Repeat after me:
Date someone who matches you in emotional development.
Date someone who matches you in emotional intelligence.
Date someone who can support you emotionally.
i am so glad you exist, even if you exist so far away from me
"How we embody the oppressor within is where all feminist work begins." I’ve said and written this many times. This self-exploration, introspection and critical reflection is so important. I do this with myself every day and also over time.
One of the ways I’ve embodied oppressive thinking that I’ve had to continually challenge and reject includes the faulty White supremacist and patriarchal notion of separating emotion from logic. This binary exists to disregard collective and emotionally expressive non-White/Afrocentric cultures as “primitive” and to raise individualist and less emotionally expressive facets of Eurocentric culture as “superior.” It is also patriarchal because though deeply feeling and erotic power (H/T Audre Lorde) are sources of intuition and great knowledge for women, they’re disregarded as inferior knowledge and “weak” because patriarchy teaches men to disregard this way of knowing. Most of all, as thinking and feeling beings, we’re rarely engaged in any logical processes that are devoid of emotion, only told that “warm” emotions (associated with women) are lesser ones.
Anger, when male, is still deemed “logical” since anger is tied into aggression which is a facet of patriarchal masculinity, and anger is then excluded from emotions. But even anger or apathy themselves are emotions. What men feel are emotions. Feelings and expressions of feelings associated with maleness such as anger and rage/aggression or fear of more powerful men (or women) and intimidation/resentment are emotions. Men’s actions are also guided by emotions.
Conversely, women’s calm or informed passions are written off as “emotional” arguments even when the same level of intellect, nuance and insight is made in a woman’s argument as a man’s. A man literally has to become verbally or physically violent before his argument is deemed “too emotional.” His anger and irrationality based on said anger is still viewed as “logical” as long as the escalation to violence doesn’t occur (and even at times when it does, since such aggression is written off as “just being man”). All a woman has to do is to be passionate about her argument and reject gaslighting or silencing while presenting her argument in order to be deemed “emotional” where “emotional” becomes a pejorative. The same thing tends to play out in debates between a privileged person and an oppressed person. The rules of tone policing and the devaluation of emotion will be arbitrarily applied to the oppressed person. And this emotion versus logic myth prevents true dialogue and discourse which is more than conversation or even argument/debate.
For me, rejecting the White supremacist and patriarchal idea that the absence of emotion is a higher plane of knowing and intelligence has been critical. And it has been a process. I’ve learned more about the power of my expression and my knowledge and how it involves multiple facets: it’s lived experience, which includes a specific subset of knowledge, emotion and intuition that no amount of essays or books can teach someone who isn’t a Black woman. As a Womanist, when I center my own experiences and the diversity of experiences of Black women, I am able to more clearly see others since centering Whiteness and maleness (as you learn to do in school and life) in terms of thinking or experiencing excludes many, and definitely dehumanizes those who aren’t White and/or male.
This re-centering shapes how I approach my reading, writing and learning. And to articulate this perspective effectively, I have to be fully engaged in how I experience my experiences, or be connected to, not disconnected from my emotions, as well as fully engaged in how said experiences shape my knowledge. And fragmenting them all as a form of “higher intelligence” actually makes little sense. Emotions are heavily involved in intellectual interpretations and learning itself.
Another reason that I suspect that emotions, intuition and lived experience are devalued is because they connect to a source of information that more accurately can characterize the manifestations of oppression. So it’s not a coincidence that White supremacist and patriarchal ways of thinking and feeling remain fragmented. How could one articulate the inferiority of others without the delusions involved in believing such thought is logically abstract and involve no emotion? Entire frames of thought are built around rejecting said guilt, self-loathing and resentment that the dehumanization of others naturally create in a human consciousness. Then the rationalization that if some people are actually “less than human” then subordination, domination and oppression are the “logical” responses to their existence comes about. Some of the “greatest” White male thinkers of all time have articulated this point of view and have included it in everything from philosophy to science. It’s interesting how their suppositions, clearly based on a politics of emotion—on hatred and a need for dominance to mask emptiness, self-loathing and fragmentation—are called “natural,” “logically made” inferences.
I view it as a strength to be in touch with the multiple ways by which I acquire information and express knowledge. I continue to reject that only that which I acquire through abstract absorption and shaped by perspective external to mine is valid or the most important knowledge. Only by dismissing the heterosexist notion of humans as fragmented opposing halves meant to “complete” each other as long as we abide by rigid conceptions of gender (usually ones that are cissexist also) meant to keep women as “feeling-only beings” who are dominated and men “thinking-only” beings who dominate can all humans begin to get in touch with multiple ways of learning, knowing and expressing. Only by dismissing the White supremacist notion of centering Whiteness and Eurocentric ways of knowing as “universally" applicable and the "boiler plate" way of thinking, feeling and expressing can Black and other people of colour fully realize that our ways of knowing, feeling and thinking are just as accurate and even more applicable to our lives.
For Black women, this means that not just the fragmentation involved in emotion versus logic is rejected but also the sociopolitical fragmentation of gender versus race is rejected. We embrace ourselves as whole, feeling and thinking, where neither is privileged over the other. We connect to our experiences as women, as Black people and as Black women, specifically. All three, and any other identities (i.e. class, sexual orientation, citizenship, complexion, size, etc.) that speak to our experiences.
When those treated as the least among us are centered, those treated as the most among us are still included. And for the latter, having to give up the ability to oppress as a “logical” reaction to choosing to dehumanize others is not “oppression.” It’s actually embracing the idea that what they feel (and what others feel) cannot be separated from what they know (and what others know and experience). No more excuses can be made as to why it is logical to oppress.
do not fix your dark circles let the world know youre tired of its shit and ready to kill a man