sum up bullshit. Take, for example his comments regarding Addyi, the new “female Viagra”:

“…the new female sex pill, Addyi. Yes, that’s right. There’s now a pill that makes women want more sex, but can also lower blood pressure and put you to sleep… It was invented by Bill Cosby.”

Maher goes on to explain that while Viagra was invented for men who still desire but simply cannot engage in sex physically, Addyi, while masquerading as a female equivalent to Viagra, is actually a mood enhancer intended to make totally physically capable women want more sex. And herein lies the problem…

Who gets to decide what is “satisfying sex”? The people paying actors to feign orgasm, the ones who have perpetuated the notion that sex isn’t sex if it isn’t loud, explosive, a reenactment of some porn scene, or tied to notions of happily-ever-after? Many a wayward soul has diagnosed her level of satisfaction as abnormal based upon these fantasy-land notions about sex.

Who has decided what constitutes “normal sexual desire”, and that millions of women don’t have it? Clearly, the people who created this pill and their cohorts. They may insist that it is absolutely the prerogative of the individual woman to decide what is normal for her, and they would be right. But the very existence of this drug (and the campaign to market it) reveals some skewed thinking regarding women’s sexuality and autonomy–or ANYbody’s sexuality and autonomy, for that matter.

When women began to emerge, en masse, from their kitchens, delivery rooms, from behind ironing boards and mops to enter voting booths and colleges in droves and to kick ass in business, many people stood up for the right of women to explore and enjoy their sexuality as well. They rejected the notion that a woman should be coy, “hard to get”, or act as if she had no interest in sex in order to appear pious or demure. No problem–if coy and demure is not that individual woman’s natural disposition. But somewhere, we failed to develop a balanced perspective.

addyiNow the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, and it seems that any women who is not ready to swing from a chandelier (or a shower curtain) at the drop of a hat wearing a thong and a cat tail is labeled with a sexual disorder.

I call bullshit.

Here we are “medicalizing a woman’s natural mental state” all over again. I understand that the organization Even the Score had a hand in pushing for the invention of this drug. They considered it unfair that so much attention, expertise, and resources were being pumped into the creation of a drug to help men enjoy better sex while it seemed the girls were being neglected. They failed to recognize that a medical prescription is probably not the best long-term solution for most people’s intimacy/sexual issues (whether male or female).

Micromanaging sexual urges based on arbitrary standards of normality doesn’t make for better relationships. In some cases it exacerbates the problem as people race from one opinion/therapist/prescription to the next hoping to find a fix to their so-called dysfunction, which really was never a “dysfunction” to begin with. In many cases the problem is simply boredom. Boredom, the need for novelty, and the need to develop more realistic expectations around sexuality and more flexible relationship structures. No prescriptions or pills. Just a shot of reality and an adventurous spirit.

Sexual autonomy is the freedom of the individual to operate comfortably within their sexual truth without undue meddling and criticism from others–whether that personal truth is a very active sex drive or a “once a month will do me fine” disposition. Once our society is mature enough to handle the kind of honesty that will make this freedom possible, there probably will be little need for these placebos, I mean prescriptions. Until then, the drug pushers are going to hold down the block with blue pills for the boys and pink pills for the girls.

What do you think of Bill Maher’s summary?

Opposites Attract – REPOST

1.20.16 OppositesOpposites attract. I hear people say it all the time. I’ve said it myself. I can relate. Though my husband and I have some things in common, we also have quite a few fundamental characteristics that are opposite. Because of this, in many good ways we complement one another. It’s like a natural system of checks and balances within the family unit. Opposites indeed.

But are we really all that different? According to some spiritual thought derived from the Tantric and metaphysical traditions, like attracts like. In many ways, what shows up in our lives is an indication of ideas, beliefs, or expectations that we hold on some level. In essence, we attract what we are. And though you may sometimes seem very different from the one you love, the two of you very well may be two sides of the same coin.

I’m a big fan of Carl and Kenya Stevens, relationship coaches who believe that the purpose of relationships is growth. According to them, we begin to reap the rewards of our relationships when we understand that our “mates are our mirrors” and we do the work of developing our character as a result of the reflections we see. So, for example, if you attract a mate who has problems with honesty, you yourself may have some hidden difficulty with being honest with yourself or others. You may have a subconscious expectation of dishonesty from a partner. You may be a doormat who condones dishonesty on some level. Your ideas, beliefs, expectations act like energetic requests and the universe simply responds with your order. Like attracts like. Birds of a feather… you get it.

It’s in keeping with the idea that we truly are not separate from the world around us. Everything is connected, there are no (or there are at least very few) true dichotomies. Take Jesus and the Devil for instance. (I know that’s a loaded one, but take a walk with me for a minute just to test the logic.)

Christians believe that Jesus is the blessed sacrificial lamb, the one who has taken the blame for all of humanity’s sins and made it possible for us to be in good standing with God. This is “Good” – Side one of the coin.

However, Satan has also been the one upon whom humanity has symbolically heaped the blame for all of its “sins”. He is the horned one, the scapegoat. This is “Evil” – Side two…of the same coin. Opposites, but not really…

See, we have all this polarity in our lives, in our relationships, in our society. We love to cling to sides, favoring labels that pit one extreme against the other: gay v/s straight, religious v/s nonreligious, republican v/s democrat, rich v/s poor, victim v/s villain. Too often, we don’t take the time to acknowledge that there is a spectrum that exists in the middle of these binaries. Most importantly, we don’t realize that the shared life experiences of the gay and the straight, or the shared zeal of the religious and nonreligious, or the shared pain of the victim and the villain make them all two sides of the same coin. We’re really not all that separate. We’re really not all that different.

So which is it? Do opposites attract or does like attract like? Call me crazy but I think it’s both. Look into the mirror and find out why.

“You can’t hide from yourself. Everywhere you go, there you are.”

-Teddy Pendergrass

Because of YOU, I am pathetic. The Blame Game – REPOST

Ever heard this song by Kelly Clarkson?

I’m well acquainted with it. Very recently, I had a part-time job in a furniture store where the soundtrack included this heartfelt number. And every time that sad, pathetic piano music started up, I wanted to run into the manager’s office and kick the stereo. Many… many times.

See, the chorus of the song never sat right with me

“Because of you I never stray too far from the sidewalk.

Because of you I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt

Because of you, I am afraid.”

That’s it?

Some no good man did something that left her hurt and afraid. (That’s happened to every woman on the planet, right?) And, at least for the duration of this song, she was simply hurt and afraid and whining. No resolution. No power. Just pathetic and blaming him, whoever he was, for her damage.

Whenever I think of this song, I’m reminded of all those pathetic quotes and memes that people are constantly sharing on Facebook about how many “haters” they have, hatershow they’re “cutting people off” who no longer serve them,

don't like

(Neither do we)

or how they’ve been hurt a million times and are still standing.

been hurtNo one ever posts a quote or a meme saying:

To whomever I have hurt, misused, lied to, “hated on”, cursed out, or

misunderstood in a time of struggle,

I’m sorry.

or

I’ve been a hater.

I’m hating on some people right now.

I’d like to do some of the things I see others doing but don’t know how

and that pisses me off.

And make no mistake, we’ve all done something to hurt someone. But no, everybody’s a victim. Everybody’s damaged goods. And too many people want to stay that way. They’d rather keep pointing outward instead of looking within. It’s the blame game that keeps us hurting and attracting more of the very things that hurt us, because we focus on pain as if pain is a noble pursuit, as if being a martyr is preferable to having no one to blame.

Here’s the thing: once I sat down and watched the video, I had a much better understanding of what Ms. Clarkson was trying to accomplish with this, actually beautiful, song. The story depicted in it is very similar to my own. It’s almost identical to the background story for Jane Luck, the decidedly unlucky heroine in my debut novel Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure. The self-awareness laid out in the lyrics (whether she actually experienced this or simply is a conduit of expression for those who have) is a necessary part of the healing process. We have to understand the source of a problem in order to solve it.

But I think that’s where the blaming has to stop. Because once you peel back a few layers from the person you’re blaming, you’ll find that the pain they “caused” you could be traced to some pain that they blame someone else for. And on and on ad infinitum. And much of your pain may be stemming from your own interpretation of what was done, or your own assumptions about that person’s intentions–which could all be wrong.

The blows we inflict on each other can certainly be overwhelming. I guess the key is to not wallow in the pain, however difficult the journey to a better place may be.

And the next time you think some “haters” are out to get you, consider this: people like MLK had haters, Malcolm X had haters, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Malala Yousafzai had haters. Maybe you just have delusions of grandeur. Everybody’s not a martyr, and everybody doesn’t need to be.

you are surrounded by humans

yes, you are one of those humans

and we are all learning

About This Polyamory Thing: Part 2

The definition that I’ve chosen for today’s lesson in Poly fundamentals is

COMPERSION

Compersion: considered by many to be the opposite of jealousy (or  an effective tool for coping with jealousy); a form of empathy wherein a person believes that their lover is a complex human being with multifaceted characteristics, interests, and needs that no one should seek to own, police or suppress…when one accepts the possibility that it may be quite unrealistic to expect one person to be another person’s all-in-all for life…when one accepts that their partner’s (and their own) needs and desires may sometimes be met by someone else…when someone agrees to throw off the ingrained individualism and the “us-against-the-world”  illusions that permeate our understanding of relationships in favor of a more community-positive viewpoint…when a person can be happy that their partner is experiencing happiness and/or becoming a better person as a result of a relationship or interaction with someone else.

compersion-meme-2

happy

compersion-memepoly-cartoon


Polyamory is not relationship utopia. It is just another way to love, and it comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities for growth-including growing in the ability to be empathetic toward a lover. I have seen no better an illustration of this fact than in the new YouTube series, Compersion, by Enchant TV. In season 1 of this show, you’ll get to see a realistic depiction of the challenges that regular people face on the journey to compersion. It doesn’t come easily! But then again, things worth having rarely do.

Enjoy season 1 and help us launch season 2!

GO! bit.ly/Compersion2

3-keena-n-josh-copy

“The Enchant TV Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign is raising funds to complete another dynamic season of the provocative drama, Compersion. Compersion follows one couple’s journey from monogamy to polyamory, and takes an intimate look on how we see and value romantic partnerships. With an already successful Season 1, this inclusive-diverse production helmed by writer, director, and producer Jackie Stone is seeking funds to make another dynamic Season. Check out the first season of Compersion for free on YouTube at the link below.”

Facebook: facebook.com/enchanttv

Twitter: twitter.com/TheEnchantTV

Instagram: instagram.com/theenchanttv

#Compersion

The Heart has its Own Mind

You can’t choose who you fall for, but can you fall for who you choose?

I’m pretty convinced that Love is a choice- one that a person makes to wake up everyday and be dedicated to the well-being of another person. “Falling in love”, on the other hand, appears to be something that is completely outside our control. It’s something that catches us off guard and can attach us to the most unlikely people under the most unlikely of circumstances. Sometimes it seems to attach us to people and situations that aren’t best for us, and we have no choice but to walk away.

At the end of the day, most people would agree that “Falling in love” is a somewhat illusive feeling, and it is certainly not one that can be contrived. You either got it or you don’t. And yeah, you can live without it… but do you want to?

POST TO WIN – The Jane Luck Spring Escape Basket

Ad Banner Flat

Spring Escape Basket

wave set

Sunshine and flowers and bunnies- oh my!

That beautiful, vibrantly sensual time of year is here and I want to celebrate.  Will you celebrate with me?  You could be a winner!

Join the conversation about the soon to be released book – PRETTY LITTLE MESS: A JANE LUCK ADVENTURE, and enter to win the Jane Luck Spring Escape Basket!

Each time you post a comment or question relevant to the story, your name will be entered into the drawing to win the JANE LUCK SPRING ESCAPE BASKET.

Respond to my posts with comments and questions on the Author Joy Outlaw Facebook Page. Post in the comment section of any post related to this contest. (POST HERE: http://www.facebook.com/authorjoyoutlaw)

Basket contents include:
*1 signed, print copy of Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure by Joy Outlaw
*1 mug and 1 wine glass, both etched with the “Keep Calm and Get Lucky” and “#MeetJaneLuck” taglines AND hand-painted in keeping with the adventurous theme (by Joy Outlaw)
*Spring Treats!

Whether you caught Pretty Little Mess on the first go ‘round or not, never fear! There’s a sneak peek that you can check out here: http://www.joyoutlaw.com/books (scroll to bottom of page for “Sneak Peek”).

MORE WAYS TO WIN!
1. Adventures are always better with friends. Share this event on your wall and shoot me a message which simply says “shared”. That’s TWO more times that your name will be entered into the drawing for the Jane Luck Spring Escape Basket. (Don’t forget to let me know you shared, or I won’t know you did and you’ll miss out on two more entries!)

2. Let your friends know about all the great contests, giveaways, and info they can learn about on the Author Joy Outlaw Facebook page. Tell them to like the page. When they do, they can post a comment with your name tagging you. Both your name and theirs will be entered into the drawing… THREE times! (If they don’t post a comment with your name, I won’t know exactly who referred and liked, and no one will get those additional entries. Don’t forget to do this!)

***The contest winner will be announced and notified on release day for Pretty Little Mess, Monday, March 21, 2016. The prize will be shipped promptly afterwards.

Will you get Lucky?

Brought to you by
Joy Outlaw, Author of Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure
Author-Publisher, OmniMind Media
www.joyoutlaw.com
www.omnimindmedia.com

Pre-order Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure
eBook: http://www.amazon.com/author/joyoutlaw
print: http://www.joyoutlaw.com/books

#MeetJaneLuck

 (POST HERE: http://www.facebook.com/authorjoyoutlaw)