The Art of Loving Women: How Woman-Love is Saving My Life

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In this white supremacist capitalist patriarchal society, as bell hooks names it, we women are taught and encouraged to hate ourselves and other women. We are encouraged to be in competition with each other for men, for jobs and for attention. We are also taught that the only spaces in which we can be appreciated and valued as pseudo-human beings is while serving men or by being on the arm of a male significant other.

That's bullshit.

Over these past three years I began to encounter myself and others in very new ways. Consciously, and unconsciously, I had been searching for Self. I had been searching for self, for love of Self, for love of another through Self and to be loved by another.

I want
to be loved
more deeply.

It was not until this moment in my life, this moment when I began to fully desire love and where I began more intentionally loving myself, that I could see and appreciate loving women as an act of resistance and perseverance. When I read Cheryl Clarke’s, Lesbianism as an act of resistance, I was finally able to articulate a truth I knew with my heart, Loving Women Will Save My Life.

Clarke writes Lesbianism as an act of resistance, in 1980s towards the end of 2nd wave white feminism. She defines lesbianism as, “a recognition, an awakening, a reawakening of our passion for each (woman) other (woman) and for same (woman).”* Simply put, lesbianism is the remembrance of women’s intentional, passionate, near fanatic love and enjoyment of women. I call this Woman-Love.

Woman-Love is the singular act of loving one’s Self and spirit and the pluralistic act of loving other women through the love of Self.

Woman-Love is power.
The bond created between two women who have decided to become sisters, to become partners, to love one another and to support each other is precious (and far too often, precarious). It is especially powerful when these sisters/lovers/partners have an awareness, conscious or not of all they face in the world.

For two women, or a group of women, to intentionally love and support each other disrupts the dominant predatory hetero-patriarchal norm that inserts men into women’s lives as necessary for our vitality, instead of complimentary to our health.

We, women, need each other. Though, it has been my experience that we do not always seek each other.

I did not find myself intentionally searching for woman companionship until now, my early twenties. At 23, I am realizing I need the guidance, mentorship and the company of women of all ages. Most importantly, I need women in my life who look and think and act like me.

I need brown, Black, beautiful, smart, funky, angry, righteous, tom-boyly, rapping, passionate, singing, painting, dog-loving, Sickle Cell having, androgynous women in my life because I have not seen enough of me to love me fully, yet.

I need hugging, warm kissing, loving, reassuring, understanding, firm, hard feedback giving women. I need more mothers, more sisters, more lovers, more aunties, more cousins, more friends. I need women in my life who reflect my light and allow me to understand myself. I need women to teach me how to hold myself more tenderly.

My need as a woman for women and Woman-Love is not unique. We, as women, recognize the need for a community of women, consciously and unconsciously. So how do we all get there?

For me, it all began when I chose to trust. I chose to trust women. And I chose to love my Self.

I also carry consciously in my mind, everyday, that I love Black women, which in turn reminds me that I love myself. I carry this consciousness with me throughout my daily interactions.

I wake up in the mornings, look in the mirror and give my self my best self. I speak love to my skin and ears. I then seek to recycle that energy with the women I encounter everyday.

I make a conscious effort to say positive things. I listen. When I hear a woman cut herself down, I work to counter her self-deprecation. I compliment women. I smile at women on the street. If I see a woman in woman-man coupling, I work to address the woman first and sometimes only the woman.

When Black women tell me of their feelings of unease, I trust her. I listen. When a woman reacts in panic or anger at the countless instances of microaggressions she experiences everyday, I don’t tell her to calm down. I listen. When queer women tell me they don’t feel safe, I listen. When survivor women tell me they are triggered, I listen. I work to affirm the truths of others.

I practice compassion so intentionally with other women, that it helps me understand how to practice it with myself. I allow myself to make mistakes. I remind other women that it is okay to make mistakes. I let women be imperfect. I tell women I admire them. I let women know they inspire me.

Though I am new to this intentionality, I have seen the changes it has brought to my life. I am more comfortable with myself and around others. I am not comparing myself to every woman as she walks through the bar or the club or the library. Most often, I see her and I smile and usually she smiles back. I have come to recognize that women are not the enemy and I have done work to cease to be an enemy to myself.
In a world that thrives on war, on torment, on low self-esteem; in a society whose culture is defined by patriarchal, capitalist, imperialist, racist, misogynist thinking;

in a culture, that in short, promotes self-hate. The acts of loving one’s Self, of seeking to love another and the epiphanic moment of woman loving herself realizing she is capable of and seeking to love other women, is an act of dissent, of bravery and signifies a decolonizing mind.

Being woman and loving women intentionally is teaching me how to love myself. Being woman and loving women is giving me community. Being woman and loving women intentionally allows me to feel free. Woman-Love is saving my life. Woman-Love, is my act of resistance.

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