Moving toward respect
It’s about being. Ourselves. In a world of our mutual interest, respect and care.
Imagine that. Mutual respect. Not as a transaction. As the ground underneath us. Respect.
I think to do that, to get there, we have to really see ourselves and each other. To look slowly. And repeatedly, and to tell stories. Reveal experiences, fears. A lot of it’s about pain. I was reading something Sean Penn said about containing the #MeToo movement, reframing it into something less black and white: he said it was divisive. That it was coming between men and women.
As if we were where together before?
I don’t like to think about “movements”. It’s too much for my brain to hold. Usually, I’ve stayed out of these conversations because it felt like you had to scoop the thing up in some container and talk about it in grand sweeping terms. It’s divisive. Boom. Got it. Contained the thing! I have so many thoughts about that, but I just can’t —Really, I don’t care about the meta-discussion. Even if I was any better at packaging it all up, I don’t want to. I want the actual discussion. And the stories, one by one. Because I think we have to see each other, up close, and often, and in unmanaged ways to get to a place of mutual interest, respect and care. Which is what I think movements are about. About getting there. To do that we have to tell stories, and a lot of it is about pain. It can’t be avoided. I think that’s the core of what divides us, wanting to avoid pain. I do my own kind of avoiding pain when I don’t get into these discussions.
These movements, the public momentum and space it pushes open, help us each take our place in the conversation. They move us toward each other, even if we’re talking about pain, and you or I want to run from it. We have to just stay in it. These things happened, continue to happen. We are nowhere near done and ready to package it up. As if the past is really a done thing ever anyway.
I sat down to write about why I am working on this project. To clarify the underlying purpose, probably hoped to do some packaging up myself. Get my elevator speech in shape and all that. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that part down. What I want for us is to get to a place of mutual interest, respect and care. When my friend asked the question [Do you like the way your vagina looks?] I began to see how much of that is wrapped up in how we are in our bodies, how we see each other in our respective bodies. Or don’t. How we package up what the other person-body is. This project became my path as I make my way toward respect.