Internalised repression

If gay Christians believe that their faith requires them to be celibate, I am quite clear on the matter. It is internalised homophobia. They intend to make a sacrifice which will do no-one any good: it will increase the confidence of straight oppressors, make it more likely that others will make the same wrong decision, and reduce their opportunities to flourish.

And if a woman chooses to sacrifice her career for her husband’s, and devote herself to bringing up children and keeping house, is that a decision which anyone could make freely, or is it always internalised patriarchal repression?

Men who do that are figures of fun, despised parasites on their working wives.

Yet here am I, “feminine”, with almost no ambition, as can be seen from my career. My femininity is not a result of internalising patriarchy, even if its mode of expression is: because I was brought up to Be a Man. My femininity is no sort of false consciousness, but truly me.

Feminism gives women choices, liberating us from the tyranny of patriarchal expectations, which live on in Complementarianism. That choice has to include being a stay-at-home Mum. When I hear that the choice to be a home-maker rather than a career person, or to be “dominated” by her husband, is necessarily internalised repression rather than a free choice,

my first argument is Me. How would I internalise such oppression?

My second is, that it values one way of being human- the rat racing through the maze, perhaps over the heads of other rats- over other ways which have, well, complementary value: the peacemaker, the carer. It thereby reduces choices and freedoms. Ambitious women are glorious; those of us who are not have value too.

After that I would be looking for cis female feminists, clearly feminist because of valuing all the rights of women, who validated the home-maker’s as a free, feminist choice. Then, I might find myself in arguments about whether such a person was a “real” feminist.

This matters because I met a fascinating woman who holds the contrary view. I would have seen that as negating me: asserting that my “femininity” is illusory, perverted, misogynist, precipitating me into crushing doubt and despair. I don’t, at this precise moment, feel the need to convince her otherwise, as if my opinion has no value without her validation: it is a settled conviction not a mere opinion. I know it from experience, and I can value my experience and responses. This feels as liberating as that misgendering story. Though I notice myself performing actions “looking after” her, and need to watch that: the only reward I can expect from that is the act itself.

Solitude, by Frederic Leighton

Resisting IV

What did I learn?

I found out about lock-ons. These are plastic or metal tubes about a metre long. You put your arm inside, and hold hands with the next protester inside the tube. Perhaps you tie or fasten your hands together. This makes it more difficult for the police to move you. When they try, if you go floppy it is more difficult to lift you: I saw someone attempt this technique but get moved anyway.

The police have stopped cars, found such tubes, and prevented them from going further; but possessing the tube is not itself an offence or a reason to stop the car. When stopped, the driver has to give their name and address, but no other occupant has to.

Some of the protesters seemed a bit blasé about arrest. I would be horrified. Arrests and court appearances cost money; sometimes it seems a person would be arrested simply to get them out of the way of the demonstration. The number of police and police-vans at the north gate was intimidating. If arrested, you must give your name and address, and they can take fingerprints, DNA and photographs. Pat of Pax Christi had been on a recce a few weeks before, and when she took a photo of the timetable at the bus stop, a passing patrol stopped to question her. For her, being completely open about action is part of non-violence, so she explained. The police completed a form about the conversation, which had to give a reason for it. They wrote that she “appeared disorientated”, which she found insulting.

A police officer might press the pressure points behind the ears. This is intensely painful, as I remember from when at school. They are not allowed to do this without consent from their “Silver”, who is at least chief inspector rank. They tend to resort to such tactics when they shut down the protest quickly.

Protesters had legal observers, trained to watch out for police tactics and actions.

Don’t speak to the police, particularly the police “liaison officers”. They seek information about protesters, in the guise of friendly chat. So now writing this I wonder whether what I choose to emphasise might be useful to them in some way. Careless talk costs lives.

Walking to the meeting house, down a ginnel, I passed a man urinating against the wall. Just starting to urinate as I passed, he swore when he perceived me, seeming embarrassed: not disgusting or shameless, then, simply he did not see a better alternative.

Too late back in Swanston to get the bus, I decided to sleep at the meeting house. There was a meeting going on there. I said I was with the Quakers, and asked to use the microwave. Eating my meal in the meeting room, I was interrupted by a man who asked me how Quakers started, I think to test me: first, he asked about our Famous Internee in the burial ground. So I explained that churches were controlled by law during the Civil War, and one man in 1652 thought he knew better. So we worshipped as we saw fit, arrogantly claiming that we were inferior to no-one, and getting imprisoned for it until there was greater religious toleration in 1688. He was nervous, trying to catch me out. “Enjoy your holiday!” I said, as he scuttled off.

Frederic Leighton, Winding the skein

British Values

Frederick_Leighton_-_SolitudeIslamic Extremism is a British value: most of the European fighters in Syria are British. There are two kinds of Islamic extremism- those who want armed struggle for the umma, and those who think the world was created less than 10,000 years ago and all unbelievers are going to Jahannam. They overlap but are not the same. Theresa May fails to understand the difference, writing We do, however, need to recognise that many moderate Muslims, as well as people of other religions, believe that covering one’s hair is a religious requirement and some parents will therefore want their children to do so. The text on dress requirements should therefore not be part of the extremism definition.

Michael Gove will require England’s 20,000 primary and secondary schools to actively promote tolerance, fairness, respect for other faiths, and the rule of law and democracy, says the Daily Mail, whose readers imagine that it epitomises Britishness, in its casual racism and loathing for LGBT and benefit claimants. Prejudice, drunkenness and spontaneous violence are British values since before Great Britain was. Any lesson on English culture should include the many uses of the word “fuck”.

“Respect for other faiths” is incompatible with preventing them teaching that Noah is a historical figure, if they want. There is a tension here. Sweeping the difficulties under the carpet is a British value.

Tolerance, a sense of fair play and the stiff upper lip are British values, and so is the hypocritical assertion that these are more British than foreign, or that they are more British than the eye for the main chance. Consider the War of Jenkins’ Ear, fought from 1739-1748 to ensure the lucrative right to sell slaves in Spain’s American colonies. We talked of the White Man’s Burden to civilise India, and indeed we managed to abolish suttee, which I read is the manifestation of the moral goodness (sat) in women.

Pretence is the core British value: we are the good people, shocked and amazed when our bad side comes out. So we have no way of channelling it. Cynical denial of such Good is a reaction to our pretence, necessary to purge it, but leaving us without a moral centre. Though our poets tell us the answer:

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

Ah, love, let us be true to one another!

By all means teach tolerance, fairness, respect for others and the myths and metaphors which speak to them, commitment to truth, grace in movement and repose. Children should be taught to come to their own understanding of what is the Good Life, by criticising different views of how to live well. Teach the best virtues of humanity, but not as British rather than Islamic. Fear of the Bogeyman is very British, but never ends well.

Stating the Problem

Frederic Leighton The Countess BrownlowI am not at rock bottom. It seems to me that my life could be worse. My dissatisfaction is not yet greater than my non-specific anxiety. What holds me back? I want to state the problem so I might have some idea how to change.

I am a victim. It is not (all) my fault that I am here. And, it is for me to deal with the situation now. I think I am just about over I must be bad, because I am like this. The self-acceptance seems to be working.

Motivation and emotional lability seem to be problems.

In Doctor Who (The Bells of St John) the chief human slave could call up her fellow slaves on her tablet, and adjust their qualities- intelligence, empathy, whatever- with a slider. Hormones don’t seem to work that way: Dr Lorimer suggested testosterone for motivation, adjusting oestrogen for lability, but I don’t think it is that simple, though I remain open to suggestions from the endocrinologist. Cognitive behavioural solutions seem more likely. Initially, I put my increase in lability down to being taken off oestrogen, but actually I was pretty labile before then. The main issue with my emotional reactions seems to be that I fear them. I anticipate getting angry and frightened, which I anticipate will make me react impulsively, show my feelings, and look foolish. Or I feel that my anger and fear will be so unpleasant at the time and in retrospect that I need to avoid them. I want to control my feelings rather than external events.

It seems that fearing the feeling makes it far worse. If I could accept the feeling, it would be less painful. I felt intensely angry with my printer and the various websites when I could not print off a useful score for All Things Bright and Beautiful on Friday. In the end, I photocopied a book, which was not the solution I had wanted, though it was adequate. Accepting the adequate could be useful. Situations where I feel clearly, such as meditation, might be worth practising. Situations where I feel fear and do it anyway would be great if they come off: I need help deciding what such situations might be good for practising this.

I have written over a thousand posts here. My living room is untidy, and I am not looking for work. Mostly, I can go out to get food, or to London for particular purposes, so I am motivated for some actions which I think I will enjoy or will improve my situation, not for others, which I feel will not. It might be worthwhile thinking through what could be good to try, and what stops me.

I feel this analysis, trying to put it into words for you, is useful even if no-one reads to the end (please Like or comment if you do). I will now discuss it with my counsellor, and see what good that does.

John Anster Fitzgerald, the artist's dream

Faith v Science Christians listened to the Bishop of Exeter in 1884, they would not feel the need to deny reality, and there might not be the anti-theist backlash of Richard Dawkins and others. In his Bampton lectures to the University of Oxford, he criticised the refinements of interpretation of the rabbis which “tended to encourage the hypocrisy which our Lord rebuked”, and saw “something of the same spirit in the attempt to maintain a verbal and even literal interpretation of the Bible, filling it not with the breath of a Divine spirit, but with minute details of doctrine and precept often questionable and, whenever separated from the principles of the eternal law, valueless or even mischievous.”

Frederick Temple had preached to the Royal Society at the time of the Wilberforce-Huxley debate in 1860, and later became Archbishop of Canterbury. The Church of England has not had difficulty accepting the revelations of science since.

In the time of Galileo there was no real conflict between the revelation of the Bible and astronomy, he said, and in 1884 none between evolution and the Bible, only with a particular biblical interpretation. Christians finding their interpretation was untenable sometimes rejected the Bible whole, and scientists knowing their science to be true and believing those lovers of the Bible to understand It, saw no alternative to rejecting the Bible; but this was unnecessary.

The bishop says that the heart of Christianity is not belief in specific doctrines, but relationship with the person Jesus Christ, whose tenderness cannot endure that a single soul should perish. Seeing the Lord’s character, let a man put before his will the Lord’s commands, the aims, the self-restraints, the aspiration the Lord required in his disciples. The voice of God speaks to all, but the ability to hear it depends on our spiritual faculty. Believers and unbelievers might prefer scientific evidence of God, to walk by sight and not by faith, and want indubitable miracles. It has not pleased God to furnish such proof.

Science should help us to interpret the message of God. Knowing the origins of the Earth gives us a clearer understanding of the meaning of the first chapters of Genesis. Knowing history helps us understand the historical books of the Bible. Science is the counterpart of religion and has its share to take in the conduct of life and the formation of opinion. And the believer is bound to recognise its value.

Science has value because of the uniformity of nature, but there are two classes of facts excepted from that uniformity: the miracles of God, and the actions of the human will. Science might seek to ignore these exceptions, as a schoolboy learning Newtonian mechanics might dislike friction, which mars its clarity. Yet we sense our responsibility for our actions, and feel our conscience’s promptings. And miracles are exceedingly rare, and the freedom of human will works within narrow limits only slowly affecting the mass of human conduct. Full human knowledge comes when in the physical and spiritual worlds are united.