Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘shame

lies we tell pregnant women

“When we tell women that sex isn’t worth the risk during pregnancy, what we’re telling her is that her sexual pleasure doesn’t matter … that she in fact doesn’t matter,” says sex researcher Sofia Jawed-Wessel.

In this eye-opening talk, Jawed-Wessel mines our views about pregnancy and pleasure to lay bare the relationship between women, sex and systems of power.

Sofia Jawed-Wessel. Sex researcher

Sofia Jawed-Wessel’s teachings utilize a sex-positive and pleasure-inclusive approach to providing medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education. Full bio

Filmed Oct. 2016

We’re going to share a lot of secrets today, you and I, and in doing so, I hope that we can lift some of the shame many of us feel about sex.

0:21 How many here have ever been catcalled by a stranger? Lots of women. For me, the time I remember best is when that stranger was a student of mine. He came up to me after class that night and his words confirmed what I already knew:

“I am so sorry, professor. If I had known it was you, I would never have said those things.”

 I wasn’t a person to him until I was his professor.

This concept, called objectification, is the foundation of sexism, and we see it reinforced through every aspect of our lives. We see it in the government that refuses to punish men for raping women.

We see it in advertisements. How many of you have seen an advertisement that uses a woman’s breast to sell an entirely unrelated product?

Or movie after movie after movie that portrays women as only love interests? These examples might seem inconsequential and harmless, but they’re insidious, slowly building into a culture that refuses to see women as people.

We see this in the school that sends home a 10-year-old girl because her clothes were a distraction to boys trying to learn, or the government that refuses to punish men for raping women over and over, or the woman who is killed because she asked a man to stop grinding on her on the dance floor.

Media plays a large role in perpetuating the objectification of women.

Let’s consider the classic romantic comedy. We’re typically introduced to two kinds of women in these movies, two kinds of desirable women, anyway.

The first is the sexy bombshell. This is the unbelievably gorgeous woman with the perfect body. Our leading man has no trouble identifying her and even less trouble having sex with her.

The second is our leading lady, the beautiful but demure woman our leading man falls in love with despite not noticing her at first or not liking her if he did. The first is the slut. She is to be consumed and forgotten. She is much too available. The second is desirable but modest, and therefore worthy of our leading man’s future babies. Marriage material. We’re actually told that women have two roles, but these two roles have a difficult time existing within the same woman.

 On the rare occasion that I share with a new acquaintance that I study sex, if they don’t end the conversation right then, they’re usually pretty intrigued.

 “Oh. Tell me more.”

3:20 So I do.

“I’m really interested in studying the sexual behaviors of pregnant and postpartum couples.” At this point I get a different kind of response.

“Oh. Huh. Do pregnant people even have sex? Have you thought about studying sexual desire or orgasms? That would be interesting, and sexy.”

Tell me. What are the first words that come to mind when you picture a pregnant woman?

I asked this question in a survey of over 500 adults, and most responded with “belly” or “round” and “cute.” This didn’t surprise me too much. What else do we label as cute? Babies. Puppies. Kittens. The elderly. Right?

When we label an adult as cute, though, we take away a lot of their intelligence, their complexity. We reduce them to childlike qualities.

I also asked heterosexual men to imagine a woman that they’re partnered with is pregnant, and then asked women to imagine that they are pregnant, and then tell me the first words that come to mind when they imagine having sex.

Most of the responses were negative. “Gross.” “Awkward.” “Not sexy.” “Odd.” “Uncomfortable.” “How?”  “Not worth the trouble.” “Not worth the risk.”

4:57 That last one really stuck with me. We might think that because we divorce pregnant women and moms from sexuality, we are removing the constraints of sexual objectification. They experience less sexism. Right? Not exactly.

What happens instead is a different kind of objectification. In my efforts to explain this to others, one conversation led to the Venus of Willendorf, a Paleolithic figurine scholars assumed was a goddess of love and beauty, hence the name Venus.

This theory was later revised, though, when scholars noted the sculptor’s obvious focus on the figurine’s reproductive features: large breasts, considered ideal for nursing; a round, possibly pregnant belly; the remnants of red dye, alluding to menstruation or birth.

They also assumed that she was meant to be held or placed lying down because her tiny feet don’t allow her to be freestanding. She also had no face. For this reason, it was assumed that she was a representation of fertility and not a portrait of a person. She was an object. In the history of her interpretation, she went from object of ideal beauty and love to object of reproduction.

I think this transition speaks more about the scholars who have interpreted her purpose than the actual purpose of the figurine herself. When a woman becomes pregnant, she leaves the realm of men’s sexual desire and slides into her reproductive and child-rearing role. In doing so, she also becomes the property of the community, considered very important but only because she’s pregnant. Right? I’ve taken to calling this the Willendorf effect, and once again we see it reinforced in many aspects of her life.

Has anyone here ever been visibly pregnant?

Yeah. Lots of you, right? So how many of you ever had a stranger touch your belly during pregnancy, maybe without even asking your permission first?

Or told what you can and cannot eat by somebody who is not your doctor, your medical care provider?

Or asked private questions about your birth plan? And then told why those choices are all wrong? Yeah, me too. Or had a server refuse to bring you a glass of wine?

This one might give you pause, I know, but stay with me. This is a huge secret. It is actually safe to drink in moderation during pregnancy. Many of us don’t know this because doctors don’t trust pregnant women with this secret —  especially if she’s less educated or a woman of color.

7:52 What this tells us is, this Willendorf effect, it’s also classist and racist. It’s present when the government reminds women with every new anti-choice bill that the contents of her uterus are not her own, or when an ob-gyn says, “While it’s safe to have sex during pregnancy, sometimes you never know. Better safe than sorry, right?”

She’s denied basic privacy and bodily autonomy under the guise of “be a good mother.” We don’t trust her to make her own decisions. She’s cute, remember? When we tell women that sexual pleasure — excuse me.

 When we tell women that sex isn’t worth the risk during pregnancy, what we’re telling her is that her sexual pleasure doesn’t matter. So what we are telling her is that she in fact doesn’t matter, even though the needs of her fetus are not at odds with her own needs.

8:56 So medical providers, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have the opportunity to educate about the safety of sex during pregnancy. So what do the experts say?

ACOG actually has no public official statement about the safety of sex during pregnancy. Guidance from the Mayo Clinic is generally positive but presented with a caveat: “Although most women can safely have sex throughout pregnancy, sometimes it’s best to be cautious.”

Some women don’t want to have sex during pregnancy, and that’s OK. Some women do want to have sex during pregnancy, and that’s OK, too. What needs to stop is society telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

Pregnant women are not faceless, identity-less vessels of reproduction who can’t stand on their own two feet. But the truth is, the real secret is, we tell all women that their sexual pleasure doesn’t matter. We refuse to even acknowledge that women who have sex with women or women who don’t want children even exist.

10:07 “Oh, it’s just a phase …  she just needs the right man to come along.”

Every time a woman has sex simply because it feels good, it is revolutionary. She is revolutionary. She is pushing back against society’s insistence that she exist simply for men’s pleasure or for reproduction. A woman who prioritizes her sexual needs is scary, because a woman who prioritizes her sexual needs prioritizes herself.

That is a woman demanding that she be treated as an equal. That is a woman who insists that you make room for her at the table of power, and that is the most terrifying of all because we can’t make room for her without some of us giving up the extra space we hold.

I have one last secret for you. I am the mother of two boys and we could use your help. Even though my boys hear me say regularly that it’s important for men to recognize women as equals and they see their father modeling this, we need what happens in the world to reinforce what happens in our home.

This is not a men’s problem or a women’s problem. This is everyone’s problem, and we all play a role in dismantling systems of inequality. For starters, we have got to stop telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

This includes not treating pregnant women like community property. If you don’t know her, don’t even ask to touch her belly. You wouldn’t anybody else.

Don’t tell her what she can and cannot eat.

Don’t ask her private details about her medical decisions. This also includes understanding that even if you are personally against abortion, you can still fight for a woman’s right to choose.

When it comes to women’s equality, the two need not oppose one another. If you’re somebody who has sex with women, prioritize her pleasure. If you don’t know how, ask.

If you have children have conversations about sex as early as possible, because kids don’t look up s-e-x in the dictionary anymore. They look it up on the internet. And when you’re having those conversations about sex, don’t center them on reproduction only. People have sex for many reasons, some because they want a baby, but most of us have sex because it feels good. Admit it.

And regardless of whether you have children or not, support comprehensive sex education that doesn’t shame our teenagers.

Nothing positive comes from shaming teens for their sexual desires, behaviors, other than positive STD and pregnancy tests.

13:17 Every single day, we are all given the opportunity to disrupt patterns of inequality. I think we can all agree that it’s worth the trouble to do so.

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.
“When we tell women that sex isn’t worth the risk during pregnancy, what we’re telling her is that her sexual pleasure doesn’t matter … that she in fact doesn’t matter,” says sex researcher Sofia Jawed-Wessel. In this eye-opening talk, Jawed-Wessel mines our views about pregnancy and pleasure to l…
ted.com

 

Getting weirder: Power of vulnerability?

I’ll start with this: a couple years ago, an event planner called me because I was going to do a speaking event.

She said, “I’m really struggling with how to write about you on the little flyer.” And I thought, “Well, what’s the struggle?” And she said, “Well, I saw you speak, and I’m going to call you a researcher, I think, but I’m afraid if I call you a researcher, no one will come, because they’ll think you’re boring and irrelevant.” (Laughter)

And I was like, “Okay.” And she said, “But the thing I liked about your talk is you’re a storyteller. So I think what I’ll do is just call you a storyteller.”

And of course, the academic, insecure part of me was like, “You’re going to call me a what?” And she said, “I’m going to call you a storyteller.”

And I was like, “Why not magic pixie?” (Laughter) I was like, “Let me think about this for a second.”

I tried to call deep on my courage. And I thought, you know, I am a storyteller. I’m a qualitative researcher.

I collect stories; that’s what I do. And maybe stories are just data with a soul.

And maybe I’m just a storyteller. And so I said, “You know what? Why don’t you just say I’m a researcher-storyteller.”

And she went, “Ha ha. There’s no such thing.” (Laughter) So I’m a researcher-storyteller, and I’m going to talk to you today — we’re talking about expanding perception and so I want to talk to you and tell some stories about a piece of my research that fundamentally expanded my perception and really actually changed the way that I live and love and work and parent.

And this is where my story starts. When I was a young researcher, doctoral student, my first year I had a research professor who said to us, “Here’s the thing, if you cannot measure it, it does not exist.”

And I thought he was just sweet-talking me. I was like, “Really?” and he was like, “Absolutely.” And so you have to understand that I have a bachelor’s in social work, a master’s in social work, and I was getting my Ph.D. in social work, so my entire academic career was surrounded by people who kind of believed in the “life’s messy, love it.”

And I’m more of the, “life’s messy, clean it up, organize it and put it into a bento box.” (Laughter)

And so to think that I had found my way, to found a career that takes me — really, one of the big sayings in social work is, “Lean into the discomfort of the work.”

And I’m like, knock discomfort upside the head and move it over and get all A’s. That was my mantra. So I was very excited about this. And so I thought, you know what, this is the career for me, because I am interested in some messy topics.

But I want to be able to make them not messy. I want to understand them. I want to hack into these things I know are important and lay the code out for everyone to see.

where I started was with connection.

Because, by the time you’re a social worker for 10 years, what you realize is that connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. This is what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter whether you talk to people who work in social justice, mental health and abuse and neglect, what we know is that connection, the ability to feel connected, is — neurobiologically that’s how we’re wired — it’s why we’re here.

So I thought, you know what, I’m going to start with connection. Well, you know that situation where you get an evaluation from your boss, and she tells you 37 things you do really awesome, and one “opportunity for growth?” (Laughter)

And all you can think about is that opportunity for growth, right? Well, apparently this is the way my work went as well, because, when you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak.

When you ask people about belonging, they’ll tell you their most excruciating experiences of being excluded.

And when you ask people about connection, the stories they told me were about disconnection.

About six weeks into this research — I ran into this unnamed thing that absolutely unraveled connection in a way that I didn’t understand or had never seen. And so I pulled back out of the research and thought, I need to figure out what this is. And it turned out to be shame. And shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection: Is there something about me that, if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?

The things I can tell you about it: it’s universal; we all have it.

The only people who don’t experience shame have no capacity for human empathy or connection. No one wants to talk about it, and the less you talk about it the more you have it.

What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” — which we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.” The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability, this idea of, in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.

you know how I feel about vulnerability. I hate vulnerability.

And so I thought, this is my chance to beat it back with my measuring stick. I’m going in, I’m going to figure this stuff out, I’m going to spend a year, I’m going to totally deconstruct shame, I’m going to understand how vulnerability works, and I’m going to outsmart it.

So I was ready, and I was really excited. As you know, it’s not going to turn out well. (Laughter) You know this.

I could tell you a lot about shame, but I’d have to borrow everyone else’s time. But here’s what I can tell you that it boils down to — and this may be one of the most important things that I’ve ever learned in the decade of doing this research.

My one year turned into six years: thousands of stories, hundreds of long interviews, focus groups. At one point, people were sending me journal pages and sending me their stories — thousands of pieces of data in six years. And I kind of got a handle on it.

I kind of understood, this is what shame is, this is how it works. I wrote a book, I published a theory, but something was not okay — and what it was is that, if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness that’s what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness — they have a strong sense of love and belonging — and folks who struggle for it, and folks who are always wondering if they’re good enough.

There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it.

They believe they’re worthy. And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better.

what I did is I took all of the interviews where I saw worthiness, where I saw people living that way, and just looked at those.

What do these people have in common? I have a slight office supply addiction, but that’s another talk. So I had a manila folder, and I had a Sharpie, and I was like, what am I going to call this research? And the first words that came to my mind were whole-hearted. These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness. So I wrote at the top of the manila folder, and I started looking at the data.

In fact, I did it first in a four-day very intensive data analysis, where I went back, pulled the interviews, the stories, pulled the incidents. What’s the theme? What’s the pattern? My husband left town with the kids because I always go into this Jackson Pollock crazy thing, where I’m just writing and in my researcher mode. And so here’s what I found. What they had in common was a sense of courage. And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute.

Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.

And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

9:38 The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.

10:42 I personally thought it was betrayal. I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research, where our job — you know, the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena, for the explicit reason to control and predict. And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown — (Laughter) — which actually looked more like this. (Laughter) And it did.

11:23 I call it a breakdown; my therapist calls it a spiritual awakening. (Laughter) A spiritual awakening sounds better than breakdown, but I assure you it was a breakdown. And I had to put my data away and go find a therapist. Let me tell you something: you know who you are when you call your friends and say, “I think I need to see somebody.

Do you have any recommendations?” Because about five of my friends were like, “Woo, I wouldn’t want to be your therapist.” (Laughter) I was like, “What does that mean?” And they’re like, “I’m just saying, you know. Don’t bring your measuring stick.” (Laughter) I was like, “Okay.” So I found a therapist.

My first meeting with her, Diana — I brought in my list of the way the whole-hearted live, and I sat down. And she said, “How are you?” And I said, “I’m great. I’m okay.” She said, “What’s going on?” And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good. (Laughter) And so I said, “Here’s the thing, I’m struggling.” And she said, “What’s the struggle?” And I said, “Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.

And I think I have a problem, and I need some help.” And I said, “But here’s the thing: no family stuff, no childhood shit.” (Laughter) “I just need some strategies.” (Laughter) (Applause) Thank you. So she goes like this. (Laughter) And then I said, “It’s bad, right?” And she said, “It’s neither good nor bad.” (Laughter) “It just is what it is.” And I said, “Oh my God, this is going to suck.”

13:37 (Laughter)

13:40 And it did, and it didn’t. And it took about a year. And you know how there are people that, when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they surrender and walk into it.

A: that’s not me, and

B: I don’t even hang out with people like that. (Laughter) For me, it was a yearlong street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but probably won my life back.

And so then I went back into the research and spent the next couple of years really trying to understand what they, the whole-hearted, what choices they were making, and what are we doing with vulnerability. Why do we struggle with it so much? Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability? No.

So this is what I learned. We numb vulnerability — when we’re waiting for the call.

It was funny, I sent something out on Twitter and on Facebook that says, “How would you define vulnerability? What makes you feel vulnerable?” And within an hour and a half, I had 150 responses. Because I wanted to know what’s out there.

Having to ask my husband for help because I’m sick, and we’re newly married; initiating sex with my husband; initiating sex with my wife; being turned down; asking someone out; waiting for the doctor to call back; getting laid off; laying off people.

This is the world we live in. We live in a vulnerable world. And one of the ways we deal with it is we numb vulnerability.

I think there’s evidence — and it’s not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it’s a huge cause — We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.

The problem is — and I learned this from the research — that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these.

I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. (Laughter) I don’t want to feel these. And I know that’s knowing laughter. I hack into your lives for a living.

You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.

And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.

One of the things that I think we need to think about is why and how we numb. And it doesn’t just have to be addiction. The other thing we do is we make everything that’s uncertain certain.

Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty. I’m right, you’re wrong. Shut up. That’s it. Just certain.

The more afraid we are, the more vulnerable we are, the more afraid we are. This is what politics looks like today. There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame. You know how blame is described in the research? A way to discharge pain and discomfort. We perfect.

If there’s anyone who wants their life to look like this, it would be me, but it doesn’t work. Because what we do is we take fat from our butts and put it in our cheeks.  Which just, I hope in 100 years, people will look back and go, “Wow.”

17:51 And we perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect — make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh.” That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” That’s our job.

Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think that we see today. We pretend that what we do doesn’t have an effect on people. We do that in our personal lives. We do that corporate — whether it’s a bailout, an oil spill, a recall — we pretend like what we’re doing doesn’t have a huge impact on other people. I would say to companies, this is not our first rodeo, people. We just need you to be authentic and real and say, “We’re sorry. We’ll fix it.”

19:00 But there’s another way, and I’ll leave you with this. This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering,

“Can I love you this much?

Can I believe in this passionately?

Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.”

And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough.

Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

Patsy Z shared this link. TED. 23 hrs ·

“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”

t.ted.com|By Brené Brown

“I feel ashamed of being a European” the way immigrants are treated

Le maire de Palerme :

« J’ai honte d’être européen, quand on voit le sort qui est fait aux migrants »

Entretien (interview) avec Leoluca Orlando, maire de Palerme, dont la ville est l’une des principales portes d’entrée de l’Europe pour les migrants africains.

Leoluca Orlando, membre du parti Rivoluzione civile (centre-gauche), maire de Palerme à trois reprises (1980-1985, 1993-2000 et depuis 2013), est l’un des principaux personnages de la sphère politique sicilienne.

Député à plusieurs reprises au Parlement italien, puis européen, il s’est fait remarquer dans les années 2000 pour son engagement dans la lutte contre la mafia.

Aujourd’hui, alors que la Sicile est l’une des principales portes d’entrée des migrants en Europe, il a fait de leur cause son nouveau cheval de bataille. Il sera à paris, mercredi 12 octobre, pour participer au colloque de rentrée du Collège de France sur le thème « Migrations, réfugiés, exil ».

Lire aussi :   Medhanie l’Erythréen est-il un redoutable passeur ou un migrant pris dans une erreur judiciaire ?

Quel regard portez-vous sur l’intégration des migrants à la société palermitaine ?

Leoluca Orlando J’estime et j’affirme que tous les résidents de la ville de Palerme sont Palermitains. Il n’y a pas de différence entre les Palermitains qui sont nés à Palerme et ceux qui y arrivent, et c’est pour ça qu’il faudrait abolir le permis de séjour. Ce permis de séjour est la peine de mort de notre temps, c’est une nouvelle forme d’esclavage pour les gens qui arrivent.

Je suis convaincu que la mobilité internationale est un droit humain. Une personne ne peut pas mourir car un pays refuse de l’accueillir. C’est pour cette raison que nous avons adopté la Charte de Palerme et que nous avons créé le Conseil de la culture, qui est le seul dans le monde à représenter les migrants politiquement. Les membres de ce conseil sont démocratiquement élus par les migrants, ils sont 21 membres, dont 9 femmes. Je ne crois pas qu’on puisse parler de ces proportions au Parlement français, ni au Parlement italien !

Estimez-vous que l’Europe en fait assez pour les migrants ?

Non. Nous n’avons pas d’autre alternative que d’accueillir les migrants. Les gens qui me disent « Vous êtes fou ! », je leur réponds : « Non, je ne suis pas fou, je pense au futur ! »

Beaucoup de Palermitains vous reprochent votre engagement vis-à-vis des migrants et réclament des actions concrètes contre le fort taux de chômage de la ville. Que leur répondez-vous ?

Il n’y a pas d’intolérance et de racisme à Palerme, et vous ne me le ferez pas dire. Nous avons un problème économique, certes, mais comme partout. C’est un problème pour les Palermitains comme pour les gens qui viennent d’ailleurs. Je crois que la grande puissance de l’expérience palermitaine est que tout le monde a le même problème, tout le monde est logé à la même enseigne.

Ballaro, un quartier de Palerme, est souvent montré comme un exemple de cette mixité sociale dont la ville se réclame.

Ballaro, c’est l’endroit où des marchands issus de l’immigration ont fait arrêter des mafiosi palermitains. Voilà. (Rires). Est-il possible ensuite de parler contre les migrants ? Je ne crois pas. C’est un bon exemple, cela signifie que les personnes migrantes qui vivent à Palerme pensent que cette ville est leur ville. Et quand on fait partie d’une ville, on va la défendre. L’accueil est la plus puissante arme pour la sécurité. Par exemple, je dialogue avec la communauté musulmane pour intégrer au mieux les plus radicaux qui arrivent dans la ville.

Les musulmans qui vivent en banlieue parisienne parlent-ils avec leur maire ? Est-ce qu’il les intègre dans une représentation politique ? C’est la marginalisation, l’ostracisme, qui sont un problème. Chaque fois que les gens sont tentés de faire une distinction entre les migrants et les Palermitains, je leur réponds qu’il faut garder à l’esprit que les migrants ne votent pas. Nous sommes dans une dimension utilitariste de ces gens, il faut que la politique européenne comprenne que cet utilitarisme est en contradiction totale avec le respect des droits humains.

Vous pensez que les migrants devraient voter ?

Ce n’est pas encore possible aujourd’hui. Mais oui, j’ai espoir qu’un jour, toutes les personnes qui vivent en Italie, de nationalité italienne ou non, puissent voter et participer à la vie démocratique de ce pays. Mon premier acte en tant que maire a été de déclarer citoyens honoraires tous les habitants de Palerme. Tous, pas seulement le dalaï-lama, pas seulement le roi Juan Carlos… mais tous les résidents, italiens ou non.

Mais Ballaro, par exemple, c’est aussi le repaire d’une nouvelle mafia nigériane…

Oui, et c’est la preuve qu’il n’y a pas de différence entre les Palermitains et les Nigérians ! Il y a des Nigérians mafiosi, il y a des Nigérians bons citoyens. C’est pareil pour les Palermitains. Il ne serait pas normal de n’avoir que des Nigérians bons citoyens, et que des Palermitains criminels (rires). La grande chance de Palerme est sa normalité. Palerme est devenue une ville normale, sans sa mesquinerie politique d’autrefois.

Qu’est-ce qui manque pour que l’accueil des migrants soit efficace ?

Il manque la normalité des migrations, partout. Palerme est une ville migrante : il est possible d’y voir des monuments arabes, français, baroques, espagnols… Il y a quelque temps, des journaux anglais et allemand ont écrit : « En pensant à Palerme, l’Europe devrait avoir honte. »

Aujourd’hui, je dis que j’ai honte d’être européen, quand on voit le sort qui est fait aux migrants. Je suis européen mais, dans les valeurs migratoires, je suis surtout palermitain. Nous sommes responsables d’un génocide en mer Méditerranée. Nos petits-fils nous diront qu’on a tué des milliers de personnes. Et nous ne pourrons pas dire que l’on ne savait pas.

Vous sentez-vous plus palermitain qu’européen ?

C’est parce que je suis fier d’être européen que je me permets de mal parler de l’Europe quand elle fait des erreurs. Mon premier ennemi est celui qui a la même identité que moi. Mon ennemi, ce n’est pas l’imam rigoriste qui soutient les terroristes, mon ennemi, avant lui, c’est le cardinal catholique qui soutient les mafiosi.

Quel regard portez-vous sur l’accueil des migrants en France ?

Aujourd’hui, en France, les migrants ne pensent pas avoir trouvé leur nouvelle maison. Il y a un vrai problème, car, si je ne pense pas être chez moi, pourquoi me lèverai-je pour défendre une maison qui n’est pas la mienne ?

Je ne défends pas la maison où je pense qu’il ne m’est pas possible de vivre, je ne défends pas la maison de mon ennemi. Je pense que c’est la situation dans laquelle est bloquée la France. Je ne comprends pas pourquoi la France a changé.

Parlez mal de Palerme, de sa mafia, mais en même temps, s’il vous plaît, parlez mal de la France ! Une Europe des droits ne peut pas exister sans la France, il faut que la France change de position sur les migrants.

Nous vivons dans un temps qu’on appelle la globalisation, avec une mobilité financière, une mobilité industrielle, une mobilité économique…

Mais comment peut-on penser pouvoir vivre dans un monde qu’on dit globalisé sans une mobilité des êtres humains ?

Les migrants ont donné un visage à la globalisation, parfois tristes, parfois heureux, mais ils ont donné un visage. Avant, la globalisation était égoïste, financière. Aujourd’hui, il faut remercier les migrants pour avoir donné un visage à cette globalisation.

Beaucoup de personnalités appellent à une coopération plus importante entre les pays européens d’accueil des migrants et les pays d’Afrique d’où ils partent. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

En tant que maire de Palerme, j’ai beaucoup de relations avec les maires africains. Fin septembre, j’ai signé un nouveau jumelage avec Grand-Bassam, en Côte d’Ivoire. Nous avons des relations avec des maires libyens, des maires tunisiens, marocains…

Je crois qu’il est nécessaire d’aider ces maires et ces pays, de les aider pour permettre à leurs habitants de participer au développement de leur pays sans avoir besoin de venir en Europe.

Les migrations ne sont pas un problème sicilien, il est tragique qu’on pense comme cela aujourd’hui. C’est un problème européen, c’est un problème mondial.

Comment voyez-vous la Sicile dans dix ans ?

Est-ce que cela sera un problème s’il y a plus d’Italiens d’origine africaine que de natifs italiens ? Non. Est-ce que cela sera un problème si quelqu’un peut dire un jour : « La majorité des Palermitains ne sont pas nés à Palerme » ? Non. Palerme est une ville migrante. Nous sommes une ville multiculturelle, comme Beyrouth, comme Istanbul.

If you need to explain, just proceed with the change

Clarity vs. impact

Sometimes you can have both, but being crystal clear about categorization, topic sentences and the deliverable get in the way of actually making an impact.

If you can make change with a memo containing three bullet points, then by all means, do so.

The rest of the time, you might have to sacrifice the easy ride of clarity for the dense fog of telling stories, using inferences, understanding worldviews and most of all, engaging in action, not outlining the details. of a hypothetical interaction.

It turns out, humans don’t use explanations to make change happen. They change, and then try to explain it.

(So, whatever it takes to make an impact by action changing processes is far better than focusing on an exhaustive explanation discourse?)

Vulnerability, shame, guilt, regret, introvert…All in one session of discussion

I attended the weekly TEDxSKE salon in Awkar (Lebanon) and Patsy showed 3 TED speakers on various topics such as vulnerability, shame, gilt, regret, introvert, extrovert, ambivert or “neutralvert”, memoriless conditions…and I was very outspoken.

Topic One: On Regret

Is there many kinds of regrets?  Are the difference in magnitude or there are qualitative types of regrets?

The woman speaker started with a personal type of regret

At the age of 29, she decided to have a tattoo, a compass design on her upper left arm, on the premise that she already knew her north direction (what she waned in life…). After the tattoo session she broke down and started weeping and she could not sleep the night recollecting the event and going through the 3 phases of denial, recognizing that the tattoo could no longer be removed, and wondering what went wrong with her for this late decision…

Question: Do you think this kind of regret is a good way to start a long talk on regret?

Do you think if we listened to a mother who lost a child at a very young age, and she regrets her kid that the talk could be very different? Or the talk will be mostly of the feeling of shame that she was not at the level of expectation of the community for a mature mother?

Do you think that if you had a passion as a kid, and you started working on this passion and you failed, that this regret would set the stage for a different talk on regret? Anyway, is any of our passions not a recollection of passions we had as kids? Could we acquire a passion as adult if the source was not from our childhood memory?

So often you hear this statement: “I regret that I never had a passion in life...” Does this saying has any value? How can you regret something you never felt? Or maybe you knew a certain passion but felt it would sound shameful that other know about it, and much less to act on the passion?

I regret that no a single member of my family, or extended family was a public artists. I don’t remember anyone singing or daring to sing in public, or dance, or act in a play, or play the clown, or play music, or discuss freely in any topic…

Not a single member projected this daring sensation: “I dared. I am daring. I dare you to try…”  Is it possible in such condition that I could have ever learned to be sociable and feel endowed with this entitlement of negotiating with “authority figures”? I tried my best, and I failed, and I am ready to try again under appropriate cultural circumstances…

I tended during the talk not to believe that the speaker was serious or the talk is going to be of any value…

Topic Two: On Shame and vulnerability

What’s the difference between shame and guilt?  Is it the difference between “I am a mistake” and “I did make a mistake”?

Brené Brown studied vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior.  Brown explored what can happen when people confront their shame head-on.

A man approached Brown and asked her: “How come I constantly feel vulnerable in front of my wife, and not thinking that I am a good enough provider?”  Brown replied: “My Ph.D. research focused on women. I have no answer for you…”  And I wonder: “If the research was not interested in the various interactions between genders, the research must be a boring and monotonous descriptive study:  The real and rich story is based on interactions...”

Actually, the main thing I retained from this exciting talk is the question of the man.  The rest seems vague and not that memorable. Still, Brown is a great talker and she managed the feat of how to make a riveting speech on “How often the terms vulnerability, guilt, and shame could be repeated to cover a 15-minute speech…?

Topic three: On Introvert and Extrovert

During the session, we were handed out a sheet of 29 questions with True or False answers, which was supposed to discriminate among the Introverts, the Extroverts, and the Ambivert.  For example, if you answered True on 16 questions and over you are an introvert, if over 16 falses you are an extorvert, otherwise you are an ambivert.

I liked the questionnaire, though Q27 didn’t make sense:”I don’t think of acquaintances as close friends“.  Is this question makes sense to you?

Or Q 7: “I tend to notice details many people don’t see”. Are designers, particularly artistic designers supposed to be invariable extroverts or introverts?

In my view, an ambivert or neutralvert is a very confused person, an intelligent person who never had the courage to invest enough time to reflect on “who he is”, his limitations, capabilities, passions, emotions…

I can completely comprehend an introvert: this is a very normal person. 

I cannot fathom how an extrovert can be or behave: He must be a nutcase at the very end of the tail, a person whom a brain surgeons in the 30’s would have lobotomized

Susan Cain talked of introvert people and how she managed to spend her girl scout summer camp…I let Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test tell part of my impression:

“When you’re at a party, do you suddenly feel the desperate urge to escape somewhere quiet such as a toilet cubicle and just sit there? Until I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet, I thought it was just me. I’d see other partygoers grow increasingly effervescent as the night wore on and wonder why I felt so compelled to go home.

I put it down to perhaps there not being enough iron in my diet. But it’s not just me. It’s a trait shared by introverts the world over. We feel this way because our brains are sensitive to overstimulation. I am genuinely astonished by this news.

In fact, I read much of Susan Cain’s book shaking my head in wonder and thinking: “So that’s why I’m like that! It’s because I’m an introvert! Now it’s fine for me to turn down party invitations. I never have to go to another party again!

Cain is an introvert.

Susan wrote: “It has always been private occasions that make me feel connected to the joys and sorrows of the world, often in the form of communication with writers and musicians I’ll never meet in person”.  She argues the current (western world) excessively and misguidedly respects extroverts: We make them our bosses and our political leaders. We foolishly admire their self-help books, such as How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Before the industrial revolution American self-help books extolled character. Nowadays it’s all about personality.

We introverts attempt to emulate extroverts, and the stress of not being “true to ourselves” can make us physically and mentally ill. One introvert that Cain knew spent so much of his adult life trying to adhere to the extrovert ideal he ended up catching double pneumonia. This would have been avoided if he’d spent time recharging his batteries in toilet cubicles, and so on.

At the Harvard Business School, socializing is “an extreme sport”. Extroverts are more likely to get book deals and art exhibitions than their introverted counterparts. Cain had to persuade a publisher she could conquer her stage fright and promote herself at book festivals before they agreed to take her on.

In America, extroverted parents have been known to send their introverted children to psychiatrists to have their introversion kids “treated” out of them. We think extroverts are great because they’re charismatic and chatty and self-assured, but in fact they’re comparatively narcissistic and unthoughtful and we’re committing a grave error structuring our society around their garrulous blah.

Most egregiously, we form our workplaces around the extrovert ideal.

I like Cain’s nightmare descriptions of open-plan offices where group brainstorming sessions descend on the startled introvert like flash-storms. Group-think favors the dominant extrovert. The loudest, most socially confident and quickest on their feet win the day, whereas the contemplative and quietly well-informed tend not to get a word in. School classrooms are increasingly designed to reflect this flawed environment.

Children sit in pods facing each other and are rewarded for being outgoing rather than original. “You Can’t Ask a Teacher for Help, Unless Everyone in Your Group Has the Same Question” read a sign in one New York classroom she visited. All this even though Gandhi and Rosa Parks and Steve Wozniak and JK Rowling and Eleanor Roosevelt have described themselves as introverts, at their best when solitary.

I finished Quiet a month ago and I can’t get it out of my head. It is in many ways an important book – so persuasive and timely and heartfelt it should inevitably effect change in schools and offices.

It’s also a genius idea to write a book that tells introverts – a vast proportion of the reading public – how awesome and undervalued we are.

I’m thrilled to discover that some of the personality traits I had found shameful are actually indicators that I’m amazing. It’s a Female Eunuch for anxious nerds. I’m not surprised it shot straight to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.

Cain says introverts are “especially empatic”. We think in an “unusually complex fashion”. We prefer discussing “values and morality” to small talk about the weather. We “desire peace”. We’re “modest”. The introvert child is an “orchid – who wilts easily”, is prone to “depression, anxiety and shyness, but under the right conditions can grow strong and magnificent”.

When I get to this part I think: Yes! We are like orchids! With good parenting we can become “exceedingly kind, conscientious and successful at the things that matter to us”.

Then I feel embarrassed that I derived pleasure from being compared to an orchid and I realise that sometimes Cain succumbs to the kind of narcissistic rhetoric she eschews in extroverts.

Still, Cain’s suggestions on how to redress the balance and make the world a bit more introvert-friendly are charmingly cautious. She argues that the way forward is to create offices that have open-plan bits for the extroverts and nooks and crannies where the quiet people can be quiet. A bit like the Pixar offices.

In this, Cain reminds me of the similarly measured Jonathan Safran Foer, whose anti-meat lectures climax in a suggestion that we should try if possible to eat one or two vegetarian meals a week. Give me this kind of considered good sense over showy radical polemics any day.

But sometimes Cain’s brilliant ideas aren’t written quite so brilliantly. Her book can be a bit of a slog, not always a page turner. I wish she’d spent a bit more time adventuring and a bit less time analyzing and philosophizing and citing vast armies of psychologists.

I love feeling Cain’s pain when she journeys out of her comfort zone to “life coaching” conventions. But those adventures vanish as the book wears on, and it starts to drag on a little, especially during the many chapters about how brain scans seem to demonstrate neurological differences between extroverts and introverts.

I don’t know why popular psychology books feel so compelled these days to cite endless fMRI studies. As any neurologist will tell you, we still have very little idea about why certain bits of our brains light up under various circumstances.

And there’s a bigger nagging thought I couldn’t shake throughout the book. It began during the preface, in which Cain prints an “Are You an Introvert?” checklist. She lists 20 statements.

The more we answer “true” the more introverted we are: “I often let calls go through to voice mail. I do my best work on my own. I don’t enjoy multitasking. I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame and status …” At the bottom of the quiz she mentions: “If you found yourself with a roughly equal number of true and false answers, then you may be an ambivert – yes, there really is such a word.”

I do the test.

I answer “true” to exactly half the questions. Even though I’m in many ways a textbook introvert (my crushing need for “restorative niches” such as toilet cubicles is eerie) I’m actually an ambivert. I do the test on my wife. She answers true to exactly half the questions too. We’re both ambiverts. Then I do the test on my son. I don’t get to the end because to every question – “I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities. I enjoy solitude …” – he replies: “Sometimes. It depends.” So he’s also an ambivert.

In the Ronson household we’re 100% ambivert. We ambiverts don’t get another mention in the book. Even for a writer like Cain, who is mostly admirably unafraid of grey areas, we ambiverts are too grey.

Cain’s thesis – built on the assumption that almost everyone in the world can be squeezed into one of two boxes – may topple if it turns out that loads of us are essentially ambiverts. I suspect there are a lot of ambiverts out there.” End of quote


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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