Nothing you believe in is real

A couple of weeks ago I was in a conversation with a man who is very close to me. It had been a couple of days after the 2016 elections and I was still raw. During the conversation, this man brought up the results, and as I bit my tongue, I tried to remember who this man was, that he was close to me, that I had made a decision with myself to love him unconditionally. That it didn’t matter what he thought, I’d still respect him. But of course, that all went down the garbage when I heard him say, “the american people voted for those they wanted”. And I felt it, the vile going up my throat, and before I could control my emotions, the sound “no he wasn’t!” had self righteously escaped my mouth, and I was flustered and impatient in a second flat. I tried to present him with facts, explaining to him the little that I knew about how the American system worked, repeating every article headline and quote that supported the fact that the American voting system was a fraud, that America had not elected a criminal and disgusting human as its president. After bombarding him for a second with information, this man simply looked at me and said “no.” And then without stating fact or anything to rebute what I had said, he simply insisted that things were as they were.

That day I went to sleep feeling angry, and like I had failed.

Weeks later, again trying to have a conversation with this same man, I would be heartbroken to find out he thought we didn’t need “more compassion”, because the world was “too nice” already. Heartbroken, but again, trying to remain silent. What good was there from talking to this man who was so hellbent on his opinions? Not to mention, I didn’t really know what I was talking about, mostly I live through intuition, following my sense of right and wrong and always trying to back it up with facts, but it’s intuition first.

So I listened to him, observing him, using him as a testrun of how to remain calm when confronted with these bigots. Until he brought up transgender people. Trying to explain to me how it was so ridiculous for the French government gave students an option to choose their genders. That it was “against evolution”. I took a deep breath in, and with the sweetest most patient tone I could muster, I told him what I knew about gender (which is somehow easier for me to understand than politics) that science and psychology could back up that gender wasn’t just two facets, that it was a social construct, that if everyone could express themselves how they were instead of how we wanted them to it would make for a richer more compassionate world.

That’s when he dropped the bomb. That the world didn’t need more compassion. And that he didn’t need science to tell him what was the truth.

I felt the anger rise. And stopped it.

I stopped it because there is one thing I know about this man, to be the truest of true things, because I have seen it over and over again, and heard him say things over and over again, is that he doesn’t actually care about others. He cares about his world not being disturbed. He cares about being able to blame the world for being a shitty place, instead of having to own up to the shittiness within him. It’s so much easier to accept that the world is garbage. It’s so much easier to put it on the outside. To try and tell others how to live their life so that we feel like we know. Anything to avoid taking a look within.

And there was absolutely nothing that I, personally, knew to do about it. Despite the fact that I am his daughter.

Perhaps if I had the right words, or more patience, or more emotional stability. Perhaps if I cared better. Alas, nothing except for frustration, talking too fast from an emotional standpoint, and then getting burned out and feeling like a failure. I would of course, always hug him goodbye. Make sure we left on good terms. The man is 78, he lives here in France and I’m leaving soon. I’m his only daughter, and often time, for him, for myself, I tell myself it’s more important to have a respectful, distant, loving relationship with my father than to insult him and no matter what, probably not change him at all.

Because I, unlike my father, believe in Compassion beyond anything.

In between all that, I also had a conversation with my younger sister. We were probably talking about bigotry, or something or other, because I was expressing my frustration in not being able to get other people to understand what I was saying.

To which she replied, “no matter what you say though, it remains to be YOUR perspective.”

And that’s a truth that has made the whole concept of living a fair, and good life something of a question mark.

There *is* no real right or wrong. There simply isn’t. We have solid theories based on things that shape us, like religion, psychology, history, evolution, and instinct. But just like I could say (and you might agree) that we should all strive to live as fair and just as possible, there is someone else who could tell you that the purpose of life is destruction, chaos, power, or greed.

And they wouldn’t be wrong.

I’ve had to really think about this, about what it means and how it affects how I view everything. Because no matter what your values and perspectives are, it all just remains, when push comes to shove a perspective.

It’s the matter of fact existence of opposing sides. If one side exists, than the other one naturally does. If evil exists, there is good somewhere within, if good prevails, evil is not far behind. We talk about it constantly and understand this truth, but are still constantly surprised when we face it. We’re so cute, humans…constantly arrogantly speaking as if we know what we’re talking about, while acting surprised that things are exactly as we say they are.

And in all that, how do we choose how to live? Do we pick a side and fight from that side constantly? Or do we let the tides take us down history lane in whichever way is more comfortable for us? Do we live our lives settling in our lives of familiar denial, despite the discomfort it may come with, or do we stand up and do something about it, knowing we will probably never win the fight, but thrive with the freedom of awareness? Do we pick the side of fairness of power? To we remain neutral? How do we choose?

I chose not survival, but thriving. I choose knowledge, and richness. I choose love, in all its delicious manifestations of fun nights with friends, favors followed through with genuine smiles, protest art and a shared meal, unity for the sake of love, and authentic living. I chose to listen to the earth, to nature, because it is part of something that is much more ancient than humanity itself. Because when I convene with nature, reach within myself and listen to the core of existence, there is more truth and more answers there than that which I find in conversation with the most intelligent people. Because everything that we choose to believe as “fact”, has a one point or another just been an opinion. Because everything has been manipulated by the perspective of humans just as imperfect and opinionated as those that exist now.

And through that, everything changes. How you eat, how you have sex, how you befriend people, how you live. What I have found, is that in choosing compassion, I am not in the side of anything. I am in all sides. In choosing compassion, I can still listen. I can still hear. I can still understand. And while I figure out what better ways to give weight to the revolution of love, I fight to listen better. To understand better. So that one day I can do better.

 


SeLoFest17 Last Challenge
click here for all prompts so far

The Prompt: It’s time to put together everything you’ve been going through, all that you’ve done in the past 3 weeks of Self Love. How do you plan on putting this to use from now on? What side do you choose?

The activity: Read this article.

In your journal: Review past entries in your journal. You should have a blueprint of who you are and how your beliefs came about. Give yourself a plan for the next few months, projects that you wish to pursue to help you continue the fight for yourself and those you love in a world that is bitter and unbalanced.

Believe in yourself. And as always, I am here supporting you.

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Let’s Talk About Sex: Part 2

(This was a 2 part Post. The first one talked about Gender and Sexuality and you can check it out here.)

Would you say you have a healthy relationship with sex? What would you base that on?

I believe I have a healthy relationship with sex and sexuality. I accept the role of sex in our life, spiritually and psychologically.

Growing up in a Latino household in American society with my particular upbringing made for a relationship with sexuality that was open, but did stem from shame. For one, I thought masturbation was humiliating, uncomfortable to even think or talk about, embarrassing, but just in regards to myself, and not in regards to others. For me, sexuality was strictly about two people. Oh how wrong I was.

First of all, masturbation is actually kind of an excellent form of self-care or self therapy.
Here’s a fantastic 5 minute video (or 4:44 minutes to be exact, and I love repeating numbers) by Laci Green again that talks a little about why we feel shame around masturbation, and why it’s so good for us.

She also shared some good resources to get us going (1,2) on our own research on masturbation. My most conflicting issues in regards to growing up and sexuality, was the whole concept around virginity, and slut-shaming.

Growing up, my education around sex was that it was something healthy, and normal, and nothing to be ashamed of provided you did it with a man you loved and that you were of adult age. Which, when I was a little kid, I told my mother would be when I was 18. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I did not, in fact wait until then.

I had been taught by American society and my latino upbringing that being a virgin was something to be cherished (by women, mostly) for as long as possible. However, that form of thinking is super sexist, and a social construct that stems heavily from religion. I strongly recommend you read these two articles to inform you on the social construct on religion and help you deprogram your brain from judging a woman by how “pure” she is.

For me, I didn’t agree with that social construct, but like most things about life, I just figured I was the one that was wrong, and felt ashamed when I lost my virginity, not being able to bring myself to telling my mom for a year after.

Once I had “lost” my virginity, my issue with sexuality was that I was so curious about it. I was fascinated with the idea and energy of sex, and have always been someone that likes contact and being affectionate. To me sex was the ultimate way to do that. It wasn’t so much wanting to just have pleasure and be with guys, it genuinely was about feeling that amazing sexual energy with someone special. However, in the age of pornography and publicity objectifying women, we were still not allowed to freely own up to being sexual. In short, we are still a society that primitively slut-shames.

If you read the previous articles, (seriously, read them!) or have any millenial friends on your social media, you may have already heard of slut shaming. It’s not just some hip third wave feminism vocabulary word, however. It’s a very real thing that seriously hinders the ability for women to have a healthy sexual upbringing.

Thankfully, any shame around sexuality that my mother had taught me, was just the ashes of a very strict religious upbringing she herself had been educated in. I matured into a sexually active woman, was careful, never got pregnant or got an STD (knock on wood) and developed a healthy relationship with sexuality. My mothers’ own views evolved as well, and we can now discuss sexuality comfortably in my household (much to the chagrin of my younger siblings!)

In December, my family and I went to Amsterdam, and I wanted to visit the Red Light District. I had planned that specific night trip for my brother, my dad Jaimito, and I. During the day, my mother, sister, and I had spent a fantastic day at a Science Museum (for kids) called NEMO. However, in planning to go to the Red Light District, it made our family engage in interesting conversation and my mother raised points that got me thinking.

On one side, I fully support sex work. I think that if a woman feels empowered, strong, skilled, and pleasure in wanting to work as a stripper or prostitute, that it is my responsibility, as someone who wishes everyone to be empowered, free, and happy, to respect and support her choice. And it is the society’s authority’s (our garbage government) responsibility to provide her with laws that require clean and safe places to do this, and with the legal support she needs to safely practice it.

Sex work like prostitution and stripping should not be considered criminal acts because they are not. To think that being a stripper is “easy” is incredibly ignorant and hurtful to the young women working their bodies on the stage. To think someone has to be “stupid” to be a stripper is disregarding all the math that goes into hustling a lap dance. I read up a lot on the personal lives of strippers and have so much respect and admiration for what it takes.

On the other side, I don’t believe the porn industry is a healthy way to meet our sexual needs, and feel like women do not have a lot of context in which to respect themselves in it. It does make me sad when I see a woman being objectified, despite the fact that I know that she chose to be there and is getting a hefty amount of doing it. But I am not going to blame her, and say that she is the one disrespecting herself, before blaming society, and the context that led her to place herself in that situation.

To tell a woman to “respect herself” by not exposing herself or sleeping with men, is to disrespect her autonomy in being able to make choices about herself, we are objectifying her by no longer seeing her as a whole person, who has perspectives and a context of her own. By telling a woman to respect herself, we are telling her we are disrespecting her, and we need her to fit into our box of purity that we’ve placed for her so as to respect her.

Every woman is deserving of respect because they are human. A woman does not have to be “modest” in order for you to respect her. Men surely don’t have to be “modest” to get respect out of people. Inherent respect is a privilege that men have…It’s all about control. Literally. It’s about denying women the right to their own bodies. It’s denying women of choice.[source:x]

The older generations have a way to come with this, but many people from my generation still shame sex workers and other sluts. I, for one, am a self proclaimed slut, and completely embrace it. I do not need or care how others define me because I understand that it is their own fear, limit, and small mindedness that does not allow them to see me wholly. Don’t be that person, and take the time to educate yourself on slut-shaming.

Spiritually, I feel like there’s something to be said about the Divine Feminine and that connecting to that is important. However, I do Not think that it should be limited to women. While women are perhaps more connected to that Divine Feminine energy of mother nature, women have that connection within themselves as well. Again, gender is not as strictly binary as we make it out to be. Just like there is also the sacred Divine Masculine that generally men, but also women, can tap into within themselves. To tell women that we are somehow more important than men is still sexist and divisive. Sexuality is literally about two energies becoming one, I would love to be part of a community that embraces that and strives for the healthy balance of sexual energy and exploration, instead of one that shames, fears, and simultaneously exploits it.

sisters
I love painting the female form. Check out the rest of my art on my website.


#SeLoFest17 Challenge
click here for all prompts so far

The Prompt: Where are YOUR views on sexuality? How did you learn about masturbation? Sex? Sexuality? What is your relationship with sex like? Exploring your own sexuality and working for a healthy relationship with it is also essential to a balanced relationship with yourself. Self-love cannot blossom if you do not love your body and are sexually comfortable with it. You do not need to be masturbating all the time, or ever, if you do not want, but consider a way to heal with yourself. If you are judging others’ sexualities, if you feel sad for strippers or prostitues, porn stars or slutty girls, most likely, you are judging yourself. (Projections are fun!)

Activity: Check out these links and use them for reference to practice some physical anatomy. If you have a partner, for a fun romantic art therapy challenge, ask them to pose nude for you. Or pose in front of a mirror in the nude choose a position in which you can pose comfortably.

In your journal: Do some nude sketches! Draw fat bodies, skinny bodies, male bodies, female bodies, intersex bodies, bodies that don’t look anything like yours, but also celebrate your own beautiful body.

Let’s talk about Sex: Part 1

click here for all prompts so far

Hello, class, welcome to Gender Studies 101

A huge part of being able to identify with yourself and others better, is acknowledging how you define yourself. If you are clear minded on how you view yourself, better understanding others and opening your mind to other ways of identity is a cultural richness that we are privileged to have the mediums of information from which to acquire it through. I never was able to  formally study gender, but it is a topic that is so fascinating to me that I have continuously tried to learn more about it. However it is a loaded and complicated topic, and it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin when we’ve grown up with the education and system that teaches “traditional” gender binary and conservative sexuality.

When I tried to investigate where gender binary comes from (the idea that there is a concise division between male and female) the information I found suggests that it’s simply defined by society (and thus religion) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Check out this neat map to take a look at how gender is seen in other parts of the world.

However understanding the different genders and sexualities can be really tricky, so I’ve tried to find simple videos that explain it for you from people who know what they are talking about much better than I could.

Here’s a 3 minute video where Laci Green (an internet sex-ed teacher phenomenon) gives you a nutshell explanation of why there are not just two genders.

If you prefer reading over watching, here’s Planned Parenthood giving a brief description of the difference between gender and sexuality.

And if you prefer imagery, here’s a phenomenal graphic found on ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com

genderbread-person-3

The concept of non-binary gender is not only supported by people living their truth, but also historically, culturallypsychologically, scientifically, in every which way. Understanding it, is simply a matter of knowledge which can be acquired either by exposure or education.

Being cis-gendered, means you identify with the gender you were assigned with at birth. I am a cis-gender woman. Speaking in these terms aids in removing the stigma between being trans-gendered.

Sexuality is more about who you are attracted to in regards to the other gender, but it can be very scary to embrace these things when suddenly we realize everything we knew about labels has just exploded into an unknown universe and it can be scary to want to take a look at ourselves and accept others when it is too far out of our reach of understanding. That is why it is so important to be informed, to keep ourselves from remaining ignorant and stagnant in our acceptance of ourselves and others.

Accepting our sexuality helps us in loving ourselves in more fulfilling ways, to see ourselves fully. Accepting sexuality in others, allows us to be able to witness more acts of love and generosity, more freedom of expression and speech. It makes for a generally better existence for everyone.

Here are two fun quizzes you can take a look at to take a loot at how you identify yourself.

  • Gender Role Test

    This website says: “Drawing on the work of Dr. Sandra Lipsitz Bem, this test classifies your personality as masculine or feminine. Though gender stereotyping is controversial, it is important to note that Bem’s work has been tested in several countries and has repeatedly been shown to have high levels of validity and test-retest reliability. The test exclusively tests for immanent conceptions of gender (meaning that it doesn’t theorize about whether gender roles are biological, cultural, or both). Consequently, the test has been used both by feminists as an instrument of cultural criticism and by gender traditionalists who seek to confirm that gender roles are natural and heritable.” Take it here.

  • How gay are you

    In the 1940’s, professor Kinsley would revolutionize how western society viewed sex. (There’s a movie about it.) Kinsley theorized that everyone was just a little bit gay. He simplified this theory through a scale. You can take the very short quiz to see where you stand here.

    However the Kinsley scale is outdated, as the spectrum of sexuality is as fluid and as we are unique. A more updated version of Kinsley’s scale might be the Purple-Red Scale. A bit more complicated, but worth a look.

hpugkes

 


SeLoFest17 Challenge Day 22
click here for all prompts so far

The Prompt: What have you learned about your own sexuality and that of others today? If you haven’t learned anything new, think about the context others may have grown up in that did not allow them to ever witness what you grew up and knew. How might that change how a person views themselves? Do you have any issues with your gender or sexuality? Do you believe that it is still-water within you?

The activity: Watch all the videos and take the quizzes above

In your journal: Post your results and talk or draw your feelings around anything that may come up for you. And time to GENDERBEND yourself…Draw yourself of the OPPOSITE gender, or if you are genderqueer, choose a gender and draw yourself with the traits assigned to that gender, JUST FOR FUN. 😉