A “funny thing” happened to me on fb the day after watching the UPLIFTING worldwide Women’s March of 2017…
I had the “unmitigated balls” to react with honest feelings to this snarky meme posted on that day by an old high school friend. How dare I… not laugh.
Friend XY is one of few I really respected during high school years and I have actually grown to respect him more since reconnecting all of these years later. Exactly why I felt the need to point out to him just how problematic I have concluded this type of “humor” is and has always been. Damaging in ways embedded so deeply in our collective psyches that many of us do not see or even want to see, that there is a soul crushing problem with this rude… ‘old school’ mindset. A mindset that in today’s language ridicules people as sensitive snowflakes.
When I was growing up my Dad was a huge XY influence on me. His words and attitudes shaped so much of who this XX girl became. He was born in the early 30’s and grew up in the 40’s and 50’s. He was a man from another space and another time. A time where boys were often violently made to “man up.” I can only imagine the brutality many witnessed and survived and/or didn’t. As a young girl of the 60’s and 70’s I remember feeling an actual relief that I was not a man. So much brutal pressure from the world on your shoulders telling you to be a certain way and to accomplish above all others. I knew I could not endure that kind of pressure and control. All of the boys were told to bottle up their feelings and emotions. To not be a sissy because, you had to grow up to support a family or possibly die for your country one day. Wait, what? I felt sad for my two brothers in that sense. As a girl I felt free to feel and express what I was experiencing. No one told me I couldn’t show emotion or that I had to hide it in order to not be seen as weak. Which in fact made me strong.
However, I was messaged the female signal= I should watch my figure or no one else would. Which chips away at the strength I did grab, even today at age 55.
That disparity in gender value was telegraphed so starkly back then. It was palpable and finite. Women and girls were this and men and boys were that. Power and control. Adults bullying and shaping us all while we laughed and or cried or just plain put up with it. The “normal” and systematic shaping of our souls and gender-personas was routine. Grabbing us by our little ‘private psyche parts’ and demanding we live up or down to them depending on the point of view held. Stark and daunting messaging funneled into us from everywhere we looked and more to the point from those that loved and cared for us. Be this, be that, don’t do that, do this or you will be ridiculed by others, shunned at school, in social circles OR the fate worse than death; considered a failure in the “eyes of the world” living a life all alone. A “loser.”
All of the ways to take the natural wonder and joy out of the human heart and soul filling it with pressure, insecurity and fear.
WHY have generations brutalized those they hold near? To funnel a person’s unique genetically coded autonomy into some sliver of acceptability it may or may not fit, is truly against being human. Just take a moment and take a look at this impotent display of prowess. (I do more and more everyday!) Who controls who and who controls the how and the why of the who? Yes, we want people to be given all of the support, tools and education in life to be as healthy, happy and successful as one possibly can. The days of this brutal psychological steering of people -to ignore their instincts and instead be something that others expect from them- has to stop. We need to support the natural emergence of souls by not forcing them into the competitive shape of what we desire.
My family spent a lot of time at the ball parks every spring and summer. Dad coached my softball teams and my brother’s baseball teams. I was his official scorekeeper and cheer-leader. One year he did something we all laughed about… (back then.)
He was a great sportsman and his main coaching tactic was an uplifting one. He knew when someone had the talent/desire to become a great player and he coached those players to get there. I often tell people he coached me into an all-star softball pitcher by pumping me up like a bicycle pump …(possibly why high school Friend XY and others perceive me as ‘full of hot air’!) This particular off-season league I am remembering he teamed up with his younger and meaner brother as base coach. Between the two of them they came up with the idea of the “Team baby-doll Award.” A literal dolly they brought to the field tied up to the chain linked fence of the dugout and awarded to one player after each game. The player that they deemed acted “baby-like” during the game. In other words the player that didn’t “grow a set.” That player would have to take the dolly home and bring it back to the next week’s game. Hahahaha. Funny. Right? NO. Not so much. Humiliating and disgusting.
My dad died in 1985. He didn’t get to stick around to see the harmful effects of baby-doll awards, bullying and emotional shaming. I sadly never got the chance to tell him about this particular “teaching moment.” The subtle and not so subtle restrictions we have been trained to place on each other’s emotional autonomy; to be a good and pretty girl or a tough and rugged ‘winner at all cost’ boy… need to stop! Kids of the last 3 decades are now dodging bullets because people just cannot keep-up with the pressure in a world so vastly different from where we have all come. Enough of this old-school psychological warfare infused with this fast paced media driven existence. Deciding that someone’s autonomy is not tough enough or good enough is not your call to put on blast. Don’t shame or blame people for displaying honesty about who and how they are. Don’t dismiss another person’s coded nature. Don’t demand they man or woman up. Don’t grab them by their private psyche parts and assault them into what you think they should be. Please don’t propagate it by making it into your comedy because, it’s really not funny.