I (Don’t Want To) Listen

listening-ear
(From PublicDomainPictures.net)

I love the synchronicity of the internet.

Lately I’ve been following a lot of conversations, some about strong women characters, some about the “real” definition of Fangirl, some about gender roles in faith communities, and some about the voices of minorities in all communities.

It’s been the conversations about voice that have been the most important to me. They seem to transcend their own corner to apply to just about everything.

Lack of female superheroes in media? Let’s listen to what “fangirls” are saying before labeling it an unprofitable market.

Lack of women in faith conversations? Um, have you met the internet? Maybe get with some of the women leaders who exist (trust me, they’re totally there) and ask them how to broaden the conversation.

Lack of minority writers in SFF? Yeah, they’re there, they’re just not getting coverage. Seek them out and acknowledge their voices.

Lack of minority characters in SFF? It’s a problem, especially to get ones that aren’t stereotypes intended to fill a certain, pre-conceptualized role. Listen to the problem before trying to fix it and going about it all wrong.

So, voice. Listening. Affirming. Acknowledging that (almost) everyone has a valid viewpoint, and those who don’t still feel as if they do. Everyone’s emotional position feels legitimate, and sometimes what we need most is not to be right or wrong but to feel heard in that.

It’s been a very big thing with me lately, leading to passionate discussions about feminism and transgender issues.

But my own inability to listen was right under my nose.

One of the problems of being unashamedly open-minded is that when one has a bit of closed-mindedness it is hard to spot. Like a rusty mechanism, my radar didn’t turn on myself until I read this in a post this morning:

What if we responded like that more often? I think that would be beautiful, don’t you?

When someone tells us that we hurt them. I’m listening.

When someone is crying out. I’m listening.

When someone disagrees with us. I’m listening.

I’m in the middle of a disagreement with someone close to me, someone whose opinion on a situation seems totally unfounded. It feels like it’s unnecessary, that it’s inconvenient, that it’s a violent reaction to a small instigation. It’s right in front of me all the time, though, so I can’t just step past it and move on. I don’t want it to be there, and I’m impatient that it remains.

Part of me equates “listening” with “changing to make another person happier”. I need to find that middle ground between whole-hearted acceptance and whole-hearted resistance.

I’m trying to remind myself that it’s not about being right or being wrong. Other people do not need my permission to have “correct” emotions.

And maybe if I actually listened, with no other agenda or intent to convince, it would accomplish all it needed to.

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