Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 72

defers to the boys, and the boys protect the man. The man appears to be in charge, while actually catering to the whims and conventions of his puerile scouts. And when, as is often the case, a patriarch is in fact a juvenarch, well then rest of us be damned. So where does that leave us? Given my journey, I’d have to say that gender alone is a very shaky foundation upon which to build much of any- thing, and certainly not a solid base for a per- vasive social structure. Despite what is still a fairly popular belief, gender is not all that fixed, it certainly isn’t immutable, and it covers a de- lightfully wide range of expressions, far greater than the common morphologic binary would suggest. My initial critique of patriarchy is that by limiting power to men, we limit the power of men, and by extension everyone. Can we really be secure that males are inherently more qualified to run our families, communities, and societies than women? Is the range of what it means to be male so narrow that we could hang entire civilizations on it? After 15 years of living within the boundaries of male-land, it is my firmly held belief that the commonality between men is far smaller than the diversity. Yeah, testosterone tends to amplify one’s libido and muscle mass, and maybe affects the male mind towards compartmentalization, but from my vantage point the rest is conditioned and often to men’s own detriment. I feel fortunate that I didn’t grow up having to conform to the rules established by the pa- triarchy for men. Though it was sociological bushwhacking to get here, I’m delighted that I now inhabit the watery and wonderful gender- fluid universe that queers what it means to be a man or a woman, and allows for the possibility of being neither, or both. Living between the lines is my proof-text affirming how an array of amazing human qualities can co-exist and emerge through us when the onus of exclusive masculinity or femininity is relieved. How 72 W W W .T I K K U N . O R G freeing to be a man with a deeply rich femi- nine interior! How amazing to have a body that feels terrific and accurately expresses an important aspect of my soul! How amazing to be wise in some realms and still a fool in oth- ers! How wonderful to be a man who has no stake in proving his manhood, because, frankly, once you have birthed and nursed a child, well, there’s nothing left to prove! But this queering doesn’t stop at gender. It extends to age, class, culture, and skills. Living beyond the patriarchy allows everyone to come forward, leading with our skills and wisdom, intelligence and experience, capacity and com- passion. What a blessing to accept the gifts and puzzles of this human experience! Why curse ourselves with imagined and manufactured gender-based limitations when it is utterly thrilling to let our masculine and feminine en- ergies intermingle, our past and present inter- twine; how glorious to let our uniquely unfold- ing lives reveal new ways of seeing, thinking, feeling, creating, and thriving. Maybe it’s time to consider empowering our most deeply-held ideals rather than something as utterly random and flimsy as gender. Let’s give power to the wise, just, and compassionate peacemakers and healers of every description, regardless of age, gender, culture, creed, or color. Beyond Patriarchy? Absolutely. It’s time to go far, far, beyond. MAGGID JHOS SINGER is the Maggid (preacher and teacher) for Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley and the JCC of San Francisco. More of his work can be found in the anthologies Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community Ed. Noach Dzmura and Torah Queeries: Weekly commentaries on the Hebrew Bible Eds. Drinkwater, Lesser and Schneer and at www.elitalks.org/jhos WINTER 2019