A Modern Woman on the Move

in hot pursuit of the great green light…

Supporting Women You Know…. Reciprocation and Integrity in Subcultures and Radical Communities, Where’s It At?

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Personally, I feel that the most feminist thing you can do is be a supportive and accepting friend to other women in your life. To defend the women in your life when they’re being torn down by others, to work not to tear down other women, to help other women you know. Even the loud women your other friends are “intimidated” by. I know people think I’m such a strong and independent person and whatever, but this applies to a few people in my life (right now and all the time) and it breaks my heart. I’m sick of being treated like an alien by people who will also call me when they’re freaking out and unhappy. Many people say that reciprocation and respect is important to them, yet seem unable to see where they’re exploitative of certain people in their lives. If you’re more interested in talking to one or all three male people I’m dating than me, it’s time to more closely examine your internalized sexism and get over the fact that I am a woman and I have opinions, ethics, and confidence to speak my mind. Yes, all at the same time. I know it’s hard to believe and it’s really weird, but get over it.

Meeting people in a lot of subcultures and radical communities, I still often approach them as potential new friends who I should try to have solidarity with. This means extending myself to others. It means being honest. It means trying to meet them where they are at. That’s something I believe in, I feel it would be unethical to approach people that I share communities any other way… Yet I am consistently disappointed that most people don’t behave that way, even though many  think they do. I recognize that expectation often breeds disappointment, so, while I acknowledge that meeting people where they’re at means that there are people I will want to support that won’t be able to reciprocate that support, I must confess that I am still very weary and I am still learning how to balance having love for myself with loving others in my communities.

Shouldn’t I expect that women seeking to empower themselves and be anti-oppressive would be a bit more responsible towards their female friends and their relationships? Shouldn’t I expect that dudes who attend panels on ending rape culture wouldn’t spend a couple hours complaining about how I have such a strong personality to one of my partners? Shouldn’t I expect that a sex and consent educator in a sex positive community wouldn’t push the boundaries of a non sober person they’re hanging out with at their house while their asleep? Shouldn’t I expect that other queer radicals who complain about feeling isolated would think about how little they reach out to the same person they’re complaining to about feeling lonely and isolated to?  You know, maybe reach out when they don’t have something to complain about, just for fun or because they know I’m going through a hard time? Shouldn’t I expect the people I am supporting to be equally willing to meet me wherever I am at?

The thing is that those people might not think of me as worth their time outside of what I might be able to do for them (listen to their problems, advocate for them on their behalf as mediator, give them a ride, etc). It breaks my heart, but I also don’t want to be closed off to others because I recognize that everyone has to start somewhere in learning how to really build genuine relationships of reciprocation. I also theorize that those people don’t realize what they have to offer in personal relationships. I find that, because I often take on leadership roles in projects or communities, people imagine I have all the answers or that I have magical, self-esteem powers. I think some people don’t reciprocate because they don’t imagine themselves as having anything to offer me. I also imagine that some of this may come from the fact that some people view me as inherently different from them because I am a little bit different from them, so we couldn’t possibly be closer friends, though they are using me as a confidant because their friends are unable to help them in ways they imagine I can help them in whatever moments they’re seeking me out. I think stepping down from some community roles this past summer will help change this a bit for me moving forward, but I hate that I have to pull back in order not to feel like I am overwhelmed by being there for people, simply because they are unable to reciprocate, due to lack of maturity, courage, or knowledge to see how draining and selfish they can be in their personal relationships.

Unsolicited advice? You think you’re an activist, you think you’re a feminist? Start in your own life, deconstruct your biases and oppressive dynamics. Stop struggling to have white male approval above everyone else. Be there for the people you turn to and rely on even when it’s not convenient or when it’s painful and forces you to have hard conversations. Do you feel down on yourself, do you feel disempowered, do you feel unheard? Look around at who is close to you. Do they tear down women they perceive as weird or powerful? Are they willing to listen to women? I will be the first to say I haven’t always practiced behaving like this and it’s something I still find myself needing work on, it’s been a long journey, but it’s something I work really hard towards. I have found that trying to have supportive relationships with other women, even when I don’t imagine that I totally relate to them, has been one of the most transformative experiences in my life for loving myself. I hope that loving the women and other people around me is a journey I never find myself ending…

And I hope to have more people in my life who are willing to respect me as a human, not a stereotype or just another resource for them to use as they learn more about the world and how to empower themselves.

Even though I am complaining, I want to acknowledge that I do have a few really awesome friends, like Katy and Becky and my partners Marco and Matt, who do actually do this. I want you to know how thankful for you that I am. You make me feel so less lonely in this world and you all remind me that there are folks who appreciate the energy I put into my relationships and who will return it… Or tell people trashin’ on me that they’re wrong or they just don’t get what’s up. I would feel much more alone and hopeless and drained without y’all.

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Written by lovemotionstory

September 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm

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