Recently I was returned to a felt sense of my own oppression.
Through intentional choices and good fortune, I’ve finally been able to shape my life so the majority of my interactions are with people I trust. Connecting with an affirming circle of humans enriches my daily life. I am grateful for the gift of beloved community.
An exception to that norm found me in a situation a few weeks ago where I experienced a series of misogynist micro and macro aggressions from cis men which rattled me to the core. Because these were men I knew, my guard was down. After my boundaries were violated, it was clear I did not know them well enough.
The absence of such interactions in my day to day life had slowly allowed my hyper vigilance and fight/flight/fawn wiring to loosen.
While I know from living in this world as a female-bodied person what unconscious (and conscious) bias, etc, makes men capable of, it was as if I had blocked that knowing out of my awareness.
And for all the reasons, when those situations occurred, I did not defend my dignity or stick up for my sovereignty.
After these violations, one of the threads of emotions I was tangled in was shame/anger at myself for forgetting and for folding.
Another was an overwhelming sense of not-safe-ness.
And rage at those men specifically and sexism in general.
All mixed with sadness, deep sadness.
I felt the pain of patriarchy in my bones.
It was in this particularly tender state that I heard the news of the SCOTUS leak, which was like acid on my reactivated wounds.
There is much to do in the battle for bodily autonomy for all.
These are just my tender reflections on my own process.
When I first started to be actively engaged in movements for social justice as a college student, one of the issues I advocated for was abortion rights. My first job out of college was with Planned Parenthood of the Triad. I’ve long considered myself a feminist, and still do.
As my analysis expanded, I began to focus more on dismantling the systems where I have benefited from oppression, particularly racism; paying less and less attention to the ways those systems oppress me.
While I often consider intersectionality when organizing with others, I realize have been minimizing how it applies to myself.
Even as I choose collective liberation as my lodestar, I may discount the importance of my place in the collective.
It’s almost as if I was socialized to put others’ needs before my own.
Here’s to all of our healing.
photo above: me speaking at a pro choice rally in greensboro nc, early 1990s
photo below: attendees at said rally
note: my willingness to write and publish this piece was influenced by the essay, Murmurations: How to Be Accountable With Your Words, by adrienne maraee brown for Yes! Magazine