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arvan's picture

Is That an 'Honor Killing' In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy Not To Be Me?

There are some crimes that are just gut wrenching to think about.  "Honor" killing, the murder of a someone (usually a woman or girl) by family and friends over sex / marriage is an awful thing. 

I object to it personally.  as a father of a girl, I shudder to think what could bring a father or brother to slaughter their own kin.  It cannot end soon enough for me.

There are some great resources committed to ending 'honor' killing, listed at the end of this post.  If you know of others not listed here, please leave them in the comments field.

What has my mind today is not the 'honor' killings themselves but how the topic itself is discussed, presented and marketed in western societies - the EU and US.  The news reports and accounts of these killings reveal these deaths in terms of the way they are carried out, along with details of religious and cultural practices that seem primitive, cruel and that fly in the face of any rule of fairness, reasoning or legal structure.

Sure, we get upset by such murders, but are these 'honor' killing being used to reinforce a "single story" about the populations where these killings occur?  As Chimamanda Adichie illustrates well, repeated and dramatic negative images about a culture other than one's own, can reduce our own awareness to a "single story" of who those people are.  It lumps people into one-dimensional creations, not as complex and alive in our minds as we hold ourselves.  It strips individuals of identity and reduces people to "one of those people".

Chimiamanda talks about people being framed in a  "patriarchal, well-meaning pity" by holding them in a "single story of catastrophe".

book of blue's picture

Maggie

Photo by Eric Francis.

So there I was at this beyond-gay party in a high-rise apartment with Manhattan as the landscape, stalking her by scent. Watching her move around the room, tracking this succulent critter and enjoying the subtlest details of her existence.

I felt amazingly, solidly sexually centered in myself. I recognized the feeling, rooted in an orgasm a day before, seeing myself with Jane on the line. She was listening, holding open the space of absolute approval of my submission of self-to-self as I faced a mirror. We do this for one another. I dropped into place, then. My soul settled into my hearth. I took that feeling with me: my sense of self-approval.

I don’t remember how or when, but next I was leaning against the island kitchen counter, facing the city, while the waiters plied their trade: hand-manufactured those cute crab salad cones and so on, and bustled off into the giddy environment of the soiree and passed around the treats. You’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties.

And then, though I don’t know how exactly, I was face to face with Maggie. That was her name.

book of blue's picture

Trust and Compersion

Macro image of moss on the west side of the waterfall, on the Grandmother Land in New York. Photo by Eric Francis.

The land tells stories, and at the moment with my lover, I did not like the story that I was hearing. This, in spite of my love of her sexual freedom. I felt like someone had spilled dye into the pool of my emotions. My body and senses felt flush and like I was losing control. The feeling was sorrow. I was not sure where it was coming from but I was not in a position to question it.

Gradually as the day progressed I got a sense of my inner landscape. We talked about it there, at the waterfall, and then later at home. I am not sure I can reconstruct the conversation here. Nearly a week has gone by and I know more today than I did then.

The prior day, on the way out the door to visit me for the first time, she called up her other lover, invited him over and made love to him. Then, leaving two hours later than she planned, she got in the car and came to see me.

As I have explained, this kind of choice for her is in our relationship agreement. By mutual understanding we are free to express our sexuality and our affections as we choose. I specifically ask not to be ‘asked permission’, as I consider this parochial. Yet there is something else working for me, which is that I am attracted to people who consider themselves free individuals, and who live that way. I know many people. They are rare to find. Freedom is the freedom to love; I consider this the first and most important of them.

Compersion is the emotional and erotic process of embracing this freedom in the people we love. It’s about extending space within ourselves to love in a way that is noncompetitive. It’s often thought of as the opposite of jealousy, but I am growing into thinking of it more as a remedy for guilt. Jealousy and guilt are more closely related than psychology and spiritual theory have noted; both involve attempts to control the feelings and conduct of others; equally often we use them against ourselves, though the forms are sometimes disguised.

book of blue's picture

For who I am

Onyx. Photo by Eric Francis.

I turned off the air conditioner and the room gradually drew warmer. Her sheer dress was orange, and it wrapped her frame carefully, holding onto her where it touched her.

As she sat down near me with her long legs extended toward me, I felt the inevitability of what would happen here, and it was lovely. Her expression was soft and unwavering. I reminded myself that this was a moment when I could go deeply. I reminded myself that in the abject silence of my loft she was my only witness. We are free. Therefore I could afford to be honest. Yet there were other times when it seemed no easier for having a witness; that was my own resistance at play, flirting with me to forgo it.

Some part of me thought, if she’s your witness, let her see. Show her and love that you can.

I looked at her mouth, now free to embrace the thought of her lips caressing him while I stretched my knees apart; while I breathed and relaxed into what was happening. It was easy to visualize her, and to embody her feelings as she did so, and to see the living expression on her face, now and as she loved him. Now, as she gently held a space for me to love myself. In truth I understood that their lovemaking created that space for me, created the inevitability that I would hold the experience in my awareness by loving myself.

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