I'm currently reading (just finishing up) Getting Off - Pornography and the End of Masculinity by Robert Jensen.

And wanted to share some quotes:


"The radical feminist critique asks men to begin a process that will: (1) hurt, (2) leave you at various points uncertain about how to act, (3) lead to making mistakes for which you will be critiqued and, (4) never end.  That's a sales pitch that lacks a certain appeal in a self-indulgent culture of immediate gratification.   On top of that, because men are generally in a position of privilege and at this moment there's no strong feminist movement to press these issues, it's extremely easy for men to ignore it all."

and/but.....

"I am against pornography in part because I believe that the rewards of domination, which are seductive, are in the end illusory.  I believe that love (based on a commitment to equality articulated in our core philosophies and theologies), compassion (based on our common humanity), and solidarity (based on our need to survive together can anchor our lives at every level, from the intimate to the global.
...
I have experienced that intimacy.  Once experienced, it's difficult to return to the illusory."

I am not presenting this to start a discussion on pornography (though that could be a worthwhile endeavor) - but because it seems to me to speak to the situation that those in the "oppressor" class find themselves in.  This is a man writing about sexism.  And reading him I find that I am somewhat "grateful" as a woman that he gives a shit, but I am more interested as a white person, an American, an educated/middle class person, about how much it speaks to my experience of how easy it is to sort of turn a blind eye to inequalities where I get a bigger piece of the pie, how hard it is to face them, and yet, how empty it is.  In the long run for my soul to be whole I must face them, and give up being "in control" for being unsure, vulnerable to criticism, etc, NOT because I'm so nice, but because I can't be whole any other way.

Thoughts?

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There's been a really interesting new movement in the world of disability rights because of the witness of adults with autism. My son is autistic so I've been studying it. For parents of kids with autism, the "cure" has been the Holy Grail. Everybody wants to find a way to make their kids normal, (or, as the aspie world says, neurotypical). But adults with autism are trying to get people to accept them as they are and provide the kinds of assistance they need. They insist that autism is just a different developmental pattern and one that brings many gifts with it. It's been an interesting debate, and one that for me redefines the whole idea of diversity in radical ways. None of the older diversity issues have gone away, of course, but understanding and accepting people with disabilities, including "neurodiversity," is a new frontier that many people find very challenging.
Rosemary
Someone at the Toronto Summer Institute on Inclusion last year said to me that they wonder if Autism may be the next iteration of human being . . . arrived early. There is something very unique, mysterious, and endearing about the friends I have with autism. I envy their detachment and ability to only pay attention to what matters to them in the moment.
Ron, thanks. I agree. Autism is fascinating and people who have managed to carve out a life for themselves in spite of all the prejudice and difficulty are remarkable.

The expansion going on is pretty huge. In less than 20 years, we've gone from 1 in 10000 to 1 in 100. Increased understanding leading to more frequent diagnosis of milder expressions may account for a lot of that, but I can't believe it's all of it.

However, one thing someone said to me years ago was "if it has always been at this rate, where are all the adults?" The answer, to some extent, is that they were hidden in institutions and a lot of them died there in childhood. This article in the Atlantic gives good info about that: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/10/autisms-first-c...

Adults with cognitive and other disabilities were treated extremely badly throughout the 20th century. The large institutions where they were housed were basically prisons and they were mistreated and neglected there. They're fighting for self-determination now, and it's an area of civil rights that I think Friends have much to give to, if they are led to take it up. It's certainly an area where most of us will be uncomfortable and find ourselves more privileged and oppressing than we had any idea of.
I work in an organization, Hope Network, that has been the primary agency in de-institutionalizing people with developmental disabilities in Michigan. In the 60s we had 18,000 people in institutions here. We just closed our last institution this past fall. These people have been probably the most marginalized in society and still are. Their families and friends and other natural supports were replaced by paid staff. Quality of life was traded for services in an uninformed bargain where they took the only options they knew were available. AND THIS IS STILL HAPPENING in our group homes and day programs. Most of these people have no friends outside the walls of their world of disability. Without a circle of friends, hopes and dreams turn to dust... The work is overwhelming if we are to do it right. Groups like the Quakers that are actually DOERS of justice would be welcomed with open arms.
Ron, I'm so glad to connect with you! I'm going to send you a message to find out more.
I agree with you, Pam. Becoming aware of our privileges so we may work to create a more even playing field for everyone requires a commitment that most of us can't make. The personal rewards often come through emotional pain and the societal rewards one individual may achieve seem tenuous, at best. Obviously, there's little to no support and, often, active discouragement. In many ways, unless one is goaded into awareness by external forces (feminism, Civil Rights, having a loved one who is outside of typical, etc), I feel this is awareness one is called to by God. As with many callings, we must make ourselves ready to do the work when God is ready for us to do our part. Having a community, either IRL or in a forum, I think would be very helpful. Jeanne Burns' blog about Quakers and class issues helped to open my eyes and heart to a lot of things.

Privilege is being able to take for granted that one's experience is the norm. Becoming aware of that is, in many ways, like becoming aware of breathing. Once we can begin to understand that people who do not have pale skin or who are not seen as authoritative because of their gender or who are not allowed to do certain things because of who they love or what have you, we begin to become aware of how maybe to advocate for the idea that THIS way, just because it is the way things have always been done, is not the "right" way nor sometimes even the best way. I think many of us are being called to be the John Woolmans of our day and it would behoove us to create a community so we may support one another.
Mary Linda

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