It seems I have become an expert in subjects I know nothing about. Today it's women. I consider myself a Feminist. I found this great quote online but I can't find the origin. It sums up how I feel about my Feminism:
"When I call myself a male Feminist, I'm not doing it because I think I'm going to save women. I'm doing it because I think it's important for men to acknowledge that as long as women aren't free, men won't be ether. "
Women are more powerful then they realize. I wrote an epic Facebook status last night about women empowering themselves but it was flagged and removed. What the fuck? How could a status about women banning together to start a world revolution violate Facebook's terms of service? Because it's dangerous. And I realized waking up to this that the "War on Women" is also a war against me. And it pissed me off. There are so many things I could write about right now like a woman's right to choose, equal pay, rape culture, and such. But I am going to talk about what I know... Pole Dancing.
My female friends and work associates out number my male friends 100 to 1, but I realized this morning that as hard as I try I can only see the world through a male's point of view. As a man I will never fully grasp what it means to be female in this world, in this culture. That brings to mind another quote by Margaret Atwood," Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." Now that's pretty mind blowing to me. When I first read that years ago I never thought about how male dominate our culture was. And at one point in time I shared that male dominant mind frame. Not because I hated women, but because it was the lens I was handed to view the world by. I had another epiphany this morning. I posed the question in my status last night why won't all the women of the world stand up as one, rise up, and end this cultural bull shit? Why won't women just take over the world since they out number men? There is research that there are roughly equal number males to females in the world. But that depends on geographic location. It also depends on age. In France the age of 25 seems to be close to perfect ratio of males to females but declines after that due to the fact that men are more likely to die earlier then women. In France, 8 centenarians out of 10 are female. See I am not a fucking moron, I do my research. I talked about this with three female friends over dinner last night before posting and they helped me grasp why. But I had to reach deep down into my past to try and fathom why women will not do this.
I was raised a conservative Christian. And I was a faithful Christian until I was in my early 20's, when I entered the age of reason. Growing up though the church I belonged to seemed to be very loving and it's practitioners devoted to God. I would hear men I respected from the platform read passages from the bible quoting the Apostle Peter, "men cherish your wives as your own body." That's nice right? I thought that these elders I followed were compassionate, loving, caring, God fearing men and... cared about women. These same men also blazed through Bible readings that contained horrific stories of rape, murder, mass genocide, misogyny, incest, slavery and all the other things I love about the Holy Scriptures. The women of our church sat beside their husbands and family, it wasn't like women had to sit in the back of the room or behind a veil hidden from the men like some other religions. Women also had the ability to get on stage and "teach" the congregation but only under submissive terms. They had to wear a head covering and they could not address the congregation directly. They had to have a female house holder on stage to preach to, and they had to be seated. We all thought that this was progressive. Since we were the ONLY true religion, and we were sanctioned by God himself, this was a perfect "arrangement." The sisters were reminded often to subjugate themselves to their husband. Quoting Peter in the same chapter (3), "wives OBAY your husbands." Really? Anybody else?
So why the hell am I rehashing my shitty experience with Christianity? Well I can not imagine what it would have felt like to be a little girl witnessing this behavior. That women in that religion were born into slavery and indoctrinated at birth. They would never rise up against the organization let alone stand up against a government. And so many others. What is true is that in my old religion women out numbered the men globally. The retention rate was high for women, and bless their hearts so many were lonely because of the shortage of "good brothers'. When I went back to my childhood and meditated on what it was like growing up in this culture I suddenly "got it". I forgot I'm enlightened and most of the world's population lives in a mental darkness. I have been so liberal, for so long, I forgot how the rest of the world lives. So I had my "Oh Fuck" moment with my coffee.
I guess this post is more about recognition and how I appreciate women and admire their strength. They are stronger then they realize... and they stronger then I am. Jon Stewart cracked a joke about Caitlyn Jenner. I can paraphrase, "It's great to see how quickly society has embraced Caitlyn Jenner as a woman, because they wasted no time treating her like one." The more I meditate on what it must feel like for a girl (love that song) the more empathy I have for women who pole. I don't feel sorry for them, I am finally acknowledging the guts it takes to show up at their first pole class. And also how pole can change women's lives. Bond women together. I felt that spirit at Black Girls Pole and it has clung to me ever since. I used to scoff about women hesitating to do pole especially when that "one girl" comes in who has been waiting for months for her friend to come with her. I always laughed at the fact that most women won't come without their friends or are in parties. I guess women find strength in numbers of course, but I never realized the fear a single woman has to overcome to show up by herself. Ok I am crying now. For some reason several different events over the past few months have left me raw like an open wound. I felt a small death occur in May, a part of myself died. Then I had a resurrection at International Pole Convention. I think I grieved for the first time in years. Then Black Girls Pole, and the legalizing of Gay Marriage. I am going to write about that too but I can't yet. There are too many emotions to sift through. And the racism, homophobia, and misogynistic attitudes I see now are staggering me. It's almost like my eyes have been opened wider if that is even possible. And I feel rage. I feel a deep anger inside bubbling up. A reactive one against the bull shit I see in the world. An anger that keeps having mini explosions on Facebook. Rants about empowerment and love for my friends followed by "go fuck yourselves" to the haters.
In full discloser though, I started to hate pole two years ago. And at one point in time I started to hate women. I am going to be honest now. I had a lot of run ins with a lot of women in this industry that left me devastated. I started internalizing it, I even developed terrible feelings about myself. Those feelings about myself went away when I read the book "The Male Brain" by author Louann Brizendine. That book is a must read and it helped me find validation in my feeling and experience in the world as a male. But reconciling negative feelings about women were a lot harder to heal. I just became apathetic about women's issues. Numb. I was teaching at a pole dancing studio that was helping women open up about their femininity and sexuality while at the same time I was shutting down. I feel like a lot of men in pole can understand what I am talking about. That's another huge divide that is healing itself in our community, the acceptance of men in pole. So I guess I burned myself out. Pole Con changed that and I was injected with a renewed love for pole. When I think about my ambivalence about women in my teens and 20's and then the apathetic attitude I had over the last two years, I feel some what shamed for not recognizing these truths. Maybe if I understood them, know what I know now I could have helped to create a more positive change. So I am publicly apologizing to you. For anytime I said something that hurt your feelings or reinforced that men hate women. I never hated women I was just lost at the time.
The pictures I posted are of one of my favorite people and entertainers. She is a very bold woman with huge ambition. She has a passion for dance, movement, and pole. She is also one of the sexiest of us. I wake up and log into Facebook only to find her legs spread in my face on the daily. She is the embodiment of female sensuality and empowerment. She can be strong or submissive. A perfect balance between the two. She goes there. She goes to that other side a lot of women would like to go but can't for one reason or another. But we all live vicariously through her. When I move to New York I look forward to actually sitting down and getting know more about her pole journey. I love you Jeni Janover you are my pole hero. She is the creator of Liquid Motion incase you didn't know so like her on Facebook.
Wow I didn't expect to write so much but I guess I felt the need to express myself. I hope you liked this post. I hope you share it. I hope you subscribe to get more blog posts!
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