Dear Diary: Resting my mind in different landscapes.

by Cunt Non Grata — she=he

In this place, what do I choose to do?

today’s tired, anemic song: Pixies – Where is my mind

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What’s the point.

I don’t know. I want to write a ‘dear diary’ blog post, since I would like to get my ‘head together’. Whatever that means. I guess it’s something about letting go of reoccurring thoughts and behaviors and making some ‘sense’ out of what I in essence find ‘meaningless’ ((my life)).

I don’t remember time very well. I’m also bad with faces and names. I feel fairly disconnected and fearful, distrusting, and Tired (helpless? hopeless?) making connections with other human beings. I’m used to being the screen of whatever people want to see. ‘High’ ‘Low’ ‘Good’ Bad’, whatever it happens to be, I find it painful, saddening and frustrating. I want human relations to go deeper, beyond Projection, to real, and mutual Understanding and Connection. To see and hear without distortions. Or with much awareness of that there are distortions.

I’ve lived 35 years so far, and that’s a lot of time of playing the game of ‘here’ but ‘not here’, of being present without being fully present. I’m fairly cynical and bitter. I want desperately to shed my numb surface, open my clenched core, and get in touch with the warmth and tenderness that’s there, inside, aching to get out, aching to be fed, to be met with welcoming delight.

Memories are a part of my everyday life. Remembering glimpses of what has happened, here and there. My own private frame of reference, an internal nagging conversation, triggered by places, words, moods, small markers reminding me of the traces left by the many experiences, making up the paths that I tend to follow in the landscapes that are familiar to me, in the inside walk, that few persons dare to recognize as ‘real’, that most seem to willingly suppress for whatever gains there are in pretending that what they’re doing is making sense and is fulfilling. I walk along the big crack inside that we’re supposed to avoid. Don’t step on the crack. Keep your mind on the external patterns laid out for you by collective madness. Collective fears of the Unknown and the Everchanging, turned into manifold comforting lies and beliefs that We Are In Control, that We Can Be In Control. Of what? Our existence? Life itself? Our feelings? Our Fears? Our Love? What?

Time passes, and most things seem distant. Even the here and now is distant. One day adds to another, and I’m wondering what I’m doing here, not managing to figure out something that I can do to make sense of my existence, I’m wondering if I’m waiting for the nightmare of illusions to end, for a collective awakening, or maybe just an individual awakening from my own mental entrapments, or maybe waiting for it all to end. Sometimes getting into a fear of it all ending. Or rather, if bringing the “end of it all” into perspective: A fear of my own death. Fear that the sum of my whole existence would amount to being in a lot of pain, and then – death. I don’t know why. I don’t know why love and happiness is so important for me to experience to make this space journey ‘worth while’. It’s weird.

This summer I’ve had more liver spots coming on my skin, and small growths. Probably nothing to take notice of, the usual changes that comes with aging. Still I got into some state of anxious paranoia of having skin cancer when getting these itchy growing spots on my under arms and on my shoulders and back. I’m trying to care for my health. I had two teeth pulled out this summer, which was heavenly, since I’ve had an ailing wisdom tooth growing for years, often with gums swollen and irritated, driving me ‘mad’.

I’m trying to care for my mental health. Staying put for a while. Not having this dreamlike existence of moving from one place to another. 3 days in one city, then going 500 km somewhere to someother place. Constantly meeting new faces, new bodies. Many places, and many talks of a collective pain, not cared for by the collective . This is the pain spoken privately. Not the focus of our struggles. It is the crack inside exposed. A few moments of shared sadness. Then back to fitting ourselves into the things we so strongly believe that we can’t change. Walking paths that have been well-trodden, and are easy to follow. The crack inside is what’s mad, not our belief in that the pain is permanent, private, and not possible to change.

I feel scared and alone in my longings. I want to walk around that crack, jump over it, stare into it, fill it with meaning, empty out the fear, welcome the fears of the unknown and the everchanging into the collective consciousness, approach it with friendliness, embrace it with care and acceptance. Shaping the paths around it, stepping into it, feeling the walls, knowing that this is just another place, a space just as exciting and wonderous as the open landscape around the crack. A different view.

Often in my daily life, the phrase “I feel like an idiot” goes through my mind. I’m not sure what it means, “feeling like an idiot”. Probably it’s my interest in things that most seem to fear. And my lack of understanding (absolute bewilderment) of how to connect with that fear and turn it into curiosity. An idiot for wanting connection, and myself creating distance out of my own fears and hurts. Others are perfect screens for my projections. ‘Idiot’ maybe meaning the same as ‘simple-minded’, thinking it could all be very easy, and simple to face fears and expose ourselves to one another without clinging to expectations of what’s supposed to happen next.

I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of writing texts that are interpreted in whatever way by people that I can’t connect with. Why do people feel familiar with what I write? Why are words so distant from nerves, muscle, blood, heart? I’m tired of being alone. Of my thoughts constantly working on a survival plan: Isolating myself to get rest, Learning nvc to make it possible to live with all the conflicts, Thinking that I need to work out some workshops on Transformative Justice to spread the basic concept, and find real people I can work with to make this a reality in my life – a practice felt with nerve, and stomach, not just something agreeable for the mind to play. Not another addiction. A cure. I’m so tired of being alone. Of being an outcast. Sad and damaged of the hurtful things said and done.

I became aware fairly late on. Around year 2000 someone got me to read a book on feminism. That’s how I eventually got into activism (whatever that means). I’ve spent the last three years traveling around. I’ve gotten myself an education. Somehow I seem incapable of transmitting it, of sharing the excitement I feel, in relation to what I know with others. I might as well just go asöoiuw lklioj jjoilkkkli alkdf äälkjd ääk. So much time spent on human interaction, the development of many words and languages, and still it’s mostly disconnection going on.

‘Dear diary’: Thank you for receiving my words. It makes the loneliness less lonely somehow. Carving a mark into a rock: “I was here”. Like talking with a rock. More connecting and receptive and less complicated than human interaction. Simple. In the loneliness of my comfortable room, where I feel fairly safe, this ‘carving’ [‘a’ ‘l’ ‘o’ ‘n’ ‘e”] calms my mind. My needs for sharing and belonging are met by scribbling away. [a bit of truth, a bit of sarcasm] ‘Dear Diary’: Today I’m menstruating. I bleed a lot during a couple of days and less during the rest of my period. Yesterday I experienced some positive sides of the social system I’m in, by getting a free health check up at the employment agency that I transferred to, because of being long-term unemployed. It’s seems I’m okay. Need to check my eye sight, and as well having an itchy bottom (had it since childhood, loose stomach too) I had a bit of anemia. The heavy menstruation might make it a bit worse. Otherwise fine. The task of this employment agency, is to help me find meaning by pushing me into an education (I should be doing care work, help the elderly, or clean) so that I don’t have to be a burden for this society but be a proud contributor and not a worthless nobody. [sarcasm, and sadly enough the real message of these places] Some months ago, I missed a meeting and my benefits were cut off for two weeks. A beautifully restful period [total sarcasm] spent my days queueing for free food, and eating free soup on thursdays at a church, doing some praying and singing before eating. People raising their hands if they wanted to be specifically noticed by God, the great caring father, embracing us all, accepting us all. [fairytales told to grown-ups] I was in paper-hell during that time. And scared that I would lose the place of rest that I needed so badly. I had just moved in with a person sympathetic to my own beliefs, and had spent three months before, living with a man aggressively yelling to the Russian lover over the phone — “My friend saw you eat berries outside the store. So you don’t spend any money here, but you can buy berries for you and your son, and gulp down by the store, but you don’t share anything with me!” — also threatening to burn her pass port if she would not give the man money. I stayed in “la la” land in my head during that time. Not getting involved. Not saying one single word. Just listening to this man talking about the woman sharing her “cunt, all over town”. Saying all kinds of nasty things to her and in the presence of her six-year-old son. She quietly disagreeing. She trying to communicate with this man for a space to sleep. Me in silent collusion. Thinking that I need a place to rest, not to fight. It was completely fucked up to stay silent. A mad summer. So exhausted, thinking there are no peaceful places to go.

‘Dear diary’: I think a lot about different conflicts. And wondering why I can’t start thinking of getting a heavy rug to flatten out all the lumps pushed under. Why I keep staring at the bumps instead of the beautiful pattern on the mat covering it. Why I can’t be happy with reading the website of Nane, and Men against male violence but instead get mental images of a woman swimming in the sea, holding up the heads of women struggling to keep afloat, affected by the currents, and me thinking that I disagree with this waste of energy. Supporting the head of one woman at a time, keeping her head above water, while the currents still pull her. Other bodies hanging on to her body, pulling her down. So much energy wasted. The woman from Nane supporting, saying she’s too exhausted to deal with another conflict, close to her. She’s called a man from the ‘Men against male violence’ group, supervising the work that she does, a “guru”. Saying that the women doing this exhausting work of keeping a few women afloat, call this man a guru. But that this should not be told to the man. The man from the ‘Men against male violence’ group is standing on dry land – Masculand – where men implicitly or explicitly are treated the way they ‘deserve’. Implicitly being treated as ‘the guru’ by the women feels ‘normal’ to this man. I have clear images of this. I know that making these images won’t make anything clear to anyone else but myself. I lose energy on just talking, when the words I have are perceived as something non-related to the reality I describe. Talking in this climate, feels like emptying myself of life-supporting air. My perspective, my feelings around the reception and response to my words are not seen as relevant to the struggle with keeping the heads above the surface. The words are drowned out by a strong current. The sea is invisible. The power positions spoken in clear text with clear words in private amongst women is invisible on the shores of Masculand. The women struggling in the water are overwhelmed. They are afraid of more waves. I’m seen as a wave. My words crash on the shores of Masculand. They leave ripples in the sand. The ripples have no meaning there. My words can’t reach to the center of this land. If the storm is strong on the coast, the men stand with their back against it. Huddling up, arms around backs and shoulders. Protecting one another. When the wind calls a specific name, this person gets pushed into the center of the protective mass. They know that the water can not come to where they are. They are safe. When they feel like it, usually when the sea is more calm, they go in for a swim. They go to the struggling women and maybe they say “I sympathize with what you do, it’s important”, maybe they add “I bet this is hard for you. Well, you know, this is hard for me too”. Then they swim back, and huddle up again. Sometimes they bring a woman up on the shore, they use her body as a mattress, saying that she’s “soft and warm”.

The social center is the same. A website that I see as a lumpy mat. I don’t want to be alone in my perspective. I don’t want my words ‘interpreted’. I want to be understood. I carve my message into the rock. Or write it in the sand. I holler it in the wind. It does not matter. The crack is mad. It’s only by pretending that it’s not there that I too would become real to the others.

Wanted: A credible Cover-Up. Or: Social change. Transformation. Justice.

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poly speed deitting

by Milla — she=he

In the form used for poly speed dating in Helsinki we had three options to mark: "interested" "don't know" and "not interested".

I’m still getting over a seriously bad ‘poly‘-experience, full of not only rejection but as well emotional/power games, callousness and degradation [male chauvinism, sexism]. I told a friend in December, last year, that my only goal for the coming year would be to stay clear of ‘psycho’ intimate relations. That this would mean a major improvement in my life. [Not so hard for me to ‘achieve’ since there aren’t that many people interested..] I’m continuously pining for companionship, sexual intimacy, and someone/s to share my daily life with, and still — staying ‘single’ would be way better than what I had been through. The possibility of going through the same thing again would just be ‘too much’ for me to risk; mental health going straight down the spiraling slope of self-loathing and misanthropy to — Deep Depression. Well. It’s been a year, and I guess I’m open (or: maybe more like — Desperate 🙂 ) for trying Something again. Hopefully a bit more positive. A bit more tender, caring and nurturing than what I’ve experienced before. Something a bit more – mutual.

Today’s song: Wham! – Last Christmas (yeah. this one is in relation to you Daniel. Sleazy Spam: Right back attcha..)

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I used creative spelling for ‘dating’ on the paper put up on the wall in Piritta, announcing what was going on in that part of the café. Influenced by the finnish polypikadeitti I wrote ‘poly speed deitting’. Someone crossed out one ‘t’, but didn’t bother to change the ‘ei’ to ‘a’ 🙂

Anyhow. I and another person were interested in meeting more persons + making the regular polyamory-meetings in Helsinki different/more inclusive. We tried some speed dating. The estimated 3 to 15 participants, turned out to be 9 when meeting up at Cafe Piritta in a snow-fluffy, cold Helsinki.

I have been fairly depressed and in an agitated emotional state, suffering from trauma, exhaustion and isolation. It was nice to break off the continuous crying, home alone, obsessively playing sudoku on the computer, to keep my mind occupied by something less harmful than negative feelings and full-on frustration. And..

The event was — a success! As one person pointed out, it would be great to do this in the summer, outside, with more persons. Even though we were few, we still managed to be a bit disorganized in ‘pairing up’. More about this in the sum up of what we did:

We started off with an ice-breaker – a simple game, where everyone gets to interact, with the purpose of creating a relaxed atmosphere, and for everyone to have a common experience together — everybody walking around, comparing and marveling at the many differences and similarities in the shape of our little fingers 🙂


Then we got a form with a number on it (1, 2, 3 etc). And the possibility to fill in “interested”, “not sure”, “not interested” by each number (1-9) listed in a row, on the back of the paper. It was said that the interest marked on the paper would not necessarily mean ‘romantic’ interest, but any interest to get in touch after the event. Because of this, and also for practical reasons, people were not paired up according to sexual orientation or any other affinity, but everyone would get time to meet and speak with everybody else. After this we walked around freely in the space, sitting down, or standing, taking contact with a new person to talk with by putting our palm to their palm (at least I did this, I’m not sure if everybody did..) When suggesting that we would ‘get in touch’ with one another this way, I was also encouraging people to say openly if they did not wish to have physical contact with the other, and that this ‘rejection’ would not ‘damage anybody for life’. Since we were few, we extended the initial chatting time from 5 minutes to 7. We were an un-even number, so this would mean that one person would need to step out of each turn. This part we managed to mess up (an easy way to keep from having extra rounds, would be for one person to say what person would stay out of each round: first round – number 1, second round – number 2, and so on..) For some reason, we needed an extra round for everybody to get to talk with one another.

After the speed dating, we had a feedback round, also this a bit disorganized — maybe not everybody used to having a round where people take turns speaking un-interrupted. The general feeling about the happening was positive.

We talked a bit about the paper-form: It would be good to keep the contact information, to be shared with the persons we were interested in talking more with, minimized to email to not make it too complicated with ‘nicks’ for internet forums and msn and so forth. Also that there could be two forms to fill in – one where people mark who they would like to contact again. And another for personal notes, to remember the different participants by (for instance writing down the names next to the numbers, or for persons with a lousy name and face memory like myself – to write some key word/s from what the conversation was about, in order to later make sense of who was who, when receiving some person’s email address).

The system for sharing contact information: You would receive the contact information of anybody you marked “interest” in, unless this person would have marked you with an unhappy smiley (not interested). You would also receive the contact info of persons who had marked you with “interest”, unless you had marked them with a ‘sad face’. The contact information would state if the other had marked you with a “happy face” or “not sure”. Someone made a comment about the ‘sad face’ not being a nice marker, and it was said that it could be more correct having some other indicator [for instance a crossed out ’email’ or ‘@’ icon] showing that people, for whatever reasons, would not wish to share their contact-info (it wouldn’t necessarily be a complete disliking of you as a person, but for instance persons participating only wanting to share their email with persons they’re Absolutely Super-Interested in meeting with again).

We talked a bit about the time, and it seemed that 7-8 minutes was okay to get a feel for the other. Someone was saying that it would get tiring with this much time if there would be more persons, and it was suggested that there could be breaks where people could just ‘hang out’ or not speak, if we were more.

It was said that the repetition of topics could also be boring, (“How did you get into polyamory?” “What’s your take on poly?”), and that one way to stay clear of that, would be to ask everybody in the beginning to take responsibility for keeping the conversation relevant/interesting to themselves, by clearly indicating/stating to the other what would be ‘fun’ to talk about, and stop/drop any ‘boring’ subjects. For me personally, questions like “What is the purpose of feminism?” “Do feminists hate men?”, would be the typical ‘turn-off’ topics, and I guess everybody has their own idea of what they wouldn’t want to spend 7 minutes (or even 1) talking about with another person.

We spoke some of the word ‘dating’, and the general conclusion seemed to be that in spite of this term being a bit misguiding for an event like this, it would still be nice to keep it, since pikadeitti (speed dating) is not only about hanging out and socializing, but is also open for the possibility of encountering ‘romantic’ interests, and for persons with ‘haku päällä’ — looking for this type of love. It was said that it would be nice to make this kind of happening open for persons not looking for ‘romance’, by making it clear in the description/invitation to the event that it’s also (even mostly) about nice relaxed ‘un’-romantic social interaction. A different form of group activity.

I wrote this sum-up directly after the event, and it’s only a rough draft of what happened, and I probably left out a lot of important/interesting thoughts/feelings/opinions shared. Everything mentioned is skewed towards my own wants and wishes. Mostly this is a short sharing of the “cool! nice! i want to do this again and again!” feeling I got after taking part in this 🙂

And sometime, at some point: Maybe, possibly, even meet people to share physical, mental, verbal intimacy with. I wish I wish I wish.

To all who participated, to all who are curious of what went on — With love.

I’m looking forward to reading more feedback on the polyforum 🙂

A game to break the ice: Comparing little fingers.

Feminist Self-Defense Philosophy

by Cunt Incognita … she=he

I did a workshop on Feminist Self-Defense on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, November 25th, and was later asked to write one or two pages on the philosophy of this practice.

Feminist self-defense is a collective process of self-empowerment. One workshop/training session is not enough.

Introducing a random googled link on what someone has written on Gendered Violence.


ONE OR TWO PAGES:

I am an individual feminist activist – a 35-year-old, white, childless, able-bodied, Scandinavian woman – who was invited to do a workshop on feminist self defense for the event called “Feminists will arrive at 3 o’clock”, in Tallinn, Estonia.

The background to this form of organizing, as I have come to understand it, has its roots in women getting together in consciousness raising groups in the 70’s in Canada and the U.S, sharing experiences, and skills in how to defend themselves from everyday mental, verbal and physical assault. Groups of women focusing on understanding and figuring out how to break with the gendered violence coming their way from acquaintances, friends, lovers, relatives, strangers, as well as from their own internalized limiting ideas of how they ‘should’ behave, and think, and feel in relation to the role given to them as ‘woman’Not speak ‘too’ loud. Not act ‘too’ proud. Not take space. To self-sacrificingly care for the needs of others, preferably guessing what’s wanted and wished for without anyone having to say out loud what’s expected of them. – Small groups of women coming together, supporting one another in talking and behaving as loud and proud as they feel like, taking space on their own terms – in spite of the external and internal forces acting against it.

40 years later the concept is still the same: A group of women (or women and trans, or just trans) deciding to train together for a certain period, maybe 6 months or a year, and depending on the wishes of the individuals in the group, meeting 1-4 times per month, 2-3 hours each time. Each group make up their own way of how to organize their trainings.

It can be difficult finding persons interested in really committing to this type of practice, so after having some open trainings, where it’s possible to try it out and see what it feels like, the groups usually close once there are enough persons willing to dedicate their time to this form of collective self-empowerment. The idea with having closed groups, is to create an atmosphere of trust and intimacy, making it easier to share experiences with the others. It is not a rule [there are no rules – there’s only tradition and habit], but I would say that less than 4 persons in a group makes it difficult to play games, so I would put that as a minimum of participants for having fun and functional trainings.

The groups are self-organized and strive towards some form of non-hierarchic practice. The responsibility of creating exercises and guiding the others through them, is a task shared by all participants of the group, each time two different persons prepare the training together, according to their own wishes and needs. Sometimes a training is more focused on discussion, other times it can be more physical. The only thing that is a permanent part of the structure is the go-round in the beginning and end of the trainings, where everybody is sitting in a circle, and each one gets a turn to speak and share whatever thoughts, feelings and experiences are currently alive in them, without interruption from the others.

Other reoccurring elements in the practice is Role-Play, Physical Games and Exercises. Coming up with ideas for exercises, is a great way of empowering anyone participating in this type of group to get in touch with their inner creativity and trust that what is important for one person can be beneficial and rewarding for others too.

Around Europe, and in other parts of the world, there are different ways of organizing, and different levels of information-sharing outside the groups. Some groups have leaders, specific persons, training the others. There are adult trainers practicing with children. There are also groups training in a self-organized fashion in schools. Some go and speak publicly on national television about what they do. Some groups train secretly. The trainings can go by many different names: Feminist self defense, Wendo, Wenlido. My own idea and practice around the issue of information is that any practical exercise is okay to talk about outside the group, while the personal stories are not talked about with others. There are many reasons for keeping the information secret. Women participating in groups have been known to face ridicule by male spouses. There have also been cases of women sharing physical self-defense skills with their male partners, and later having these techniques used against them. I’ve also heard of trainers having their property destroyed, some bikes burnt, by a community hostile to their practice. I myself have faced ridicule, massively defensive reactions, and have been denied training space by the community I’m in, based on that the practice would not be ‘fair’ against men, if the trainings don’t allow the participation of men as well. The idea of not including men, is not there to ‘make them into the enemy’, or about being ‘against’ them. I wish for men to deal with their own role-jail of machismo and unemotionality. The feminist self defense groups are there as a marginal space for persons facing a certain type of reality, hopefully finding the space there, to realize themselves and trying out different ways of relating to themselves and one another. It’s important though, for these groups to maintain an awareness, that power-relations and violence exist and need to be dealt with within all spaces. I’ve heard of sexualized assault occurring within a women only group, and this setting off the usual mechanisms of denial and splitting the community into ‘for’ and ‘against’ the perpetrator. In the first group I took part in, internal power-relations were not discussed, and I ended up having a pretty damaging experience where I was told I should seek therapy by the other participants. Class and different backgrounds, as well as different expectations on how to interact socially, was a big part of that conflict – but instead of talking it through as a political fight, it was pushed into the ‘private’/’personal’ sphere, and I ended up leaving the group, as the ‘odd one out’.

It’s important to actively seek ways to talk about the power-relations existing. In India there is a higher awareness of the differences, and the importance of tools for dealing with them constructively, and the network there has introduced Nonviolent Communication (nvc) as a part of their training.

I leave it up to each group to organize in whatever way that makes sense to them in their specific context. In relation to the question of information-sharing outside the groups and networks, I choose a high level of openness, since I wish for more women/trans to tap into the power that can be found in this form of organizing in a daily existence too often focused on mere survival.

For more information on feminist self-defense: https://sosiaalikeskus.wordpress.com/feminist-self-defense/

If you have specific questions in relation to trainings available in Europe write directly to: milla.ahola at gmail dot com

Two persons talking emc: 1.1 Intimidation

by Milla — she=he

Something Warm in the cold climate of Hostile Takeovers.

.Today’s song: Moloko–Bankrupt Emotionally

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This is a continuation of this talk: Click here.

Out of coincidence (desperation? curiosity?) came about a conversation between two persons about a past/present not so pleasant. The form and frame of this talk is still taking shape. My suggestions so far has been to speak about the experiences of our relation through the examples given in a text called Everyday Male Chauvinism (emc). I will quote one example after the other in blog posts, and Daniel and I will dialogue in the comment section. Another suggestion I’m making here and now, is for Daniel to be the one to start the talks, since I’m having problems with understanding how a men’s group blocking dialogue with women, seemingly not interested in the women’s perspective, can work out their issues with male supremacy on their own. Therefor, instead of me saying “I felt this and this about that and that”, and possibly getting a “okay, I hear that” as a response, I would like to start with understanding how men can use the EMC text as a tool to understand [the effects of] their behavior without hearing out what the women they are relating to (or actively blocking dialogue with) have to say.

So, if you agree with this Daniel, you are welcome to be the first to give concrete, specific example/s of how/if ‘intimidation’ was manifested in our relation:

1.1 Intimidation

This is the borderline between psychic violence and everyday male chauvinism. A manoeuvre that causes fear and which the man uses after he has created his, real or imagined, reputation as a violent or aggressive individual.

The manoeuvre can consist of any threatening sign (look, tone of voice, posture, wording or gesture) through which the man lets the woman know that if she is not obedient “something” will happen. In order to make the signal credible, a power demonstration of physical, sexual or financial nature is needed from time to time.

In the long term, it usually leads to the man achieving that the woman does not want him to do anything when he does not feel like it and so he need not be at the service of anyone but himself.