[box type=”alert” icon=”none”]A Thank you To Typhonblue:[/box]
[dropcap]I [/dropcap]initially read her piece when it was posted back in May and found it so profound and powerful I was unable to comment at the time. In fact, I started to write this piece and stopped. Her article, “My name is Typhonblue and I am a survivor of rape hysteria,” was very emotional for me and had the effect of shaking a can of soda and then opening it. Or maybe it’s better to say that I had very many thoughts that had never connected and reading her article caused a new orb of understanding.
I have spent some time looking at that orb and remembering. I tag that new orb as “innocence.” I am very appreciative for the insight, sensitivity and courage of Typhoneblue. With much respect I offer these thoughts and memories.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”left”]A result of abuse is the residual doubt of self-worth. What am I now worth to my abuser? What am I worth to the witness’s and what am I worth to myself?[/quote] I understand the politics of her article, the transition an injured person will go through to believe and to feel safe again. Popular thought can become a personal belief and produce a result that strangely removes individuality.
Empathy can be a twist to safety that is more apt to project itself onto a vulnerable person. We talk about empathy as if having it makes all the difference, but how we apply it is really the issue.
I will console you. As I hear your pain the consolation I offer is my anger, not yours; take it and be strong. This is emotional triage, not emotional medicine. It is a job half done. Your wound is prioritized but not addressed. Next! The words from one who “empathizes” can be as assaulting as the initial wound and you become lost in the waiting room of the injured. I have often heard women bemoan men for not having empathy. I believe men have a profound empathy that expresses itself in a very different and masculine way.
I was raised in violence, the extent of which I do not wish to fully share. Here’s why: Abuse is seen as intended injury. A result of abuse is the residual doubt of self-worth. What am I now worth to my abuser? What am I worth to the witness’s and what am I worth to myself? One who empathizes becomes a witness and offers a response to those doubts of self-worth. Empathy speaks only to the portion of the experience that the injured and abused is able to define. But it’s never complete and it is impossible to communicate emotional confusion. The experience is too complex. The injured is consoled for their powerlessness and offered “empowerment” as a consolation for their innocence, but this is not empathy.
This empowerment is too often awarded as an entitlement
It is a reckless device of intention that hurts more than it heals. If personal justice is answered by empowered entitlement how will we see the difference between social justice and personal justice? When do we cross the line? When does the pain and fear of one equal another? Will we simply compete as victims for our share of entitlement and personal justice? Will we measure ourselves only by degradation? is this our collective dream? Is this the answer to our doubts of self-worth, to be occupied by an entitlement offered by anyone but ourselves?
Will we measure innocence by entitlement? Maybe we already do.
If I stand naked in the street am I entitled to be noticed? If I’m not noticed in the ways I expect, am I entitled to something more? What if I light myself on fire, what then of social justice, entitlement, innocence or personal justice? When does one equal the other? When do self-enabled bureaucrats listen to the truth instead of telling us what it is and using our money to too fund the lie? When does self-immolation equal a slut-walk?
Is it even possible to consider that personal justice, entitlement and the healing of life’s wounds are inside of us and accessible? Can we only be healed by entitlements budgeted by a bureaucrat that attempts to award us our significance with our own monies. Then justify their own entitlement by praising themselves with more of our money. When would they become aware if or when they cross the line of social justice? Why the fuck would they care? Just who would stop them? Should we protest, riot, burn it all down to get their attention?
I was ten, standing in the kitchen about five feet from the stairway to the basement. My seven year old foster sister’s room was next to it. She stepped out of her room and said she wanted to show me something and started backing up. She must have thought she was backing up into her room, but she was pointed at the stairs and just kept going. Every step she took backward I took one forward. I saw what was coming. I realized that my motion was influencing hers, but I couldn’t stop. If I did she might continue.
It happened in seconds and I saw it all, even the subtlety of my influence. She fell backward in a reverse swan dive; I reached forward, grabbed her night gown at the chest and stopped her fall just before she hit her head and hauled her back up to her feet. Her mother screamed – her father came running in the room. He saw me at the top of the stairs grabbing her. I got a left hook to the head that almost turned my lights out and I felt myself flying through the air. He wrapped me around a door frame that finished me off. He saw clearly the innocence of his daughter he simply failed to look for mine.
I can see his. Can you?
A family member once confided in me an experience of sexual assault and I felt the immediate urge to console, but didn’t. Instead I asked how the experience had influenced their perspective and listened closely to the response. I was saddened by the anger I heard; anger directed toward others that were uninvolved. I responded by saying “you’re safe now that you’re equal to your attacker.” I was met with a look of disbelief accompanied by an angry response asking “how can you possibly compare me to that piece of shit”.
“I don’t” I said “but you do.” The anger was thick in the reply, “Really? how the fuck do you figure that?” I paused, and then spoke. “Obviously, you didn’t expect to be assaulted or attacked. In those circumstances you were innocent and unaware. You’re angry now at others that weren’t involved. Your parents, your family, and even people you’ve never met. Your anger is an attack they don’t expect or understand. You are attacking their innocence. You want your innocence back; the beliefs you had before this happened. You believed you were safe and protected and you want those beliefs back; the innocence of those beliefs. But you can’t get it from the people you believed would protect you, because they didn’t.”
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Disdain, contempt, disrespect, scorn, resentment – these are lesser forms of anger. They are less confrontational and easier to deny. [/quote] “The world has changed for you and it is no longer safe. You’ve lost the innocence of your beliefs in an unnatural way, abruptly, with nothing to replace them. Nobody can survive the fear they experience when their beliefs are abruptly removed. Anger is the best defense to protect any innocence that remains. Anger, and its lesser forms, ignore all innocence except its own. If you care to challenge your beliefs if you can see the connection between innocence and anger. It’s interesting to consider that anger is looking for its own innocence. Your anger ignores the innocence of your parents just as an attacker ignores the innocence of their victims. You are now equal to your attacker.”
I was asked what I meant by angers lesser forms, likely to avoid the message. Disdain, contempt, disrespect, scorn, resentment – these are lesser forms of anger. They are less confrontational and easier to deny. They are more socially acceptable forms of anger, malice, hatred and assault. These are ways we partition ourselves from life to protect ourselves and the beliefs we have. It is a default method of parenting ourselves when our parents do not complete the mission we assign to them. You could say that anger is a way to express our disbelief or the loss of our beliefs and our innocence as we attempt to mature.
Innocence is a muscle like any other. Without participation and exercise it will atrophy; it will not mature. Innocence is metered by the ability to mature. It should mature with you and with your experiences and without it we are quickly disillusioned, disappointed and easily assaulted. You cannot sustain a life under the constant assault of disillusion. You will not be accepted by the people you assault in response. If you want your innocence back you will have to exercise it, challenge it and let it work. A knife will not sharpen itself and we do not value unpolished gems.
Whether you understand or not, like it or not, you’re challenged to let go of the beliefs of your childhood. We are all accountable for our beliefs and the innocence they represent. The world can be dangerous for anyone, but your beliefs will cause you to expect it not to be. When you are entitled you will not ask questions that may protect you and keep you safe. You may dangerously assign that responsibility to others.
It is worth knowing that you’re not alone. Most people are engaged in the same process of maturing and suffer all kinds of assault, disillusionment and fear. Life is most fragile for people that cling to their beliefs and build expectations with them. I’m no different. I have fallen and got back up more times than I can remember, because I could. Empathy should never try to reinstall the entitlement of beliefs that are removed from an assault or an injury of any kind.
I consider this against the childishness of feminism and its naïve struggle to return to innocent entitlement. I see feminist men and women longing for their childhood and their innocence, and promising it to each other like damsels and knights in a fairytale. When I am assaulted with anger that won’t abate from injured women, I remember that I am not your perpetrator. I owe you nothing more than you owe yourself, least of all your innocence. I can’t provide your innocence and there is no going back.
When I read that men turn away from marriage, I know they have surrendered very deep beliefs and left behind their own innocence for their safety. I see MRA’s teaching and educating with insight and maturity for men to accept change and define it for themselves. I am left once again to consider equality and the joke it represents. The childish feminist ranting’s for more and bigger portions, to hell with the cost.
There is nothing progressive about feminism. It’s as traditional as hate, greed and childhood.
Feminism is simply an immature tribalism, incapable of respecting an autonomous individual and yet to evolve a cosmopolitan concept that exceeds narcissism or institutional breast feeding. It is an outdated temper tantrum due for a very serious time out. Their politics are a simplistic attempt to enlarge the prison kitchen in which they shackle themselves to all corners of the world. Evidenced by their ever popular mantra “you can have it all.”
As I stand out here in the world I would like to remind them, this isn’t your kitchen you elitist fuck, and if that victimizes you, please remember I’m not your therapist, bodyguard or personal cop. I find it quite hard to respect childlike innocence in the body of an adult.