Wednesday, March 16, 2011

War on women, war on little boys, true witnessing and walking the borderlands

I'm totally convinced that much of the war on women nowadays -- yes, there is a war on women!-- is a perverse response to the war against little boys and children.

So, what am I not saying?
I'm not saying that the war on women is unimportant compared to the war on boys.
I'm not saying that all criminal men are emotionally wounded as boys.
I'm not saying that all abusive men should be treated as wounded souls.
I'm not saying that all bad guys are to be pitied.

But a part of me gets very antsy when the media goes on about how bad men are. Often people take it up as a feminist issue, as if there is this evil genetic inclination toward abuse in the y-chromosome. They think men are bad simply because men are men.

Little boys and little girls are unable to deal with abuse. When the abuse happens, they blame themselves most often. Especially if they have prudish blaming parents. The pain has to go somewhere...so the pain gets turned out against themselves or against someone else weaker than themselves. The weaker is often the woman in the relationship, but in same-sex relationships the weaker of the couple will be abused.

I like fairness. This is probably one of the reasons why I get so antsy when I hear folks hating on all men. I imagine a little boy being raped and going to his mother and trying to tell her and his mother -- priggish and Christian and holy-- doesn't want to hear. (Actually, the friend I'm thinking about was raped by his dad from age four and their family was Jewish and his dad was a lawyer...but you know what I mean.)

I've often wondered why I seem to want to write more about the woundedness of boys rather than the woundedness of girls. Several of my feminist writer friends have chided me -- quite cruelly-- saying that I wasn't enlightened because I've fallen into the trap of writing about male fantasy heroes, which is par for the course. Shouldn't I -- they ask-- make a woman/girl a hero? I've really gotten a lot of tongue-lashings about this. But the way I see it is this: If feminism is about helping the outcast and seeing the world as equals, if being my truest self is feminism, then writing about emotionally-wounded males is the thing for me to do. These feminists often don't think I'm being my own true self at all. They think I've allowed the mythos of the patriarchal world to affect me.

Which leads me to another weird thin: I often write more about the white culture (or white cultures) than I do about the black culture. In all my stories, some poor black girl/woman is in the middle of a white culture. And to make matters even sicker, the white culture is often a rich culture..so there's a lot of wish fulfillment mercenary romance thing happening. So, again, is this me being unenlightened? Or is this being myself?

The Bible says: "a true witness delivers souls." This is what I try to be in life: true. I try to be transparent. If I am at heart an oreo, someone who has lost her femininity and her race along the way because of the society and culture I hung around in as a kid, shouldn't I just write from that imperfect place...until the time I get "racially sane and femininely enlightened" as my black and/or feminist friends would define it?

I am also not saying that only the pain of abused little boys matter. I think there are many young girls being abused all over the world. Probably as much as young boys.
I have had three close lesbian friends -- they were all raped by fathers or brothers.
I have had some close gay male friends -- they were raped by fathers and uncles.

I'm not pathologising all gay folks, btw. It's just that in my own experience...my own gay friends were terribly abused. I've personally never met anyone who was born gay, although I've met many people who were oriented toward homosexuality because they were adopted and had unloving dads or they were raped.

To grow up with male friends who were brutally-raped by men or women and to A) say that they were born gay or B) say all men are victimizers...well, to me it would be dishonest to keep silent. And why should I silence myself? To have been bullied by both Christians and non-Christians, to have been slammed by whites and blacks, why should I silence myself? To have been hurt by men and by women, why should I silence myself? Aren't there many people who walk the borderlands as well as I?

Something else: a minister once complimented me by saying my writing is ambassadorial Christianity. He meant that anyone can read my books and for the most part see me as part of their own society.
My friend, Nick Wood, also says of me that as a writer I "walk the borderlands." In effect, when a white person reads my stories, they don't see it as a story written by a black person. True, they see a black main character, and they see black issues. Yet in some odd way, I do not write as they expect a black person to write. So, am I being unenlightened again? Did all that reading of Irish and British Romantic and Victorian literature (and way too much watching of PBS and Masterpiece Theater) screw me up? (Honestly, I still haven't read a lot of Black literature...compared with the Euro-books I've read.)

I'm not saying one should aim to be an oreo. Or aim to straddle the borderlands. But heck, if one finds one's self in the borderlands...and if the borderlands is one's home...well, wouldn't it be a kind of dishonesty to pretend to be something one isn't?

In Constant Tower, my main character Psal is abused. He's unpleasant, as many abused people are. But he's also my  hero. He's honey-colored in a clan of white-skinned people, and he's very emotional in a rational, warrior culture. I love him a lot. 
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