Boys of the Empire

I’m sickened by what is playing out in the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh.  When I entered Princeton in 1983, I was forced to navigate among classmates who came from his world and places like it.  But, I had no preparation for it.  I did not attend a prep school, so when I was suddenly surrounded by people who did (including Georgetown Prep) I was overwhelmed.  I learned much too quickly that the environment of guilt-free indulgence could enable me to be as ghastly, boorish and presumptive as any other male bodied person.  And as a young gay person I was also a target of it.  I was disgusted by what I saw and who I had become, so in my Junior year, with great difficulty, I extracted myself from those circles as best I could.  I even considered dropping out (thankfully I did not).  For a long time after graduating, I wouldn’t talk about where I went to college, who I knew there or what I did.  What I saw and experienced in college during that era (1983 – 1987) I may never ever recover from but I use the knowledge every day.  Understanding this as trauma, is part of what underlines my work in ministry, particularly around embodiment.

My experience also lets me say without a doubt that, regardless of the outcome of all this, Dr. Ford is telling the absolute truth. #BelieveHer

Boys of the Empire

Privilege comes at a cost.
The price is swimming in the filth
That oils “the machine”,
Learning that there is no such thing as purity,
Seeing first hand that there is no truth,
Knowing all this, not from afar,
But every time you look in the mirror.
And there, reflected back at you,
draped around your neck
Cocked on your head
Winking in your own eyes
Grinning through gritted teeth
Confirming that you belong
Not just in diploma but in deed,
Is the inevitable Veritas: you too are Empire.

But Empire was not born by passing an AP level class.
Empire was ejaculated into the masturbating hand
Of a teenage male youth
Desperate to belong, to prove
He could be hero, be savior…God.
He’s graded on how well he takes who or what he wants for stimulation
Down from the shelf of disposable diversions
(bonus points for navigating straps, waistbands and pesky personal agency.)
The Empire gives him high marks
When he wipes the mess on other people’s memories
Leaving everyone but him to clean up and spend the rest of their lives wondering why.
While he walks away casually adjusting his trousers,
Entitlement and birthrights intact.

This is “boys will be boys…”
And where no one tells the boys
Who are boys among boys
What to do when boys need to become men.
No one gives rules
Because they are boys.
No one instructs how to unblur the lines
Because they will be men.
They will be just fine.
And they will take (or fake)
The straight and narrow…Someday,
Put on a good show…Eventually,
Push what happened after hours, in the dark out of mind.
Keep calm and carry on.

The desperate search
For validation and confirmation of place
That plays out
In gropes and grabs
In closets, carrels and quads
Culminating with trips to the shore
Where an ocean of beer
Washes up as vomit on the floors.
Whose next-day stink wafts among silent shaming glances
In corridors, and classes
On nauseous car rides and staggered walks back home
Blank spaces…memory gaps…unaware
Unspoken…until it is all most emphatically denied
…all of that becomes the norm.
Boys will be boys.

Privilege comes at a cost
That the boys being boys of the Empire
Are never taught to pay.

4 thoughts on “Boys of the Empire

  1. If only more people could understand the the trauma involved and those people I was trying to fit in without losing your identity. Why does it take some people a lifetime to figure this out? Thank you for triggering our thought processes.

  2. I too, read it on facebook — Thank you!

    I entered Princeton in 1982 and found it as you did — toxic. I appreciate your use of the word trauma. I did drop out, eventually, although there were some wonderful people and I do have good memories. It’s a pleasure to discover you!

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