Thursday, November 30, 2017

Celebrating Poldark


Season 3 of Poldark, to be precise!


Here in the U.S., PBS recently concluded its broadcasting of the third season of the British TV drama, Poldark. This particular season (or series as they say in the U.K.) was shown earlier this year in Britain, Australia, and elsewhere. I actually watched it when I was home in Australia in July and August.

Of course,that didn't stop me watching it again when it hit TV screens in the U.S. on October 1. In fact, I hosted a "Poldark party" at my home not only on the night of season three's premiere but each Sunday night thereafter until the season ended two weeks ago.



Above: My "Poldark party" on the night of the show's season 3 premiere – Sunday, October 1, 2017. From left: John, Lisa, me, Brent, Jim, Brent, Kathy, and Pete.


I'm not going to go into what Poldark is about because, as regular readers of this blog would know, I've long been an admirer of author Winston Graham's series of twelve novels that Poldark is based upon . . . and have been since I first read them as a teenager in the late 1970s. For those unfamiliar with Poldark, I suggest the previous Wild Reed posts that can be found here, here, here, and here.

Suffice to say that season 3, like the previous two seasons, is set against the beautiful and rugged Cornish coast in the closing years of the eighteenth century. It's a troubled time, with social unrest in Cornwall and war and revolution across the English Channel in France. There is personal strife, too, with Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) and his wife Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) rebuilding their lives after experiencing marital turmoil and financial hardship.

Season 3 covers the fifth Poldark novel, The Black Moon, and part of the sixth, The Four Swans. Of course, I recommend all the Poldark novels, but have to admit that The Black Moon is one of my favorites. For one thing it introduces a number of new characters, including Demelza's brothers Sam and Drake Carne, Elizabeth's young cousin Morwenna Chynoweth, the handsome navel officer Hugh Armitage, and the truly odious Rev. Osbourne Whitworth.

Production-wise Poldark is exceptional – solid scripts, beautiful cinematography, impeccable acting, complex characters, and engaging storylines involving personal passions, political intrigue . . . oh, and a daring raid on a French prison camp!

The following screencaps from season 2 provide a good example of Poldark's very cinematic look. I just love it, especially the use of light to create truly memorable, vignette-like scenes.












Following are excerpts from a number of reviews of Poldark, season/series 3, along with a few pics from this latest season of the show. And, yes, there will be a fourth season!


It's quite an achievement that Poldark's series 3 opener makes a lot of set-up and introduction feel easy and involving. Ross is still Head Haircut, and Aidan Turner still a magnetic lead, but Series Three feels like the point where the show puts greater emphasis on activities beyond Ross's copper-finding strops, and demonstrates the strengths of an excellent – and expanding – ensemble cast.

– Rob Smedley
Excerpted from "Poldark Series 3, Episode 1 Review:
Sunny and Sexy, But Things Get Real Dark, Real Fast
"
Digital Spy
June 11, 2017


We can measure the distance of the first four Poldark books (written 1945-53, Ross Poldark, Demelza, Jeremy Poldark, Warleggan) from the trilogy written 20 years later, (1973-77, The Black Moon, The Four Swans, The Angry Tide), upon which the third and two seasons at least next must be based. In the [1973-77 trilogy], [author Winston] Graham chooses to realize truly historical characters (not just invented ones), linchpin capitalists and great landowners, Tory (Lord Falmouth, from his mother’s side a Boscawen) or Whig (Sir Francis Basset, later Lord Dunstanville). Not fantasy figures at all. And in [season three] Ross is deeply conflicted over what he has done in the past, and what he should do for the future, and [for a while] seems to have decided retreat into his nuclear family and friends is the best right option. He will discover that he is wrong here.

. . . My first response is as all previous encounters [with the 2015-present Poldark TV series]: I think how [each new season] is not as good as [the previous one] (in this third season the dressers of Ross are back to allowing him to have utterly unkempt hair), and neither as effective . . . as the 1970s [TV series]. . . . Yet, as in previous encounters, I admit [screenwriter Debbie] Horsfield is following the general story and at moments more literally true, elaborating seriously on what is in the books. The 1970s equivalent did not show Elizabeth trying to get rid of the child or bring on parturition as crudely or melodramatically as Horsfield had the actors clash (Ross just happens to be on a cliff where Elizabeth seems to be trying to throw herself over); these are incidents George half-glimpses in the book and whose significance he fails to understand. It is made pointedly clear in episode 1 that Ross and Demelza believe Elizabeth’s second baby’s father is Ross. Ross cannot resist hanging around Trenwith; after the baby is born, we see him running frantically on the beach to calm himself, bending over in twisted ways frustrated that he can do nothing for this son; Demelza justifies her returning to see her father die despite his abuse of her because there is a special bond between father and child which must not be ignored. Horsfield is developing cores of the books.

– Ellen Moody
Excerpted from "Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2:
Again Changing Emphases, Bringing Out Sense of Community
"
Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Two
July 2, 2017)



Above: Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) and her brothers Drake (Harry Richardson) and Sam (Tom York).


It was all births, deaths and marriages in this belter of a series opener. Lead the fallen souls of Cornwall! ‘Tis the coming of the shadow of death – and the curse of the black moon. Bang the drums and hear the waves crashing on the shore, Poldark’s back.

There was enough going on in this episode to fuel an entire series of any other drama. And yet it all seemed fairly normal because this is just the pace at which things move in Trenwith and Nampara: let’s call it a lively mare’s gallop.

. . . [Season 3's premiere] episode did a good job of getting us back up to speed if we had forgotten the drowning of Francis; the long-standing feud between Evil George and Ross; Elizabeth and Ross’s ambiguous night of (coerced?) passion; and Aunt Agatha’s premonitions about a baby who would be coming suspiciously soon. Why, Elizabeth, all this heavy book-lifting and those three-mile walks; anyone would think you were trying to induce the birth. I felt like sending round a vindaloo to speed things up less dangerously.

– Viv Groskop
Excerpted from "Series Three, Episode One
– Ross Gallops Back Into Our Lives
"
The Guardian
July 30, 2017



Above: Heida Reed as Elizabeth Warleggan (née Poldark, née Chynoweth).



Above: Jack Farthing as George Warleggan.



Above: Caroline Blakiston as Aunt Agatha in her BIG scene of season three.


[Poldark's third season] has turned out to be pure class. I admit I got confused by the politics, but there were shenanigans aplenty what with medically censored marital relations, a pining blacksmith, and an exceptionally generous sister to distract us from the more complicated plot points.

– Viv Groskop
Excerpted from "Series Three, Episode Eight
– Bigamy Has Never Looked So Romantic
"
The Guardian
July 30, 2017


[Season 3's final] episode is dominated by the stories of the female characters, staying true to the sixth Winston Graham novel, The Four Swans. This gives Poldark's female cast a chance to truly shine, a rare sight in a show which can be somewhat male-centric. Eleanor Tomlinson is always superb when bringing the character of Demelza to life. The actress continues to develop the character, expertly portraying both the betrayed wife and her own infidelity. Another star of the episode is Ellise Chappell as Morwenna, the wife of the ghastly Reverend Whitworth (Christian Brassington). She brilliantly depicts Morwenna’s suffering at the hands of her husband and her slow transformation as she begins to stick up for herself. It is perhaps Morwenna who has had the most development throughout the series, shifting from an innocent to the survivor of sexual assault.

Despite the finale’s female focus, Jack Farthing still gives a superb performance as George Warleggan. Although it takes great skill to make a character as unlikeable as Warleggan, Farthing proves his talent when he actually makes the audience feel sorry for the unlikeable monster. In the episode’s standout scene, George is confronted and lied to by his wife Elizabeth. For once Warleggan is shown to be fallible. Heida Reed is excellent as Elizabeth in this scene too. Brilliantly confronting George, it’s an exchange that really shows off how talented an actress Reed is.

Overall, the Series 3 finale of Poldark is amazing. As the audience have come to expect from Poldark, the cinematography and production values are flawless – what would a Sunday evening be without a few ominous shots of the Cornish coast. After the epic finale of Series 2, it was difficult for Series 3 to raise the bar, but the long-awaited shift to focus on the female characters manages it. The incredibly talented female cast are finally allowed to take centre stage in this expertly crafted episode. With Series 4 already confirmed, it’s an exciting wait to see how Poldark will develop further. I have only one suggestion for further improvement; more Horace the Pug!

– Megan Isaac
Excerpted from "Review: Poldark (Series 3, Episode 9)"
The Edge
August 7, 2017



Above: Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Enys (née Penvenen)
and Luke Norris as Dr Dwight Enys.



Above: Josh Whitehouse as Lieutenant Hugh Armitage.



Above: Christian Brassington as Reverend Osborne Whitworth.



Above: Ellise Chappell as Morwenna Whitworth (née Chynoweth).


[T]he novels of Winston Graham cast Ross Poldark as a paragon of decency in a troubled world. There is some complexity in the current adaptation, notably the question of whether Poldark rapes Elizabeth, ignoring her repeated protestations of “You will not dare”.

Graham considered himself to be “an instinctive feminist” – a level of commitment to gender equality which might not pass muster today – and it’s notable that Alfred Hitchcock considered the rape scene in his adaptation of Graham’s novel Marnie to be central to his 1964 psycho-sexual thriller. (Critics did too, which is one reason Marnie is not well-regarded).

But should historical figures in popular fiction be bound by contemporary mores? Or, to put it another way, would Poldark be more interesting if his moral flaws were more pronounced?

– Alastair McKay
Excerpted from "What Makes Poldark
the Epitome of Post-feminist Crumpet TV?
"
BBC Arts
June 6, 2017



Above and below: Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, "renegade of principle."






Following are a few more pics of the various Poldark-viewing parties I hosted throughout the duration of season three.



Above: At left with my friend Pete (center) and his boyfriend Jeffrey – October 22, 2017 (the night before my 52nd birthday!).



Above: Friends (from left) John, James, and Don – November 5, 2017. John made those Cornish pasties you can see! . . . And, yes, they were delicious!



Above (from left): Javier, my boyfriend Brent, Pete,
Jeffrey, LeMonte, John, and Jim – November 12, 2017.



Above: Gathered for the Season 3 finale! From left: Pete, Tim, Kathy, Raul, Javier, Brent, Jeffrey, and John – November 19, 2017.



Above: Another pic from the November 19 Poldark, season three finale gathering. From left: Me, Raul, my boyfriend Brent, Pete, Jeffrey, Kathy, John, Jim, and James.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Return of the (Cornish) Native
"A Token of Wildness and Intractability"
Ross Poldark: Renegade of Principle
Poldark Rides Again
Poldark: Unfurling in Perfect Form
Thoughts on the PBS Premiere of Poldark
Meanwhile in Cornwall
The Renegade Returns
He's Back!

For more excerpts from the Poldark novels, see:
"Hers Would Be the Perpetual Ache of Loss and Loneliness"
Time and Remembrance in the Poldark Novels
Passion, Tide and Time
Demelza Takes a Chance (Part 1)
Demelza Takes a Chance (Part 2)
Captain Blamey Comes A-Calling
Rendezvous in Truro
A Fateful Reunion
A "Useful Marriage" for Morwenna
A Sea Dragon of an Emotion . . . "Causing Half the Trouble of the World, and Half the Joy"
Cornwall's – and Winston Graham's – Angry Tide
Into the Greenwood
"I Want You to Become a Part of Me – Each to Become a Part of the Other"
Home

Related Off-site Links:
Meet the Cast and Characters of Season 3 of Poldark – Alex Flether (BT, June 9, 2017).
Poldark Stars Pose in Promo Shots for Third Series – Julia Pritchard (Daily Mail, June 5, 2017).
Poldark Season 3: French Revolution "Casts a Shadow" on Cornwall – Sachin Trivedi (International Business Times, May 31, 2017).
Poldark Season 3 Review: Drama Returns with a Cursed Child, Two Deaths and a Truce – Jessica Earnshaw (Express, June 11, 2017).
Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2: Again Changing Emphases, Bringing Out Sense of Community – Ellen Moody (Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Two, July 2, 2017).
Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 3 and 4: The Difficulty of Returning to Material 20 Years Dormant
Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 4 and 5: A Deeper Emotionalism; a Loss of Verbal Subtleties; Late Stage Capitalism Replaces Exciting Adventure – Ellen Moody (Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Two, July 25, 2017).
Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 6 and 7: Coerced and Reluctant Relationships; Agatha’s Death, Ross’s Refusal, Demelza Charmed – Ellen Moody (Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Two, August 6, 2017).
Is Poldark Going to End After Five Seasons? – Ben Dowell (Radio Times, May 29, 2017).
Poldark: Episode by EpisodeThe Guardian (2017).
Poldark Series Four Likely to Air in Early Summer 2018 – Ben Dowell (Radio Times, November 1, 2017).

Images: Mammoth Screen/BBC and Michael J. Bayly.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Four Balanced Perspectives on the Wave of “Sexual Misconduct” Accusations Against Influential Men in the U.S.



Following are excerpts from four commentaries written in response to the recent wave of "sexual misconduct" allegations and accusations against powerful men in the entertainment industry and in politics here in the U.S. I find all four writers – William Kaufman, Ken Darling, Pam Costain, and Kate Harding – to be thoughtful, articulate, insightful, and balanced.

I confess to being troubled rather than elated by the daily rumble of idols falling to accusations of “sexual misconduct”. . . . Weinstein and Trump and Roy Moore and Bill Clinton are vile pigs and creeps, no doubt; I have always detested the smug neoliberal performance-art strut of Al Franken and the careerist-toady journalism of Glenn Thrush and Charlie Rose, the latest dominoes to tumble amid the barrage of public accusations of “inappropriate” advances or touching.

But the boundary between cultural tolerance/intolerance blurs and shifts with each passing revelation, as the litany of sins, ancient or recent, cardinal or venal, snowballs into an avalanche of aggrieved, undifferentiated accusation – a stampeding herd of “Me-Tooists.” Successive waves of long-forgotten gropes and slurps now overwhelm the news channel chyrons, leaving us with the sense that no greater crime against humanity is possible than an unsolicited horndog lunge of the hand or tongue, some of them from twenty or thirty years past but divulged only in the past few weeks.

. . . [W]hat interest of sanity or reason is served by this reckless lumping together of flicks of the tongue and forcible rapes into the single broad-brush term “sexual misconduct,” as though there is no important difference between an oafish pat or crude remark at an office party and a gang rape? This would be like applying the term “communist” alike to advocates of single payer healthcare and campaigners for one-party centralized control of the entire economy – oh wait, we have seen precisely that: during the McCarthy era. Now then . . . is all this beginning to have a familiar ring to it?

. . . Something surpassingly strange is at work here – a wrong-headed authoritarian ire over the spasmodic misfires of the human comedy combined with some primal meltdown of a besieged and increasingly desperate ruling class and its longstanding winking sexual hypocrisies. It is a moral panic that is, ironically, immoral at its core: repressive and diversionary, an identity-politics orgy of misdirected moral energies that breeds a chilling conformity of word and deed and, in so doing, cripples the critical faculties and independence of spirit needed to challenge the status quo the PC monitors profess to abhor. In reality, their speech and conduct codes foster a spirit of regimentation rather than rebellion, thereby shoring up the power of the repressive elites that are leading the human race to social, economic, and ecological disaster.

So this is not just a moral panic—but a bizarre inversion of values in which Bill Clinton can murder 500,000 Iraqi children, throw millions of poor women and their children off welfare, and instigate the global rule of transnational corporations with NAFTA, but he is not impeached or stigmatized for any of those atrocities but rather for a workplace blowjob; in which Hillary Clinton can lead the charge for the destruction of Libya, reducing that country to primeval rubble, and is not only not fired or ostracized but is rewarded with the Democrats’ presidential nomination and lauded by corporate feminists as a champion of “inclusiveness”; in which Barack Obama pushed fraudulent health-care reform that leaves a barbaric 27 million people with zero coverage and millions more with crippling premiums and deductibles that render their “coverage” all but unusable, thus sentencing tens of thousands of people to death every year because they cannot afford timely medical care, and dropped 26,171 pounds of bombs in 2016 alone, and yet he is not only not reviled and abominated as a con artist but is worshipped as an icon of enlightened governance; in which the entire ruling elite and its associates in the corporate media are chronically underplaying – indeed, scarcely mentioning – the gravity of the climate change crisis, which would merely spell the end of the human species within a hundred years, yet no copycat 24/7 umbrage or five-alarm indignation on the part of anyone in those elite circles or their acolytes over this unprecedented planetary emergency.

Hence the long-buried, freshly unearthed ego bruises of the privileged identity-politics crowd eclipse mass murder and ecocide on the outrage meters of this country’s opinion shapers. The same solemn cohort – mostly white and middle-class, many of them ardent McResistance DNC partisans (or, in the case of Leean Tweeden, Franken’s tongue-kiss accuser, a movement conservative who twice voted for George W. Bush) – is so easily roused to near-apoplexy about a naughty lunge of the hand or tongue yet discreetly ignores or openly cheers on unparalleled crimes against humanity: endless debilitating wars against nameless enemies abroad, the toxic mercenary corruption and annihilation of democracy, staggering political/social inequality (the top one percent of the world’s population now owns half of the world’s wealth), and ecocide everywhere – committed and abetted with impunity by the PC brigades’ culture heroes like the Clintons and Obama and their cohorts in the media and the corporate/political elites.

So yes – prosecute the rapists and pedophiles and let them suffer in jail. But you will excuse me if I stand aside from the stampede of outrage about Al Franken’s wayward tongue or even Donald Trump’s juvenile frat-house boasts while the world teeters on the brink. The scale of values of this country’s liberal elites, and the issues that fuel and exhaust their capacity for outrage, border on moral dementia. Their vaunted “values” lead us not to virtue and to spiritual renewal, but to the nauseating sanctimony of the custodians of a charnel house – to the abyss.

– William Kaufman
Excerpted from "The Great American Sex Panic of 2017"
Counterpunch
November 22, 2017



One thing we men could do when listening to women is acknowledge that many women are asking Can we please see the difference between inappropriate and criminal behavior? Can we please see the difference between public and private morality, between a single boorish act and a pattern of abuse? This is not the same thing as "making excuses." It is understanding the world as patches of grey, not bright lines separating black and white. Not all behavior – even really gross behavior – should be career-ending. Liberals should not give a weapon to Trumpism in order to show our purity. Outrage, to have true meaning and power, must be calibrated.

. . . I read this piece and wholly agree that a powerful man touching a woman on the bare back in a work situation is creepy and deserves to be called out and condemned and [Garrison] Keillor deserves the public shame he is now receiving, but, unless I am missing something, I have to say the reaction from MPR is excessive. We have to be able to make distinctions between obnoxious, inappropriate behavior and criminal, violent or threatening behavior, between individual acts and patterns of harassment, between behaving inappropriately and threatening a subordinate's job when demanding sexual favors. I don't see evidence in this story of Keillor having a pattern of harassment or threatening a woman's job or career. Shame him. Condemn him. Penalize him. But fire him? Remove his show? Erase his career? That seems disproportionate. Ditto with Franken. We need nuance and proportion in this important discussion.

Ken Darling
via Facebook
November 18 and 29, 2017



. . . Since President Trump has been in office I have been repeatedly impressed at the depth and breadth of Senator Franken’s questioning of cabinet and judicial nominees, feeling at times he was standing between us and total disaster as he has sought to slow down or defeat the worst of the President’s choices.

So, we come to the present moment and the allegations of sexual misconduct against Al Franken. I find myself aligned with those who do not want Senator Franken to resign, at least on the basis of information that has already surfaced. In fact, I have found reactions to the situation somewhat baffling and the vitriol toward him something I cannot understand.

While the action Al Franken is shown doing in the photograph is crude, boorish and juvenile, I do not believe it is sexual assault as some have alleged. I have witnessed behavior like this for years at parties, on beaches, in bars and elsewhere. I always find it disgusting and immature, and I do not want to be around it. But while it is achingly commonplace, I do not think it is sexual assault. If we accept that mocking touching a women’s breast is sexual assault, eventually the word has no meaning.

Why is this important? Because men in power (and those without power) physically coerce, brutalize, subjugate and hurt women every single day sexually and that must end. There is a real problem with sexual assault in our culture that must be confronted and stopped. I fear the issue is being trivialized in the current context and will ultimately do more harm than good.

Yell at me now, but I am not even sure I consider Al Franken’s actions sexual harassment. I tend to think of sexual harassment as activities designed to keep women in their place, making them fearful on the street, fearful they won’t get a job or promotion, fearful of being a leader, fearful of challenging men, fearful of challenging authority, fearful of speaking up. Harassment is a power play meant to take away power from women and to reduce them to people whose purpose is for the pleasure and pursuit of men.

I do not accept the false equivalency that Al Franken’s boorish behavior on a USO tour (designed specifically to titillate the troops as these tours have done for decades) is equivalent to Roy Moore’s serial pursuit and entrapment of under-age girls. I do not think Al Franken needs to pay for behavior of other men whose deeds went unpunished, whether they be Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy. I do believe in due process for individuals, not only in the court of law but in the ethics process of the Senate. I do believe social media can be a terrible way to move through complex social issues when everyone is an instant judge and jury of the actions of others without knowing the full context.

Al Franken is accountable for his actions. He has apologized publicly and that apology has been accepted. He undoubtedly has a lot for soul-searching to do with his family and colleagues. But, it is also true that vicious people bent on destroying our democracy, denying people health care, providing enormous tax benefits to the rich, dismantling environmental protections and getting control of our courts, are counting on you and me to keep focused on Al while they do their evil deeds. We cannot continue to be distracted.

– Pam Costain
Excerpted from "My Thoughts on Al Franken"
via Facebook
November 20, 2017



I am a Democrat because I am a feminist who lives under a two-party system, where one party consistently votes against the interests of women while the other sometimes does not. I am not a true believer in the party itself nor in any politician. I am a realist who recognizes that we get two viable choices, and Democrats are members of the only party positioned to pump the brakes on Republicans’ gleeful race toward Atwoodian dystopia. Meanwhile, I recognize that men’s harassment of and violence against women is a systemic issue, not a Democrat or Republican problem, a Hollywood problem, a sports problem, or a media problem. Its roots lie in a patriarchal culture that trains men to believe they are entitled to control women’s bodies – for sex, for sport, for childbearing, for comedy.

When you combine these things – an awareness that the Democratic Party is no more or less than best of two, and an understanding that men in power frequently exploit women – it becomes difficult to believe that Franken is the only sitting Democrat with a history of harassment, abuse or assault. The recent #metoo campaign demonstrated how normalized unwanted kissing and groping are in our culture. Donald Trump was caught on tape crudely admitting to both of those transgressions, and we made him our president. According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women experiences some sort of contact sexual violence in her life. Sexual harassment and assault are simply too widespread for Democrats to respond to Franken’s offense with only Franken in mind: We need to respond in a way that helps us develop a protocol for meaningful change.

. . . [I]f we [force Franken to resign] in the interest of demonstrating our party’s solidarity with harassed and abused women, we’re only going to drain the swamp of people who, however flawed, still regularly vote to protect women’s rights and freedoms. The legislative branch will remain chockablock with old, white Republican men who regard women chiefly as sex objects and unpaid housekeepers, and we’ll show them how staunchly Democrats oppose their misogynistic attitudes by handing them more power.

– Kate Harding
Excerpted from "I’m a Feminist. I Study Rape Culture.
And I Don’t Want Al Franken to Resign
"
The Washington Post
November 17, 2017



UPDATES

Al Franken Resigns from Senate
Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

– Lauren Gambino (The Guardian, December 7, 2017)

Al Franken Resigns: Democrats Fail
the GOP Sexual Harassment Test. Again

StrategyCamp (December 7, 2017)

Franken's Out, But It's No Victory for Women
– Miles Howard (Cognoscenti, December 7, 2017)

Why Franken Had to Go
– Christina Cauterucci (Slate, December 7, 2017)

Al Franken Resigns, Setting Precedent
for Donald Trump and Roy Moore

– Matthew Rozsa (Salon, December 7, 2017)

Donald Trump Has Made Roy Moore
the Face of the Republican Party

– John Nichols (The Nation, December 7, 2017)


Related Off-site Links:
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise! – Peter Montague (CounterPunch, November 19, 2017).
How Should Women Respond When a Man We Like Is Accused of Harassment? – Emer O'Toole (The Guardian, November 13, 2017).
The Backlash Against the Bullies – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, November 19, 2017).
Yes, Donald Trump Is a Role Model – for Men Accused of Sexual Abuse – Margaret Carlson (The Daily Beast, November 30, 2017).
Celebrity Sexual Abuse Scandals Highlight Everyday Sexism – Emily Mills (Common Dreams, November 18, 2017).
Groping for Manhood – Robert Lipsyte (TomDispatch.com via Common Dreams, November 16, 2017).
What We Lose When We Let Predatory Men Shape the National Conversation – Emma Gray (The Huffington Post, November 29, 2017).
“Should Al Franken Resign?” Is the Wrong Question – Masha Gessen (The New Yorker, November 19, 2017).
Rebecca Solnit: Ending Sexual Harassment Means Changing Masculinity and Undermining Misogynist CultureDemocracy Now! (November 22, 2017).
Let's Bring Some Rationality to Discussion Around Al Franken – Judith Koll Healey (Star Tribune, November 29, 2017).
The Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Donald Trump – the Full List – Lucia Graves and Sam Morris (The Guardian, November 28, 2017).
Trump Officially Backs Roy Moore Despite Allegations of Sexual Misconduct – Inae Oh (Mother Jones, December 4, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
What a Man! – Connor Beaton
Quote of the Day – November 17, 2017


Photo of the Day



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Photo of the Day – November 28, 2015
Photo of the Day – April 17, 2014
Guruk Sunrise

Image: Michael J. Bayly.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What a Man!

Back in April 2011 I started a series of posts highlighting well-known straight men who, regardless of the risks to their careers and popularity, courageously chose to publicly support LGBT people and their civil rights. To date, The Wild Reed's "What a Man!" series has spotlighted eight sportsmen (Ben Cohen, Sean Avery, Hudson Taylor, Nick Youngquest, Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Nick Symmonds, and Andrew Ference) and one U.S. Republican politician (John Kriesel).

This evening I'm shifting the focus of the series somewhat by highlighting the efforts of Connor Beaton to change the archaic and dangerous patriarchal model of masculinity, one that is sometimes referred to as "toxic masculinity" and which is harming all of us – men and women, queers and straights. Connor is undertaking this important work primarily through his organization ManTalks, which Jules Schroeder, writing in Forbes magazine, describes as a "movement to evolve men and women through authenticity, community, purpose, and accountability."

Following is how Connor describes his organization and its goals.


ManTalks is a space for the modern man to work on himself. It's a bunch of different mediums but at the heart and center of it is an organization committed to helping build better men by creating a space where men get to show up, without it being a threat to society, and connect with a group of like-minded guys who are willing to call them out on their bullshit; that are willing to say, "That's actually not okay." [Through this] we try and find a more balanced, healthy version of masculinity that isn't destroying or hurting people, but also that isn't a pushover.


When I started creating that opportunity for other guys, they were like, "Yes, this is what I've been missing. I've been missing this real connection, these real conversations, these things that are meaningful outside of the booze, babes, and bloodsports that we normally talk about. Because that's what a lot of guys are looking for. They're dying, literally dying to have connection in their life.


And that's what Connor and ManTalks are providing: life-giving (and life-saving) connection. Yes, indeed, What a man!

Here's more about Connor and his efforts to create a new understanding of masculinity . . .





Related Off-site Links:
More Men Should Learn The Difference Between Masculinity and Toxic Masculinity – Ryan Douglass (The Huffington Post, August 4, 2017).
Professor: "Toxic Masculinity Is Killing Everyone" – Rachel Frommer (The Huffington Post, November 6, 2017).
Toxic Masculinity Is Everywhere. It’s Up to Us Men to Fix This – Jordan Stephens (The Guardian, October 23, 2017).
This Is a Man Problem – Charles M. Blow (The New York Times, November 19, 2016).
Rebecca Solnit: Ending Sexual Harassment Means Changing Masculinity and Undermining Misogynist CultureDemocracy Now! (November 22, 2017).
How Gay Men Normalize Sexual Assault – Phillip Henry (Them, November 17, 2016).
Fellow Gay Men, Stop Glorifying Toxic Ideals Of Masculinity – Jeremy Alexander (The Huffington Post, November 22, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
What a Man! – Ben Cohen | Sean Avery | Hudson Taylor | John Kriesel | Nick Youngquest | Chris Kluwe | Brendon Ayanbadejo | Nick Symmonds | Andrew Ference
Rockin' With Maxwell
The New Superman: Not Necessarily Gay, but Definitely Queer
A Fresh Take on Masculinity
Remembering Prince, "Fabulous Freak, Defiant Outsider, Dark Dandy" – 1958-2016
Remembering a Daring Cinematic Exploration
He Persists, Too!
The Trouble with the Male Dancer
A Warrior's Heart
Edward Sellner on the Archetype of the Double and Male Eros, Friendships and Mentoring
Manly Love
Quote of the Day – June 4, 2014
Integrating Cernunnos, "Archetype of Sensuality and the Instinctual World"
Beloved and Antlered


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Quote of the Day



We can see the eye roll coming before we explain the reason why the [Thanksgiving] holiday is complicated for us [as Indigenous people]. We’ve explained before to the same eyes that only want to look away, not have to get political. To those of us who suffer from history’s consequences and don’t benefit from them, talking about our beliefs, even just telling our stories, is automatically political.

We – you and I and everyone – are still trying to absolve ourselves of history. But we don’t want to do it by talking about it. We don’t want the taste of it in our mouths. We’re devoted to keeping it under our place mats. Blackout Wednesday. Gorge Thursday. Get deals Friday. We hide the lie under the darkness of digestion.

One thing is: We don’t have to buy turkey. We don’t have to buy into any of it. Sure, it’s a tradition. So is the Confederate flag.

. . . Celebrate the holiday, or don’t. Believe in American mercy, or don’t. But look where tradition has gotten us so far. Look where we are now.

– Tommy Orange
Excerpted from "Thanksgiving Is a Tradition. It's Also a Lie"
Los Angeles Times
November 23, 2017




Related Off-site Links:
Thanksgiving for Native Americans – Four Voices on a Complicated Holiday: Sherman Alexie, Winona LaDuke, Jacqueline Keeler, and Simon Moya-Smith – Julie Turkewitz (The New York Times, November 23, 2017).
What Do We Owe Indigenous America? – Chelsey Luger (TruthDig, November 22, 2017).
Thanksgiving's Complexities Are an Opportunity for Personal and Social Reconciliation – Moises Echeverria (Tulsa World, November 23, 2017).
Thanksgiving, a Day of Mourning for Native Americans – Alli Joseph (Salon, November 23, 2016).
Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Thanksgiving: “It Has Never Been About Honoring Native Americans”Democracy Now! (November 23, 2016).
The Future Is Indigenous: Decolonizing Thanksgiving – Maile Arvin (TruthOut, November 24, 2016).
Our Thanksgiving Responsibility: Native Americans, Honest History and the Simple Power of Remembrance – Billy J. Stratton (Salon, November 29, 2014).
How the U.S. Media Would Cover Thanksgiving if It Were in Another Country – Joshua Keating (Slate, November 27, 2013).
The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story – Michelle Tirado (Indian Country Today, November 23, 2011).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – November 23, 2016
Michael Greyeyes on Temperance as a Philosophy for Surviving
Something to Think About – November 24, 2011
Come, Spirit!
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Standing Together
Standing in Prayer and Solidarity with the Water Protectors of Standing Rock
Something to Think About – February 23, 2017

Image 1: A still from Terrence Malick's 2005 film The New World.
Image 2: Veterans for Standing Rock/Go Fund Me.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Self Portrait

. . . A picture, photograph, or piece of writing that you make of or about yourself.




And deeper . . .


Self Portrait

By David Whyte

It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

David Whyte
From Fire in the Earth
(Many Rivers Press, 1992)


For more of David Whyte's writings at The Wild Reed, see:
"To Be Courageous Is to Stay Close to the Way We Are Made"

See also:
The Prayer Tree
Beloved and Antlered
On This "Echoing-Day" of My Birth
The Soul of a Dancer
A Guidepost on the Journey
Thomas Moore on the "Ageless Soul"
"Window, Mind, Thought, Air and Love"
Called to the Field of Compassion to Be Both Prophet and Mystic
The Most Sacred and Simple Mystery of All

Image: "Self Portrait" by Michael J. Bayly (November 19, 2017).


Friday, November 17, 2017

Quote of the Day

As sexual harassment allegations continue to be made public against powerful men, there has been a theme appearing among male commentators: discomfort. . . . [I]f [as a man] you're feeling vigilant and wary of the opposite sex, and are constantly monitoring your relationships with them in the workplace, on public transport, on the street – you're getting an insight into what women feel like. All the time. Every day. Yes, the stakes are wildly different – because as worried about their reputations as they may be, men don't have to worry about their physical safety around women, as women so often do with men – but it's a badly needed dose of reality.

The atmosphere is indeed a peculiar one. (Though if one more person calls it a "witch hunt" I will scream, because co-opting a historical occurrence that disproportionately, gruesomely punished single women with death as a metaphor for uncovering abuses by powerful men is not acceptable.) The air seems to vibrate with powerful (and abusive) men's fear as more allegations are brought into the public eye, and that's essentially unprecedented. And as new stories come out again and again, I fully encourage men to re-examine themselves and their past behavior. Just like not being racist in a deeply racist world takes work, not being sexist in an environment that normalizes sexist attitudes requires conscious commitment and awareness.

But what you don't get to do is complain about it – because, congratulations, you are now getting a free sample of how women have to act around men all the time.

– JR Thorpe
Excerpted from "To Guys Who Think It's
'Hard To Be A Man' Right Now, I’ve Got Some News For You
"
Bustle
November 10, 2017


Related Off-site Link:
Trapped in a "Man’s World" – Robert C. Koehler (Common Dreams, November 16, 2017).

Image: Kristen Solberg.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Australia, "Love Has Had a Landslide Victory"


Good news from the country of my birth: Australians have voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry in a landmark national survey.

The Yes vote triumphed with 61.6 percent of the vote, while 38.4 percent voted No.

I take this opportunity to thank all my family and friends in Australia who voted Yes in the survey. And an especially big thank you to my Mum who, after Mass one Sunday evening, gently yet firmly challenged her parish priest over the Catholic hierarchy's support of the No campaign (despite the fact that Catholics themselves comprise one of the largest groups in Australia supportive of same-sex marriage). Of course, my mother's support isn't that surprising given my parents' loving and proactive support over the years of me and of gay people in general. (See, for example, here and here.)

Following, with added images and links, is Michael Koziol's report in The Sydney Morning Herald on this "landslide victory."

Australians have emphatically voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, saying "yes" to the historic social change by a substantial margin of 61.6 per cent to 38.4 per cent.

After years of political stagnation, the public has now tasked the Turnbull government with changing the law before Christmas to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Almost 80 per cent of eligible voters participated in the unprecedented voluntary postal survey, giving the verdict an authority unmatched by most elections globally. It means Australia is poised to join 25 other countries that have granted marriage equality to gay couples, including the US, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

At street parties across the country, gay and lesbian Australians cheered, danced and embraced as the results were announced by the chief statistician on Wednesday.



Above: People celebrate in Melbourne on Wednesday after Australians approved same-sex marriage. (Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)


It is a landmark moment in Australia's mixed civil rights record: it was one of the first countries to give women the vote, but still struggles with Indigenous reconciliation and is one of the last English-speaking democracies to legalise same-sex marriage.

The result is also a significant victory for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, of the ruling centre-right Coalition, who is a longstanding supporter of same-sex marriage and firmly believed the "yes" vote would prevail.

"Love has had a landslide victory," declared Alex Greenwich, co-chair of the Equality Campaign, from a public gathering in Sydney, where John Paul Young's classic "Love Is In The Air" was played. "Getting to this point has not been easy, but rarely in your life can you celebrate with such pride overcoming adversity to make history." Mr Greenwich said the campaign's support and momentum had exceeded all expectations, and the result had delivered "an unequivocal mandate" for politicians to vote through the change by the end of the year.

Every state and territory voted "yes" by more than 60 per cent except for NSW, where the "yes" vote was 57.8 per cent, and the "no" vote was 42.2 per cent. The ACT had the highest "yes" vote in the country at 74 per cent, followed by Victoria at 64.9 per cent. Participation in the survey exceeded 70 per cent across all age groups, including younger voters. Almost 80 per cent of 18- and 19-year-olds voted, the ABS revealed, with the lowest turnout (71.9 per cent) among 25- to 29-year-olds.

Mr Turnbull, speaking shortly after the results were announced, heralded the "overwhelming" support Australians had expressed for same-sex marriage. "They voted 'yes' for fairness, commitment, love," he said. "It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming. "And now it is up to us, here in the Parliament of Australia, to get on with it - to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do, and get this done this year, before Christmas. That must be our commitment." The PM's electorate of Wentworth, in inner-city Sydney, recorded one of the highest "yes" votes in the country at 80.8 per cent.

The results surpassed the expectations of many "yes" advocates in the government, who were eyeing a figure of 55 to 60 per cent. It almost matched the 62 per cent recorded at the Irish referendum on same-sex marriage in 2015.

Gay Liberal senator Dean Smith, who spearheaded action for same-sex marriage within the Coalition but opposed the public vote, declared it "the most important electoral mandate" Australia had ever seen. "This is by any and every measure a huge democratic achievement for our country," he said. "I have never been more proud to stand up and represent Australian people than I was this morning when I listened to that result."

Gay Labor frontbencher Penny Wong, who pushed her own party to change its position on same-sex marriage, was hugged by colleagues in a room in Parliament House as they watched the results announcement. Later, she thanked Australians for their "resounding" verdict and spoke of how difficult the public vote had been for the LGBTI community. "I hope from this you can take a message of solidarity, of support, of decency from your fellow Australians," Senator Wong said.


Above: Labor senator Penny Wong, one of the most prominent advocates of the Yes campaign, breaks down after the announcement of the same-sex marriage survey result on Wednesday morning. (Photo: Mike Bowers for The Guardian)


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, speaking to a jubilant crowd in Melbourne, said the emphatic verdict was "not just good for marriage equality" but showed "Australians have voted for a generous view of themselves, for a modern Australia, where diversity is accepted, supported and respected. "Today we celebrate, tomorrow we legislate."

The de facto leader of the "no" campaign, Australian Christian Lobby director Lyle Shelton, conceded defeat and said he accepted the democratic decision of the Australian people. But he said "in a democracy, no question is ever completely closed", and held out hope of one day changing Australians' minds and redefining marriage as being between a man and a woman. "There may be a time in the future when we can persuade our fellow Australians to that position once again," Mr Shelton said.

Debate inside and outside Parliament will now turn to the legislation to enact the change. A bill by Senator Smith, endorsed by Mr Turnbull, will be introduced into the Senate this week, and fierce argument is expected over religious exemptions in the coming parliamentary fortnight.

The PM said he expected a "very lively debate" that would showcase "Parliament at its best".
– Michael Koziol
"Same-sex Marriage Postal Survey:
'Love Has Had a Landslide Victory' as 'Yes' Wins
"
The Sydney Morning Herald
November 15, 2017




Related Off-site Links:
"They Voted Yes for Love": Turnbull Vows to Legalise Same-sex Marriage by Christmas – James Elton-Pym (SBS News, November 15, 2017).
Australia Says Yes to Same-sex Marriage in Historic Postal Survey – Paul Karp (The Guardian, November 15, 2017).
Australia Votes for Gay Marriage, Clearing Path to Legalization – Adam Baidawi and Damien Cave (The New York Times, November 15, 2017).
Australian Catholics Welcome "Yes" Victory in Marriage Equality Survey – Robert Shine (Bondings 2.0, November 16, 2017).
Casey Conway: "It's a Yes, But the Survey Did More Harm Than Good"Yahoo! 7 (November 15, 2017).
Same-sex Marriage Victory: What Happens Next? – Michael Koziol (The Sydney Morning Herald, November 15, 2017).

UPDATES: Underlying the Celebrations There Is an Immense Feeling of Hurt and Pain – Simon Copland (The Guardian, November 17, 2017).
Australia and the Global Spread of Same-Sex Marriage – Yasmeen Serhan (The Atlantic via SBS News, November 28, 2017).
Same-sex Marriage Bill Passes in Australian Senate – Paul Karp (The Guardian, November 28, 2017).
Gay Couples' Weddings Officially Mark Dawning of Australian Marriage Equality – Paul Karp (The Guardian, January 8, 2018).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Saying "Yes" to Marriage Equality in Australia
Thank You, Frank!
The State of Marriage Equality in Australia (Part 1)
The State of Marriage Equality in Australia (Part 2)
Thoughts on the Australian Catholic Bishops' Latest Ploy in Their "Struggle for the Very Soul of Marriage"
From Australia, "Possibly the Most Beautiful Ad for Marriage Equality"
Lanae Erickson on Taking a Lesson from Down Under
The (Same-Love) Dance Goes On

Opening image: An outline of Australia with both the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Rainbow Flag.