I’ve wanted to write this piece for a while. In the past few months we’ve weathered a number of deplorable, violent, commendable and inspirational social media-storms. As an outspoken fellah, I’ve been asking myself lately, where and how I fit into these debates.
I am a biracial, visible minority. I’ve been quite poor in my lifetime, miserably poor. I watched my parents struggle with each other, and more so with a world that—at the time—did not approve of their love. I’m married to a Métis amputee. I’ve been discriminated against because of my skin color, my social status, my sexuality. I’ve been forced to question my masculinity, my body, my behavior and my emotions. Despite being a mature, physically fit and able male, I’ve once been trapped in a sexually violent situation. (No, I do not need to talk about it with the public. Nor do I consider myself a victim—I hate that mentality and all that it encompasses.) Between myself and those that I love, I’d say that I’ve been blessed to have experienced a full spectrum of marginalization and trauma. That’s my résumé. Those are the experiences that make me “qualified” to speak as on these topics that I often do. Not that qualifications and a history with marginalization should be a requirement for speaking of and engaging oneself in social issues. Everyone needs to talk about the “isms”. That’s how the power of hate is dispelled. And yet, in this world where various groups scream to be heard above the noise of each other, people still find time to judge, to enforce further isms—the negative ones—and rules about who and how we are to address the social constructs of our world.
Now some camps, and believe me all of the isms have camps, would preclude me from speaking out against inequality because I do not neatly fit into the mould of their ideal advocate. A sweetly confused person once implied that I was a misogynist. That comes with the territory of being a man who involves himself, openly, in social issues. And it’s the sort of finger-wagging, exclusionary and excessive “trigger warning” reflex that tends to do more harm than good. Believe it or not, issues are not resolved by not talking about them. The darkest acts of human kind lack real impact and meaning when we dress them up and water them down for consumption. We need to fear things and to feel horror. Sometimes that seems to be the only way to get people to come out of their bubbles and actually engage in an issue. Newsflash: marginalization is not changed without involving in the dialog the group who are responsible for the marginalizing. Rocket science, eh? In a first world county, where we have a basis for ethics, law and science, some of the arguments and sensitivities being shown from groups both marginalizing and standing against marginalization are frighteningly similar.
How many types of feminism do we have, for example? Wikipedia says twenty. Yes, that’s correct. TWENTY. Holy shit. No wonder the movement has all the impetus of a 100 year old man wiping his arse when there seems to be no unified opinion on how the movement should proceed. Oh, wait, there is one. We have an ethical thread that weaves its way through any social construct made to battle marginalization. We have rights, laws and legal freedoms for which we are fighting. I may not be making any new friends by saying this, but the rest is mostly I-don’t-like-what-you-like and ego-feeding narcissism.
A test. Which image do you find offensive? A, B, neither or both?
Liberal feminists might like ladies in image A, since the women are reclaiming and embracing their curvaceous bodies. Socialist/ Marxist feminists would probably lambast image A since the models are evocative of traditional, over-glamorized, over-sexualized women. Image B, the “Mancandy”, I’m sure both groups would like, even if they did not say so out loud. Oh, and guess what? That’s a hyper-sexualized and gender conforming stereotypical male image, by the way. Correct answer to the quiz: there isn’t one, and we’re amazingly blind to how hypocritical we can be.
Stop fighting about the small stuff, the cosmetic and harder-to-change behavioral stuff before you figure out the goddam basics. I’m talking about the big problems: wages, equality, rights, freedom to choose.
These building blocks toward equality are being laid in some of the most religiously entrenched, developing countries, in regions of the world where the treatment of women and minorities is every shade of appalling. Yet we seem to have moved past the important stuff and onto other debates. Exemplifying these blinders, we can look toward Patricia Arquette’s well meaning, but unrefined, roast of women’s wages, which possessed a tone-deaf insinuation that gay rights and racial equality have in some way been achieved. I don’t know where Patty lives, though I’d like a ticket to that Utopia. Obviously I agree with Patricia’s base sentiment—equal pay for women. However, I do not agree in dropping the focus on the other marginalized groups that she mentioned in pursuit of this cause (Patricia later went on a Twitter binge and softened her point).
Debating whether Mary Sue is a true feminist or woman because she decides to stay at home with the kids is a circular and ridiculous argument. Does Mary Sue have access to the same medical care as her husband? (Or wife, if we want to be really progressive.) Are we sure that Mary Sue chose to become a housewife and wasn’t shackled to the stove in an act of Black Snake Moan weirdness? (Actually, that movie attempted to promote a strong, moralist message, although the imagery certainly did it no favors.) Does Mary Sue have higher insurance premiums because she is a woman living without an income? Can she vote? These are the more important questions to ask, and they are questions that we can measure with the yardstick of science and law. These are problems that we can resolve with our judicial systems. That’s assuming that people are rational, and we all know the answer to that. We’re not. We’re built with insecurities. We find comfort in packs, and we bring those insecurities with us. Not so secret tip: if we’re insecure, we usually bond with people that share the same faults as us—misery loves company. Wherein one of the biggest problems facing the anti-isms lies: creating silos, protecting what we know, evangelizing our cause, can come at the expense of fearing and reprimanding what is not within our chosen circle.
And we’re not just talking about feminism, either. Any of the “isms” have innumerable splinter factions. I’m a righteous feminist myself. I only chose that ism, since I’m familiar with it through my work, life and role models. At the start of this piece, I mentioned my background because I wanted to point out that I am not speaking from a position of traditional, white male power and influence. I’m not adopting a holier than thou humanist standpoint, which comes with certain perils. I think that diversity is important. Heck, I’m a product of diversity. Still, we can’t let our fight for inclusiveness force us to withdraw into unassailable fortresses of thought. At that point, we’ve put ourselves on the outside of an already outside margin. At that point, we’ve become no different, no less intractable than the hate we fight against.
Enough of it. Everyone pause and try and remember what you’re fighting for. Equality. Inclusiveness. An era when we’re not all such assholes. Don’t get me started on the incalculable mental energy human beings have wasted on #TheDress.
All my love,
P.S. Since we chatted about feminism, here’s a cool site to check out relating to women, their perception and their bodies and beauty. (18+. It’s not porn, but it is a celebration of women accepting their—beautiful, skinny, overweight, cancer-surviving—bodies. Expect nudity.)
P.S.S. A thank you to all of the brilliant minds behind the supporting links for this piece; each of those resources is worth a good read/ view.
Feast of Dreams
Four Feasts Till Darkness
Christian A. Brown
Genre: Fantasy Romance
As King Brutus licks his wounds and gathers new strength, two rival queens vow to destroy each other’s nations.
Lila of Eod, sliding into madness, risks everything in the search for a powerful relic, while Queen Gloriatrix threatens Eod with military might—including three monstrous technomagikal warships.
Far from this clash of queens, Morigan and the Wolf scour Alabion, hunting for the mad king’s hidden weakness. Their quest brings them face to face with their own pasts, their dark futures…and the Sisters Three themselves.
Unbeknownst to all, a third thread in Geadhain’s tapestry begins to move in the wastes of Mor’Khul. There, a father and son scavenge to survive as they travel south toward a new chapter in Geadhain history.
Available at Amazon Kindle and Paperback
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/rURqUni_lco
“Fine playing,” said Maggie.
The Silk Purse’s proprietor sat down at the table where the night’s entertainment fiddled with his lute’s strings. The bard glanced up and smiled at her with his eyes, although he kept on tinkering and tuning to the pitch of his voice. Maggie watched him for a spell. The man was mystifying. He was as distant as a dream one forgot and so far into himself, his music, or some secret obsession that she might as well have been elsewhere. He was certainly handsome, though, and in their short conversations today, he’d proven a capable and witty talker. She wanted a bit more of his talk.
“Will you be staying on another night?” she asked. “Before heading back to…”
She realized that in all their discussions, the man had never told her where he had come from—or where he was headed. Or much about himself at all. Even stranger, she couldn’t pin down how she’d made his acquaintance. Had he come knocking at the tavern door yesterday? Had he smiled a dashing hello with a lute over his back and a promise to play for coin? That seemed right.
“Would you like me to stay?” he asked suddenly.
He grinned from ear to ear and displayed his offer of companionship as confidently as the fox he reminded her of strutting around the henhouse and picking its prey. She could see him evaluating her body—her full breasts, strong hips, thick, wind-tossed hair, and comely face. She was as chipped and beautiful as a sculptor’s favorite piece. She wore her hardship plainly, but it had not dulled her beauty, and he seemed to appreciate her weathered self. As for the fox’s proposal, Maggie was a sensible self-made woman without need for a man. Once or maybe twice a year, she took one to her bed, but she never asked him to stay or even to break a morning fast with her. Whatever her hesitations, when the fox smiled—fiery and daring—she lit up and felt as warm as a woman sinking into a bath. A decision was made. A little outside of herself, she slid his hand over hers. She reinforced her agreement by standing up from the table and leading him past her tired staff as they cleaned up the night’s mess and rolled the drunks outside. The trip up the stairs and into her chambers was fuzzy. Suddenly, they were alone and kissing in the dark. He whispered of her beauty. “Like a cameo of Diasora,” he declared.
She wondered who Diasora was while he plucked his fingers upon and within her as though she were his lute. They tumbled into chairs, onto the carpet, and onto the bed. She wasn’t sure where they were half the time. She swallowed his hardness just as he ate and kissed the mouth between her thighs. Together they rolled and tumbled about in the dark and moaned in ecstasy. She rode him against the wall and swallowed his gasps as he spilled himself inside her. It was careless, and she should have known better. Apologetically and with a perverted grin, he cleaned out with his tongue what he had done, and passion carried her mind away again. Through the haze of their sex, she would remember his handsome smell—vanilla, subtle incense, and sweeter herbs such as marjoram. Sometimes he sang to her ears while playing the instrument of her body. She would most remember this—his passion and musicality.
When they finished, dawn had come. It cast its hard rays though the curtains and into their humid nest of sin. Maggie should have felt embarrassed or shamed even, but instead she snuggled into her lover’s taut flesh while he continued caressing her breasts. Milk drops, the bard called them, for their pendulous whiteness and succulence. She chuckled as he said it. She would have slapped any other man who made nicknames for portions of her anatomy.
“Where will you go?” she asked.
She knew this was a fleeting encounter. Men as artistic at loving as he were called to greater passions than women.
Alastair kissed her breast. “Well, I shall stay in Taroch’s Arm a while longer. I have another task to which I must attend. One more meeting after this.” He sighed and looked off with his multicolored stare to count the ceiling’s lines.
Maggie snuggled into him further until she realized what he’d admitted. “Wait! Meeting? Is that what this is? What is your aim?”
She leaped from the bed. Alastair went after her and backed her into a corner. He appeared stricken and white from regret. Rather brazenly, he kissed her so deeply she lost her breath. Although Maggie allowed it, she slapped him as soon as their lips parted. He grinned and rubbed his cheek. “What fire you have!” he said, adding sadly, “How much you remind me of a woman I once knew. Do understand. This is not how I had planned our parley. I am not ungrateful, though, for this turn of events. I would stay for a thousand kisses more if I could. However, my master is most demanding of my time.”
“Master?” she exclaimed.
“You are fortunate, Maggie. Most serve masters and destinies from which we cannot break. You have made so much of yourself without the hands of others. Despairingly, I must ask this of you. It’s a task you cannot refuse.”
I can, and I shall, she thought. No man, not even a roguish wanderer, could boss her around. Then the fox whispered a secret and those familiar names to her: Thackery, Caenith, Rowena, and Galivad. By the time he was done, she had no resolve to argue. She had only an unwanted urgency to pack, make quick arrangements for the Silk Purse’s managerial duties, and leave. She had no choice—not with so many lives at stake. While she busied herself about her apartment, the bard came to kiss her a final time, and they fell onto the bed. For all their grinding, they did not make love. Soon he stopped, studied her, and soaked in her beauty. Maggie closed her eyes. She would not watch him leave. When she was certain he had gone, she pulled her sturdiest boots from under her bed and put them on.
Four Feasts Till Darkness
Christian A. Brown
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Date of Publication: September 9, 2014
Number of pages: 540
Word Count: 212K
"Love is what binds us in brotherhood, blinds us from hate, and makes us soar with desire.”
Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her--visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.
With Morigan growing more powerful each day, the leaders of the realm soon realize that this young woman could hold the key to their destruction. Suddenly, Morigan finds herself beset by enemies, and she must master her mysterious gifts if she is to survive.
Feast of Fates, Excerpt #2 (533 Words)
Morigan took the bracelet.
“I accept your offering.” The Wolf’s face lit and she thought that he would leap at her. “Yet first, I have a request.”
“Anything, my Fawn.”
“I would like to see…what you are. The second body that shares your soul. Show me your fangs and claws,” she commanded.
Perhaps it was the steadiness of her voice, how she ordered him to bare himself as if he belonged to her, that made the Wolf’s heart roar to comply. He did not shed his skin but for the whitest moons of the year, and even then, so far from the city and never in front of another. In a sense, he was as much a virgin as she. With an unaccustomed shyness, he found himself undressing before the Fawn, confused for a speck as to who was the hunter. The flare of her nostrils, the intensity of her stare that ate at him for once.
I have chosen well for a mate. She is as much a Wolf as I, he thought, kicking off his boots and then shimmying his pants down to join the rest of his clothing. No bashful maiden was Morigan, and she did not look away from his nakedness, but appreciated what she saw: every rough, hairy, huge bit of him.
He howled and fell to all fours. Bones shifted and snapped, rearranging under his skin like skeletal gears. From his head, chest and loins, the soft black hair thickened and spread over his twisting flesh. His heaving became guttural and sloppy, and when he tossed his head up in a throe of agony or pleasure, his beard had coated his face, and she noticed nothing but white daggers of teeth. Wondrously Morigan witnessed the transformation, watched him swell with twice the muscle he had possessed as a man, saw his hands and feet shag over with fur and split the soil with black claws. Another howl and a final gristle-crunching shudder (his hindquarters snapping into place, she thought) signified the end of the change.
Her dreams did not do Caenith justice. Here was a beast twice the size of a mare with jaws that could swallow her to the waist. Here was a monster that had stalked and ruled the Untamed. A lord of fang and claw. The birds and weaker animals vanished, knowing a deadly might was near. Around her, the Wolf paced; making the ground tremble with power; ravishing her with his cold gray gaze; huffing and blasting her with his forceful breaths. While the scent of his musk was choking, it was undeniably Caenith’s, if rawer and unwashed.
Morigan was not afraid, and was flushed with heat and shaking as she slipped the bracelet on and knelt. She did not flinch as the Wolf lay behind and about her like a great snuffling rug and placed his boulder of a head in her lap. No, she stroked his long ears and his wrinkled snout. A maiden and her Wolf. Soon the birds returned, sensing this peace and chirping in praise of it. And neither Morigan nor the Wolf could recall a time—if ever there was one—where they had felt so complete.
Bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts Till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes a blog about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media. A lover of the weird and wonderful, Brown considers himself an eccentric with a talent for cat-whispering.