Do you feel like you listen to people enough? As in, truly listening to what people have to say? I know I don’t.
I attended a show that allowed eight women to use performance art as a way of telling their rape stories.
Yep. There’s a word that tends to grab people’s attention.
It’s not easy to read or hear, is it? But these courageous women want to tell their stories, and I went to listen to them. There was a talk back after the show and I continued to sit and listen. Then I talked about the act of listening with a friend who was also at the show, and she commented that people sure are talking a lot these days but they’re forgetting to listen.
She’s completely right, and I’m completely guilty of it. I choose to see what I want to see, and so does Facebook. I don’t follow people on twitter that have voiced differing political viewpoints from my own, and I know about some Facebook algorithms that are in play in regards to what comes through my newsfeed. So much so that even if you merely pause on certain content while you’re scrolling through your feed, Facebook will then be more likely you make sure you see similar content in the future.
When I wrote One, I mentioned being in a bubble, and I’ve decided I really don’t want to be in that bubble anymore. Of course, that’s easier said than done and like everything else for me, I’ve felt a little overwhelmed on where to start. But theater, that’s something I know about and can do. So I went.
I went to this show that had real talk about rape which is a topic about which I know very little. And I listened. And I learned. Something I’ve been learning more about through acquaintances who speak out on social media about their rapes and sexual assaults is asking people for permission before you touch them. This is a tough one for me because I tend to naturally touch someone’s arm when I’m being sincere or expressing affection, but I vow to work on this. A woman in the talk back mentioned that this is something we need to teach children so they know that their bodies are their own, and if they don’t want to be touched by someone (even hugging a relative), they can choose to not be touched by someone.
Another notion from the show involves how culture and society perpetuates rape culture. Through song lyrics. Through racism. Through movies. Through art. Through video games. The list goes on and on. We need to work on our awareness of this and fight against it. We can’t let it become a societal norm so people are desensitized to it, and we can’t let them glamorize it.
We need to offer people a safe space to tell their stories. And we need to believe them. And we need to listen.
I look forward to finding more opportunities to learn from people who have vastly different experiences than me and I have another story to tell, but that’s for another time. Do you spend time thinking about the art of listening? If you have, I’d love to hear how you’re working on this skill.