Toxic Masculinity vs. Non-Toxic Masculinity

I don’t want to carry tote bags and wear pink! 

Photo by Moose Photos from PexelsPink Bathrobe.jpg

I’m not touting an anti-pink, anti-feminine, trans male revolt here! However, I’m not fighting to express my toxic masculinity either. I want to claim my non-toxic masculinity without the soft, chewy, gentler male persona, that some men seem to like. I’m kind and unthreatening alright, but I’m tough as rocks, and still sensitive! My intention is to say “Hey, there’s lot’s of gray areas in men too.” I can still be sensitive AND masculine. The toxic masculine social norm, of the last, oh-I-don’t-know, 500 years or so, has annihilated us! Stomping on the subtle nuances and gray areas of our emotions. The new man, those of us who embrace non-toxic masculinity, love our gray areas. You know…I want to eat my entire spectrum of the gray-scale, in one bite. I love the grays, they’re yummy! So many beautiful grays in the world.

Artists haven’t escaped the beating from toxic masculinity either…

For centuries, male artists have ruled the art kingdom. Whether they were “straight” or gay, doesn’t, and didn’t matter much. Point being, toxic masculinity locked women out of the kingdom. Male artists got the recognition, despite having to wait ’til they croaked, and most did, and still do. Except for David Hockney, who this past week, broke a record as the highest paid living artist to date. Selling one of his paintings, for a staggering 90 million dollars!

Abstract Expressionism, an American art movement, born out of New York City (post World War ll), became a breeding ground for toxic male bravado.

Jackson Pollack at Work
Photo credit: Hans Namuth

Jackson Pollack, in my opinion, represented the Abstract Expressionist brand of the hard-drinking, brash, working-class, macho, toxic, overtly masculine, ART SUPERMAN, the best. In fact, he may have invented that brand. His wife, Lee Krasner, a brilliant artist herself, lived in the dark shadows of this classic, toxic male persona her entire life. Sadly, she supported his career, pretty much at the expense of her own.

Becoming Jay, for real…

It pains me to admit it (not really haha)… I love my non-toxic masculinity, but, I love the oh-so-masculine-old-world-alpha-male’s too. As long as they are like me, non-toxic, with lot’s of gray areas. (ie. No bully’s). I am both. That’s my exact point here. Masculinity today is becoming redefined by a new non-toxic-man-movement. Sure, I dreamt of being the Marlboro man (minus cigarette’s) rocky and rugged, a tough outdoors manly man. I still have that dream. The free-wheeling, free-spirited, chock-a-block-of-man, tearing up the wilderness, running with the wolves. Handsome and unbreakable.

I find the masculine binary life liberating in my personal trans-experience. But binary doesn’t need to present as one-dimensional, black and white, with no gray areas. Blah, how drab. Besides, I want to claim my male-artist identity stolen from me growing up dammit! Ha, I said it, whew!…that felt good.

Okay moving on…

Artists are transformative by default. It’s what we do, transform things. Isn’t it contradictory to human nature to pretend we don’t have lot’s and lot’s of gray area’s, non-toxic behaviors or emotions? Little by little that’s changing, but don’t you think, admitting the obvious would transform the art world, the world in general, to advanced levels? Levels where sensitivity is a strength, instead of a weakness.

I guess artists are guilty. Or, are we the lowly bottom feeders of a society, where the callous minions win, over us humans? No control over our own destiny? The hapless victims of a toxic masculinity? Are we doomed to hell for a lifetime?

Or, shall we progress toward enlightenment?

I pick enlightenment.

Transgender artists, like myself, are on a particular spectrum, a spectrum of enlightenment. We kinda have no choice here.  A colorful world, if you will of building a new human identity. An identity where no one life, no one gender, is greater than the other. Instead, experiencing the entire range of our personality. The feminine, the masculine, the whatever we want kinda’ thing. An enlightened life, walking through the fire. The fire of fear.

In today’s world, the violence-the fear-the Xenophobia, suggest’s that “the chickens are coming home to roost.” Toxicity is turning inward and it’s killing us.

I won’t go down with that burning ship. I want to claim my masculine-rugged-alpha-identity, which I longed for growing up.  I don’t want to wear pink though. I don’t want to carry tote bags (not dissing those who do). That isn’t who I am. No prerequisite’s in masculinity, no club to join, at least there shouldn’t be. This funny New York Times piece, pokes fun at non-toxic masculinity a bit. There’s truth in satire, and it’s okay, laughter is healing.

Truth is, non-toxic masculinity is part of what man has suppressed in the collective consciousness of men, since time immemorial. Emotional, but still masculine sensitive men, weren’t allowed to flourish in society, without a brutal beating from its’ dark counterpart, toxic masculinity.

I think in the end, it is obvious, that gender is more like an infinity circle than a binary dichotomy, of this or that.

©Jay Mora-Shihadeh

 

Fear and Panic are the Enemy!

Don’t Panic, Instead, Live a Life of Truth, Clarity and Calm – and Abundance Will Prevail.

I believe in the cliche’, if you build it they will come — gasping? I know…wretched, but true. I believe in this overused term, of course, until my own panic sets in and fear leeches into my psyche!

I battle this most everyday. Artists and writers everywhere face this demon.

I recall one of my favorite cartoon characters, The Great Gazoo from The Flintstones. Gazoo represents this emotional, spiritual, crises of the conscience. A little space alien, appears above Fred’s shoulder. He’s lecturing him on — what’s right and wrong/good and evil — evoking fear and panic in Fred’s mind, playing upon his guilty conscience.

Abundance comes in many forms. One thing is certain, if you panic, abundance becomes restricted, delayed, suppressed. If you start the day with clarity of purpose and faith in your ability to remain calm, things begin to manifest. Abundance presents — not as money (however, it can and many times does) but as flow.

What is Flow?

It is the excitement and expectation that what you create today is good, purposeful, beautiful, delicious, charming, in fact —  it’s great!

Haven’t you had this experience?

When you paint, write, sing, cook and everything you create is amazing!

That’s flow –that’s abundance — that’s money!

Photo by David McBee from Pexels

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Abundance shows up as a peaceful knowing that your spirit is free. Creativity is purpose and innovation. You will have gratitude for your clarity, joy in your creation — that’s the ultimate reward!

When the juices are flowing you feel the most alive. I do.

Panic, worry, doubt and fear — these feelings present as a spiritual crises of your soul. Your flow stops, sputters, chokes, and your creativity/abundance — stifled.

These feelings happen to me on a regular basis. Anxiety sets in — am I wrong? Should I, would I, could I? — blah, blah, blah. This is the look on Fred Flintstones face, the anxiety and panic. He thinks, am I making good decisions? Struggling to regain his sense of clarity, his sense of spiritual truth.

Truth is… making art/writing/being creative, sets my personal point of reference back ‘True North’. I wrestle with my anxiety by creating my art. If I surrender to the flow, the spirit, the force, the magic — however you want to label it — abundance prevails. Making art/writing/being creative, has been the ‘set point’ in my life. Without this clarity, this purpose, I would fail miserably in life.

I struggle with this strange notion that if I’m not working a job, bringing in lots of money, then, what I do isn’t legitimate. After all, society perpetuates and rewards this ideology. This truth has been hard to digest at times. However, by seeking calm and clarity (and most important) by keep building and tending to the garden of my creativity — I know the fruits of my flow is the reward. 

Like Fred, The Great Gazoo is with me. As good spiritual leaders do (okay, okay he’s a cartoon character) but I like him, whatever it takes… Gazoo is with me, helping me to find clarity, calm and truth. I won’t surrender to panic and fear, rather, I will use it to forge a path to greatness, a path to abundance.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexelscolorful-colourful-outdoors-830829.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AHHHHHHH — Frustration is Frustrating!

 

Frustration is an unsettling feeling, undoubtedly.

For years I’ve dappled in poetry and blogging. I’ve been skirting the edges of this craft (this art form) since my early days in Art School. Today I feel a calling, a force within, a palpable frustration in my need to write. Why?

Perhaps it is the voice in my head shouting at me to speak! Periodically afraid to voice my opinion in written format has been directly linked to my fear of commitment. AHA!

I literally was just informed of this by that voice in my head again. LOL! I perplex myself at the same time as finding myself quite brilliant. Seriously, I fear committing to an opinion or “story” as I might have to act on something. Well, at least that is the silliness I tell myself. I want to remain open I think, as an artist I should be open. This is the battle, the battle for clarity and fair-mindedness that stalks my psyche. Strange? I know. Stranger things there are though, ’cause people are their own worst critics.

And storytelling (by the way) is an ancient art form that has been handed down through our bloodlines, our bones. It’s a natural human condition (in my belief) that relay’s messages from within. To seek and tell one’s story, or to be sought out by our inner voice to tell one’s story. Poetry grabbed a hold of me the same way. I heard voices in my head (over and over) that wouldn’t shut up. I felt compelled to grab a notebook and pencil. Lo’ and behold —  poetry spilled out. I felt possessed. Mesmerized, I didn’t stop for several years. Same as my urge to pick up a brush and paint suddenly — telling a story visually, expressing an emotion, depicting a scene. No different.

adult-athlete-concert-763219
Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

Back to Frustration. Frustration about pivoting my art form. Where do I start? I know other artist’s and writer’s have the same problem. Painter’s stare at blank canvasses, as writer’s stare at blank pages. So it goes. To pivot or not to pivot? That is my question.

I want to master my pivoting. If I can master the pivot, I can effortlessly succeed. Right?

Frustration will cease to exist if I just pivot from it — Ha! (In fantasy world) Frustration is key to understanding my story — understanding the road to take, the story to tell. Pivoting is part of creating. Sometimes tackling the beast of frustration to the ground, is how I proceed with creation. Frustration/Creation. Sounds good to me. I’ve learned to listen to the voices in my head. So, I forge forward. I write. I paint. I pontificate. And I frustrate. But I create, and that is what I live for. Now…what should I write?

©Jay Mora-Shihadeh

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