In June 2022, Roe v Wade was struck down by the US Supreme Court, greatly affecting reproductive rights in America.
Shortly thereafter, a member from our Patreon program wrote in the question below. Host Karen Yates asked sex coach Tazima Parris and sex-positive therapist Matthew Amador for their thoughts for the live Wild & Sublime monthly Patreon Q&A online. The conversation also included the impact of Black Lives Matter and the Pulse shooting in 2016. Here is the edited transcript.
“When Roe fell, as someone who is still in childbearing years, and single, I’m having a reaction that I’m seeing echoed by other women on social. I don’t want to get near a man right now. I feel mistrustful and angry and some male friends seem to have no clue about the seriousness, or others are posting stupid stuff that makes me want to vomit. One guy I had been thinking about pursuing before this, but then I saw his post not taking the decision seriously. And I had an immediate ‘Hell no—hard pass’ reaction. Not even sure what I’m asking here. I don’t want to rage against men. But the lack of empathy I see is a shock. Help me out, people.” – Patreon member
Tazima Parris: With any major occurrence, there are a lot of people involved. There’s the entire population of the United States; there are the people on Supreme Court; there are the humans that identify as male that this person is talking about; there are the other women having their experience; and there’s you having your own experience.
The person writing, the question is that they have a lot of feeling about this. They’re feeling angry, they’re present to their anger, great. You can’t take it all on. Everyone has to do their own work on this. So you can’t be mad at all the dudes because a few dudes made some shitty comments, including someone with whom you are thinking about pursuing some kind of engagement. There are a lot of other people who happen to be men who are also compassionate to this to the situation. Some of them are my friends. I’ve seen some posts from people who I know that are extremely thoughtful and supportive of the people who are directly affected by body autonomy not being as available.
So take it from the huge problem that it is for all that are affected and bring it down to something that is more manageable, like “What’s happening for me in this situation?” What care do you need to handle the feelings part of it? And then is there something that you need to say, that hasn’t been said to somebody in particular? If it’s general rage, do you just got to soothe yourself? Be with people who are compassionate to your position and who will who can hear what your concerns are.
The final piece of it is I have chosen not to stay stuck in the complaining about how bad it is. I personally am no longer attempting to appeal to people who don’t have the capacity to have empathy for this fucking situation. Like I won’t waste my breath trying to convince someone who has no capacity to understand what this means to me, or people like me, or people who are being affected directly by this decision. I won’t do it. That’s a boundary for me. That’s a standard that I hold. So I encourage the writer of this question to to consider holding that boundary for themselves because it’s fucking exhausting. You literally can’t shift them. That’s not your job. There are other people who are ready to have that conversation. There are people who are paid to have that conversation. This is their job to have that conversation. Let them have that conversation. Forward an article if you really feel strongly about wanting to shift a specific person’s opinion, but you cannot take it on. It is too exhausting.
There have been too many things that have happened across these years of the pandemic of social injustice. You know, we’ve got all kinds of issues on on the planet. We’ve got war and pestilence. But as as we take these things into consideration, we still are only single human beings who have only so much capacity to manage really big feelings. And so that self-soothing is going to be huge. And my encouragement is to put down the effort to try to get people to get it. Don’t get it. You have no interest in getting.
Karen Yates: One hundred percent. Matthew?
Matthew Amador: I also say if if you’re angry, that’s absolutely okay. If you are feeling like raging a little bit that is absolutely okay. I’m so glad you found out about this someone that you were potentially interested in. Okay. Great, hard pass. I’m glad they’re out of your life right now. And okay, sure, men are not solely to blame for this. There are women who are complicit in patriarchy hashtag not all men, whatever. If you don’t want to be around them, don’t be around them. I also say just don’t.
This reminds me and I’m not trying to center myself here. I’m trying to tell you something that this reminds me of. So I am a queer Mexican guy. When the Pulse shooting* happened, I didn’t go find straight people. When the shootings happened, and I saw all those faces of people who could have been my cousins, my nieces, my nephews, people who went to school with, I did not go seek out white people. I wanted to turn to community.
And when these things have happened, it has made me realize that the Venn diagram of these atrocities that made it look like one circle that is atrocity is actually two circles. Sympathy and empathy are two different circles.
Honestly, with Roe falling, my rights were not specifically restricted here. I can only sympathize with you on this, no matter how much my brain may say “I know that struggle. I’m there with you. I’m there with you.” It’s the same thing with George Floyd. I cannot empathize completely. And it sounds like specifically you’re in need of some empathy here. You need empathy, you don’t need sympathy. I say go be with your people, sis, go be with the people and then decide where you can go and who you can trust from there.
Tazima Parris: Yeah. I will underscore that his experience of meeting specifically community, that’s where I was with George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, in particular. There were people who texted me that I literally never texted back just because I just didn’t even want to have that conversation. And I’m going to echo here that I one hundred percent support the anger.
I’m a person who has integrated anger. I know how to access it; I know how to use it. It’s a skill, especially as a woman where we’re not allowed, it’s not socially appropriate for us to express our anger to the fullest extent. And by the way, even the way that we talk about our feelings as women in this society, there’s a way that women will say, my clients especially, will say, “I feel irritated about that… I feel frustrated…” I was like no, no bitch, you have thinly veiled rage, thinly veiled rage, that’s what’s actually going on. And then when I name it, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, yeah! I’m pissed!” And so I encourage being pissed and use the anger toward getting yourself the care; use the anger toward making sure that you’re with people who can hear you, rather than spewing it at people who have no ears to hear.
Karen Yates: Yeah, and I also want to say to the writer of this question, you get to choose who you sleep with. That’s the bottom line. If you don’t want to sleep with a dude that doesn’t share your views on this, guess what? you don’t have to sleep with him. There are plenty of guys out there that do have sympathy, right? that are are fighting the good fight, that are willing to stand next to you. And so you get to choose at every single step. You get to figure out what you want to do.
We’re living in such oppressive times where the trauma that has been there—and you both have have voiced various traumas—is breaking open, everything is breaking open, and we’ve been living with the trauma right below the surface. Some of us have felt it very close but now it’s open and now everything’s just spilling out, and we are in such volatile times. And yeah, we are we are entitled to the rage, and self soothing is the answer I agree, and then figuring out what’s next.
Matthew Amador: My hope to the writer of the question is that the people who are the loudest— the jagoffs—are just the shinier ones. And we always pay attention to the shiny things, as opposed to the things that are in the background. So hopefully, they’re just loud and shiny. And they’re not the majority of the people in your support network.
Tazima Parris: Yeah, I get to choose the people who are participating in my personal life. And all of those people need to be of a certain caliber and a certain consciousness, so that I can have have real engagement with them. I have no interest in educating someone with whom I’m going to share intimate moments, or could possibly share intimate moments. I would prefer to have someone who I don’t have to coach and teach or, or have to have this conversation, a corrective conversation or an adjustment conversation, every time something really sensitive for me comes up, I need that person to have the capacity to get it. And so I get to choose who’s around me in my life.
The person who wrote this may have some space where they feel that that they may have to draw some lines that haven’t yet been drawn. My inner circle are also people who have the capacity to take good feedback, and they’ll give me high quality feedback and we can be emotionally supportive of one another. And so you, the writer, may want to determine that for yourself. Who are the people who support your being in the world?
* The Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was the site of a 2016 mass shooting. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 other people were injured. The evening of the shooting, Pulse was hosting a “Latin Night,” and most of the victims were Latino. It is the deadliest incident in the history of violence against LGBTQ+ people in the United States.
Header photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash