I just read a Chris Hedges article that was posted through Nation of Change about how Prostitution and Trafficking are being globally enlarged through countries that make it legal and people accepting it as an institution of commerce when in fact it is about economic slavery and degradation of women and people. Not a minute after I read it there was a comment by a man saying that banning prostitution and making it illegal will not stop it, and that organized crime does it if someone else isn’t doing the pimping, trafficking, and profit making. As if it’s ok to make anyone fuck for money EVER.
Hedges goes on to include information about a woman activist in Canada who runs a house for helping women out of trafficking/prostitution that has had it’s government funding cut because she won’t let the government have her records about the women who come through her her venue to be controlled and persecuted after they have gotten out/away from the sex slavery they’ve been coerced or trafficked into. She attests to the fact there are attacks on her and her activism to legally help and protect women from trafficking into sex slavery to keep the classism, misogyny, male indulgence to be able to buy sex and commercial status quo in place.
Once upon a time quite a while ago, I went to an art exhibit by a woman who had a series of masks made from molds of her face about being an incest survivor. I don’t remember where and when this exhibit was, her name, and I don’t remember any of the masks EXCEPT one: It was a small, dull red, eyeless form of her face entitled “The Only Thing I’m Good For”. The mouth area was pursed into an O shape, with the suggestion of something tubelike going there. Within seconds of looking at it, I got the message this was about a penis being forced into her mouth. And I will never, ever FORGET THAT.
This woman’s art inspired me to make clay masks that were from molds of my face and to use art to try and express my personal struggles with being female in a sick patriarchal culture and I still have them today, along with Process Paintings about what I have found unspeakable and horrifying about my life. What I have found is that we women oppress ourselves from within due to the momentum of generations of denial and silence around the explicit and categorical degradation of women and other injustices of our world. Like most of the all the women I know, I have colluded with it, not yet able to get a bearing on how I can change in relation to my growing awareness of my part in it.
Recently I went to a live drumming/dancing/singing performance dedicated to the ocean great mother orisha, Yemonja. As a bata drummer I have played bata rhythms for the cuban version of the mother orisha Yemaya. Yemonja is the Brazilian version and the performance featured a variety of offerings that were magnificent. I heard about the performance through my current drumming teacher because his children were in the performance. Going to it was uplifting and inspiring.
What I did not bargain for was running into my ex percussion teacher. I saw him during the intermission putting drums on the stage. I knew this meant he would be performing in the second half, which he did, with 3 other cuban guys. The performance was sold out, packed, and when I walked from the main room to the lobby, there he was in front of me. We had a moment of unavoidable eye contact and he turned to stone. He cut me cold, as though I hadn’t been the neighbor, friend and dedicated, consistent drumming student of his for 4 and a half years. When he arrived from Cuba, I was the one who introduced him to people that would become his students locally. I had nothing directly to do with the end of the relationship that had brought him to my home town and his exit from it.
This was not the first time he’d refused to acknowledge me. He did it before when I went to a drum class taught by a drumming crony of his in the city. He was there playing bell at the request of his friend during the class. He had ignored my smile and a wave then and it seemed like it might be accidental. But this time it was very clear it wasn’t. Though I can guess why he is no longer OK with me, I can’t be sure what he’s thinking and why he is shunning me.
It hurt and I felt quite angry though I did not react. Not one minute after I saw him and experienced the psychic slam to my gut, I ran into another Cuban fella who was also briefly my teacher. He hadn’t left on the best terms either. He called out my name, seemingly delighted to see me and gave me an enthusiastic hug. All a mystery, as I had been a hot mess when I’d been his student and didn’t believe he thought much of me.
And yet now I see this situation as the sign of real growth that it is. My ex teacher contributed a great deal to me becoming a better drummer. Yet I had arrived at a place where I knew I needed to move on and he’d taught me all that he could before it ended, and now I don’t have to pretend I approve of him personally. I saw signs of his general and particular lack of respect for women long before he was gone. He had some very good points as a teacher, could be benevolent at times, but he was often harsh and bordering on abuse of me and others who were his students. What he taught the most was FOCUS, and I cried some bitter tears learning it while fighting to not walk away from him for good.
I have no doubt now that I was more than occasionally treading upon an inner wound of father/authority material internally. He was perfect for it, holding a rigid standard of perfectionism in playing bata which resonated with my unforgiving internal judge.To his credit he ignored a lot of emotional static from me, including tears. The war between me and my love/hate projection of him was waged mostly in silence while in his presence during class.
I learned not to look to him or any other outside source for praise. As I got better as a player, my ear and awareness of what was correct and in the groove began to inform me more than his guidance. It was three years before I began experiencing my own excellence with an inner knowing that was sure, and there was nothing like that feeling. And I can’t begin to count the days of rage and devastation when I questioned why I was doing this at all before I came anywhere near to the joy of my own development.