I’ve been hitting the job hunt particularly hard this week, and also have actual paying work (“this week” is currently shaping up to be monetarily equivalent to the combined months of July and August. Ah, freelancing!), which is why you’ve been seeing so many wee, little “Good Stuff” posts. This, too, will not be long.
But for some random reason, a memory just floated across my brain pan of a post a week or so back in which Ta-Nehisi Coates mentioned, almost in passing, that he was presuming that for many of the early feminists, the threat of sexual violence was a constant.
I was struck at the time by how powerful it is to have a man simply say the very thing I was thinking, struck by the unexpected wave of gratitude that washed over me as I read it, almost a little embarrassed, like: So what, a man said it — women have been known it since forever!
I don’t know why it came to me now (it may have been jogged by this story of Occupy Nashville protesters greeting a march by counter protesters with shouts of “We love you!”), but even as I wrote about something else altogether, I tried to tease out why it is so important to me to have men talk about women’s issues.
And I realized suddenly that it’s the simple power of being seen. Of feeling invisible, maybe almost without realizing it, and suddenly hearing someone say “I see you.”
The power is much greater than just that, of course — the growing involvement of men in the efforts against sexual violence of all kinds is a crucial component of the larger battle — but those moments, those little, unexpected moments when someone who has felt invisible — battered women, say, or LGBTQ kids, or Asian Americans virtually en masse — hears a simple “I see you,” those moments are often the moments that provide the actual healing. They are a balm, and they provide far more hope than I think we realize.
If only removing our blinders weren’t such a slow business.