I find myself imagining (what I think are) better alternatives to the current way of things pretty often. Regardless of whether these proposed improvements are actually improvements, I also find that I’m consistently stopped by the question “Yes. But how do you move from what we have now to what you want?”
I’ve only reached as far as “culture” in answering that vital point.
I read feminist pages, I read religious pages, I read atheist pages, I read political nonsense, I read a lot that makes me angry and I’m only left with “well, I’d like to change it.” Maybe I’ll do an angry post for my appeal, like but less successful than the manner in which a homeless person might construct a small placard requesting money, so as to avoid the need to use sound or eye contact with passers by. What has this taught me?
That I now have an area of the world I would genuinely like to study: culture in society, social change. How to bring it about non-violently. How that has happened in the past. How it could happen in the future. No longer will I read on International Women’s Day about how misogynist I – being a man – innately am, then have to fight against my fingers as they desperately make a reply. I’m not a rapist! Do you think that rapists enjoy it anyway!? Do you have any idea how fucked up one person’s life must be to drive them to rape another?! It’s awful for the victim, it really is, like all crimes are, but that doesn’t excuse a hang ’em and flog ’em policy! Down that road lies more criminals, more crimes, more victims and perpetually changing sides. One moment the man is the evil one, in control. Next, the woman. Next, the man. You have to help people! Not condemn them forever!
Communication, I might term it. The thing I want to study. Part of my ethos, see, is that if my ideas are right enough, and provided that I communicate them accurately, those ideas will automatically be accepted. If they are better, then they will be…better. Right? The only thing that would stop something good from being received as something good is if the receiver hears beforehand that it’s evil. If a besieged colony in 18th Century America is expecting a Huron warparty, they might still attack when they see an Iroquois-led relief force (hoping that’s historically accurate as an example. Huron and Iroquois are/were Native American tribes).
Assuming that some things are better than others and that I can imagine some of those things…all I need to do is learn how to best communicate the good to the most people. Then wham! Life has purpose. Life is good. I’d be doing something good for a change! As you can see, though, I probably have a lot of work to do. I mean who uses a vague understanding of American colonial history to make general illustrative examples on wordpress? Me apparently. I thought its being relatively inoffensive might offset the “what the fuck is this?” factor. The maleness I didn’t really factor in at all. I was brought up on war metaphors. They made sense to me as a kid who loved the old (I’d guess 60s) action/war movies and playing with model soldiers. Oh how times have changed. Hurt Locker was amazing though. And Jarhead. Yeah, psychological thrillers raising questions of morality and justice – they’re where it’s at now. Amongst other things.
Here’s another example I could’ve used. If your friend has been told and believes that you had a sexual liaison with their partner, it doesn’t matter what good you might have to tell them, how many cuddles you might be able to provide in their darker moments, they’re still going to think you’re a cunt. Unless of course you have proof handy to defend yourself…but that still makes the point. Perceptions can make us hostile to ideas that might be good for us. So how do we negate those negative perceptions or bypass them without damaging the person holding them? E.g. destroying the framework they’ve always used to understand and feel safe in the world (maybe showing that it can be okay to fuck anyone, anytime, as long as consent is given, would fit here) and how do we bypass those perceptions, making ideas more accessible, on a much wider scale? Telling these things to thousands, millions even?
There must be answers in the past. Like in organic mass movements that have always intrigued me. The Primrose League, which in my history books seemed to be set up by female Conservative supporters in Britain early last century, though it was probably older than that. This was around the time when women were trying to earn the vote in Britain, yet here there’s an organisation, supported by a large number of women, that itself supports a party happy for women to continue without voting rights…
I’m specifically interested in family as a starting point. Family structures seem to be at the roots of all sorts of movements and cultures, providing the dominating rationales of power. When working class men in Britain panicked at women being able to take their jobs, how did they express that? “The woman’s place is in the home, with the children, as a loyal wife blablabla”
Family also sounds to me like it’s at the root of what we’re calling “The Patriarchy”. That’s right, family. Not men. Whilst it happens that the father is a man, the defining feature thrust forward in the term “patriarchy” is the paternity, not the masculinity.
So yeah. My studies begin.
Gandhi and the Indian Nationalists. Also good case study. Also involving family.
I’m sorta shouting this out into the wilderness at the moment in the vain hope that some of you might be interested in joining in. We could set up a reading and discussion group maybe? But, this ain’t the platform for all that to be honest. I’m not hopeful. Thinking instead I’ll have to go cap in hand back to my old university asking for some form of study rights. I really don’t know what they’ll do, but I’m sure it helps to have a community of co-learners. Tis’ worth a try.