Privilege is a Dirty Word

This is a terrible topic to touch, but I will explain my understanding of what privilege is and what it is not.

It isn’t that rich, attractive, light-skinned, Christian men are too “clueless” or not “intelligent” enough to understand the concept of privilege. But the way the media has twisted it, privilege has become a buzzword that ignites the indignation of the very people ensconced at the top of the hierarchy.

Privilege is not a moral failing and it certainly isn’t exclusive to Caucasian men. The wealthy have privilege over the poor. Light-skinned people have privilege over dark-skinned people. Men have privilege over women in almost every country in this world. The righteous have privilege over the morally deficient. The beautiful, whatever society deems attractive at the time, have privilege over the plain.

Privilege is a social construct. It is conferred to and received by those named deserving of such treatment. If the practice goes on long enough, say for centuries, the privilege given becomes entitlement.

Entitlement in this context denotes any treatment that one has come to expect. Expectations are assumptions and to assume makes an “ass” our of “u” and “me.”

If you assume someone will be a certain way, if society demands that a woman behave a certain way, that is the point of reference from which you operate. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.

When I use the word privilege, it is not to chastise an individual. I only want to make the individual conscious of the “super-power” possessed. How you use this super-power determines the person you are, not the actual treatment you receive.

Society’s behavior toward a “beautiful” person is markedly different from that of the “plain” person. After meeting a few of these genetic-jackpot-creatures, and I think a majority of us would agree, you discover that they are vain, demanding, and rely almost exclusively on their appearance to command admiration and what they feel is theirs by right.

Fat-shaming is another example. Since slenderness is a societally desirable state of being, everything to do with fashion, to do with body image, how one eats, and even one’s perceived state of health is assumed by society.

Here is a totem pole of privilege in America:
• Color of skin
• Gender identification
• Wealth
• Appearance
• Religious affiliations
• Personality

Others have different opinions as to the order, but from observation and study, this is my statement of the hierarchy and only in America and only by the majority of Americans. For those rare birds who refuse to adopt these societal norms and struggle daily to challenge their assumptions, I salute you.

The distinctions above represent our subconscious assumptions. To the individual with privilege, the treatment received from others is equivalent to a fish swimming in an ocean. Immersed in the water, acknowledgement of the sky and earth exist is not required or desired. Arguments would ensue should a dolphin come along and describe the sky.

This is why America is in turmoil over so many issues. Like the teenager our country is, compared to other countries in the world, we wish to prove that we are right in our assumptions. Belligerence is a normal side-effect of having assumptions challenged. Hopefully, recent setbacks will mature the American perspective and the election of the current Administration is the last gasp of the beached fish of our country’s sense of entitlement. My hope is endless.

For those who rest at the pyramid’s point, you have a responsibility to acknowledge your good fortune and use it for the betterment of those who have, by no fault of their own, been relegated to a supporting level of the pinnacle. Failing to do so will create a chaos that grows exponentially as the established order attempts to keep the “lid on the boiling pot.”

When a class of individuals loses sight of the fact that their privilege rests on the backs of the others who have helped them to rise to such heights, resentment simmers beneath and at some point, the pyramid will erupt like a volcano.

The eruption could be Pompeii or it could be *** in proportion. This pattern has been witnessed over the course of human history, reflected in the cycles of the Earth, and also experienced on the personal level many times over.

Must change be so violent? If an abuse is named in the current order of assumptions, wouldn’t it be easier to integrate the awareness with deliberate and mindful steps that are implemented with kindness and respect? And for those who have named these abuses, wouldn’t it be prudent to start with a respectful and informative approach rather than accusations that, while valid, would alienate the participation of those who have the power to initiate change?

In theory, yes, that would be marvelous and the ideas of mindfulness and deliberation are worthy of consideration and constructive discussion.

I am not promoting a revolution of any sort because I am not interested in holding power over others. I have the privilege to be in a place where I can make that decision for myself. Others are not so lucky, but I will not use my privilege as a weapon against others.

I will harness my privilege so that I’m not an asshole to the waiter or ignoring the suffering of others. I will use my privilege to help others become.

Fury + Fear = General Anxiety Disorder?

My Fury embodies the energy of Kali: Goddess of Rage and Resistance.

Fury is what I feel when I’m helpless. Plus fear is what I feel when my amygdala kicks in with the fight-or-flight reaction (FFR) and I can’t make it stop. Equals General Anxiety Disorder.

Looks pretty simple, but it isn’t. If I broke into rages instead of a panic attack, then my fury would be diagnosed and treated. The anxiety expressed in those rages would not be addressed. If I have panic attacks instead, because I’ve been victimized one too many times, only the anxiety would be treated.

Therapist: What are you afraid of?
Me: I don’t know. I’m safe, there is nothing to fear.
T: Then why do you think you have panic attacks?
M: Because that was the only way I could express my fury.

It leaked out of me 24/7. How do you treat that kind of fury? The helpless fury that must find an outlet or I’ll explode.

Most therapists are at a loss of how to treat fury-induced anxiety. They don’t consider the other emotions that are tightly woven into the panic response.

Especially for women. Women cry when they are frustrated and feel helpless. This feeds the angry fire.

I’ve learned to embrace my fury. I treat her like a long, lost child who has grown to a strong, even vicious woman. Anger is so destructive when it isn’t given a proper outlet.

For those of you with imagination, anthropomorphize the fury. What does the fury look like? What gender? What species? Build up this image in your mind.
When you know what your fury looks like, embrace it. Tell it you love it and that it is a part of the collective of you. You might have to do this a number of times before Fury trusts you enough to listen.

Once the Fury relaxes enough to have a conversation, you can hit these bullet points:
• I love you as a natural part of who I am as a person.
• I’ve neglected you and I’m sorry for that.
• I understand why you have sabotaged my efforts in the past.
• To show you how sorry I am, I’m asking you to turn your attention to what hinders us.
• Your destructive nature is necessary to sift the wheat from the chaff.
• Let us work together as a team to overcome any obstacles that come our way.

You may have to have this conversation with Fury a few times before it takes, but it will take. Fury will settle into your unconscious mind, where it has always resided, but now Fury has a new directive and will fulfill your request with a focus that is monumental in proportion.

After I did this, my whole life changed. The decisions I made when Fury was not acknowledged were cut and burned. Some of those decisions were salted as well. Fury doesn’t play.

Another role Fury can take is as a defender of the child you were, the child you must raise. This is anxiety. This is helplessness. Have Fury protect and care for this child. Fury was given to us for this purpose.

Many call Fury the Shadow, but this is only true if you deny its existence. Otherwise, it becomes a tool of the heart and mind. You’ll make better decisions. Toxic people will shed from your life. This will be true even if you have a mental illness. I think one of the reasons I survived so long with the illness was because I acknowledged all the icky parts of myself. Just know that Fury is the biggest “shadow” of them all and must be addressed first.

I am not a licensed therapist. I make no claims to having any experience other than my own. If the above practice resonates with you, you’ll have success. If it doesn’t I recommend that you not continue the matter and seek professional help.

Either way, if you are seeing a therapist, discuss the ramifications of a guided meditation. Remember that you are paying the therapist for their expertise and that you are the boss. You are the owner of all the feelings inside of you. If your therapist isn’t open to working with you on anger issues or just recommends prescriptions to the psychiatrist to deal with the anxiety, it’s time to find a new therapist.

Take charge of your journey to wellness. You are mighty, not helpless. Let your Fury become your guardian. Fury will tell you when something isn’t right. Fury will protect you.

©2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text only. Image may be subject to copyright.

That’s Not How Feminism Works, Sweetheart

I know you feel men and women should at least be equal, right? You’re very vocal about this, but I’ve seen you use your feminine charms to crush a besotted male. I’ve seen you order men around because you know they want to get between your thighs and that you have agency of yourself so he’s fair for a game of deceit and would be a monster if he complained.

You’re also very vocal about how feminist and vegan and superior you are to the “baser” humans. Such as men, people who eat meat, and those who haven’t had the same privilege as you.

You say you’re feminist but you don’t represent my aunt, my mother, or me. You have suffered but the reason you are able to make such an outcry over your suffering is because my aunt, my mother, and me have fought for your right to scream your indignation and be heard.

The kind of behavior I describe above is a result of immaturity and not having the experience to see beyond your adolescent world of pure ideals. You haven’t done the hard part of living yet.

Let’s take an example (or two):

You can’t be vegan if you eat dairy, fauna, or marine flesh of any sort because that’s not how plant-based diets work. You don’t get to wear the flashing badge if you “cheat” with some ice cream once in a while.

You can’t claim to be a feminist if you use sex as a weapon because that’s not how equality works. You don’t get to wear the flashing badge if you use biology in that manner.

This is not what feminism is about.

Feminism is built on a respect for all people. You can’t claim superiority because you don’t harm animals but you do manipulate people with the intention of harming their emotional being. People are animals too.

Does masculinity need an overhaul? Fuck yeah. The Y chromosome is still dizzy from the abrupt changes in our culture. They haven’t had time to adjust to their demotion from “kings” to mere humans. But most of them are trying their best.

It would be helpful if you didn’t go around calling people names. It would be prudent not to willfully provoke an already outraged demographic with name calling and hypocrisy. It would be in your best interest to not obnoxiously present yourself as an easy target to those who want to discredit the feminist platform.

I do not suggest remaining silent because that isn’t an authentic state of being. I do encourage you to not give your power away to others. I do hope you believe in your self. I want to see women work together instead of competing for the most alpha male. But it isn’t just for women that feminists marched.

We also marched against the toxic masculinity that continues to destroy the fabric of our society. Complex human beings have been reduced to caricatures on both sides of the line drawn in the sand.

We marched to protect our children from war and overwork in the factories. We marched so that men were allowed to feel and express emotion without being labeled. Unless the label was human.

We’ve all been poisoned by American mores about gender roles and the idea that skin color determines your worth. America has had its pass that is granted to adolescents as they explore the world around them. It’s time for America to grow up and end the hypocrisy.

Authenticity is found in honesty to yourself and others. It is found in discovering that we are all one and to hurt one person is to hurt yourself. Eventually, this compassion will extend itself to all the creatures of this world.

And you, in your ignorance, have weaponized the very thing that subjugated all other women in ages past and yet advertise yourself as superior to others.

That’s not how this works. That’s not how this works at all.

(C) 2018. I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved for text. Image may be subject to copyright.