Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Last week at the local yacht club I got into a bit of an altercation with a local guy who fancies himself the self-appointed authority on the rights of men and defender of their honor and self-esteem. The culmination of this rather ridiculous non-event was his shouting at me as I walked away, "You're just a mangina!" My first reaction was to laugh and respond, "Thanks for the compliment!" 

Subsequently, I gave that term some thought over the weekend, looked it up - to some dismaying results - in The Urban Dictionary, and began thinking that the term was being defined rather terribly, but then I got a great quote from my friend Almond, regarding a re-definition of the term.

Mangina – an individual of the male species who embodies the spirit of equality and empowerment and assists in the effort to end violence against women and girls. Yeah Joe... I'm a Mangina and I'm proud to be among what seems to be fairly superior company. The next phase of this strange weekend occurred at the end of the week when Almond gave me this astonishing (and honestly quite undeserved) honor on the V-Day Petaluma Website. While I'm very happy to be the first ever honoree in this category for "Bobs" I've had a really hard time coming to terms with it, for I am much more in tune with my daughter's response to the article by the aforementioned "local authority" when she simply said, "hey buddy, this isn't about you." And there you have it... It isn't about me, or any of the other Manginas (or the anti-Manginas) out there. It's about the One Billion Women that this whole moment in time is about, the additional billions of all the women in the world (my daughter, my granddaughter, my sister, my nieces, my mother, my friends, my ex, my lovers, and the wonderful women whom I only know through their writings, art, actions, and presence, and the women that I will never know at all). I have always, as long as I can remember, been a feminist, because I have always been a humanist. Like other pieces of white male privilege, I tend even now, to lack the ability to fully register the difficulties, and the suffering of those who are deemed less. However, that being said, it's important for me to acknowledge that to my continued, and largely private, shame, I have added my voice to the screaming verbal violence that is easy to spew under ugly circumstances. I have seen a woman's (and even my daughter's) face look at me in fear and panic, and I am even guilty of physical violence that I wish to the Gods and Goddesses I could blot from my life and lift out of the records of the universe. I believe that I am past those experiences now, but I perpetually stand awake to the fact that the moments I am ashamed of to this day, were not moments I meant to happen in the first place. I can only hope that I have indeed exorcised those moments from my language and actions and that I can remain true to the hope that they never return. And I can do anything and everything that ever crosses my path to make things different now. I truly believe that, like Scrooge on Christmas morning, I am a better person, a better man, than I was before and I believe that all of us, both men and women, can continue to grow better with each other every day. I am dedicated to that and I pray for it constantly. And I wrote a poem... Mangina A "man with a vagina" A "soft and compliant" male Read that weak Read it cowardly Read it, say it Pussy And like that other term Pussies are supposedly Weak In my experience those pussies Those vaginas Are anything but weak Vaginas That push out new life and take in all that interconnecting energy Vaginas That to this day remain Abused Dismissed Ridiculed Unsupported Undervalued Destroyed Unloved If I can take on some of that If some of the world's hostility can be pointed toward me instead Bring it! To be a Mangina To accept the opportunity The responsibility The honor To hold that reality carefully in my hand my heart my head Yeah Call me that name I'm neither worthy of the honor Nor guilty of the accusation But I came into the world through that amazing pathway And I will honor it defend it pray for it pray to it and most of all Love it and the Women whose bodies hold that magical piece of spiritual anatomy in deep reverie and reverance for all of us Mangina Yes I am Mangina!

And because I will never be able to write poetry as beautiful or poignant, and because there might not be any better expression of how a Mangina can also truly be a man, there's always Secret Garden ... from The Boss.
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1 comment:

  1. I only have this to say ... I am a man. Nothing 'gina' in me. I passed through 'gina' to enter this world, entering as male, as man. I am no longer an 'ist' of any kind, and have, to the best of my ability, resigned from all such definitions. I am a man, that's all. That's enough. From this place, from this identity, I try, best as I can, to breathe goodness, kindness, and respect into a world often marked by meanness and disrespect, irrespective of gender identity. From this place I live, and shall one day, die.