How do we learn how to love?
Where? Who from?
My school teacher would reply: “the guy is driving you crazy but just because he likes you! He harasses you, disrespects and mistreats you, but only because he secretly loves you. You should be more sympathetic; he cannot show it otherwise because, you know, he is only a guy!”
Some friends would say: “of course men on the street are not harassing you!! They are just being nice and complimenting you. If anything, you should feel grateful that, even looking like that, somebody cares to appreciate you”.
“Love is about selfless giving. And a bit of scarifying.”
That’s my mother. She will never mention anything about receiving.
She would write in a notebook: “I shall be good to my husband. I’ll support him and won’t criticize him”. Alleged affirmations that were actually a complete self-negation: of her adulthood, her good judgement and senses. Because, trust me on that, my father did deserve to be criticized.
He would «inform»: Bear in mind that if you fuck, you’ll probably end up knocked up. And by the way, go shave! Women just don’t have body hair, there… or there!
My aunt would warn me: It is very important to be a good mother and a great wife. But if you don’t want them to leave you on the long run, as it happened to me twice, so don’t forget nor be afraid to be a complete whore in bed.
Society… Crazy breed.
Society will teach us to love romantically, heterosexually, monogamically and patriarchally.
Society will teach us love as the complementarity of two-opposite-gendered-incomplete-and-therefore-imperfect-souls. A pragmatic love. Ok, you can make love, but barely enjoy it – just get pregnant and keep all this circus going!
Love someone obsessively, exclusively, possessively and spice it all up with a little bit of acute jealousy. That will show them how much you love them.
In loving someone, compare yourself with *every* other single person on earth.
Compare with them; compete with them; and of course, hate them.
But don’t go as far as to hate them more than you should hate your own.
Because you, my dear:
You deserve all of your deepest, most secret, and most hurting self-hating.
Who to love and how to love should be a very personal decision.
But if you ask me, my personal-political piece of advice would be: start by yourself.
And I am not talking about the light version of mainstream and conservative self-esteem, based in consumption or in “leaning in”. This is not the Dove’s real beauty campaign, or working out and sweating your self-love away.
I am not talking about the self-esteem that grows out of the gender prestige when you fit in perfectly all that you are expected to be:
a good looking cis-heterosexual-feminine woman, light skinned and always thin, who’s a great selfless lover and just happens to love it the exact way you saw on all that educational porn,
who’s a great professional –real team player, overachiever and yet not complaining, ambitious but not showing it off, and not bossy at all!– who on top of that all, manages to keep an impeccable home, raise your son, cook like a pro… and so on, and so on.
I am talking, indeed, about setting free of all this shit!
Not letting this ridiculous system to drown your ambitions and dreams of becoming the person you want to be.
Or loving and fucking whoever and however you feel.
I am talking about a feminist love. About starting the complex transformation of society to live without oppressions, in the only corner of the universe where you can be sure you’ll be able to make a change: yourself.
Breaking the circle: cutting loose your insecurities and constant self-doubting.
Saying Tschüss to the auto-boycott and *finally* silencing that inner self-hatred voice.
Simone de Beauvoir once wrote:
“On the day when it will be possible for a woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself — on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.”
My unrequested political-personal piece of advice is: love yourself. Go ahead. Start today.
Be blunt, radical, obsessed;
Unshakable, unapologetic, straight;
Unstoppable, indomitable, outspoken
In your self-loving.
Because the day on which love will be a source of life and not of mortal danger will not come until you don’t stop that self-hatred.
Words by Angie Kohon
Visuals by Angie Kohon and Judy Mièl