June 26, 2008

Neuter, Neutral and Annoying

WARNING- I am on my soapbox. I have some things on my mind and I am venting.

There was a day and time when there were some clear and unshakeable boundaries of gender roles. But as time has progressed these boundaries shifted and moved, and now have almost become unclear to determine. I am annoyed, first off, that someone spoke for me to accomplish their own agenda. And secondly that I have to be punished for someone else’s intentions and agenda.

I think femininity is a wonderful and beautiful gift from God. I like being a woman. This morning I was already frustrated about some things related to people not keeping their word, and not being dependable, when I realized that the tires on my car were low on air. So I stopped at the gas station to air up the tires. I noticed several men getting gas, who never even glanced in my direction. I proceed to get into this squatting position so that I could comfortably maintain the position as I checked the pressure on the tires and added air. I thought to myself that it was a good thing that I didn’t have on a skirt because there is no way to reach the tires and not do something that is inappropriate while wearing a skirt. I thought to myself that these kinds of dilemmas are part of the reasons that I rarely wear skirts and dresses. I love wearing skirts, it is actually my personal preference.

I don’t want to have to see about the air in the tires. But necessity dictates differently. I don’t want to have to figure out the psi….. I don’t even know what this acronym stands for, but I have to worry myself with these things--- and why?

There are plenty of things that I have no desire to do- construction, mechanics, etc. There are certain things that I have in my mind to be more fitting for men to do, and that I believe that men do better than women. Now to those women that want to construction or landscaping—God speed--- but I don’t want to. I would prefer to cook any day.

These hazy boundaries annoy me because they are not by my choosing. I am a victim of a societal mindset that says we are all equal in ability. This is not true. There are plenty of couch potatoes that will not be the star quarterback. Even among other athletes, every one has strengths and weaknesses. It is natural. It is the same reason why the lion is considered the “king of the jungle”. Every species doesn’t serve the same purpose. So it is with the genders of humanity. Men and Women serve different purposes. This is not about lack of equality, but about contrasting and yet complementary characteristics.

If we put forth this agenda that we are all the same, then it leads to what we have now, and that is a lack of appreciation for the contrast. I don’t want a man go with me to pick out nail polish for my pedicure… watch the game, go fishing, change oil in the car or something… and just notice and compliment my pedicure after the fact. I don’t want a man to function like a girlfriend. Nor am I extremely excited about exchanging recipes with a man. If a man can cook that is a good thing, nice quality and all, but I am not giving a man as many points for cooking as for building a bookshelf. A man gets more points for getting his hands dirty, building, fixing, or assembling than for interior decorating.

There are plenty of things that both men and women can do equally as well, that is not what I am saying, but some things I don’t want to do. I don’t understand these men that are afraid to get their hands dirty. I do believe in equal pay for equal work, but I don’t understand why women want to do some of the kinds of work that in my mind seem to be task for fitting for a man.

One of the things that I miss about living in Georgia, was the ability to appreciate the southern gentleman. There is nothing better than a man who enjoys being a hero. It is the little things, like being in the company of a man whose nature it to open doors for a woman or to walk on the outside of the sidewalk or who would see a woman needing air in her tires and offering to be of assistance. There is something to be appreciated and admired about a man who enjoys his own manhood. If he enjoys his own manhood, then he sets a woman up in such a way that she cant help but to enjoy her own womanhood--- without the burden of trying to accomplish things better left to a man. -----It brings to mind the song “ Treat her like a lady” --- the singer boast “now I like opening doors, picking up her hanky of the floor…..”.

I cringe at what I am seeing in society that presents this neutral approach to assigning identity. Yes women can do more than bake cookies, but I don’t get for the life of me, why a woman would want to run a country. She might be able to do the task, but why would she want to? That is what I don’t get. There is nothing degrading in my mind about letting men be in leadership. It is the mis-use of authority that makes things problematic- and that is whether it is a man or a woman.

To attempt to do man things detracts from the admiration due femininity. And to be fair and equal, I must state that for a man to attempt to do woman things detracts from the admiration due masculinity.

Somewhere in this everything is ok for everybody - you get what was recently in the media- where a man is pregnant--- but once you find out details of how this is possible you learn that it is a man who was once a woman but decided that she wanted to become a man, but kept the woman parts so that she, as a he, could still give birth to a child. How confusing. This is just the product of this neutralized social thought about gender identity. I cant help but to see this as confusion. How confusing is this approach? Is there something other than confusing that this can be labeled as? Or is it just inappropriate to give it a label at all? If that is the case, then what is threatening about the label?

Masculinity is not determined by promiscuity, nor is femininity. These men who think because they have more than one woman that they are manly are dealing with an identity crisis that has lead them to attempting to prove their self worth by seeking acceptance on a level the denies then the opportunity to enjoy really being an expression of their own masculine nature. Masculinity is about more than sexuality. Femininity is about more than sexuality. The number of sexual partners one has is not indicative of one’s gender identity. I say that so that it can be clear that what I am discussing is not about sexual prowess. Media has boxed in the understanding of gender to a sexual diversion that lead both men and women away from the responsible use of one’s gender identity and its potential to be appreciated by others.

Feminine and masculine are labels. But they are also a resource for self identity and pride, just as much as ethnic identity. Trying to promote this everybody is equal concept, in my opinion, is why there is such a low percentage of marriages and successful marriages in this country. Neutrality leads to lack of appreciation and lack of appreciation leads to more disconnectedness. If there is no system, things get out of order, out of order leads to chaos. Socially things are looking chaotic. But this chaos has been so gradual in its onset that it has gone unnoticed and appears to be normal. And normal is always relative.

I look at examples of successful marriages, and there seemed to be some set understandings of what each brought to the table. I believe this is missing today. Both the man and the woman want to be the bread winner. Women don’t want to give birth to children for the sake of their career. Or if they have children they have to rush back to work to keep the job- which is an economic necessity. Women don’t want to cook and clean house. Men don’t want the responsibility of providing for a family. So the house is dirty, the children eat fast food and everybody is obese with allergies and a specialist has to be paid to fix everything because nobody wants to get their hands dirty.

“God is not the author of confusion”----and from where we stand now, what is the way to bring things to a more settled and orderly function? I definitely don’t have the answer, but what I am observing is a problem that needs of adjusting.

Where have all the heroes gone?

June 22, 2008

Physically Attractive

Every single person has something that they find attractive in another person. Some people don’t even realize what it is that they are attracted to unless a friend points it out to them that there is a pattern in the type of person that any one person prefers to allow into their personal life. And even then the observation might be met with great protest and denial.

Attraction can be for many reasons and about many things. Most everyone is unconsciously making an effort to compensation for some internal portion of self-image or perception. But then there is just plain old lust. I would still argue that this type of attraction is about some need to compensate in some way. This may seem to not make much sense but the best way to explain it would be with a rhetorical question----- haven’t we all seen someone who is absolutely unquestionably attractive with someone that was the complete opposite? And what is the first thought that comes to mind? Naturally the mind questions what does that person SEE in the person that is so opposite. Next we try to rationalize with a thought process attempting to make a fit our understanding about motivation instead of attraction.

I might be wrong, but I believe that attraction has a lot to do with the level of activity in one’s life. The people that are considered naturally attractive (no medical assistance) are more often than not ----athletic or otherwise active.
Scientifically, there some understanding of how endorphins work in helping with the endurance of someone participating in physical activity, but the side effect is that this release sends out a signal of attraction to others.

When have you heard a woman say- “oh he is so lazy and I find that really attractive”? I know it is sad and shallow, but the truth is that physical activity makes a person attractive. I will even make a statement, that I am not going to completely defend at this time by stating there is even a difference in a person who’s lifestyle is active from the person who goes to the gym. A person who works out at the gym can develop muscle mass and tone, but something about it still seems artificial. Something about the person’s character or the way they carry themselves give away the fact that they are in the gym and not in an active lifestyle. I think it might be the person who goes to the gym moves with some stiffness or awkwardness that lets you know they are not completely free flowing in movement. Whereas, the person who plays basketball or works construction has more ease of movement or walks with a gait. It is more natural.

Now, so let me get to the theological connection so that it doesn’t seem that there is none. Genesis 3 ---in the midst of God letting Adam and Eve know the consequences of their action, Eve is told that her desire would be for her husband? Which leads to the question of what would her desire have been otherwise? And do we have any clues about it? And secondly, there is the promise to Adam that “ Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it……in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread”. Before then they could just eat from the provision of the garden, but now they have to work for what they will consume.

I am not going to point fingers or blame anyone for this set of events, but what I am going to do is to argue that there is some connection to this portion of text and what we find physically attractive.

A few years back I saw something that will forever be branded in my memory. I am guessing that I may never see such again. When I saw it, I found myself in a daze, because it seemed impossible….I saw a man with an ax cutting down a tree. Not a small tree in the front yard, but a huge tree, probably three feet thick and about 50 feet tall. I came across this because I kept hearing this sound that I couldn’t figure out what it was. It was a sound I had never heard before. When I finally found the sound, I was in some form of shock because I had seen plenty of men with electric saw in hand, but never testosterone in full throttle taking on nature. I didn’t believe that it could be done. Somewhere in my mind, I shrugged it all off with doubt that more than a dent could be made in this tree.

Then it dawned on me, this is what testosterone was for. I had wondered what purpose it truly served, but until that moment I had seen it lead a man to do a lot of things that just didn’t make much sense to me, but I knew that it was testosterone at work, but at this moment I saw something different and more theological. Human beings are not meant to sit in front of the TV and watch others do, but we are actually supposed to be doing something.

I look at how many jobs require sitting at a desk or being sedentary in this day and age. Our mode of transportation is other than on foot, because everything is such a sprawl. So instead of our life requiring us to move about, we have to make time and schedule in doing that which is best for not only our life, but our health.

I am guilty, because in the morning I will take the first part of my day off ---to hit the trail in an attempt to resolve the math of calories that keep me in a Plus. And why? Because I know that physically active is more attractive. I don’t do it for anyone else, I do it because when I look in the mirror, I prefer to see myself image as more active than stagnant and stationary. So you might be saying, but that scripture in Genesis is about Adam, and I am not a man…. And you are right. So I counter with ----- Proverbs 31, doesn’t seem to describe a couch potato.

June 15, 2008

Respectful Journalism?

I have some things on my mind that I must set up with some background information-

1. Rodney Dangerfield was a stand up comedian who was renowned for his catch phrase “I get no respect”. He would then go on to give some examples in his on stage performances to prove this working theme.

2. Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?”

In recent days, Fox News made reference to Michelle Obama as Presidential Hopeful Senator Barak Obama’s “Baby Mama”. I am wondering where are the boundaries between political coverage, social banter, and blatant insult. It was not an infringement of FCC regulations, but morally it was not journalism with the greatest integrity possible.

What have we really heard about Mrs McCain during these elections? And if we put it beside what we have heard about Mrs. Obama, how would the coverage of these political spouses compare in tone and accuracy?

Next, I would like to see some comparison to both of their backgrounds in relation to what they have to offer, to not only the campaigns of their spouses, but the potential governing years in the White House. I would argue that the harshest critics of the Obamas’, for the most part, have not come close the level of accomplishment of the Obamas’. The bar is raised the higher up the food chain you go, so it stands to reason that anyone participating on politics on this level has to meet certain criteria. That is a given.

But they are both this close to the White House and I want to know more about who I might have to look at for the next 4 or 8 yrs. Is Mrs. McCain as educated as Mrs. Obama? Who is more accomplish in their personal career? Wasn’t McCain married to someone else when he started seeing his current wife? We know Mrs. McCain comes from money, but is she more than arm candy? Or is this the main qualification for the potential first lady?

Fox News boast of offering coverage that is “fair and balanced”, but what does that mean, and who decides where this balance takes place? So--------- is this election about “home-wrecker” vs “baby mama?” I want to know from Fox News where is the other side of this fair and balanced coverage?

Then I would like to draw your attention to the concept of the American Christian Value System. If the policy of the leader of this country is connected to their person Christian belief system, is there a connection to family values? How many times has McCain been married? How many times has Obama been married? How will this affect their policy making? And if we say that we want more traditional nuclear families in this country because that represents our value system, doesn’t it stand to reason that the first family of this country has some potential to affect the model that American’s follow in creating their own family???? Wouldn’t an increase in traditional nuclear families alleviate some of the strain on Social Services?

When I think of Nancy Reagan, I think of a woman that stood by her man. She was more of a silent soldier. I think of Ronald Reagan’s leadership as being enhanced by the level of companionship shared with his wife. I believe that she is respected to day, because of how well she carried herself as First Lady.

Back to Fox News------It might have been a slip of the tongue, but have no question that it was taken to be a derogatory reference. Mrs. Obama has been married to Senator Barak Obama since 1992. Michelle Obama as not been, nor is she now, some tawdry secret rendezvous of procreation….she is the WIFE of Barak Obama, and should be respected as such. She has to potential to be the first lady of this country and deserves the same respect that any other man’s wife, and any other government leaders wife. What is this kind of news coverage saying about the concept of family in the United States of America? What is this kind of news coverage saying about the view of the Black Marriage in the United States of America?

This election has frustrated me on many levels, simply because in many ways it feels quite polarizing. I think that many of us were hoping that it wouldn’t happen this way, but over time it is starting to feel like it is forcing some issues that shouldn’t be primary in a political campaign of this day and age. Lyndon B. Johnson’s speech concerning the American Promise is just as relevant today as it was during a phase of extreme social tension that took place decades ago.


A former seminary professor of mine always told us that a person’s actions toward other people were a direct reflection to that person’s relationship with God. If there is some validity to this thought process, are there some areas where we still need to seek closer relationship to God? Are there still some areas where the reflection of our morals and values are calling us to further prayer and meditation?

In a world of Utopia, every human-being should be able to celebrate their own God given individuality and rich cultural ethnicity. God’s creation proves that God loves variety, because we don’t all look the same. And when we look at how many different types of plants and trees and animals there are in this world, the signs are everywhere that the Creator created with variety. In the midst of variation, there are some common laws of order that still reign.

The evolution of how we ‘form a more perfect union’…..leads us to greater potential. Various states go back and forth with some controversy over the display of the Ten Commandments----- but I wonder if anyone would support displaying the 42 divine principles or the virtues of Ma’at?



June 12, 2008


It has taken me some days to figure out the topic for my first writing on this blog, and as I sat contemplating a phone call that just ended moments ago, I realized the theme that is not only on my mind but on the mind of most Americans right now. It is this concept of survival.

African Americans are resilient. The unspoken portion of this countries history has proven that. There are many things that took place during the years of slavery that would lead innocent minds to think that it was just about being a service worker or farmer. The history books have left out many of the harsh realities of what the institution of slavery really looked like. It is only through reading such documents as the Willie Lynch Letters or the Mary Boykin diaries that you even begin to see some of the truths that could not even be contained in the movie series Roots.

I said all of that to point to the fact that many African Americans don’t realize the valuable ability to survive that has been given as a gift from God. It is time that we start telling our children and our neighbors the truth – “ You shall live and not die”. Then we have to go on to help them understand the full extent of these words. It is not just about physical, this includes a well-rounded and balanced concept of every aspect of being.

This model of survival is grounded in the honesty of one’s own strengths. In your strength you find the ability to augment not only your own strengths, but those of others around your. Isolation is not the ideal situation under which to attempt to survive. Human existence is depended on various and multi-dimensional relationships. This is what makes African Americans capable of survival in the midst of situations that are much less than ideal. This is what allows people of African decent to find happiness in the midst of what others could not survive. We are survivors.

Society raises the bar. We just go over the intended expectations, or even abandon the effort to create a working dynamic of our own that suits our taste more directly than what was set in place by the larger portions of society.

I think instead of living in an arrogance of division, humanity must learn to face one another with empathetic eye-sight. In time gone past, this is what inspired neighbors to make sure everyone had food or clothes, or what ever was needed that could be assisted with, simply out of a sense of community that lead to a larger accountability.

That being said, I would like to declare-
----- autonomous individualism is the path to emotional morbidity and next come selfish ambition without human regard for the needs of others. Separation leads to a sense of gloom that challenges one’s self worth. Then there is a challenge to counteract this internal bareness. And finally the pressure becomes to re-invent one’s value through a mode of ambition that requires a disregard for others who face many of the same challenges as the self. There becomes this internal tension that society offers to mend through career and economic accomplishment to the extent of detachment instead of re-attachment. So when it is all said and done, and great accomplishment has been attained via career or economics there is the vacancy of not only the soul but of the lifestyle that cant be named or diagnosed.

One must be careful to stay grounded and maintain the balance in life and lifestyle that leads to a bountiful and abundant life. Yin and Yang? For me this is the foundation to my understanding of what it means to exist in the world as a Christian of both African and American decent.