When Activism Becomes Extreme.

On observations…
 
Activism, no matter what form or shape or cause, is comprised of passion. An injustice is seen and vigorously fought for. As with any activism; there are extremists. Those who find themselves so overtaken with the injustice that emotions often drive the conversation, which frequently leads to heated arguments instead of civil discussions.
 
I fully understand these individuals. I was one; and still am sometimes and trying to change. These are the people who attack on a personal level because they find it very difficult to separate the person from the act. A good friend told me once: “Sometimes you have to punch someone in the face to get their attention.” It’s a beautiful saying and I fully agree. However, it can be done without making it personal.
 
As soon as you go on the offensive (or defensive) with attacking, an insurmountably wall erects itself and the conversation becomes dead before it begins. No one will learn, or even be interested in learning, at this point. Why would they? At this point you’re defending your pride, not your argument.
 
In many instances it’s best to just disengage and walk away. Save your sanity from those who have no desire in learning your side. Being rude and uncivil is what makes movements seem to be led by a bunch of unhinged loons that people take with a grain of salt. Unfortunately a bad reputation is a common byproduct of activism.
 
Before I became a father, I thought nothing of spanking, circumcision or allowing a child to cry in a vein attempt to train them. Now as a father, I have learned better and fight vehemently against them. I see the injustice in these. I voice these opinions. I will not stop voicing them. But just because I don’t allow myself to lash out at a naysayer by arguing or allow myself to walk away upon realizing their intent is not to truly understand but to simply argue and pot-stir; in no way am I condoning that injustice or accepting it’s continuance.

On my blog, I have many many people that don’t necessarily agree with everything; but do listen. They lie in the background, absorbing what is being said and reading the comments. They take some advice and leave some advice. What if one of these people are on the fence and see someone admit they spank or someone that circumcised their child or left them to cry or any else you don’t agree with. What if this person who admitted this was attacked and pounced on by ‘peaceful’ activists? What if this person watching then decided to deem the cause as batshit crazy? I will always defend my opinion. I will always discuss my position. But I will never attack or bash.

The more we are the crazy, the bashing, the unhinged offensive attacks; the less we allow the movement to move forward. The more we are willing to teach through understanding, modeling and with poise; the more we will be listened to as a sane voice. A voice worth listening to. We can be that voice without the extremism. Extremism is not a good thing.

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Drop the “To get to her, you need to go through me” tough-guy act with our daughter’s dates.

57585073You’ve all seen them. The pictures, the posts, the memes with a father and his infant / young / teen daughter. Sometimes the father has his arms crossed with a scowl on his face. Other times he’s holding a gun with the same menacing expression. Sometimes there’s even older male siblings practicing being a bodyguard. All of these with the intent to intimidate and be confrontational when it comes to future male suitors for their daughter. “To get to her, you have to go through me first”.

I know, no big deal right? Harmless fun. Only I find these things laughable and ridiculous for a few reasons.

a) It shows that there is absolutely no faith that boys can be raised to be respectful and polite to women (or by default to people in general). Instead of raising daughters to fear men, lets raise our boys to respect women. To have self-worth. To say it’s wrong to go against a woman’s wishes. To stand up to those who do.

b) It shows that those fathers have zero confidence in their ability to raise their daughters. If they truly believed they could raise a self-aware, strong, confident woman then this whole song and dance becomes pointless and unnecessary. It shows no confidence in their daughters ability to be a good judge of who she befriends.

c) It shows that feminism still needs to be talked about. It shows that woman are still weak and feeble creatures that need their fathers with guns to protect them. It shows ownership over someone else’s body and decisions.

Yes I have a daughter. No, I will never bully or intimidate a friend or future boyfriend or girlfriend she brings home to meet me. If s/he is worthy enough in her eyes to bring him/her home, then s/he worthy of my respect until s/he proves otherwise. This thought process of the possessive, over-bearing father is outdated and rooted in insecurity.

I always give choices.

I always give choices.

But won’t that allow them to walk all over you? – No. It won’t. Quite the opposite. A child that’s happy with their choice is more cooperative to do the task they chose. If I say “Hey buddy, would like to help me vacuum or help mom pick up your blocks?” I’ll get a happy little boy helping clean the house.

They’ll just get what they want all the time! – Well, what exactly is wrong with that? I get what I want most of the time. So does my wife and most people I know. Unless it’s work, I indulge in my wants and interests. Childhood shouldn’t be a sacrifice of choice and wants over an irrational parental fear. Besides, isn’t life spent pursuing our interests?

What should it matter if they want the red cup? Or if you picked out a green shirt but they want the striped one. Big deal. We turn it into an issue that really isn’t there. Let them have their red cup and striped shirt. It won’t spoil them. It won’t entitle them. Give them the choice before you pick it out, before you pour the water.

I chose you.

20140824_101344-EFFECTSThere were dishes collecting in the sink. I saw them. We created them. I also saw you. A different you. A disconnected you. A you reaching out for attention. I chose you. Together we went to the zoo. I held you while you fed a giraffe. I ran next to you while you tried to race a cheetah. I flew with you while you soared next to the bald eagles. I laughed with you as we made a mountain of mulch in the play area. I discussed animals with you while we enjoyed lunch; and napped with you after our day in the sun. I chose you.

There were 3 hampers and a pile of clothes that needed folding. I saw them. We created them. I also saw you. A you vying for your mom and dad. Parents whose time is now split with a new family member. I saw you in a confused moment with an unfamiliar feeling. I chose you. Together we went to the park. I walked next to you along the creek shore, throwing small rocks into its waters. I held your hand as we crossed the chilly flowing water to the hollow tree. Through the trails we ran, laughing as I tried to catch you. I chose you.

There was a living room in disarray. I saw it. We created it. I also saw you. A you in need of assistance. An F4 tornado version of you that needed wrangling in.  A you without a compass. I chose you. I invited you on my lap to do your favorite activity: reading books. Together we read the same words as you learn how to read. I enunciated while you mimicked the sounds. Together we read 5 books; all of which you can recite by heart. I chose you.

There are things that can wait, and things that simply cannot. In the days since your sibling’s birth your behavior slightly changed. It’s a lot to process in a small amount of time for someone of your limited capabilities. You were not jealous of this new arrival, in fact quite the opposite; you embraced her. You felt you were losing your home base. Your security. I could see that. Your behavior was telling me when your words could not.  I chose connection over control. I chose love over fear. I chose you.

Skipping Stones.

Down by the creek bed he crouched, grabbing stones without discrimination. He watched as they splashed with a kersplunk when they entered the water. Ripples spread to the tiny shore and he giggled at his accomplishment. Another rock was sought.

It was a very sunny Sunday morning and still slightly cool, requiring a light jacket. The air was clear and we were all alone in our adventure, basking in the moment.

There was an area of calm water that had a shore riddled with fragmented shale begging to be skipped. I was a bit more selective with my choices, picking only those with characteristics optimal for their skipping ability. Too square, too thick, too thin. Ah! This one. It fits perfect between my finger and thumb, perfect weight distribution, just the right circumference. It was beautiful.

This will be the stone I show him his first skip with. I placed the stone in my palm; eager to show him it’s capabilities. I stood and turned towards my son. He was still indulging in his circular pattern: find stone, throw it in water, listen to splash and repeat.

I watched. His blissful moment. There was no concern for the type of stone he selected. No worries on how it entered the water, just as long as it does. His concerns lie in what it can do, not with what it could do. It can splash crazily in the water. He couldn’t care if it has the potential to skip wonderfully to the adjacent shore. It was beyond his realm of current interests and abilities.

I joined him; with my perfect stone; and tossed it high into the air. It spun and twirled until it hit flatly against the water with a quiet plop. My son giggled, commented on its tiny splash and went for his next stone. There will be many future opportunities for that perfect skip. For now this moment is complete with a slash and kersplunk, it was his agenda.

Circumcision. I did not consent and I’m speaking out.

GA Logo Blue CircleI always here the argument: “I never hear guys complain about being circumcised.” Well, I’m here to tell you that you can no longer use this argument. Men complain. And often.  Besides, how often do you approach strangers and ask if they are happy with their circumcision (or lack thereof)? My guess is never. I know I don’t walk around with a sign hanging around my neck saying that I’m unhappy with it. And I am unhappy.

I know what I was robbed of. Such a valuable piece of flesh, the foreskin.  Protector, cleanser, lubricator, glider and superb pleasure provider.  I’ll never know the pleasure of intercourse that my foreskin would have provided. I won’t know the pleasure of having an undamaged glans due to being roughened and calloused from a life of exposure, chaffing and constant rubbing. The benefit of having a natural gliding motion, trapping in its naturally provided lubricant, is lost to me. The ridged band and 20,000 fine-touch nerve endings were taken from me, forever stealing my ability to experience sex as nature intended me to. The foreskin; the incredible 15+ square inches of skin; was cut off in infancy because of false information.

Men do complain. You just need to be receptive when they do.

Do I blame my parents? Partly, but not much. They could have researched it, but I was born in a time when virtually all males were circumcised in the US. It wasn’t questioned. It was just done. My parents did not know any better. After all, doctors know best, right? Well, in the case of male circumcision they don’t, and willfully so. They rely on false information[1] and highly flawed African studies[2] to perpetuate the belief that it is necessary. There is money to made[4] in the procedure (cough cough facial cream[3]), so of course it’s in the best interest of those invested to continue the lie. So no, I mostly blame our medical establishments for not keeping the best interest of our male infants in mind.

Our culture is one where it’s so engrained in our psyche that intact penises are not only gross, but unnatural. “I’m glad I don’t have an anteater.” “No turtle neck for my guy!” These are often spouted arguments by ignorant men. Men in need of suppressing facts and realities through cognitive dissonance. It’s funny because the rest of the world views the US culture of cutting boys gross, unhealthy, unnatural and sick. Women that have experienced both cut and intact penises overwhelmingly (85% [1]) prefer intact men; so really the joke is on those boasting about being cut as infants.

When we really boil this down, despite all the false “health benefits” and its “better aesthetics”, we have a violation of our most basic of human rights – our right to ourselves. Our infant males lose this right no sooner than they are born. Their bodies are not their parents to decide what to do with. Our girls are protected from cosmetic alteration at birth. Our boys should be allotted that same basic human right.

My bodily rights were violated. I was not allowed a choice. I did not consent to a permanent cosmetic alteration of my most private of areas. And the very fact that I’m a man writing this is proof that men do indeed complain; and we are not complacent in the fact that this continues as normal in our society.  I’ll close this with my favorite quote which I can’t locate the origin of: “They got my foreskin. But I won’t let them get my sons.” We need to protect our boys.

(1) – http://intaction.org/10-myths-about-circumcision/
(2) – http://www.intactamerica.org/sites/default/files/IASummaryAtlanta.pdf
(3) – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-cut-above-the-rest-wrin/
(4) – http://www.foreskin.org/f4sale.htm

I lost a connection.

I have slowly lost a connection.

It wasn’t realized until a few days passed and my irritability level increased way beyond my normal demeanor. The listening, on both sides, decreased. I was putting my self-interests unhealthily above that of our relationship; and he was attempting to communicate as much, but I wasn’t listening.

When bedtime became an immense struggle; I was looking at my son (2.5 yrs) with contempt, rather than compassion for his plight. And that’s when the disconnect struck me. I had the next day just him and me while my wife worked her 12 hour shift; and I dedicated it solely to him.

We spent the day building snowmen, playing games, giggling and reading many books while snuggling on the couch. We went out to eat lunch and made silly faces without a care in the world; followed by a shared afternoon nap after we got back to the house.

All aspects of our relationship righted and our bond restrengthened. That night, at bedtime, I heard a quiet voice call out in the dark: “Daddy, can I have a kiss?” “Of course you can TB.” I leaned over and we pecked: “I love you TB.” “You too daddy”. And with that he snuggled up to me and drifted off. This on the heels of the previous night which took over an hour of back and forth struggles with much frustration.

I quickly reestablished a connection.