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Multivariable Musings On Loving Men...

By Sheldon Gay on February 18, 2024

Sheldon Gay hosts I Must Be BUG'N, a podcast aimed at humanizing the Black gifted and neurodivergent experience. Through relatable stories, he shifts focus from deficiency to difference and creates safe spaces for all, especially underrepresented groups. Leveraging his expertise and lived experience, he also builds inclusive software and mentors STEM students.



Multivariable Musings On Loving Men...



TLDR: I humbly acknowledge my privilege within this patriarchal system while also offering an opportunity to investigate how we might widen the door of escape from it. To do that, we must create awareness and safety for men interested and willing to do the work in ways that aren't always obvious. We must also provide awareness and support for women to broaden their beliefs that sometimes create self-sabotaging loops.


(I truly hope you read further to understand what I mean about that last line)



I know I can never speak personally to the experience of being a woman. I can only listen, learn, and do my best to empathize.


I feel stuck in this place where I acknowledge the very real dangers men represent in the world while looking in the mirror and mostly seeing vestiges and phenotypes - and yet, something that I believe is well down the road - away from such a place. In some spaces it can be challenging.


For example, one of the things I had to make peace with is my experience of walking down the street and watching women look away or demonstrate fear when they see me. As a Black man, I spend most of my time navigating a world that's afraid of me. In white spaces, much of that is based on irrational and racist beliefs. I bring that weight wherever I go. I've learned to turn-up my generally peaceful nature to make others comfortable, especially in white spaces. Should I be trying to smile and nod respectfully at women and they were disgusted or terrified of "ME"? I ask that rhetorically but it did hit a nerve. It took time to realize it wasn't personal or anything that I was necessarily doing. It was about the very real dangers and risks of harassment women face daily, even in seemingly safe or innocuous spaces. I'm now mindful of altering my pace, spacing, or direction to help women feel more safe as I cross their path. Some may never notice but what's more important to me is that I created awareness around the nexus of my trauma and theirs and found something that felt better. I'm realizing many men haven't done this work and, therefore, remain entrapped somewhere in the web of it all.



This fear of maleness that they inspire estranges men from every female in their lives to greater or lesser degrees, and men feel the loss. Ultimately, one of the emotional costs of allegiance to patriarchy is to be seen as unworthy of trust. -bell hooks



To be clear, being raised and living in a white-supremacist, imperialist, heteronormative (and ableist) patriarchy means I'll never be perfect. I sincerely compel anyone to help me to see where I'm off my square.


Let's have that discussion.


Having said that, it seems like a man's perspective on the challenges of being in relationship might be helpful or at least worthy of opening discussion. All this reminded me of an article I wrote a couple of years ago that I think does a good job of expressing something that's difficult to say out loud. I'm hoping this space is safe and open enough to share it here. In retrospect, I think the gifted parts of me that don't have an outlet or a place to be celebrated outside of a classroom are at the root of my wound. That is, I personally feel the emptiness more because my depth and capacity is greater than most.


Here's a link to the article. Thanks for letting me share.




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