Recently, I had the great fortune to be in Trinidad with my only brother, his lovely wife and our childhood friend, Ray.
We were all headed to the store to purchase a 60th birthday gift for another friend.
My brother was riding in the passenger seat up front while Ray drove and in the midst of recanting an old and funny story, he said very casually,
“Hey brother, what’s that red light on your dash?”
Ray, quite nonchalantly said, “Doh worry ’bout dat man, I put a piece of black tape over it, I don’t want to know what it is.”
And in typical Ray style, he started to laugh.
My sister in law, sitting next to me in the back then says, “So why is there tape over the locks in the back?”
Ray says, “Oh the locks are broken and I just don’t want people messing with them.”
We all start howling with laughter and start teasing Ray about his ability to block out the everyday annoyances of life.
I immediately say, “You know that I am going to have to write a blog about this, right?”
The thing about using black tape to cover up warning lights and broken bits of a machine made me think of the hoops we jump through to hide our shameful abuse from others.
Women will use any amount of makeup to try to hide the black eye.
Teenagers will lie to their friends and wear long sleeves to try and hide the cutting they started as a result of the incest they are suffering in their homes.
Young children know that they dare not tell about the knock down drag outs that their parents engage in and they instead begin to create a fairy tale family that they trot out to mask their pain.
Recently, during a Train the Trainer, one of the participants told the group that he never knew his parents because the state had taken him away due to abuse. He then explained that he made up a fairy tale of benevolent parents and used to tell fairy tale stories about the imagined family.
We use black tape in our everyday lives so effectively that we often forget the tape is there.
We begin to see the tape as the reality and we fight for the right to deny the reality of our pain.
What parts of your life have you taped over?
What is the tape hiding?
What would happen if you pulled the tape off and allowed yourself to face the truth?
I pull the tape off my own bruises every time I tell an audience that my abuse began in my childhood. When I am honest with my listeners and when they are able to receive the truth of what I am saying, they witness the absence of black tape.
I let them see my scars.
I let them in on my pain.
As a result of my being vulnerable, they give themselves permission to do the same.
Will you remove some black tape from your life today?
Self assertion is not aggression. It is not banging people over their heads and claiming that you are better than them.
It is also NOT accepting others views of you.
“Self -assertiveness means the willingness to stand up for myself to be who I am openly, to treat myself with respect in all human encounters.” Nathaniel Branden.
Let me tell you a story.
A few years ago a very dear friend of mine asked me to speak to his religious women’s group.
I knew that his faith did not allow women to see their priests for reasons I cannot fathom.
He knew what a strong and upfront woman I am and that I speak my truth.
I told him that I would gladly speak on any variety of topics BUT if it came up about their treatment of women with seeing priests that I would absolutely be truthful about how I felt.
He seemed to accept what I said and we agreed that he should get a different speaker.
However, his friend who had accompanied him to my home, did not agree with me at all. In MY home he dared to challenge my point of view and was forcefully trying to make me agree with their views on women. I remained quite calm for about 15 minutes and then something happened.
I stood up and told him that this was my house and I was allowed my views in my house and he could not get me to change my mind.
I said we would have to agree to disagree.
He was shocked.
He was shocked because I DARED to stand and face him with conviction and clarity.
I am willing to bet money that NO woman had ever confronted him in his whole life and certainly no one had ever questioned his views on women in his faith.
He had never met a women who knew and understood her right to be assertive.
Nathaniel Branden tells us, “To practice self-assertiveness is to live authentically, to speak and act from my innermost convictions and feelings as a way of life – as a rule.”
Yes, this is what I did quite instinctively and with clarity of head and heart.
I am asking you, dear reader, to identify the areas of your life where conviction and clarity are lacking and to begin to take small steps to embolden your walk in your own life.
First you must talk the talk. Then you must walk the walk. Then you must encourage others to do the same.
Dad here, remember me? I need to talk to you about something important, so look me in the eyes and listen up (yes, this is one of the “look me in the eyes” type of talks).
Remember when we started playing video games? Remember how concerned your Mom was with the amount of time we played video games and the effect that might have on you, and how I told her that was crazy, video games weren’t bad for you?
Yeah, well, you and I know that I am almost always right, but, I might have been wrong on the whole “video games aren’t bad for you” bit, and I don’t say that lightly.
As you know I spent a great deal of my childhood playing video games: Atari 2600, Intellivision, Colecovision, Super Nintendo, Playstation, Windows Computers, Amiga, Commodore 64; I played most of them.
I also spent a great deal of my time in the 90s defending video games, content in video games, and violence in video games. Fighting against people who said that content in video games could affect how people acted in real life.
For the most part, I still think this is true….but…but…after watching this video I am not sure how I feel about my old arguments. I am not sure how anyone could make a game that allows you to do these things, and if games like this are selling millions, and gamers have a desire to do these things in a game, I have to wonder where gaming culture is headed, how gamers will behave in the future, and whether you and I should even be a part of this group.
I want you to watch this video Fionn. I want you to realize that, even though this is “just a game”, these actions are wrong. Wrong on so many different levels. They are wrong in the Real World AND they are also wrong in a Virtual World.
(Please Note: this video is Not Safe For Work and contains disturbing images)
Now, I am not going to go so far as to say: “some kid will play this video game and it will make him go out and pay for a hooker, then kill that hooker with an axe”. What I am willing to say is: “some kid will play this video game and think that women, and how he treats women, aren’t important, and someone’s daughter may end up hurt because of this game”.
Fionn, this video makes me embarrassed to be a gamer, and it should make you embarrassed to be one too.
I don’t want you to stop playing video games, but I want you to think (and tell your friends to think too) about the games you play and what happens in them. If a game disrespects women like Grand Theft Auto Five I don’t want you brushing it off, or thinking that it is OK. I want you to stop playing, tell people it isn’t acceptable, and stand up for the boys and girls that could be hurt by disgusting content like this.
You must have heard the adage, “if the only tool you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail.”
If you have not heard it, now you have.
I was thinking about expanding on this… what if you only have nails and you need a hammer? Then you have to determine what kind of hammer you need, right?
For instance, if you need to put a small nail in the wall to hold a small painting it would not help to use a sledge hammer because you would not have any wall left.
If you needed to put together some delicate furniture that needed some good pressure, you better use a rubber mallet and that too, very gingerly.
If we can expand this metaphor into the challenges that life gives, we must determine exactly what king of challenge is at hand and what kind of hammer we need.
If a child makes a mistake, say spills milk or pushes a sibling, then using a switch to beat the living daylights out of him, a la Adrian Peterson, is akin to using a sledge hammer. Your aim will be to inflict the most pain for the smallest injury.
Why would anyone choose to do that?
In my experience, sledge hammers and rubber mallets are NEVER needed, nor are nail guns. Instead what we usually need is to take a time out and to discover what other tools we have in our tool belt.
When you have a challenge, take a time out instead of taking out the sledgehammers.
Sexism is a term normally associated with women. It affects women in the workplace, on the street, in the media; it affects women in so many different ways, that we often forget an important piece of the sexism puzzle:
Sexism affects everyone: bisexuals, transgender, lesbians, gay men, and yes, even straight men.
Watch Laci Green as she unpacks and explores the idea of sexism against men and the effect it is having on everyone.
Watch and imagine what effect it would have on gender based violence if men no longer felt that they NEEDED to hide emotions, be powerful, and do manly things like fight, fix things, and have lots of sex to prove how masculine they are.
Could part of the solution be as easy as realizing that: there is no man or woman or gay or lesbian or transgender. There are humans.
Have you ever been sexist towards a man? If you are one of our male readers, have you ever experienced sexism?
We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Love & light,
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