the last few bazillion years of the pandemic have made it hard not to feel everything all of the time and though i feel more unbridled than i’ve ever been, being in the truth of the feelings (even if they’re many different conflicting feelings) has also brought a lot of stability in weird ways. like at least i’m moving from within myself everyday. i feel rooted in my reality, not somebody else’s, and less and less I feel obstructed by others. my days are my own, and they’re consistent in their exploration.
there’s so much that’s strange about the times. people just out here not wearing masks like almost 6.5 million people haven’t died since March 2020. i saw a white man wearing an NRA backpack in LAX a few weeks ago which was a jolt back into American hell… and with the continuous realities of the destruction of the planet (with climate scientists literally tying themselves to banks now, violently sobbing) all while Israel continues to plummet Palestine since Ramadan began, which is an assault that it does regularly, terror even during the holiest month of the year for Muslims... pay attention to the spiritual degradation used by settler colonial nations. needless to say, aggression seems to be apparent in every part of society, and the masculinity of the times—the war and ravaging of the Earth and its peoples—is overwhelming to say the least. it makes me think of what i recently read in “An Elemental Thing,” by Eliot Weinberger:
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity…”
if you didn’t know, i’ve been challenged personally a lot these last few months and i’ve been thinking a lot about men — particularly their arrogance and entitlement. i was recently triangulated into a dynamic that had nothing to do with me, and when i realized what was happening, the most astonishing thing was to realize that a lot of rich white men can’t even fathom my humanity. to them, i’m just a mirage, an exotic symbol. they don’t even realize how disassociated they are from women, in particular, women of color, because they can’t even fathom our interiority. so many straight men (and i mean men who were socialized as boys and then as men) are absolutely inarticulate about their feelings and the irony is that they’ve governed all of us with the pomp and charade of their self-importance, creating laws and nation-states as if any of it has meaning or order, when they can’t even think outside of sex, or desire. it’s ludicrous.
when i was 23 i worked briefly at the New York Film Festival. i was groomed (at the time, in what i thought was a professional way) by a relatively high-profile person in film. i have a naivety that i like because in my older age it’s really helped me see who wants to take advantage of me because they think I’m naive. anyway, this man took me out to expensive dinners and we would talk about all kinds of films, Satyajit Ray (whose work, at the time, he was helping restore) and Daniel Day-Lewis (who he knew intimately). He introduced me to fancy people and told me how smart, expressive and unique i was… and i believed he meant what he told me. i thought he saw me and wanted to protect and uplift me. silly me.
then one day, when i was going home, back to Williamsburg, where I lived with my then partner, he tried to kiss me as he put me into a yellow cab. he was decades older than me (also not my type??????) and even had a son my age. it was devastating only because a couple of weeks prior i had met his wife at the screening of Cristin Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills. when we both happened to be in the bathroom together, i smiled at her, eager to make a friend, but instead she gave me a menacing and judgmental look that put a chill down my spine and made me so very uncomfortable. i pretended i didn’t know what the look was about. but she must’ve thought i was in on it, or worse — like many white women are with women of color — she was threatened by me and therefore hated me on sight.
recently i finished writing an essay on celibacy which will be exciting to share with the world when it’s out. i’ve been celibate for the last few years because after the memories of being a child sexual abuse survivor returned to me, my body, i stopped wanting to be penetrated, or even touched sexually by another. it was wild… but also relieving. i didn’t have to pretend to be normal anymore or charade that i wanted to have sex. my body suddenly changed so drastically overnight… and a more honest, cognizant interpretation of myself emerged.
frankly, i had grown bored of having sex simply because the sex i seemed to be having was mostly with people who didn’t really know or think of my pleasure (even in queer scenarios) and the intimacy, gentleness or honesty i craved — about desire, about oneself — wasn’t available. specifically, also, as a CSA survivor, i was confused that most people were not trauma-informed… and even in queer spaces, where i thought i’d be safe, i felt harassed and overwhelmed by attention i didn’t want. celibacy suddenly felt like a white slate. a barrier. a clear bold boundary. and if it was crossed, suddenly i was willing to fight. for myself.
last week, after taking what turned out to be a macro dose of shrooms, i watched Anatomy of a Scandal. boy oh boyyyyyyy did i not know was coming. firstly. god i love seeing men get completely obliterated by the sweet sword of justice. it’s so exhilarating. also James Whitehouse’s (played perfectly by Rupert Friend) sociopathy peaking out through the edges of his personality was so wonderfully orchestrated because it showed what Hannah Arendt refers to as the ‘banality of evil…’ many evil men are not calculated, what’s more troubling is so many of them are quite stupid, but the ego… the ego is what is the evil. the belief in their grandiosity, even despite their mediocrity, is i think the most compelling part of the construction of man.
there’a a scene where Whitehouse asks his son, “What am I, good man?” to which his son responds enthusiastically: “A Whitehouse!” what an apt name. in another scene, his wife, Sophie Whitehouse (played perfectly by Sienna Miller) asks their Russian nanny if she thinks her husband is a brute. bleary eyed, she says, “He’s a good man,” exaggerating the “good” wanting confirmation… the nanny responds, chillingly, shrugging her shoulders aloof, she says “He’s a man.” the whole series is such a dark and radiating look at the engine that continues to spawn white supremacist patriarchal bullshit, so much so that a communications chief tells the PM, Whitehouse’s best-mate, “the behavior of entitled toffs is no longer something the public finds cute.” lol. well if he ain’t right!
women are questioned by everyone: their families, their partners, their friends, society. in Who Is Wellness For? (please don’t forget to pre-order) there’s a chapter entitled “Healing The Wounds With The Feminine” where I talk about how many times I’ve seen a woman forgive a man, or overlook something a man has done, that she would never allow a woman to do. we hold each other differently but we fail each other when we don’t hold everyone equally to the same standard.
and of course, many white men know their privilege, and many of them are also so perfectly oblivious because they feel deserving of everything. entitled to everything. and they don’t see how most others can’t—and are not even allowed—the same privilege, the same access. but of course they don’t care! how could they? boys will be boys will be boys will be boys but the duplicity is really perfectly captured in an Anatomy of a Scandal and it’s so refreshing to see the collapse. it’s also so nice to see how we are beginning to talk about the hush hush goings-on of the Oxfords, the Cambridges, the Etons and the elites of the world — the men who make up governments, infiltrating justice systems, to speak about a decency that they themselves don’t even have. it’s so funny to me, to see the charade so clearly and for them to not even realize how blatantly obvious they all are. it’s so embarrassing.
something i also recently watched was Life & Debt, the incredible documentary about Jamaica, the IMF and the World Bank. Understanding the predatory way that the “developed world” has kept (looted) countries like Jamaica, and others in the Global South, the ways that they came into our countries and took our resources and enslaved so many of our ancestors in the name of “our own good” well that facade is falling. I call out the IMF and the World Bank in WIWF, and I’m ready to see these systems that have been brought into pillage everything, while lying to our face and saying they’re not, finally go down. because more people, women, are saying no. more of us are just pointing out what’s just there, right in front of us.
it’s integral that as women, as femmes, as queers we don’t continue to collectively gaslight ourselves and each other. so many men are as predictable and boring as we all know them to be and what’s so wild is that so many of them refuse to challenge the status quo. why does absolute power corrupt so absolutely? why is that even a thing that we’ve accepted?
men create laws that fail us. that much is known, they’ve created so much distraction—this theatre of cruelty—under the guise of democracy. but is it so impossible to be what you say you are? i don’t think so. and yet. absolute power corrupts absolutely.
the most significant part of Anatomy of a Scandal is the role of women in the show. Sienna Miller plays the kind of white women we need — women who actually question their husbands. white women who are invested in collapsing white supremacy and no longer want to participate in the charade for the sake of family or prestige. the self-awareness she exudes is such a juxtaposition to what we assume of her privilege but she begins to see how the connection of allowing men to get away with things has led to a culture where that happens, en masse. none of those things matter on a planet that’s on the verge of collapse. we need action now, that’s as clear as day. real, tenable action. we need justice to be served.