Saturday, January 27, 2018

We Are Not the Fragile Ones

I delivered this talk on January 21, 2018, as part of a series of reflections on the public discourse and high profile cases involving sexual harassment and violence. 

CW: sexual harassment and violence, including rape, child abuse, LGBTQIA+ antagonism; oppression and violence related to disability, race, and class 


Despite the fact that I spend much of my time laughing, playing ridiculously silly games, singing my way through house work, and generally talking in funny voices, I am usually invited to talk about really serious topics. This morning is no exception, since I will be reflecting on the #MeToo movement, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and my experience as a bi- or pansexual, demisexual, genderqueer person. I personally feel ambivalent about the opportunity: I’m grateful for the invitation and for the chance to speak about crucial issues; I’m also exhausted by the necessity of repeating how gender and sexuality have been weaponized against vulnerable people, including how speaking up too often makes folks targets of more coercion and violence. So here is my current best attempt to put it into words, a lot of words, that will include discussion of sexual harassment and violence, including rape, child abuse, and gender and sexuality antagonisms. I’ll also talk about the intersection of this kind of violence with disability, race, and class. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Meditation, From Attention to Socio-Affective and Cognitive Competencies

When it comes to meditation, a common emphasis in the mindfulness movement is on the cultivation of attention and concentration. These practices are often transformative in themselves and have been correlated with changes in the brain, especially in the cortex, which regulates executive functioning. This is certainly helpful, bearing benefits to both my well being in general and to my work in conflict transformation and community activism. 

However, for those of us who are struggling with developing compassion or handling overwhelming emotions, it's important to note that these practices are not aimed at and do not produce increased skills in socio- affective and cognitive competencies. To build those skills, we need to widen our nets, considering reflective practices that we might not as readily associate with meditation.