Photo credit: Matej Michalik
“Our culture can starve and condemn one another in relationships.”
(Feminism and Intimacy)
How far do I go with judgement? How far do I go to use my best judgement? What does a “best judgement” look and feel like? How does it translate in relationships and my interaction with my external circumstances?
To be honest, I am learning judgment doesn’t have a place in my feminism or reality. In my quest to heal emotional wounds I’ve obtained from past relationships with cis men, yet continuing to agree to interact with them in friendships and intimate partnerships, I found myself faced with an existential dilemma: making a choice between my ability to maintain relationship with imperfect people which of whom I care for, and maintaining my diligence as a feminist. I hadn’t had to make these choices until recently because I am not sure if my awareness and education was where it is today, but even more so, I believe I have protected myself from relationships that challenged me and my political comfortability.
Abstinence is a way to protect the comfortability of feminism, particularly reproductive health in one’s personal life. As soon as intimacy is brought into the mix, a female identified being with a womb has many more choices to make. This can also be said for non-sexual close relationships with cis Western men. To look into a man’s thoughts and life, to be brought in, there is also a responsible to protect them and ensure safety. This is outside of the guise of patriarchy, a woman taking responsibility to acknowledge the trauma of men while balancing a radical feminist outlook.
To be impatient with a man’s unpacking and deconstructing of their own sexist behaviors and colonizing after agreeing to enter a relationship is unproductive and can quickly become wounding, not to their ego, but to their hearts.
I’m learning that I should not agree to a social contract with men if I am not willing to balance my feminist ethics with the compassion of a human being I chose to bond with. Me, choosing grew into my work towards balancing my feminist politics and beliefs with my relationships with cis men.
I was asked to do a workshop some months ago about forgiveness after surviving sexual assault, and I deeply feared backlash from other feminists, feeling that I have become overly sympathetic to patriarchal patterns in intimate and close relationships. But I have to learn that I cannot live completely guarded behind my strict beliefs. It’s okay to open to people who I care for, even if they are imperfect, even if they are men, even if they make mistakes. I don’t believe this makes me a bad feminist, I believe it makes me a human being who is attempting to be well-rounded, compassionate, flexible and able to bring healing to relationships.
How can I ask a man to be my ally when I condemn him? He would certainly be justified in finding cracks in the feminist system of thought if I did not afford an ally the ability to learn and grow.