Love Letter #10 – on Domination

little strike

Hey hello,

It’s been 2 seasons since I wrote anything. A lot has happened to you & I.  I hope you’re finding yourself somewhere in the middle,  with (little to) no catastrophes in the heart.

This is the year of collaboration.  if you’d like to meet my current crew, come to one of these:

1. Shows  

The ~live~ Little Strike experience is transforming. You are now likely to encounter Koof Ibi on the trumpet, shredding heart beats into polyphonic waves. The prismatic Raymo Ventura can be seen spinning our visual collaborations.  But check it I’ve decided to take a big break from shows –!- I’m gonna study and search my ego a bit. I want to be a better person. on all fronts. Also i’m going to Colombia, any recommendation?

2. Releases: I’m nearly done with my EP. That’s nuts!! Jan/ feb.  I’ll let you know. Also Raymo and I shot a wild ride of a music video, to be release this january. There will be a release show. We will serve fruit. comeee

Here’s an essay I meant to send 3 months ago,,  topic feels relevant. Hope it’s useful. All love.

The Performer: Part 10

“How shall Integrity face Oppression? What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception, Decency in the face of Insult, Self-Defense before Blows?

W.E.B. Du Bois

       Strange times. Truth is, my integrity and honesty have been coming into question since puberty, since I started getting feedback about my human body from strangers and familiar men in my environment. Look at this, It’s taken me 10 essays to get to this topic because frankly, I had no idea where to even start. This is a vast topic with endless anecdotes and emotions, nearly infinite, so I decided to share 1 personal story along with some quotes from wiser people. This essay is about love in the face of pain and domination; trying to make sense of it all.

        Just as a disclaimer: In my core, I believe that women’s issues are directly linked to all other social issues, I mean how can they not be? Women make up half of the population. The math alone is persuasive. Also also it’s important  to note that non binary folks, trans, and  the queer community are and should be included in this discussion, as they face these issues daily as well.

“Cultures of domination attack self-esteem, replacing it with a notion that we derive our sense of being from dominion over another. Patriarchy teaches men that their sense of self and identity, their reason for being, resides in their capacity to dominate others.” ― bell hooks

        6 months ago Philadelphia experienced its first official hot day, right at the brink of summer. I was walking to work from center city, a 10-15 minute walk depending on your tenacity.  Right as I started my walk a man commented on my body, something rather innocuous like “hello there beautiful”, nothing abnormal, so I just kept it moving without too much thought or attention. Not a minute went by when I heard another comment semi whispered at me, something of the “hey baby” variety. Surprised at the high rate of occurrence within theme, I made a bewildered face and crossed the street. Little did I know that waiting for me on the other side was another comment in said theme, this time more explicit, something like “look at that body mmm” followed by an up and down glare and lip lick – a grotesque combo for the ages.

       Utterly grossed out and now at a total loss at the frequency of these unprovoked moments I  started noticing my body language shifting. Suddenly my gaze became fixed at the ground (while normally I look up and often smile at people, depending on circumstance), I was walking faster and with visible preoccupied mood, and most importantly my face had now displayed fear. This is important to single out, because what came next highly depended on this transformation. About a minute after my vibe changed I encountered a man that was on his phone. As he was talking on the phone he managed to lock eyes with me, and then he said in a tone just audible enough for me to hear: “there’s a sexy bitch walking right here you should see that body”.  In disbelief I felt my body become hot with anger. With shaken integrity I imagined taking this man’s phone and shouting into it “your friend is a piece of shit” right before breaking it on the ground with my foot. But I didn’t do it, I just imagined it while walking away, in total silence.

       About to reach a light, I continued to see my body language cower in fear and disgust. Right before making a turn at the light, a man, seemingly out of nowhere, grabbed my arm and said “get over here baby” —  In total disbelief I instinctually pulled away my arm and started walking so fast I was effectively running. Another man made a comment about my body as I was literally running away. What just happened. Why did this escalate, and how??

“Dominator culture teaches all of us that the core of our identity is defined by the will to dominate and control others. We are taught that this will to dominate is more biologically hardwired in males than in females. In actuality, dominator culture teaches us that we are all natural-born killers but that males are more able to realize the predator role. In the dominator model the pursuit of external power, the ability to manipulate and control others, is what matters most. When culture is based on a dominator model, not only will it be violent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles.” ― bell hooks

       This anecdote that I shared, it’s just one day. Actually It’s just 10 minutes in one day, and I know that I am not unique in my experiences. Every woman (and non binary GQ people) experiences this form of domination regularly. Endless examples aside, I want my point to be regarding the harm that this behavior creates not in just introducing mild trauma into my (and countless others) daily lives, but also the harm it creates for all of us, men included.  Patriarchy is harmful to all; It isn’t rooted in love, but in fear. And it manifests in countless ways.

       Some days it’s very hard for me to be a woman in this world. Some days I walk into venues to play music and the sound person* asks me if I’m the new waitress, or a band will ask “whose girlfriend” I am. “who makes your beats” people often ask. Those moments require a lot of energy to combat but they are also teaching moments, and every time I can come back with strong eye contact and a peaceful truth, I educate someone about reality. It’s a lot to have to constantly convince people of your worth; And coupled with the very real fear of violence from strangers and non-strangers alike (verbal and physical), it can create an unfriendly world. In this world I am constantly suspicious of my fellow humans. So how do I keep my integrity in the face of oppression?  How do I keep my peace?

       Patriarchy and domination is not to be denied. We all grew up in it and our role is to figure out how it has penetrated our lives (through movies, music, education system, the words we use, our family structure, how we view sex, etc). To really examine the dark corners of our minds, that is of utmost importance. Patriarchy has no gender bell says.  I myself look deeply into my soul daily to find its remnants, from body shaming other women to moments of unprovoked jealousy. Attempting to unlearn, this is the challenge. Personally I see a direct link between the current wave of social unrest and the culture of domination – over women, minorities and the poor in general. Fear of a ‘loss of power’ has plagued us — ‘when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.’

We are all suffering under the tyranny of the culture of domination.

All love, here’s one final quote I promise !!

 “the wounded child inside many males is a boy who, when he first spoke his truths, was silenced by paternal sadism, by a patriarchal world that did not want him to claim his true feelings. The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself, deny her true feelings, in order to attract and please others. When men and women punish each other for truth telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better. To be loving we willingly hear the other’s truth, and most important, we affirm the value of truth telling. Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.” ― bell hooks, All About Love

*it’s sound person/ sound engineer. not a sound guy 🙂

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I'm a world electronic folk musician. Born in the middle east, based in Philadelphia. I love evoking and hunting for meaning. and smiles.

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