sex, money, and miscellany: talking about what matters

claiming power

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2009 at 7:16 am

I was walking down the street one day several years ago and saw a woman who was just looking stunning. She wasn’t necessarily beautiful by conventional standards, but everything from the confidence of her stride to the clothes she had chosen was beautiful. She was hurrying, I was hurrying, we stopped waiting on a corner–she to cross east and I to cross north. Somehow, I had this strange moment of courage and just as the crosswalk light changed I said, “I just had to tell you, you are beautiful.”

She blinked, blushed, smiled broad and shy, and said thank you before we parted ways.

When someone is beautiful or rich or well-connected, we as a culture give them a lot of power. It’s easy to believe that we are not the beautiful ones, and that those who are wouldn’t want to hear from us. That’s very rarely true.

Especially because sex has become so loaded, so fraught with fear and power and vulnerability, giving out compliments can be very risky. We live in a “give something to get something” culture, a culture of barter and exchange. A gift economy is beyond most people’s immediate view, so even gifts that cost nothing–gifts like saying a nice thing or two–are suspect. We do have to be careful.

But when we claim the power to give it away, we claim the power that is inherently ours as humans. We matter. What we think matters. When people say “they” think something, those people are talking about us. It’s up to us to use that power for good.

Take a chance. Step out. Represent the humanity you want to see in the world. This is your world to change, and your world to love.

  1. Well said! It reminds me of Looney Labs’ Long Hair Complement Cards:

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