Sunday, January 20, 2008

heal the world: on healing and (truly revolutionary) social movements.

in line with the things i discussed in my last post, i've been re-working a lot of the theories in my head, very consciously revising them. in a lot of ways, it's another revolution. but a contained one, a revolution of my own personal world.

which, i guess, is where it's got to begin. where the revolution's got to start.

this is still very much a work-in-progress theory, and i acknowledge that it's less than fully fleshed out. here goes, anyway...

i mentioned, in passing, that the inner bonding therapy that i've been doing has been making me re-think what a revolution should look like, what a healthier, just world would look like.

a woman i know wrote an article on the IB website entitled "Protest + Politics - Healing = No Revolution." to be honest, i'm not entirely sure what exactly it says, since it's only available to paid members, and i'm too poor to pay the $10/mo. but based on conversations i've had with one of our mutual friends, the woman who turned me on to IB in the first place, i think i have a pretty good idea. i mean, the title is pretty self-explanatory: a social movement without an emphasis on healing doesn't - and can't - spark that revolution that we keep talking about, keep striving toward.

the model of second-wave feminism seems so hokey and silly now; consciousness raising groups seem just like versions of group therapy, and have been, in popular thought at least, completely de-politicized. getting a group of women together to talk about how they can't get their husbands to respect them, to talk about how their male bosses won't stop harassing them, seems so antiquated. "the personal is political" is still touted as a feminist rallying point, but most feminists are hesitant to put too much emphasis on things that are "too personal," things that don't (seem to) affect the community at large, or things that don't (seem to) affect the political system.

but it's not hokey, and it's not silly, to emphasize personal healing and personal journeys. it's essential.
without first healing our individual wounds that have been inflicted on us / irritated by the hetero/patriarchal/white supremacist culture that we live in, we can't expect to heal the wounded and dysfunctional society as a whole.

what i mean to say is: activists who don't take care of ourselves, who don't heal our own wounds, have very real limitations to the amount of good we can give to the world. if we don't have love inside of ourselves, for ourselves, we can't possibly extend this healing love to the rest of the world. if we can't model what a healed, healthy person would look like, we can't truly envision a healed, healthy world.

which isn't to say that these two have to be mutually exclusive; focusing on personal healing doesn't necessarily preclude social activism. they can and should coexist; that coexistence, though, needs to be truly "co" - complementary, cooperative, co-equal.

a dear professor of mine, nancy whittier, is making (some version of) the following argument in her forthcoming book on the politics of child sexual abuse activism: a lot of CSA survivor activists bemoan the shift from an overtly political/protesting activism to that of a "therapeutic culture." that is, the shift from a primary focus on Take Back The Night rallies and more radical models of activism around CSA and sexual violence to a focus on individuals, on therapy, on groups of survivors healing together in relative isolation from one another. while this makes sense, on some level, to view as a loss in a lot of ways, it's a mistake to completely discount the "therapeutic culture" as non-revolutionary. if our identities and behaviours and beliefs are so often shaped by the dominant culture - something which is especially true for survivors of CSA - then trying to heal these harmful beliefs, trying to inject some kind of (non-patriarchal, non-hegemonic) truth and love into these identities and beliefs and behaviours is very much an act of resistance.

i think that a lot of times, love is diminished in the activist realm.
personal healing is seen as something you do individually, but not something that has an immediate or even important effect on feminist/social justice movements as a whole.
but truth is: without individual healing, political movements can't succeed.

and, further: integrating the ideas of healing into political movements is, i think, essential for a true revolution to happen. think about if our political leaders actually did their own healing work, and were full, healed, loving beings. think about how much more peaceful our world would be. how much more respect we would all have for each other. how much more love there would be. how much less oppression/hatred/violence/pain there would be.

and yes, we need community movements, and yes, we need larger political movements.
but we also need individual healing. we also need to emphasize that, to not discount the political impact of, say, a woman healing from sexual abuse.
and it's that individual healing that will fuel a truly revolutionary movement.
it's that individual healing that needs to form the basis of these truly revolutionary movements.

in short:
individual healing --> a healing movement --> revolution.

the next post in the works:
on being a political organizer and being emotionally healthy. on prioritizing your individual healing while still being an effective organizer. (or: on not actually needing to spend every waking hour on your cause, on not needing to use your cause as a distraction from the healing work you're not doing.)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

evolution of thought, of my feminism, of myself.

this is going to be short, sweet, and to the point:

i'm going through a major transformation.

this has been a long time coming, of course. just looking back at my evolution as a feminist, i've changed profoundly. i've become less reactionary, more thoughtful, less intense, more pragmatic, a little more cynical, and, in some ways, a little less radical (but in some ways, slightly more radical).

and i'm still changing. as i should be, because that's what life's about.

with this Inner Bonding therapy that i'm doing now, i'm radically revising and re-forming my life. my outlook on life, my view of myself, my view of what a "revolution" would look like, of what we need, as a society, in order to be healthier. (the website looks a little hokey, i know, but i really couldn't recommend this process highly enough.)

and i'm reading more, more of the things that i should've been reading during college, but couldn't, because i kept getting bogged down by mostly inapplicable (or limitedly applicable) theory (e.g. judith fucking butler). things like The Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology and brownfemipower's blog, La Chola. things that aren't mainstream-white feminism. things that actually apply to my life, as a not-quite-white, not-quite-passing, not-quite-"enough" (but really, more than enough) queer woman. things that are actually, well, revolutionary.

so i won't be posting for a while, and if i do, it'll be very much about working through my thoughts and theories on what it means to plan and organize this revolution, on what it means to heal this society.

what i want to say most is:
if you happen to read back through old entries, things i've written before, and they strike you as ignorant or less-than-informed or aligned too much with a certain brand of white/mainstream/ineffective/inapplicable feminism, not quite thought through, you're probably correct in your impression. but please don't judge, and don't think that i necessarily still believe all of these things.

i'm a work in progress.
a lot like this movement, this community i'm trying to find / be part of / help to develop / mobilize. for the revolution i'm still trying to figure out.