In the last blog I discussed Brad’s blog on cultural appropriation.
I am now prepared to make statements concerning black people or culture
Here is an old chestnut that I am still prepared to comment on. I hate the use
This use of the word “nigga” by black people falls into a wider category of inappropriate usage that is worth considering. The global 1% system encourages self-deprecation within groups as a means of divide-and-rule repression. Perhaps the most obvious example is the “Beyonce” approach – and I do not choose Beyonce because she is black but because she is a woman. In this argument I use Bell Hooks for support as she discussed it here – examined in my blog here. Beyonce is a beautiful black woman who takes advantage of her beauty in her career and to increase her own wealth – she is a talented singer as well! Her image, and the consequential implication that chauvinist society could make of what a successful woman could look like, adds to the pressures BigFashion exploits. When I examined the issue of woman and her body, I became aware of how much a woman’s body is exploited by BigFashion, and how there are serious consequences of such exploitation such as the death of Karen Carpenter (anorexia), and the image problems that Jane Fonda discusses including bolemia. Such image issues are a consequence of a chauvinist society and in the view of Bell Hooks and others Beyonce contributes to this. [For balance I should note that in the (black women’s) panel where this wasdiscussed Bell Hooks was in the minority.] It helps the 1% system for black people to use language such as “nigga”, language that appears deprecating to some white people and despite the black ownership described above enables some white people to misuse the term, and for these reasons I am against such usage. But if black people choose to do so I accept it however much I dislike it.
Bearing in mind this background on cultural appropriations (please note I do not consider Brad’s description of Buddhism as cultural appropriation as discussed in the last blog), I have to point out that I missed this on the first time of reading “It’s a clever way of justifying racism in the guise of being anti-racist”; this omission was an important error. When it comes to racism in white cultures such as the US or Europe, in my view the response by black people to the racism of these cultures of itself ought not to be called racism. There is the maxim “Prejudice + Power = Racism” that needs to be understood in this context. In response to the historical racist treatment that prevails in white societies there has developed responses such as the use of the term “honkie” [again I have to note that my understanding of these issues dates from the 70s and 80s as I have not lived in white society since 1992]. Whilst on an individual level the experience of such personal prejudice is both uncomfortable and sometimes violent, it has to be understood that, within the context of the power of the racism of white society, negative personal responses by black people are those of prejudice (a prejudiced reaction) however distasteful they might be. In the context of the facebook quote (in this Brad blog) “No please white American dude ….”, if this is written by a black person please examine what I have written in the last blog on cultural appropriation. But even if that is disagreed with, I suggest to Brad that the facebook quote only contains prejudice and not racism.
The effect of 1%-power that underlies our society is something I have repeatedly discussed – see Occupy view – when examining Brad’s work. In terms of race issues that power becomes the racism of white people, to give parity (implied in this quote “It’s a clever way ….”) on a systemic level shows a limitation of understanding – a Guardian view. As for this:- “(Cultural appropriation) says that cultures and races should never mix — that “white people” should only like “white people” stuff, that “black people” should only like “black people” stuff, etc. “Some time in the 80s I watched a TV special made by the Ku Klux Klan. Their claim was that they didn’t think “white people” were necessarily superior, just that the races should not mix. The idea of “cultural appropriation” says pretty much the same thing”. In my younger days, Brad, I would have described this as racist. It makes me angry enough to question whether monks should stay in cloisters, at least there they then have an excuse for what can only be described as “ignorance”. It is time, Brad, to make the effort to learn from black people why cultural appropriation (in its proper context) is an issue, and study why anti-racists use (used to use?) “Prejudice + Power = Racism”.
This racist comment creates a division for me – I always knew there was something there but had tried to avoid it; if the facebook quote was from a black person, I would suggest that s/he also recognised racism in Brad but in my view applied that awareness in the wrong place. Previously I have tried not to be contentious with Brad because I think his approach is so important for monks in general. But monks need to listen to lay people over issues that their own cloistered lifestyle and beneficent awareness makes it difficult to understand. Marx talks of the alienation that comes from wage-slavery, and the awareness that follows from that alienation. You have to feel the powerlessness of wage-slavery to deeply understand what sort of system we live in. I have avoided being definitive about accepting the Occupy view because such definitiveness is divisive but racist comments are far more divisive and racist comments cannot be tolerated. If Brad’s liberal or Guardian view is unable to transcend to an understanding of the power of the 1% and the pervasive influence of that power in all areas of society, if Brad is unable to listen to those who have made this political transcendence, I have to question whether he truly has the right to be a monk out of cloisters. I don’t know where I stand on him – his books – at the moment. A great disappointment.
Brad, there is an obvious indicator. How can it possibly be acceptable to use the KKK in support of an argument when discussing race? Isn’t thinking the same as the KKK a wake-up call? What mistake in your thinking enables you to agree with them? An emotional block?
Maybe I can learn from his Buddhism and ignore his ignorance. Previously I thought Brad would be the last person I would say that of. Maybe monks can never make that political transcendence because of their lifestyle and awareness, maybe they belong in cloisters leaving lay people forced to earn a living to apply the theoretical understanding of Buddhism to daily life. In cloisters it appears to me that monks do not experience the reality of daily life (I would include here monks such as Brad who live in the wider community). Through meditation their minds become sharp, and with that sharpness they apply this to analysis of their meditation. They apply this same sharpness to daily life but their experience of daily life is not the same as that of most people. Most people work within a hierarchy of business or institution in which compromise is the byword. Policies based on profit established at the top (influenced by the 1%) become everyday realities that people are forced to adhere to. Consider people who meet monks. They are not there to demand compliance with policy, they go to learn about Buddhism and hopefully apply zazen. These people live with the realities of wage-slavery and can readily understand the power of the 1%, but in meeting monks they are seeking understanding in a completely different reality.
How does a monk then judge the Occupy view? I used the term political transcendence above (discussed in a later blog). I am specifically describing the jump in understanding between those with the Guardian or liberal view, in which there is hope that good action can bring about meaningful social change, and the Occupy view in which much more radical means are described in order to bring about change. The difference is a question of intention, the Guardian view thinks that things are going wrong but good action can make it go right, the Occupy view recognises that the system is there by intention and has to be radically altered. Why would a monk want to be associated with those who seek a violent overthrow? And yet those people would have an Occupy view. When a monk meets the good side of people it is so hard to see the reality of what they are forced to do in their daily lives because of compromise. From the times we are born we are taught to live with compromise within ourselves. We become at ease with compromising, and when we meet people such as monks who seek right action from us we genuinely see ourselves as trying to be good and naturally convey this to a monk. How can monks see the truth about us when we don’t see the truth in ourselves? I seek people who have made a dual transcendence, the spiritual transcendence of those who have moved from the sankara-khanda, analytical intellectual minds, to insight, and the political transcendence in which liberal reactions to injustice transform to the Occupy acceptance of neo-liberal oppression. Perhaps that is too much to ask as people usually go one way or the other, spiritual or political.
Brad has just written another blog purely on zazen. Previously I would have read this without any doubt but if after years of zazen he can still have such a wrong view on race I have no confidence. The end of Brad for me????????????? And I’ve just bought his books, and planned to study “jerk” and Shobogenzo in parallel!!
Archive for the ‘Big Fashion’ Category
Brad wrote this blog in response to an accusation of cultural appropriation. The Buddhist theme of the blog is one that I support, but I would also ask if what Brad did fits in within the category of cultural appropriation.
Firstly Brad described Buddhism as a “religion” that examined the approach that enables us all to be “Buddhas”. It is my understanding that at the root all Buddhisms accept this, so how can it be considered religious appropriation?
Secondly I do not consider that a religion is a culture. Religious practices might make up part of cultural practice but on its own I would not consider religion a culture. Therefore in my view description of a religion as “cultural” is a misdirection, how culture applies to Buddhism is discussed below.
I want here to discuss “western” Buddhism, and I have previously felt that there is appropriation going on there. Let me expand, but first I need context. There is what the Buddha taught. Theravada believes they go back to the source, and that others, such as Zen (including the Soto Zen of Brad), are all revisions. But there are even doubts about the Theravada claims because no-one wrote down when he was saying (no tape-recorders!). Theravada justifications that they follow what the Buddha taught are based on the integrity of oral transmission, and that is maybe 50 years after his death. If you read what Brad describes in Bendowa from “Don’t be a Jerk”, what travelled to China and then Japan cannot be rigorously supported. And if you read his opening to Chapter 3 on the Heart sutra, there is even less rigour for such an important work. If you describe Buddhism as what the Buddha taught, it is very hard to be definitive.
But the problems don’t stop there. If you examine the way Buddhism is practised in the East you have great differences, I personally describe these Buddhisms as cultural. There is a kind of underlying Buddhist ideology connected with what the Buddha taught, and different cultures apply that underlying ideology within their own cultural framework. Hence we have very different Buddhisms practised in Tibet, Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. I have seen Tibet and Thailand at first hand – I live in Thailand, and to be honest I find it hard to recognise it as Buddhism. Yet Thailand is proud to call itself a Buddhist country, and I would not dispute that – nor even judge the statement.
To suggest that there is cultural appropriation of Buddhism anywhere is not appropriate.
I noted in the Bendowa blog that Brad is guilty of describing his own Buddhism as Buddhism. At the time I noted that it might just be habit, he speaks to audiences interested in Soto Zen, it would be tedious to continually refer to it in the correct manner of “the Buddhism he follows”. If it is not out of tedium then it is arrogant and inappropriate. We all make a decision as to which aspects of Buddhism we consider the truth for us, it is natural to then call that Buddhism. But if we cannot see that there are multifarious Buddhisms and cannot show tolerance to them, then the question of tolerance and arrogance has to arise.
When I think of western Buddhism I do feel there is arrogance. There appears to be an intellectual abstraction process that goes on in what I perceive of western Buddhism. Intellectuals examine the cultural practices of Buddhism, abstract the culture from the process and then decide this is what Buddhism is. This is the intellectual arrogance I refer to. I believe this intellectual arrogance is at the root of what is loosely known as western Buddhism. And this type of intellectual arrogance is common within academia, and I am not surprised that someone might refer to it as white Buddhism with some truth.
Because of what I will be saying I do not feel Brad is doing this. I surmise that Brad has studied Soto Zen in Japan, has been a part of bringing it back to the West, and has been so immersed in his own version of Soto Zen Buddhism that he has developed an approach that says his version of Buddhism is Buddhism. I further surmise that his single-mindedness that his sect’s version of Zen is Buddhism is a sin of omission rather than arrogance.
I therefore disagree with the assessment that Brad’s “white Buddhism” is cultural appropriation as asserted in the facebook quote “No please white American dude ….”, but ….
And it is a big BUT I feel there is so much more to the facebook quote and response, and this is significantly worrying and discussed in the next blog.
I have reached a stage that I could call a summative position that I am happy with. As I was studying this for my own benefit to overcome conditioning I am satisfied with this for the moment, although there is far more I could learn.
The reason I reached the summative position was consideration of yinyang. I start from the position that yinyang has truth in it, and the reason for this is beyond scientific dispute for me; acupuncture heals me. Acupuncture is the medicinal system based on many centuries of experience that originally used the energy of the chi and yinyang balance to arrive at methods of healing.
This yinyang is natural, describes differences in nature and describes opposites that attract. Much like magnetism has opposites that attract (the north-south of the magnet), yinyang has opposites that attract. These opposites are often described as feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) but that has to be examined. What is yin is not a woman, and what is yang is not a man even though characteristics might be described as yin (feminine) and yang (masculine). A brief search on “feminism and yinyang” led to some feminists who tend to support this analysis.
What this means is that there are intrinsic natural characteristics based on yinyang, that characteristics of people are not naturally the same. What this also says to me is that what Dr Fani describes has weaknesses – see quote here. She says the only difference is the chromosome, and the rest of gender is conditioning. I think this position is weak. I have already mentioned instincts in the same blog, and now could add that natural characteristics of yinyang are also being ignored by her position.
I stress again I do not mean that yin is women and yang is men.
What I contend is that there is a natural difference between men and women – more than instinctual. This difference is not based on gender conditioning but is based in nature. This is a standard description of the nature vs nurture argument. Apart from using yinyang to support it, this contention is the usual that is unsolvable because nature and nurture in practice combine together and it is not practical to separate them for analysis.
As with instinct gender conditioning by the patriarchy also screws up the nature component. By the time the nurture conditioning of culture has finished we have the gender conditioning that feminists quite rightly fight.
I next consider in this summative position how women fight for their rights, and I want to use Bell Hooks description of reformism vs revolutionary feminism to each this position. Back in my political days some feminists argued that if women got into power their natural compassion would mean that society would change for the better. In the mid-80s there was an obvious British example that flawed this argument – Maggie a horrendous person. I had to accept then that this evil woman could well be a product of patriarchal conditioning. Since then more women have achieved positions of prominence including the next world leader – Hillary. Whilst their conditioning is still patriarchal and gender-conditioned and whilst women still have to be more 1%-conditioned to be successful I do not see any evidence that women bring with them natural characteristics that will lead to a better society. Women ascending to power is not a means of social change, although perhaps a matriarchy might be a better society. Back in the 70s and 80s I heard black people similarly arguing that if they were in a position society would be better. Whilst the argument of racist patriarchy prevailing applies to race as does the gender-conditioning of the 1% patriarchy, there is no evidence that black people in power are any more compassionate than white. In neo-colonial Africa black puppets exploit their own people as much as their previous white owners had done. Even more?
Having said this a woman deserves equal pay for equal work etc – as do black people. The basis of these socially-equal human rights ought not to be in question but of course they are because the 1% will use any method to exploit. There is a need for change. For me there is no doubt that this change needs to be revolutionary – in my case struggling to get rid of the 1%. But women who wish to reform this system deserve support in terms of justice. In my view the rights that reformist women have fought for have led to more equality but these changes have not impacted on the 1%-system. Personally I would support such justice-based changes as we should all have equal rights, but this will only be gained by a few as the 1%-system has within it the capacity for token strategic concessions. Without these women fighting these concessions would not have been won but in all areas of political change token concessions is a recognised containment strategy – concede to take out the leaders. Equal rights in terms of gender race or class will only be changed through revolutionary means – hopefully not violent.
As a final personal note I must recognise weaknesses I had concerning feminism, I never understood enough the issue of imprisonment by image that is a significant part of female conditioning. My understanding of feminism had been dominated by the oppression that was fought at the outset in the 60s, this oppression by violence and “kitchen enslavement” was all that I saw. Then I saw feminism appropriated by the reformists, and through personal experience clashed with women who were reforming and seeking greater personal success within the conditioned world. Their lack of revolutionary direction allowed me to be too critical of female careerists when I came into conflict with them – especially those who used feminism as a vehicle. This conflict would be the standard careerism vs education in which my demands for education would be seen as having “male” characteristics – perhaps they did; whilst I was fighting for good education careerist women would be fighting for equality in the workplace. As the workplace was a conditioned environment fighting for careerist rights meant that such reformist women were working for the 1% and against the interests of good education. I was not sufficiently conscious of my own sexism to have sought a compromise. In truth when it came to being anti-racist I was equally unwilling to compromise with reformist black people.
Desire also allowed me to ignore imprisonment by image, my natural attraction to that image allowed me to ignore the imprisonment issues. This desire was so strong that it was too easy for me to ignore and write off the imprisoning as connected with nature. BigFashion is very pervasive as is BigFood and BigPharma, I need to fight it with equal determination, and recognise my own complicity within the imprisonment process. My own awareness needs to bring with it a degree of compromise and compassion for that imprisonment, how I had used that awareness was previously remiss because of being attached to my desire. These last two paragraphs I added after the initial putting online of this blog, that is an indication that I have work to do.
“Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression” is from the intro to the book “Feminism is for everybody” by Bell Hooks. Ending oppression clearly includes the exploitation of all by the 1%, and as such need not include a gender-specific reference. To end oppression people need to be free, and for genuine freedom there needs to be a maturing process (awakening through to anatta). Even with 1%-oppression there can be freedom for the mature whereas without this maturity people could not experience freedom even in a society that was not oppressed. For me to accept that what Bell Hooks views as feminism is for everybody there has to be this freedom. I make this caveat not simply for feminism but for all political schemas. The socialism I envisage would have to include feminism because it would have to be socialism for all, and for that socialism to work it would have to bring freedom. For this reason I tend towards anarchism. But even then if there is not individual development, no matter how free and responsive the structures of government or representation are that society could not genuinely change. An inclusive system for change, feminism, socialism, anarchism or otherwise has to include an element of individual development, and in truth educating for awakening and anatta would be complex and require a complete overhaul of any education apparatus currently in existence. In looking at this book I want to see how far Bell goes on this issue. For her is feminism restricted to a response to patriarchal conditioning or is it working towards a mature free society for all?
At the end of the introduction she says “Imagine living in a world where we can all be who we are, a world of peace and possibility. Feminist revolution alone will not create such a world; we need to end racism, class elitism, imperialism.” I was being hopeful. All of this is true but such cannot be ended whilst individual development is limited to accepting conditioning whether sexist racist or imperialist. Moving beyond acceptance cannot exist in a conditioned society, perhaps it could exist without the conditioning of sexism racism and imperialism but more likely accepting minds would simply replace it with another “ism”. Even if that “ism” was beneficial such as “feminism for everybody” (or as I have seen socialism), without the developed mind with enquiry such benefits could not be perceived. Maybe she addresses this – doesn’t look likely.
“From its earliest inception feminist movement was polarized. Reformist thinkers chose to emphasize gender equality. Revolutionary thinkers did not want simply to alter the existing system so that women would have more rights. We wanted to transform that system, to bring an end to patriarchy and sexism. Since patriarchal mass media was not interested in the more revolutionary vision, it never received attention in mainstream press” [p15]. Reformism and revolutionaryism, I think this is the nearest I will get. Reformism is a response to the conditioning, it is competitive and seeks parity with men whether the conditioning is right or wrong – whether the system is right or wrong. Creating division and inequality is endemic in the imperialist system. It is part of the system that creates hierarchies to facilitate the accumulation of profit to the few. It is a revolutionary transformation that could enable the potential for maturity in all – freedom.
In the early days of the feminist movement there were two positive approaches that could lead to awakening – CR groups (consciousness raising) and critiquing the “enemy within” (internalised sexism). Such processes have got to lead to awakening. Compare this with the lack of questioning that accompanies competitive gender equality, and it seems evident that such competition would remain in the conditioned patriarchal world; the trap and oppression continues with that approach. If these two feminist approaches are applied genuinely then it has to undermine conditioning, and once conditioning has been undermined there is a state of non-acceptance – the beginning of awakening. That is good – non-acceptance of conditioning, a good starting point for the mature; genuine education could begin there. This would also be true of racism – CR-groups on racism and the “enemy within”. And what is so good about this methodology of non-acceptance is that it applies to all. What about the patriarch – the white male? His CR-group could discuss imperialism and his “enemy within” – the imperialist white male. Unfortunately established system-changing organisations ignore the personal development. At one stage I attended excellent Marxist education within the communist party but there was never the internal upheaval within this – examining the “enemy within”, and so communism lacked awakening for all and also institutionally exhibited sexism and racism. The “enemy within” is excellent methodology for all political movements with consciousness-raising directed inwards and not always outwards. This is going better than I first thought.
Much of the early talk in the Bell Hooks discussion focussed on body-image. I have not paid attention to my own image, and I want to consider why that is before considering what the panel said.
First and foremost when considering body image it is necessary to look into one of Buddhadasa’s maxims. He described all of Buddhism as “removing attachment to the 5 khandas”, despite apparent differences he claimed that fundamentally all Buddhisms tried to do this. Whether that is true or not, in this discussion it is important to note that one of the khandas is “body” – not being attached to the body or body-image.
In terms of society I was born fortunate although I have not always taken advantage of that good fortune. I was born a white heterosexual male, and in terms of the system this is an advantage. I do not subscribe to the manosphere, and whilst there is sometimes advantages to being in a minority these are small by comparison. At the same time I am just six foot, have no disabilities, in terms of mainstream it is all easy for me. In terms of appearance there is nothing lacking that would make me feel the need to focus on image despite others doing so.
At university I was shameful. My hair was long. To begin with I never kept myself clean, and I can’t remember about washing clothes – nor can I remember buying them. I drank all my grant so maybe that was why. After leaving uni the suit was a requirement so I got one, I somehow had shirts and ties, and washing them was never a priority. I suppose I only began to easily manage this when a maid became a requirement with my overseas teaching jobs; it was something that was not important and I was able to get someone else to do it within my budget.
I remember ties. As a teacher one is always expected to be “smart”, trousers shirt and jumper was enough for me to begin with. In my first job I taught in a working-class mixed race school and the students were always talking about clothes, I can remember feeling some pressure and did respond a bit. In the second school came the ties. I moved out of London, and the school had a tie policy although I was not told that in interview. It was common-place to wear a tie for interview so they never said …. until afterwards. I had an ongoing battle with the head who was a bully. I was the union rep and he misused his power not to promote me. At one stage he gave the excuse to my HOD that I did not follow school policies – the tie. I gave way in the end, but then there developed other excuses not to promote me. In the end he gave me a bonus when I was forced to resign from the union. In my leaving speech I gave him a present – my ties, and when I went over to him everyone said he looked petrified presumably he thought I would give him the smack he deserved (that had never crossed my mind – seriously). After that I taught in Africa and wore safari suits, and fellow teachers in shirt and tie thought I was overdressed. Nearly 7 years later I changed jobs and never gave a thought to shirt and ties, I became comfortable with matching shirt, tie and tie-clip. Now I wear shirts and shorts, black tie at funeral, and wonder why I got dragged into the tie issue. I have sometimes bought clothes for fashion – but rarely.
My image does not matter but 10 years ago I had a health issue – GERD. Over the years I was always overweight sometimes more than 20kg. This started with booze but didn’t stop when I gave it up. A natural health doctor suggested macrobiotics, and I follow a version of that to this day. For the first time my body matters because it is the product of fitness and healthy eating, and I watch my weight accordingly. At the moment I am 8kg over BMI, and not fit because my swimming has tailed off. This observation is not attachment to body, one religion describes it as “taking care of the body of the householder”. When I evaluate my body image I don’t see it as important, and wonder why it is important to others.
In Bell Hooks’ panel discussion I have a great deal of difficulty relating to Janet Mock and her glam. First and foremost society should respect her decision, and this ludicrous US toilet situation that led to the Fani interview discussed in Gender and Genitalia is crazy. She has the right to be who she wants to be without infringing on others. Ladyboys are readily tolerated in Thailand, they are relatively common-place (in each village). I remember a conversation with a gay friend. I had just visited Penang and stayed in a hotel near a tourist street – Julia Street. In the evening I walked past prostitutes – not unusual to see prostitutes on Asian streets near tourist hotels, and mentioned this to the friend. He advised me to be careful as they were ladyboys and had a reputation for luring clients and robbing them; he was not critical of this practise as if their crime could be tolerated.
But I do not understand the fixation with clothes. Janet wishes to portray herself in the image of a beautiful woman, but to me such stereotypes appear to be part of the patriarchy. Tell me why I am wrong but it seems to me that she is even more conditioned. I celebrate her desire to be Janet but as Bell Hooks asked would she be celebrated as a writer if she were not discussing the fashionable trans? Janet is beautiful, Beyonce is beautiful, Muslims can be beautiful, why the need for the glam?
Body-image is an integral part of patriarchal conditioning of women. The conditioning fashions women to appeal to male desire whilst at the same time filling the coffers of BigFashion. Within the conditioned framework such statements of intent as Beyonce’s and Janet’s show an element of control but in terms of conditioning they appear to me not to show detachment. I am unsure where they would stand in the mature model, whether awakening can be considered to have occurred – awakening from conditioning.
It reminded me of the womanism article that was in the Youth Centre magazine I edited in the early 80s. Womanism was a term that was used by Alice Walker amongst others because they considered the conditioning for a black woman was significantly different for that of white.
I note the discussion on Beyonce. As far as I understand it Beyonce is considered in some way feminist because she owns the image she portrays and makes a profit from it. This is her choice and she has the right to make it. But the patriarchy would not complain as her image satisfies their desires, the 1% are happy as the performer only makes a small percentage of the revenue – however large in total, and the image-making side of the patriarchy would also be happy – women whose image they are objectifying can now accept this image as their own because people like Beyonce have owned it. I remember a similar discussion around Madonna owning her image but I am not sure about that. I did hear that Madonna is macrobiotic, that is health and much more than an image.
When there is talk of black people the word colonial must come up. Initially colonialism subjugated through military. When black people fought against the military it became cheaper to ensure their requirements – raw materials market and cheap labour – were maintained through controlled self-rule – neo-colonialism. These puppets of neo-colonialism ensure the continued exploitation of the African cake, and the only cost is buying off the puppets. It suits the colonial mentality to have Beyonce own her image because what she does is what they would like her to do.
I also note that Bell continually uses the words “imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy”. Consider the issue of slavery in a modern day context. The “naked” slavery of the plantations had the owner, then white taskmasters and pecking order amongst black slaves. This slavery had one person the owner making most of the money and using that money to ensure that all who worked for him were subjugated including the white people who enforced his power. This is 1%-strategy – owners with varying degrees of wage-slavery underneath with black people, esp black women, at the bottom. Bell’s awareness has been a response to the patriarchy so naturally that word is emphasised. For me patriarchy is an effective, divisive system the 1% employ in line with their aims of profit; it is a pecking order as on the plantations with black women at the bottom of the ladder.
I note this quote [41.00] from Bell Hooks. “There is a price for the decolonisation. You’re not going to have the wealth, you’re not going to be getting your genius award funded by the militarist, imperialist, Macarthur people …. It is the cost of liberation. People will remain enslaved because it is simply easier, more well paid.”
And compare it with a description of the mature model in my blog Culture:- “Because mature people must live somewhere, they live amidst culture but they “float” around these cultures as outsiders, some socially accepted and others not.” Beyonce accepting her image and exploiting it has maintained that social status, that acclaim and wealth, what financial cost has Bell Hooks paid for what she calls decolonisation? Not being colonised only exploited I would use her other word – liberation, what is the price of liberation?
I know one thing, liberation brings greater happiness even if sometimes financially-challenged!!!!
I missed a tweet a couple of weeks ago that my niece wrote. When I opened the URL I found this quote as being part of the highlights of an interview:-
“Within our culture we hold on to this idea that genitals dictate your gender. But in reality there’s a difference between your biological sex and your socially ascribed gender. Your biological sex is determined by your chromosomal make-up and it differentiates people physically from each other. Men and women are identical apart from the sex chromosome which distinguishes you as male or female. Gender is the socialisation of boys and girls into masculinised and feminised individuals.”
I was taken aback by parts of this so I listened to the podcast:-
By the end of the interview rather than being taken aback I felt much more in tune. Firstly I like the clear distinction represented by the words gender and genitalia, and the word gender applies to what I have been calling conditioning (patriarchal) in recent blogs. There is an interesting discussion of “response to feminism” over time. When women have been asserting themselves socially there has been a cultural response and chauvinist reaction; I liked this but am unable to comment as my lifestyle takes me outside such trending.
At one point she mentioned that empowerment of women because they give birth. This is interesting and I will expand below. But I was taken aback by the discussion of chromosomal make-up. Earlier in my life I was political, and at that time inclusiveness was dominant in my approach; if I were being political now I would not mention this point. However my focus has been on the spiritual vis-à-vis the mature model. It appears as if the psychologist, Fani, is saying something like this:-
The minor chromosomal difference leads to the difference in physical bodies between women and men. In all other matters women and men are the same.
This is my interpretation of what she said in the quote above. I hope that interpretation is not incorrect, I disagree with her but I don’t wish to misrepresent her. The consequence of what she says is that all gender is conditioning, and that apart from physical appearance we are the same.
With the mature phase we have complete agreement, no difference between women and men despite the preponderance of males in the world of spirituality. I could easily replace the word conditioning with gender but then I could also replace it with race and class. I am not disputing that we live in a patriarchy but for me the world we live in is dominated by the interests of 1%-world, a world that includes greedy women as well as men – although far fewer.
But if my interpretation is correct then Fani is ignoring instinct. Development via race and class does not have an instinctual component but I do believe girls and boys start with different instincts, and that it is the manipulation of these instincts by the 1% through patriarchy that leads to oppression of women – discussed in earlier blogs. In an immature society like ours the impact of instinct is of greater importance than it should be. Spiritually I understand instinct to mean faculties (instincts) that nature gives us to help survive – as discussed before survival after birth and procreation (survival of the species). For mature people these are almost insignificant in terms of their approach to life but for most people who are intentionally constrained into immature development instinct has greater import. Hence the degree of difficulty in distinguishing instinct from gender (patriarchal conditioning).
Again the following is something that I would not say politically. As mentioned above, at some time the power of women because they gave birth was considered dominant. I feel instinct attracts the baby to the mother more than the father in early childhood. Traditionally the woman has been the lynchpin of the home. Whilst I personally think this is a good natural thing I say it with a degree of caution. This nurturing faculty could be just conditioning but it is hard to discern. I was around in the 60s and 70s for the time of the first phase of feminism Fani alluded to. Whilst the movement talked of feminism in general, for me two issues appeared to dominate. Violence against women has appropriately been universally condemned. The subjugated position of women in society has been pointed out, and steps have been taken to counter this. This has led to arguments of equal pay but there is still a long way to go for this. To be perfectly honest I think women deserve equal pay, but I am completely unhappy that this thread of feminism has led to a situation where women are involved in 1%-world and perform the same actions as men with an equal lack of compassion – whether imposed or otherwise. When I was politically active the women whose inclusion I fought for spoke of bringing compassion into the workplace. In my view this has not happened. Women work harder to get equal rights, and this work includes greater adherence to the compassionless demands of 1%-world in order to succeed. In my view immorality is not acceptable by subjugated groups although it is more understandable.
I have had a longstanding criticism of the feminist movement of that time. They promoted equality in the workplace, and tacitly accepted the patriarchal relegation of work in the home by their focus. For me our western societies are breaking down because of the lack of emphasis on the education of our young to being good compassionate citizens. This emphasis would begin at home, and thus place much greater importance on the nurturing lynchpin – the traditional role of mother conditioned or otherwise.
I think the talk with Dr Fani was very interesting, and apart from the issue of instinct have total agreement.
Sexual relationships have two components, love and sex, and these need not be exclusive. When I was first aware of these things maybe 40 years ago, the sexual revolution had just happened. Apparently, I was never part of it, this led to increased promiscuity. But if I reflect back it was men who sought many sexual relations. It now appears that young people are having sex earlier, and it is much less male instigation. In other words it is acceptable for young women to experience sex with different partners, much more acceptable than it was 40 years ago.
Physical sexual attraction is more based on the availability of sex for men. Despite the appalling names men have for women who do the same as them, young men search out these young “available” women. Amongst men it is socially acceptable to have sex with anyone but having a long-term relationship has different criteria. This, I suggest, is where love comes in. There is an image of who it is acceptable to have a long-term relationship with, and it is this image that affects the appearance of women. The two cases of women having body issues, Jane and Karen, also had the additional image problem of being performers on stage, and as such their appearance mattered even more.
Judging by what happens the majority of women wish to have homes and bring up children. Such homes include men but it is usually portrayed as being instigated by women – claiming men lack “commitment”. Whilst there might be a time for changing partners, for the majority of women they soon settle to homes and I suggest provide the glue that keeps the family together. This was certainly true 40 years ago, I don’t know how true it is now. In this I am describing what I have observed, it is not my intention to cause offence. When looking at this process I don’t know where to ascribe motivations as it is a cultural process.
Appearance and conditioned behaviour are very much involved in this cultural process, and I feel the requirements on women are much more imposing. There is the obvious difference relating to promiscuity, in many situations promiscuity of me is celebrated where similar promiscuity often brings slurs especially from female peers although from males they are almost equally condemned – despite their being happy to have sex with them. In some cultures virginity is a requirement for some marriages, and in other cultures there is often a “lock up your daughters and sisters”.
Conditioned behaviour is an imposition often applied by family but rarely is increased by wider imperatives. But that is far from the case with appearance. Recognising the need caused by attraction to males, consumerism has exploited the willingness of young women to pander to this attraction. This shaping of image involves clothes, cosmetics and hygiene – the first two being appropriated by Bigfashion. When I was young, BigFashion did not impact too much on males but I believe it now has a greater impact. I remember a wonderful interchange as a teacher when I was much younger. My A level group had jobs to pay for clothes. At the time they were buying jumpers and BigFashion dictated they wear the jumpers to the disco only once. I dismissed this as a waste of money, and they asked about my drinking and whether I just “pissed the money against the wall”. I laughed, I had definitely come second there. We were both subject to different consumer pressures.
I can remember being pressured by BigFashion as an adolescent, but fortunately since then, as an adult, BigFashion pressures have been limited. Of course there have been the job pressures about clothes, the job uniform, and occasional formal requirement. This is very limited compared to the pressure on adult women. A man can wear a suit until it falls apart, women are expected to change clothes because of appearance, an appearance that requires a regular change of image. There are similar pressures on the way a woman wears her hair, and I suspect cosmetics but that I have never observed.
I make an observation about this that shows how deeply entrenched this conditioning is amongst some women. I have no doubts that the appearance of my partners was affected by conditioning, beauty was a factor. As I got older beauty need not have been an issue because I sought compatibility, homeliness and sex; it should not have mattered whether the woman was beautiful but it did. In the end the compatibility that I need was the freedom to grow spiritually, and that definitely did not require beauty. But in the end demands from women for money to appease BigFashion and social pressures became dominant, these women were required to demonstrate to other women/society the demands of BigFashion and failure to do so was seen as some kind of failure. It is hard not to judge all women by the women I have known closely but I do know that is unreasonable.
When asked women will say they decide on their appearance, of course they do. But in choosing their image are they not influenced by BigFashion? When I was with a partner I never required an image, in fact sometimes it was the opposite; when a woman decides to be a partner why does she wish to appear attractive to other men? Why do women use cosmetics? Many cosmetics damage their skin, healthy skin can be maintained by healthy soap and aloe vera juice!! It used to annoy me to see young girls at school wearing make-up when it was damaging and to me did not add anything to their appearance – of course my perception did not matter to them. When I look at what BigFashion demands of appearance, however the woman decides she chooses I do see an element of sexual attraction – accentuating figures etc. When a woman chooses this, is she choosing it for herself or is she choosing because of conditioning?
It is appalling that conditioning is leading to eating disorders. Violent oppression by men is completely unacceptable and since feminism such violence has been marginalised – although not completely. This is very positive. However the feminist movement, through books such as “Fat is a feminist issue”, has highlighted the oppression of the body but in my view this has not changed. There is a big difference for this – BigFashion. Violence against women had no commercial value, and whilst it was more socially acceptable when I grew up it has been jumped on as a conditioned response. This is positive. However BigFashion has prevented the equivalent change in social conditioning, and conditioning still oppresses women to such an extent that there are eating disorders. When we look at the oppression of women we have to see two things – the 1% and patriarchy.
It is not my right to impose a choice because of BigFashion conditioning but I do have the right to point out the possibility of its impact. There is a natural component to this issue. Sexual attraction, the mating instinct and possibly the development of a home all contribute to social pressures on both women and men in terms of appearance. However the impact on women to be of an image that attracts men has been exploited by BigFashion, and the fact that this leads to eating disorders is clearly a crime of patriarchy. I do not see how our society can see this as in any way acceptable. For a long time I never equated the eating disorders with chauvinism, and this was my ignorance. But the continuation of image imposition, the consequential eating disorders and the economic exploitation by BigFashion are “feminist” issues, not just issues arising from patriarchy or chauvinism but also from the 1%. Men should be involved in fighting both, people should be involved in fighting both.
Cultures differ throughout the world, and often have conditioning attached to them in terms of nationalism and cultural chauvinism. This of course is separation, one is better than another, and is contrary to the natural unity that is Gaia – One Planet and its Peoples. Culture and chauvinism at its worse leads to war, or if not are cultivated by those who see wars for profits – the 1%. Because mature people must live somewhere, they live amidst culture but they “float” around these cultures as outsiders, some socially accepted and others not.
Mature people can influence culture. As a group creative people exert a positive influence on culture, but unfortunately that impact is controlled by profit through the publishing companies so this lessens what could be a positive influence by censoring certain materials based on the profit motive. Spiritually mature people can also impact culture. In the US Eckhart Tolle through Oprah Winfrey’s influence has had mainstream access enabled, in studying the New Earth his work must have influenced many. This of course has not led to a cultural revolution in the US because the tide of conditioning easily reverses positive steps he takes, but he must have changed individuals.
Spiritually mature people of course gravitate to religion, but as institutions they have been controlled for a long time. Religions rely on money to survive, and there is usually some kind of political interference caveat with regards to charitable donations. Or alternatively rich donors are courted by the leaders of religions so newly awakened people attracted to the religions are often quelled by the religious leaders themselves in favour of maintaining the religious infrastructure.
Mature people are often attracted to compassionate professions so these are always underfunded and repressively maintained – for one example see Matriellez on education.
Mature people are not usually leaders because they would have to compromise too much to become leaders. And so they “float” having an impact wherever they go, but then having the tide of conditioning squash beneficial interactions. They are loners, maybe even active within communities at times but loners maintaining their integrity outside of all the conditioning. But they can be seen – respect insight, look for insight, value insight, try to relate to insight. If you develop a sense that seeks insight you will see this maturity around you.
So mature people exist within this sea of instinct and conditioning but their insight isolates them – in some way detaches them from the pressures to conform to adolescence. It is necessary to see this culture for what it is and in doing that the potential for detachment is enabled. At birth there are instincts to help us survive, without these instincts the baby dies as it cannot be independent. This baby needs food etc, this is instinct. And the mother provides – instinct, the mother protects – instinct, less involved the father also protects – instinct. The community protects, even if people are on the repressive right side of the pro-life debate it is still their instinct to preserve the life of babies that is placing them within this erroneous position. So at a time when we cannot provide for ourselves nature provides through instinct.
The other part of survival that nature impacts is of course procreation. In our teens sexual desires develop, and eventually those desires lead to intercourse, relationship and birth. From there the maternal instinct kicks in and to a lesser extent the paternal instinct also helps. The level of instinct differs with individuals but they are hot-wired into our being and exerts some form of control within us throughout adolescent lives. Throughout all of this nature-defined instinctive process there is culture, conditioning applied to this instinct. And it is this aspect of culture that leads to all the oppression including that of women that I am investigating through consideration of feminism.
Through travel I have observed different cultures, I now live outside my own culture. But there is only one culture I know, British middle-class culture – my upbringing and the first half of my adult life. As I travelled for 14 years I saw different cultures but was never a part of them. And now that I am retired I do not know the culture I am in because I don’t speak the language and because I am not Thai – so I am still observing. To know a culture I must be inside it, and that is why I will always be a English middle-class white male no matter how much of the conditioning I unlearn. Typically for some inane reason I still follow Manchester United – part of my culture, when I watch a game it seems to matter whether they win – why? I even care whether England win yet socio-politically I reject what England stands for. Conditioning. I don’t really know manhood yet this football thing is still there, a part of my culture that I have clung to.
I want to offer a view of the instinct and conditioning that is the culture I came from. In doing this I am presenting a framework, a cultural infrastructure of development to allow for some analysis. This infrastructure has to be personal, no matter how much I would like to see detachment in it. Once developed I hope to consider culture and maturity with regards to female oppression.
As a teacher I observed many teenage girls. To watch their pre-occupation with their appearance, to watch the peer conformity requiring boy fixations made absolutely no human sense but it happened. Boys’ conditioning, what Jane calls manhood, did not seem to have the same sense of imposition – of engulfment. Intellectual achievement seemed to offer some escape but it always seemed to me that the conditioning on women happened despite the possible intellectual escape. When Jane describes an emptiness in her adolescence I can see it as the girls I saw grow receding into a pre-occupation with appearance. Before I looked into Karen Carpenter and then looked into Jane and eating disorders I had never correlated it with the conditioning. Because of our appalling diets I saw fatness as an issue of health but it is also a rejection of the appalling conditioned preoccupation with appearance. Whilst manhood has some preoccupation with appearance (eg abs and sixpack) it is not all inclusive. For men their chauvinism breeds pecking order and violence, an horrific aspect of their conditioning.
In a boys’ grammar school I never grew up with girls, my contact was very limited as I also consider myself empty at that time; this led to an extreme lack of confidence. As a teacher observing, boys and girls rarely mixed; maybe if someone was academic they were asked – irrespective of gender. It was separate by choice (or conditioning) no matter what the racial or religious mix.
Culture imposed itself on the children no matter where I was, and that culture was always different for boys and girls. And for girls, appearance and relationship was always prevalent. With regards to mature women I have met this was not the case, and mature women whilst seeking the right of independence of women were not always avowed feminists.
I consider this issue of appearance as a mixture of instinct and conditioning. As a heterosexual male I was attracted to pretty women, the first attraction was always physical – always appearance. Sexual excitement also occurred with women who I found attractive although the sexual act does not require that attraction. That attraction however is conditioning, I need to consider what that attraction is and was to help unlearning the conditioning. I suspect what male attraction is about is very much a part of the conditioned appearance for women.
The more I think about attraction and appearance, the more I see an understanding of conditioning.