Musings on Prayers and Kisses, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Musings on Prayers and Kisses

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Trying to pray with your eyes open is like trying to walk with your eyes closed. One distracts you, the other confuses you, but the end result is the same—clumsiness.  Trying to kiss with your eyes open is more an act of will and wide-eyed-giggling than it is: “I must see where my face is going.” Lips know.  The soul knows. The feet do not without aid of the eyes.  Then again, it must be considered not all prayers are the same, just as not all kisses are the same. And I must say at the beginning, I am musing along with you as I write these words.  The ideas herein are like the aforementioned legs without eyes to guide them.  I do have certain experience, albeit limited, with both kissing and praying, but I am roaming these topics of heaven-given moments with as much anticipation as you to see where they lead.

One can kiss a lover, friend, or a child “Good morning—have a good day”—with eyes open (perhaps, however, while staring at the coffee maker or the clock).  One can kiss a lover with eyes open—wild, seeing everything—following the other’s eyes like search lights, but that’s usually at first contact—when clothes are dropping off ready bodies, like swollen seed-husks falling from blossoming flowers. Eventually the eyes close and you both connect, like living magnets, and both exhale–surrendering into that intimate vulnerability of having someone ornament your body with decorating kisses. We have an interesting distinction here: eyes open during the initial flurry of passion, then eyes close when things settle in a pulsing rhythm of bodies, and the feast of lips tasting lips.  Then, one begins exploring the other’s body with kisses as the other’s eyes close in deep, rising and sinking sighs.  And when the lips find the places where rapture happens both lovers’ eyes close. That being said, it’s not uncommon for the one receiving to have their eyes fly open with: “Oh God! Oh God!”  When the sweet release comes, and the waves shimmer through the body, the eyes most often close like the deepest, most calming, evening.  And when the lovers switch places, the process unfolds, with any luck, the same way.

Prayer is very much the same, only different.  So is singing, but that’s another essay.  In praying, as in nighttime prayers (that often slip so easily into sleep), the eyes close to shroud the whispers that kiss the dark.  Morning prayers too are most often said with eyes closed, head bowed before the body of the day. Of course, there are those prayers where the whole body participates, as when the sea rolls through your body during love making.  Dancing prayers, yogic prayers, walking prayers, making coffee for your partner prayers—these are all eyes-open prayers—even if your eyes are drooping with not enough sleep. There are vigil prayers when candles are meditated upon, and lives gone are reflected upon, and hopes for peace rise to the sky. During vespers, the eyes can be open or closed, as the prayers wish for safe sleep and warmth.  Then, there are prayers we pray for someone else—someone sick or struggling through a rough patch—these prayers are almost always asked with eyes closed in supplication and intensity, as when we humbly, or boldly ask a lover to kiss us in the places we want kissed.  There are prayers of wonder, as when we see stars and newborn babies and sunsets and moon rises.  These are prayed with gasps and awes, as when your lover’s lips find the tingling places on your body—eyes suddenly open with surprise and reverence.  There are rote prayers where the eyes automatically close because everyone else’s automatically close and if you sneak your eyes open and scan the room full of closed-eyed people you feel a sprinkle mischievous and a dash voyeuristic, and perhaps a pinch of outright rebel.  These are moments akin to opening one eye during a kiss to catch the reaction of your lover.  Both are perfectly acceptable, of course, for they inspire the fun of witnessing community and union, provided the eyes aren’t opening in either case with insecurity to check whether or not you’re kissing well or praying with the proper piety. Hopefully, however, there are very few rote kisses in your lives. There are prayers of prophecy—spontaneous and unplanned like wild, ravishing kisses predicting soon to come release. Your eyes are always open during these prayers while your lover’s are usually closed with faith and the sweet, blessed, little fear that sometimes accompanies letting go to the control of another. There are also the prayers of grace and blessings before a meal, which can easily be translated into prayers of gratitude before feasting at the table of your lover’s body. Lastly, there are prayers of ecstasy, when your eyes close seeing lights and visions, and the soul stirs awake and bliss shimmers through your entire body, and exclamations of: “Oh God, Oh God!” soar around the room.  We don’t have to imagine too hard to know which kisses these are like and where they settle and deepen and what the eyes do when such rapture happens.

Well, there we have it.  I truly had no idea where this was going.  Now that we’re drawing to a close (or a curious, intriguing opening) it is my hope this meandering piece inspires you to kiss more reverently and to pray with more wildness; to kiss with more attention and devotion, and to pray with more openness to revelation; to kiss more adventurously and to pray more like the trees must pray, like the sea must pray, like the shore must pray, like a hawk gliding on spiraling currents must pray, like the mother bear awakening with cubs must pray, like the owl must pray keeping watch over fields and marshes.  In other words, may our prayers and kisses become one and the same, where Lover and Beloved become one and the same–one breath, one sparkling river, one song of praise.

 

     

 

 


 




Trauma Returns V, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Trauma Returns V

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

There is a way of never reaching out to be held again that is like a tree standing in a spring clearing, never to grow leaves. There is a way of living knowing no arms could ever fill the emptiness you carry that is like walking alone down an endless dusty summer road. There is a way of existing that precludes any sense of being comforted that renders one’s spirit silent, like an empty house.  There are times when pillows become the receivers of the kinds of embraces and tears a scared child should be able to share with a parent, or, in the best-case scenario, a dear friend, or even a stranger who completely understands such ambiguous and deep loneliness. There is a way of moving in the world with such grief and loss, that it’s like having undigested food sitting in one’s guts, and yet, still being hungry night and day. Today, the pillows are once again receiving hugs and the tears that come and go in aching waves, because no one can ever be trusted to hold this grounded falcon, this being of living fog, this feral heart that recoils—thrashing from the offered arms, this darkness that is like living in stone and yet somehow being able to breathe and watch, but never to soften again. All the while longing to be scooped up and rocked, like a nest in the arms of a tree in the light of the moon.

 

 


 




Trauma Returns IV, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Trauma Returns IV

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

We are all surrounded by invisible doors.  Every step we take one opens and we drift through a threshold.  Sometimes we pause outside unsure of ourselves, unaware doors are opening all around us.  Once we take a step, whether we pivot the foot and turn around, or we move forward confidently—a door’s there—it opens—we’re through.  Can’t we stay in a room, or a backyard, or place of worship for a spell, or do we just keep stepping through door after door—doors leading to other doors?  That all depends on the needs of the soul.  If the soul’s task is to guide a fairly whole heart, and a nearly unscathed spirit to their next living temple, then there will be stops along the way in living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens where banana bread is baking, and coffee is brewing, perhaps a teakettle is whistling, and children are laughing somewhere just outside, perhaps there will be walks through cathedrals and forests, farmlands, mountain passes, and around lakes and ponds.  In cases such as these, the doors wait nearby, open just a smidge, letting the light from beyond its frame slant through over your shoes that you’ve placed by the previous door.  Should the soul’s task be—as it is for mine–to carry a heart and spirit damaged by trauma, then it is more like door after door, searching for that peaceful place, that safe place, that breathing place, and sometimes it’s never found in this life—it’s just one threshold after another.  Despite the soul’s wisdom and depth of wonder, sometimes the hurts she is trying to help heal are too deep, too sharp and festering, that the only doors that appear—appear like blackholes with wooden frames—doors leading into darkness upon darkness—into damp and moldy basements, into jail cells made of bones of ghosts.  Sure, every now and again, a door appears, and it sails by like a strange boat, and light surrounds it, like a mandorla, and singing weaves through the key hole, but it’s soon gone down—down into the sea of inability to trust, handicapped abilities to feel joy, enhanced abilities to feel shame and terror.  Right now, in this moment, I am standing outside an open dark door—and even if I try and stand still or change directions—as shaky as my knees are—the door opens like a maw and comes to me—moves over and around me, and I have no choice but to be in the dark belly of the door—the belly of I-Hate-This-Life-It-is-Too-Hard-to-Breathe-All-Hope-of-Peace-is-Gone-My-Body-is-Not-Mine-My-Innocence-Was-Stolen-From-Me-Damn-Dammit-to-Hell-Door.  And yet still—I am born along as my soul searches, moving, like a winding river of light, towards the house of many mansions, believing the promise is true.

 

 

 


 





Trauma Returns III, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Trauma Returns III

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

It’s hard to find a beginning when the end keeps moving away. Memories live—scatter-frozen—in each and every cell, like snow on each and every branch. Sometimes warmth comes—a little thaw—and healing rearranges the hurt into tears. Sometimes the roots of the heart are severed from the body, and the soul lets the roots and the heart live in her waters over years and decades, as she tries to graft them back together again. Until then the body exists with a mind that pretends to be a heart in that it knows what it should be feeling and doing and it attempts to be the way it thinks others think it should be. Except real hearts know the truth always, unlike well-intentioned minds. And the soul watches it all. And the monsters watch it all—snow shadows stealing towards bedroom windows. And the body searches for the beginning, while the heart longs for the end, and the mind wishes it could fix it all while spiraling into the dark. And the monsters slip through the cracks. And the soul moves the great folds of her waters around that heart and those roots, like a cloak of time and animal ferocity—making sure nothing hurts them again.

 

 

 


 

 


Trauma Returning II, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Trauma Returning II

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Is it a longing for the divine that burns just behind every moment and interaction with someone? No, it can’t be. The divine is everywhere I turn and in everyone I see. This soul-loneliness then must just be there, like an underground abandoned and crumbling church lit by a single, ever-burning candle. No matter how it flickers in the winds of sighs and the passing of ghosts, it remains lit—an ever-present reminder of solitary confinement. There are friends aplenty in my life. There are people who love me and whom I love. There are times our voices lift together in praise. There are times laughter fills the room. And yet, the soul-loneliness lives just behind every moment and interaction. Trauma does that. It is a severing of lifelines, a smashing of lifeboats, a drifting away on the sea. This is not to say I am ungrateful for your company. It is to say: that lost look in my eyes is a shadow on the wall of that little candle in that underground church, and nothing, it seems, can ever fill that space with light and singing, community, and warmth. Please, I beg you, don’t ever stop trying. It is your persistence and compassion, and my limited abilities to be present in your presence, that keep me going. And sometimes I can stand in that church and feel triumphant, and maybe even sing in my weeping. Mostly, the soul-loneliness fills me with dust, as the church slowly crumbles. Trauma does that. It defines a perimeter where wounds cannot be reached. And the divine is everywhere. Even in that church. I know that in my mind. Trouble is—all sense of comfort and safety from that holy, living light were stolen, and so the divine feels more like a wind from somewhere far away, trying to make a wish and blow out that little candle. Trauma does that. May the birthday one day come.

 

 

 


 




Trauma Returning, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Trauma Returning

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

It’s there, outside my window. I’m standing still looking out into the dark yard. It’s there, by the early-frost-eaten-fallow garden. It moves, like a loosened piece of the night. It might be human. It might be a walking tree. It is most likely another monster. It leans towards the shed, lurching forward, it’s face sideways watching me as it goes. It’s also inside the house—coming down the hall to my bedroom door. I could crawl under the bed. I could hide behind the clothes in my closet. Outside, it turns fully towards my house and is at my bedroom window in one great, terrible stride. It crosses the threshold into my bedroom. My heart strains to not burst into pieces. I can’t breathe. There is nowhere to hide. They’ve found me again. They always were going to find me again—from within and without. I shut my eyes, clamp my mouth closed as tightly as I can. And then it happens. My body is no longer my own, and years of my life disappear into the ceiling and up, out into the late summer night never to be seen again.

 

 

 

 



 




I Think I Might be Straight? My Ongoing Journey of Discovering My Sexual Orientation, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

I Think I Might be Straight?

My Ongoing Journey of Discovering My Sexual Orientation

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

CW: Description of Dysphoria; mention of sexual abuse; open references to genitalia; mention of gender-affirmation surgery; a couple sexually explicit words; allusions to sexual acts

 

  1. Dysphoria—Getting Current

 

As of the writing of this post—November 5th, 2018, I am struggling with a nasty bout of dysphoria.  Haven’t had one this bad in a while.  In this moment—sitting on a big, round, fluffy, pink pillow on the floor of the living room, writing this, it’s six-eleven P.M.  It’s dark, rainy, chilly.  The autumn leaves are shining with their true brilliance.  And I am sitting here alone, weeping quietly.  I want a vulva so badly—my heart hurts.  My guts are churning.  My whole body feels wrong.  I know—I have an interestingly-penis-shaped vulva.  I know—it’s not the parts that make the person.  I am a woman no matter what my genitals look like.  I am a woman because I am—not because I take estrogen—not because of how I dress or act or speak.  I am a woman.  Enough said.

And yet—here I am, sitting on the floor—experiencing this strange sensation in my genitals—it’s a sort of longing to be something else—it’s visceral.  The feeling extends up my sides, branching to my arms and shoulders, and my shoulder blades ache as if wanting to sprout wings.  The rain-stained darkened window reflects my face—it looks as if I’m melting.  My heart contracts and pulls my sense of self inwards a little further—a little more away from the world, and the tears withdraw inside, and my eyelids feel heavy, and my spirit wilts like a rain-soaked weeping willow.  My genitals seem to remember another time—perhaps another lifetime even—I don’t know—but another time, when they were right with who my spirit is—when they radiated warmth, the darkness of a pond, the beauty of a flower, and the power of the moon.

And so, I sit, type, share what many think is way too much information.  I know I wax poetic—fuck you—I’m a poet.  Thing is, the very next moment after the blessed revelation that I’m a woman over three years ago—the very next moment—I wanted gender affirmation surgery.  It didn’t faze me as to why I had such a desire.  It simply needed to happen.  Having no frame of reference in any way to such a surgery—the palpable desire to adjust this body more to what would ease this intense longing—that would help me feel more me—wasn’t even surprising.  It’s as if it was always there—hidden inside, and that’s because it was.  And it is all a holy mystery.

I think this wave of dysphoria has to do with where I am on my journey to awakening to my sexual orientation.  The more I think I’m straight—that I really like guys—the lonelier I feel—the more impossible life feels.  I want to be made love to with every fiber of my being by a man.  I want to feel a cock inside me.  It’s just the truth, and it will never happen.  Nor will I ever have a child or nurse a baby.  These are painful truths I live with every day.  Some days hurt more than others.  Today is one of the days it hurts like hell.

 

2. Questions About My Sexual Orientation

 

After I came out, the second most frequently asked question (after: “Have you had the SURGERY?”) from people was (and often still is): “Are you lesbian?  I mean, you were married to a woman for twenty-three years.  So, um, like…you’ve got to be a lesbian, right?”

When I first had the blissful christening of being transgender, I assumed I was, in fact, a lesbian, for exactly the reasons people mentioned.  It made sense.

Then, about a year in, I was ordering some fries from Five Guys and the cashier was an incredibly handsome young man, and I found myself swooning in a way I’d never done before.  I could barely speak.  My knees were shaking. My hands fumbled as I gave him my crinkly cash and took the receipt hoping we would make some electric, albeit brief finger to finger contact.  I knew if we did, I might faint.

Alas, it didn’t happen.  I stepped aside to wait for my fries while compulsively munching on the free peanuts they give out.  I admit I kept stealing looks at him.  I hoped to god he couldn’t see my eyelashes batting like hungry butterflies.

I was stunned.  It was the first time in my life I consciously had an attraction to a man.  I left the restaurant and pondered in my heart what this encounter meant.

I’m a lesbian, right?  Or am I bi?

I went home and conjured up some sexual-fantasies to see what felt better, so to speak, when imagining myself being sexually intimate with someone.  And while I could feel twinges during reveries with the traditional images of men and women, the one that made me the horniest was thinking of making love with a man, and of doing various things to a man I suddenly always wanted to do.  Once again, I was stunned.

And luckily, I wasn’t worried one way or the other.

Growing down (as opposed to “growing up”) I was forcibly “masculinized,” by my parents and other adults in my life.  They saw something “effeminate,” in me and wanted it gone.  After years of a steady diet of porn supplied by my parents it had seemingly “worked.”  I thought for sure I was a straight guy even though I would have to confess to myself that when the porn I looked at/watched involved a man and a woman, I was often most fascinated by the guy and their “money shots.”  I didn’t know why and I certainly didn’t encourage it by seeking out relationships with guys.  I was steeped in an environment of homophobia and I had my own.  I can see looking back that I also had an internalized misogyny, and, if I would have had a word for it in my unconscious awareness of being trans, I would have experienced an internalized transphobia as well.  Not to mention dysphoria.  Add to all that sexual abuse of all kinds, Catholic guilt over masturbating, as well as my own warped inner attitudes and desires around sex, and I wasn’t only confused, but ashamed—steeped in self-hatred.

Over time, after coming out, I started feeling the urge to date.  Hadn’t dated in over twenty-five years.  Time to get back in the game.  Time’s a-ticking.  I joined a couple dating sites.  I proudly announced I’m trans and proceeded to write what amounted to an entire autobiography as my profile.  It’s no wonder I never had any takers. No one had time to read such a tome.

I marked that I was lesbian.  I marked to only have women see my profile.  Nothing.

After a while, it seemed right that I was actually attracted to everyone in the gender galaxy (to hell with the spectrum idea—gender is an infinite multiverse). So, I switched my profile to “pan,” and happily proclaimed on FB that I was pan—bought the pan flag, and some pan-buttons, and well, yeah, being pan felt right.  It seemed to encompass the whole kit and kaboodle.

And yet the people I found myself most attracted to were female-identified and/or presenting individuals.  Maybe I was lesbian after all.  Or maybe I’m pan with a little leaning towards women.  Here again, I am happy to report that these confusions didn’t disturb my sense of self.  It was an adventure.  It was exciting.  And yet, I believed it ultimately didn’t matter anyway because no one would ever want to date me let alone be sexual with me.  That being said, it was all still fun to discover, if at least on my own, who and what made me horny.  I longed to be sexual with someone the way I am now—fully cognizant of being a woman. I simply wanted to know the truth of who I am and share that truth with someone else.

I get it, labels mean little.  I like them sometimes though.  Like when I finally was diagnosed with being bi-polar.  I found that strangely comforting.  Same with being trans.  Moving along a journey of discovering (uncovering?) my sexual orientation, I liked when I found names—labels.  They were like sign-posts pointing to buried treasure.  They don’t define me, they just help me understand myself.

Fast forwarding a bit, I’m not sure if it was the orchiectomy or my abusive past, or because I was resigning to never being sexual with anyone ever again—or because I simply was that way because I was—there needn’t be a reason—but I began to wonder if I was asexual.  After much research, it seemed to fit.  I no longer felt attracted to anyone sexually. And that was OK too.

That label didn’t last long however.  I don’t know why.  It just fell away, and a more, deep-seated, realization began to emerge.

I started having more frequent sexual fantasies involving male-identified and presenting people.  I realized I wanted to identify as hetero but felt afraid to do so—or insecure—something.  My internalized homophobia came in—as if I, a woman, could be gay—gay for guys, that is.  I am a woman, so I can’t be gay for guys.  I can be attracted to them, and that makes me straight. And yet, the deep fears were there.

Dysphoria began to creep back in more and more, I think because I felt insecure about having a penis—my penis shaped vagina.  No guy would ever want me—unless they were fetishizers. Yet I couldn’t, and can’t, escape the truth.  I am a woman with a penis.  Enough said.

And so, today, Monday, November 5, 2018, I am settling in nicely with the dawning of being straight.  I like guys, and that is fine with me.  Maybe someday I’ll actually have the opportunity to be with one.  For now, however, I rest (uneasily) in the work to be done today.  And if this sense of being straight changes?  So be it.  As Allan Watts once said—we don’t dance together to end up at a particular spot on the dance floor.  We dance to have fun.  We dance to feel alive.

 

III. Current Final Thoughts

 

This journey of discovering my sexual orientation isn’t unique to me.  And not just because I’m a transgender woman.  It’s because I’m human.  There are many factors contributing to this extended journey and the fact is that there is likely no finish line to this exploring.  Many people, if they’re deeply honest and self-aware sometimes question their sexual orientation. Sometimes not and they can be just as honest and self-aware.  It’s all good.

Main thing I suggest to anyone out there experiencing questions about their sexual orientation—have fun.  It’s OK to be who you are.  It’s OK not to know.  It’s OK to know and not tell the world.  It’s OK to treasure up your findings to yourself and/or to a few, select people.  It’s OK to shout it off the rooftops. And it’s OK to wake up tomorrow and think you’re actually something else.  Have fun, be safe, have a trusted support network and even a therapist if you feel overwhelmed.  You’re not alone.  And again, there may not be a finish line.  Main thing is: Have fun, and enjoy adventuring. Go slow, go far, and rejoice—you are giving yourself the gift, and honor, of exploring who you are.

 

 

 


 



I Think Too Much About Everything…Even Facebook Posting, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

I Think Too Much About Everything…Even Facebook Posting

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

When is it OK to start posting silly puns and memes after events like the massacre at Tree of Life?  Is it even appropriate to post anything silly at all in today’s frightening times? Am I exhausting my FB friends when I post all this serious-as-shit-trans-stuff?  Do I offend them when I ask them to change their profile frames?  Do I risk getting into arguments over politics? How do I handle feeling disappointed when more people don’t (won’t?) read my activist FB notes and blog-posts, and even my poems? Why am I even asking and sharing questions like these?

I am bipolar.  My PTSD can exhibit similar symptoms to borderline personality disorder. I am aware my abuse history and addictions sometimes stir up codependency. I say these things to shed some light as to why I care so much about something as inane as posting on FB.

I have taken it upon my FB timeline to be an oasis of positivity and humor in the desert of horror going on in our country and around the world.  I consciously chose to stick with funny posts because I know how important it is to laugh.  And then, I couldn’t do it anymore.  Not just because my life is more threatened now than it was even two weeks ago, but also because it just seems wrong to post silliness while such tragedies occur.

Of course, I am not responsible for how you feel, what you think, or what you do or do not do.  Of course, you probably don’t have time to care about what I post or don’t post.  Of course, I need to get my mind away from caring about any of this.  Trouble with me is that I am thoughtful, highly empathic, and, am old-fashioned in the sense of treating the words, “FB Friends,” as friends in general—in “real” life. In other words—I think too much and I care too much.

As a bipolar person it’s very challenging to find “balance,” in anything in life, let alone something as inconsequential as FB posting.  I need to be aware of-and-steer clear of all-or-nothing, black/white thinking, and so it’s absurdly hard for my brain to decide do I post something funny or serious, or do I try to balance them out, or must I post only one or the other, or do I leave FB altogether?

Not everyone is on FB as much as I am, and of course, it can be argued I’m on it too much.  I am also unemployed and prone to hazardous isolation, so, for me, FB can be an important means for staying even virtually connected to the world while most people I know are off being gainfully employed.  So, as goofy as it seems, the question of what to post is important to my broken brain.

I also understand FB has implemented annoying algorithms that prevent us from seeing things on one another’s profiles. I know we can also choose to “follow,” each other’s pages thus seeing more posts of those we follow than those we don’t. And of course, anyone is free to unfriend anyone or choose to stop following someone and still remain friends.  You can even choose to stop seeing someone’s post completely and still remain FB friends, which, incidentally, I have done with some FB friends.

As so often happens, I am thinking out loud.  I am telling all.  No secrets with Jenn.  Why do I do this?  Because more than anything it’s important to share my vulnerable, messy, and stumbling humanity, and if that includes overthinking what I do or do not do FB post, so be it.  Why do I think it’s so important?  Am I being narcissistic? I hope not.  I feel it’s important for the reasons I have stated many times—to humanize being trans, to help end the stigma of mental illness, and just to demonstrate that living in a radically open way is possible.

What am I going to do about the FB posting dilemma? Post what I post and let go of whatever happens.  If my serious posts tire you out as just another preach-to-the-choir-political-poster, then so be it.  If my silly posts cheer you up and lighten your day, so be it. It is my hope the serious posts will inspire you to action—clear and open action.  It is my hope you will share those activist posts with your friends and family.  It is my hope the memes and puns will be shared too and inspire you to remember it’s OK to laugh even when there is so much horror in the world.

Mainly, however, it is my hope that my brain becomes healthy enough someday to not spend this much thought power on FB.

 

 

 


 





Reimagining Manhood, A Call to White Men With Healthy Masculinity Everywhere to Help Save Our Nation from White-toxic Masculinity, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Reimagine Manhood

A Call to White Men With Healthy Masculinity Everywhere

to Help Save Our Nation from White-toxic Masculinity,

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Who commits acts of heinous domestic terrorism in the United States? White men steeped in toxic masculinity. It’s not people of color, it’s not immigrants, it’s not Muslims, it’s not transgender people. It’s white men steeped in toxic masculinity.  It’s just a fact.

This is not a post about hatred of men. The vast majority, I believe, of men, do not believe or act in these evil ways. That’s why I distinguish between healthy masculinity and the toxic, cowardly, and yes–evil masculinity.

It’s the task, the charge, of all men with a healthy masculinity, a feminism of heart and mind, to actively, and openly work against the toxic masculinity that commits acts of terrible, and horrifying terrorism. In your everyday lives call out sexual harassment, misogyny, call out Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, the encouragement to build walls and cage immigrants, homophobia, transphobia. In a very real sense, you have tremendous white male privilege. It is largely in your hands to help effect brave and meaningful changes.

So, in any gathering of men that you’re involved in–any gathering of men–refuse to accept toxic masculinity. Encourage and educate other men in what it means to be a feminist in the truest sense of the word.

It is a traditional stereotype of men being protectors and defenders. I ask you to embrace those roles and help protect your non-white-marginalized brothers, sisters, and siblings. Speak out. Write to your newspapers promoting healthy masculinity, speak up in your groups, families–teach your sons to be defenders of the oppressed. Teach healthy masculinity. Teach your children how to use their white privilege to help the marginalized and those targeted with hate and violence; educate yourselves in ways you can be effective, brave, and powerful agents of positive changes, and then pass that learning on to other men.  Speak up in your places of worship, jobs, schools, and family gatherings about healthy masculinity.  And finally, it’s crucial to speak out for gun control.  Another fact that cannot be denied is that the weapon used in the majority of gun-massacres is the A-15 assault rifles.  These military weapons need to be removed from American society.  So, yes, in addition to teaching about healthy masculinity, speak up for the banning of assault weapons.

And perhaps most of all—keep working on your own internalized homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, transphobia, Islamophobia, and misogyny.  This is work for all of us to continue doing.  However, the more men work on their shadows, their own inner insecurities, fears, ignorance, and self-hatred, the more the horrific projections toxic males throw onto people they hate.  Support one another in these ongoing efforts.  Listen to the marginalized and oppressed.  Understand their basic humanity and the struggles they are experiencing.  Be examples of powerful, meaningful, and enlightened change in your communities.

With all my heart–so much depends on you. It’s just the truth. The facts cannot be denied. The people who commit acts of evil violence are white, men steeped in toxic masculinity. Help change and help save our nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 





Boobs, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Boobs

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

Let’s talk about boobs–particularly my boobs. If you’re already thinking: “This is TMI”, then you might want to stop reading now. Anywho….

So, I’m growing boobs, and I like my boobs. I got a head start when I thought I was a “guy,” and had, “man-boobs.” Now I have a fun pair of boobs that I admire very much.

Up until this week I have worn a bra everywhere I go–and I loved it. I mean, I loved coming home and taking it off (especially doing the take-it-off-while-keeping-your-shirt-on-trick), but, in general, I liked bras. Mostly because they gave my boobs a nudge upwards. As much as I like my boobs I am not thrilled that I’m 50 and my boobs are forming an increasingly intimate relationship with gravity.

Yesterday I did something that I am very proud of. Doing it today too. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but for me, it is a big step in body-positivity and self-acceptance:

I chose to not wear a bra, and I went outside, shopping, etc. I just had a Pride t-shirt on and some capris……It felt SO liberating! I loved it. As I walked there was a little sensation of jiggling, and that made me feel giddy. At one point I walked by a store window and saw clearly that my nipples were proudly protruding from under my shirt. Even my bumply areolas were somewhat visible. I smiled.  I liked it.

And yes, I felt weird when people went by–several men and women looked at my chest as I walked around…and there were moments I felt really ashamed in general and felt compelled to cross my arms.

That said, as I mentioned, it was a freeing experience in body acceptance and, I daresay, a celebration. I’m very pleased with myself.

Yay, boobs! Free the boobs! Free the nipples! <3