Intersectional Feminism- An Intimate Relationship With Disappointment (and awe, and wonder...)
I came across this piece of writing I’d published on instagram on 19th December 2022, and was struck by how enduring and present these sentiments remain a year on.
This year I have realised that committing to lifelong feminist learning means accepting being in an intimate relationship with disappointment.
Time and time again we confront the seemingly infinite number of gaps between the way we imagined the world to be and the way it actually is.
Introductions to new systemic factors we hadn’t understood.
Constant demonstrations of disregard for the inherent worth of all humans from people with power and people we love.
Unceasing reminders of our own internalised prejudices.
More and more things we can no longer enjoy because we come to understand the origins or implications.
And disappointment often brings her close friend, and I bet you know her. Her name is shame. Their joint presence can provoke meaning making like:
- I was so naive thinking this was another way
- I am so foolish for imagining this person would care
- I am so useless for being unable to convince this person to see this reality
Because we are told to outgrow our disappointment. Life is hard. Shit happens. Grow up. Don’t be a baby about it.
I believe it’s the combination of these factors that makes it so hard to handle. But I’ve learnt that embracing disappointment needn’t mean embracing shame.
I can name and claim my disappointment and know that it is a natural consequence of growing up in a world where we are bombarded with contradictory conditioning. (E.G. love thy neighbour, but not REALLY).
I know that this stuff is specifically weaponised against progressive thinking too- “you’re so SILLY imagining there’s enough to go round! Blah blah the economy blah blah blah. Your idealism is childish”.
Moving through my disappointment at the absolute state of things puts me in an intimate relationship with other emotional experiences.
Awe. Wonder. Expansion. Creativity. Hope. Autonomy. Connection. Love. Grief. Peace.
And ultimately I ask myself- would I rather not know? Would I rather live without this depth to my experience?
I mean sometimes yeah, I’d rather not know. I’d rather still believe that I am only responsible for myself, that I create my own reality, that everything is basically fine. Sometimes it’s all so tiring & overwhelming.
But ultimately I am so grateful to be able to access a vision of a better world, and to be willing to contribute to bringing it to life in any way. And to be connected to people who feel the same core urge.
2023 will be inevitably disappointing, awe-some and wonder-full.
(And so will 2024!)