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I remember women trying to tell me that there was something off with my behavior. That there was something patriarchal about the way I was showing up in the world. And I remember brushing them off. Telling them, and myself, that I was a feminist.
But my feminism was a feminism of the head. It was intellectual. Not embodied. The head seems to be a place where many of us men hide. We hide in our knowing. We fear feeling and sensing. We often live outside our bodies (which is a well known response to trauma).
It wasn’t until I had to come face to face with myself. Face to face with the ugliest aspects of myself. It wasn’t until I fell on my face. That I was able to notice the pattern in the feedback that I had been getting for years. It wasn’t until I was exposed, embarrassed and ashamed that I was forced to finally listen.
now i am trying every day to do my share. to carry my portion of miracle and suffering, to labor fairly. to examine my privileges and to dismantle the largest unjust systems in this world with my choices and behaviors.
in order to do this work, i’ve had to learn to listen to things i didn’t want to hear, and couldn’t believe.
now i am listening to so many women in my life navigate the fall of patriarchy. they are exhausted, scared, lonely and rushed.
so many of these women have confided in me, ‘i wish sexuality was a choice! if i could choose to be with a woman i would in a heartbeat.’ i do not want to imply here that women are above patriarchy or other disease, or in any way minimize the complexities of queer love. but the frequency with which i have heard this from straight women speaks to a particular desperation, heartbreak, and confusion about how to be met in intimate relationship in this lifetime.
How are you listening?
How are you listening to women?
Are you practicing ways to tune into what is being said, and sometimes unsaid? Are you able to listen for what might show up as sadness, anger, frustration and sometimes rage?
I have made listening my life’s vocation. And I know I still have so much to learn.
But this is something that I learned from my mentors. That listening can itself be the medicine. That we can tune in to the depths of ourselves. And that we can listen from there.
All it takes is practice. A lifetime of practice.