I am often resistant to accepting advice from others. Like Prince, I perform a graceful embodiment of an air of casual arrogance – a talent, I think, as women continue to face pressure to be overtly malleable especially to the opinions of men and men-centric society.
Every once in a while, however, there is a genuine human moment, and I accept a piece of someone else’s philosophy into my own. I cherish these moments because I believe they measure a certain personal growth, a marked willingness to be vulnerable with friends.
For women like me, vulnerability is a double-edged sword. Do I choose to cut away the dead things from me, or do I choose to bruise myself in old tired spots?
I am opening myself up to a relatively new friendship with a talented musician. I had seen him around different events, and always liked his swag. Apparently, real really recognizes real because he always admired mine too. Since sharing, he invites me to cool events which gets me out of the bar and into all kinds of artistic spaces which allow my unique muse-like qualities to re-inspire growth.
When I have a problem with someone or something, habitually since college, I scream it from the mountaintops. I used to believe this meant I was standing for something, because people would know how I felt. It was liberating and empowering at first, but in living all of my truths out loud, I stifled myself. I sat my polished beliefs on a self-serving shelf to be forgotten and contented my philosophy to being a social media attack-dog for whomever should tag me first.
I became a bastion for the liberal millennial choir to which we all seek to preach to or tear down. A laughing stock for people who don’t value anti-oppression philosophy because it’s much easier to laugh than to grow. The sadder thing being – who can really blame them? After all, young adults in my hometown work unfulfilling jobs with low hourly wages just to spend the majority of them on high rent, high auto expenses, or the classic escapes. Who has time to spare for the women, the LGBTQ, the disabled, etc.? If you ain’t or don’t know, why care?
Me and my musician have two friends in common. Both are local lyricists, and one has been accused by multiple women of rape since the Kavanaugh hearings. The other one – much closer to me than the accused – made a comment on one of my posts challenging the rap community to critically rethink how they engage with accused rapists and abusers. “We don’t have all the facts” blasé blasé.
As a survivor, my first feeling was that of betrayal. How could a friend of mine say something like that? My second feeling was numb, which gave me a moment of clarity enough that I remembered a conversation with my musician:
“Sometimes you just have to move in silence”
I deleted the comment. Also, I am not angry, nor do I feel betrayal. Being friends with someone is non-romantic dating. You either accept them for who they are and support them, or you allow yourselves to grow apart.
Accepting silence and filling it with the unspoken reasons for its own existence places a distance between your own growth and the stagnation of those we can still hold dear.
We’re in an age of rising. Black people demanding the right to live without threat of police violence. Women and other survivors demanding the right to live without threat of sexual violence. LGBTQIA people demanding the right to live without threat of targeted violence.
As a survivor, vulnerability, closeness, and trust will be given to those who believe us. And if a friend of mine chooses doubt over belief, I want it to make it easy for them to continue choosing that brotherhood of violence. Like I told my musician, men act differently around men than they do around women. Of course your friend doesn’t seem like a violent person – you’re not his target. This is simple to read, harder to understand, but the silence will still be there.
One day, men like this, the doubtful, the too-trusting of unspoken brotherhood, those with bruised egos, heartbreak faults in their kindness for women, and the rest, will look up and notice that the caliber of women they are attracting is unchallenging for their growth. Some will care, but as I have realized being friends with men, most won’t. The silence will be permanent then, and our friendship will be a distant memory from a time in my 20s when I was still learning, still forgiving.
One day, I will look back and remember what it was like to have friends who didn’t believe us.
I hope to find it just as funny as the other fallacies of youth.