Call for Submissions: “Nurturance Is…”

YES! We are still taking submissions for new posts!

Dating Tips for the Feminist Man is accepting submissions for a series on your own personal experiences of masculine* nurturance culture.

Send us your ways to finish this sentence: “Nurturance Is…”

What does masculine nurturance culture look like, feel like, taste like?

What is the timing, the rhythm, the pacing of nurturance and attunement?

Earlier this year, the post “The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture” blew up on the net. The responses to the piece were global and astonishing; see the five most common responses here.

Responses streamed in from all over the world. But in all this talking about talking about masculine Nurturance Culture, we still haven’t gotten to figuring out the actual thing. How does masculine nurturance really look and feel? We learn nurturance skills by being nurtured. The little details, the ways men can take care of women and nonbinary folks, are usually hidden in the ‘home’ realm or in private moments between friends. This private nature of intimate nurturance means it can be hard for people to learn nurturance if they don’t have models at home.

‘Care’ work, meanwhile, is considered feminine, and in a misogynist culture, it is devalued or not understood as an expert skill. It is supposed to ‘just happen’ – so if you are a man, you’re not allowed to say “I don’t know how to do that” and ask. All too often nurturance – taking care of emotional needs – is treated as something ‘natural’ that women ‘just do’ when in fact it is learned through experience.

So let’s shine a light on this misunderstood and under-shared set of wonderful life skills!
Luckily, in this media-rich age, we can share our experiences and knowledge and spread the wealth.

What do you know now about nurturance that you wish someone had told you long ago? What would you want to tell your younger self?

The best posts will be ones that are collaborative, showing how nurturance is done together and in an attuned way. Let us see the facial expressions, the body language that creates connection. Take five minutes and send in your best descriptions of how nurturance feels to you. Or take a short video clip of you and someone you nurture (your child, your lover, your friend) holding hands, looking in one another’s eyes, or cuddling in a nurturing way.

Some examples:

nurturance can taste like the salty chicken soup your male* partner brings you when you are sick, and the loving way he looks at you as you drink it.

It can look like the cosy arms of a dad cuddling and comforting his five year old son on the couch, for as long as his son needs, when he asks his dad not to leave for hockey practice one evening. “Screw the game, my boy needs me to be with him.”

It can look like the connected eye contact you make, every so often, with your female friend when you are in a crowded room, that shows you the two of you are connected and looking out for each other, so you never feel alone in the crowd.

It can feel like the arms of your male partner helping you up the stairs when you are in chronic pain and having a flare up, so you can go out dancing again the next day knowing someone will be there to help your stiff joints get into bed for a good night’s sleep afterwards.

It can feel like your male roommates’s comforting hand on your back to help you sleep on a night when you have insomnia, or the feeling of pillows behind your back propping you up to help with your cough at night.

It can feel like a hand caressing your cheek tenderly while gazing at your face with a soft expression that lets you know how important you are to this person who loves you.

It can taste like the food men cooked for an event where the featured speakers are an all-women lineup.

It can look like men in a professional or any work environment remembering to make an introduction, with a few words about her excellent work, between a female colleague and your male friends who could advance her career.

It can look like a man showing you with his eyes, with his facial expression, that he is really here with you, not just in body but in spirit, and willing to let you touch his true self, willing to put his trust in your hands so you know you are both taking care of one another.

It can mean sharing directly in the efforts, the successes and failures of the people you support: ironing her clothes the night before her big talk while she practices out loud, taking her out for a meal to celebrate afterwards, and saying “we did it!” instead of “I’m so happy for you.”

It looks like always being willing to drop everything you are doing to make it clear that your people come first, before your tasks or your work; something women have been taught to do for a long, long time.

It means responding to people’s needs, as much as possible, as they arise, not when it happens to be convenient.

For those men who are learning how to heal themselves in a way that nurtures those around them, what does nurturance really look like in lived daily practice? Think of exmples in your life of men you know who make those around them feel rock solid secure and safe. Observe them. What do they do? For those of all genders who have men in your lives who make you feel rock solid secure with them, what are the little things they do that lead you to trust they are really always there for you?

Men, what have you healed in yourself in order to foster nurturance as the source of joy and connection it can be?

Women and all gendered folks, what have you healed in yourself to know that you deserve nurturance, and to recognize and value it when it is offered?

Remember those Snoopy memes from the 70s? “Happiness Is…”

snoopy-happiness-is-sunnyday snoopy-happiness-is snoopy-happiness-is-home snoopy-happiness-issookies snoopy-happiness-isnap snoopy-happiness-is-dayoutside.jpg

You are invited to finish the sentence: “Nurturance Is…

I want to hear about the regular everyday kinds of nurturance, the daily attunement you practice with babies, kids, lovers, partners, parents, siblings, colleagues, friends. The things you just do without being asked, day in and day out, that are the fabric of trusting relationships.

Not just the overt ‘tasks’ like making a lunch, but the subtle ways you respond to nonverbal body language, the ways you offer loving arms, the way you share a gaze that lights up and protects another person’s heart and spirit, whether that be your daughter, your new lover, your girlfriend, partner, or friend.

I want to hear about the ways you nurture your female colleagues professionally, consciously and intentionally, moving their careers along instead of just advancing yourself.

I want to hear how you nurture your friends of all genders.

 

 

You can send your contribution any way you like. Any of these will be considered:

  1. Send one sentence! Take five minutes and send off one line that describes a moment of nurturance. You can start “Nurturance is…” or just say it your own way!
  2. Take a short video clip (20 seconds – 2 minutes!) on your phone with a person you nurture or who nurtures you – partner, parent, coworker, friend – to show us visually what masculine nurturance is like for you. Men, you can do this with the people you nurture. Women and other gendered folks, you can do this with men who nurture you. The focus is on how men practice nurturance, so other men can get a glimpse into the inside world of healthy nurturing interactions. Share close up video of how you look lovingly at one another, how you hold hands, what it looks like when one person turns in for a hug and the other responds. Let people who have never experienced a secure attachment bond see one in action.
  3. Tell us your experiences in writing. Use all your senses to bring us intimately into your moments when men nurture. Think of nurturing moments you have offered or experienced with men, and describe the visuals, the smell, taste, feeling on your skin, as well as emotions and thoughts.
  4. Draw, paint, sketch, or make comics about what men being nurturing looks like, feels like.
  5. Any other form you can think of! We’ll consider anything that can be shared easily on the web.

Whatever you send, make it feel alive. Bring us right into the experience with you so we know how nurturance by men feels in real tangible ways in daily life.

You can use your name or make up a screen handle. Please say in your email what handle you would like to see appear with your post and where you are located.

Our favourite submissions will go up on the DTFM blog during the “Nurturance Is…” series.

Men: you can be featured in this space, sharing your skills and knowledge about how you take care of the people around you.

Everybody else: you can be featured here describing what it feels like when you  are being deeply nurtured by men: personally, professionally, spiritually, emotionally, you name it!

 

Send submissions with the subject line: “Nurturance Is” to norasamaran@gmail.com.

Thank you and can’t wait to read/hear/see you!

More “Nurturance Is…” posts here:
We need some good news today: six more ‘Nurturance Culture’ entries

Ten Reader Replies: Nurturance Is…
Boys, Brothers, and Saying “I Love You”: Readers’ Thoughts about Nurturance Culture

If you are seeing this, you can still send in your new submissions. 🙂 This series is rolling, and when enough good ones come in, a new post will appear.

Apologies in advance; because of the volume of email we may only be able to contact those whose submissions are likely to be included in a future post.

*I want to be clear here that I am using this term (and terms like ‘woman’ etc) in a trans-inclusive way, referring to masculine-identified people. I have chosen not to write ‘men and trans men’ etc in the piece above because I’ve been told and understand trans men do not need their own separate signifier as that suggests they aren’t already part of the main signifier. I recognize there are different opinions on how to do this well; as a ciswoman I’m no expert, am open to feedback so let me know if this works. For now until I hear otherwise, I’m going with the approach that made the most ethical sense to me when I heard it.

Puung image used with permission by the artist. See more here: http://www.grafolio.com/puuung1/illustration.grfl

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13 thoughts on “Call for Submissions: “Nurturance Is…”

  1. Nurturance is never having your child feel shame or embarrassed about anything.
    Nurturance is really listening with you heart.
    Nurturance is imagining how it feels to be born.
    Nurturance is singing away a child’s sudden fear or pain.
    Nurturing is expressing without words that you see the other for who they really are this moment.
    Nurturing is turning the most mundane event into a celebration with a young child.
    Nurturance is knowing that our children see who we really are and always being the best because they are looking.
    Nurturance is never doing for a child what they can do for themselves.
    Nurturance is not praising a child because you and they know what it means to be naturally competent.
    Nurturance is taking compete responsibility for your child’s health, well being and education.
    Nurturance is making up stories instead of being Disneyfried.
    Nurturance is being quiet, fully present, fearless and completely empathetic as you wife or lover gives birth at home.
    Nurturance is knowing when it is OK to say ‘yes dear.’
    Nurturance is suddenly being smitten by how beautiful your wife or lover is for the ten-thousandth time and saying so.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Greetings, Ms. Samaran.
    You might recall our e-mail discussion last August of the scene in Casino Royale in which James Bond comforts a badly traumatized Vesper Lynd. I was recently skimming through one of my favorite novels from my childhood, Lloyd Alexander’s Westmark, refreshing my memory of some of the details for a comment I was writing on Dawn Davidson’s stunning graphic novel adaptation of Alexander’s best-known series, The Chronicles of Prydain. Reviewing the scenes in which the two central characters, Theo and Mickle, begin to develop what will eventually be their romantic relationship, it struck me that they provide one of the better literary examples of nurturance culture that I’ve ever seen in children’s or YA fiction.

    Westmark’s fictional setting is based on late eighteenth-century Europe, and the conflicts between a corrupt aristocracy desperately clinging to its power and privilege, a rising class of literate craftsmen and merchants, and a downtrodden peasantry growing impatient with their “betters'” abuses. Theo is a former printer’s apprentice turned fugitive after injuring an agent of the kingdom’s secret police in a failed attempt to defend his master and their press. Although an orphan of peasant stock, the craft he was learning means that he’s literate and had access to a library of every book and treatise of which his master had ever printed copies, including law, natural sciences, and political philosophy — he’s better-read than most aristocratic university students, idealistic and compassionate, but somewhat naive in the ways of the world.

    With his master dead, their shop destroyed, and a warrant out for his arrest, Theo takes refuge with the clients who had commissioned the ill-fated pamphlet: an itinerant showman, snake-oil salesman, and mountebank calling himself variously “Count Las Bombas,” “Doctor Absalom,” “Mynheer Bloomsa,” and a variety of other aliases, and Musket, Las Bombas’ short-tempered dwarf coachman. Although the count’s confidence schemes chafe at Theo’s conscience, he finds Las Bombas and Musket surprisingly likable, and also has no obvious alternative means of survival.

    Mickle is a street urchin, formerly apprenticed to a burglar until he was caught and hanged, with a remarkable talent for vocal mimicry and ventriloquism that leads Las Bombas to recruit her for a new act, “The Oracle Priestess,” using his props and her voice to stage séances. Clever, streetwise, and outwardly tough, she’s also emotionally vulnerable, scarred by time she spent in a brutally abusive orphanage, the deaths of her criminal mentor and her “grandfather” (an elderly, deaf and mute hermit who had found her washed up on a riverbank and taken her in), and plagued by recurring nightmares of the near-drowning that left her with no conscious memories of her life before waking up in the old man’s hovel.

    Upon learning that she’s illiterate, Theo offers to teach Mickle to read and write, which she eagerly accepts. In turn, she begins teaching him the private sign language she used with her grandfather, and developed further with Hanno the burglar — silent communication being a highly valuable skill in that line of work. The scene that reminded me of this article occurs near the end of Chapter Ten, as the troupe settles into their lodgings in the town where Las Bombas plans to debut the Oracle Priestess act:

    Too tired even to enjoy the feather pillows and mattress, Theo sank into them like a stone. He had been asleep, he did not know how long, when a scream ripped apart his slumber.

    He sat up, head spinning. His body answered before he could gather his wits. By the time he realized the sound had come from Mickle’s room, he was on his feet and plunging through the connecting door.

    A candle guttered on the night table. Mickle crouched amid a heap of bedclothes. Her face was dead white, streaked with sweat, her eyes wide and staring, empty of everything but terror. He was not sure she even recognized him. He ran to her.

    She threw her arms around him. He rocked her back and forth like a child, smoothing her tangled hair.
    Her cheeks and forehead were icy.

    “Nothing, it’s nothing,” he said. “You had another bad dream. It’s gone.”

    “I was drowning. Water over my head. I kept sinking. I couldn’t breathe.”

    Theo was only now aware that Las Bombas and Musket had been standing behind him. The count, nightcap askew, ordered the dwarf to fetch a glass of wine, then peered anxiously at the girl.

    “You’ll be fine in a moment. A nightmare, eh? Too much supper, I shouldn’t wonder.” He sat down beside her and laughed good-naturedly, though giving Theo a quick glance of concern. “Drowning, you say? In that case, you’re perfectly safe. No one, to my knowledge, ever drowned in bed.”

    Mickle sipped the wine Musket brought. She snuffled and wiped her nose on the back of her hand. Some color had come back to her cheeks. She smiled at last. After a few more moments, she was making impudent remarks about the count’s nightcap, joking with Musket, and mimicking Theo.

    Even so, when Las Bombas and Musket went back to their chambers, Theo sensed she was still frightened and stayed, waiting until she fell asleep. He sat watchful the rest of the night. Mickle did not stir.

    In the terms you discussed in the original Nurturance Culture post, what I see here (and more generally over the course of their relationship) is a young man with a secure attachment style, thanks to the healthy relationship he had growing up with his surrogate father, the printer Anton, nurturing and trying to heal a young woman with a deeply insecure style (mostly preoccupied-avoidant, I think, but with elements of the anxious type as well) due to the repeated traumas of her past. His fear that his fugitive status could endanger her complicates things, as does the revelation of her forgotten identity near the end of the first book, but they do work it out in the end.

    Looking back on it, I think that Theo and Mickle’s relationship, and that of Taran and Eilonwy in the Prydain Chronicles (after he outgrew his adolescent foot-in-mouth syndrome, anyway) were significant influences on my own thinking about romantic relationships as I grew up. Not too many of my other childhood favorite books included any such relationships where both principles were well-developed characters with their own needs and inner lives. (You certainly won’t see anything of the sort in Tolkien or Lewis; Susan Cooper probably could have written such, but the characters in The Dark Is Rising sequence are all too young; Asimov and Niven were much better with concepts than characters, especially female ones; I don’t think Heinlein’s influence was a net positive in that area, much as I love his storytelling; and the less said about Anne McCaffrey and Piers Anthony, the better.) I’ve included scenes similar to the nightmare scene from Westmark in several of my own attempts at writing fiction, notably a Harry Potter fan-fic inspired by my annoyance with Harry’s miserable failure at comforting his love interest in the fifth book. (I kept wanting to yell at him, “Look, when the girl you like picks your shoulder to cry on, that’s a very good sign; stop treating it like a burden, you insensitive clod!”)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks! yes. i some this scene and it does seem to capture the kind of evident-comforting response of a secure attached being a good friend or eventually romantic interest. thanks for the reflection!

      Like

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