Voices from With/out Pretend: Love By Listening
Love by Listening by Jessica Kasiama
How do you show and share love? Can you categorize your language of giving through Gary Chapman’s theory of five languages? Or, do you live somewhere in between the act of physical touch and words of affirmation? The answer to this question is never black or white. Love takes many shapes and manifests in so many different ways. When I sat down to consider this question for myself, the first idea that popped into my head was love by listening.

It’s a simple idea that I am trying to accept as an everyday practice.

For so long, I felt silenced. I felt held back and minimized by the angry black girl trope so I painted a permanent smile on my face and bottled everything up inside. Slowly but surely, I began to see my emotions represented in the media. Representation gave me the strength to fight off my insecurities. My journey towards self acceptance is a journey to decolonialize my mind and understanding of self. I knew I had to challenge media that was presenting my culture and identity as less than in order to see the power of my individual voice. Even as I write this, I feel fear hovering over my shoulder, telling me to backspace this whole paragraph. All I can do is keep going because I realize how much this matters.

Love by listening.

Of course there are days when my ego lures me away from this practice and I cannot help but become consumed by deeply rooted patterns of thinking. Really, it’s about striking a balance. I am learning to trust my own feelings and in doing so, I can only hope that I am encouraging those around me to do the same. Being vulnerable can cause a ripple effect. When we are vulnerable, we give ourselves permission to step into our innate power, and we’re also able respond with sensitivity and empathy when others are vulnerable with us — because we recognize how difficult it is. 

Love by listening.

Hold these words close to you like a mantra. Carry it with you as you navigate through the world and remember that you are worthy of being heard. With all that in mind, here are some of my favourite platforms that practice listening in an impactful way and continue the mission of rewriting the narrative. Take a deep breath, sit back and dig into another woman-centered edition of Voices. Let’s listen together.  

The Sexually Liberated Woman

The Sexually Liberated Woman is a podcast by Ev’Yan Whitney. Whitney’s work is rooted in sex-positive dialogue. In her independent bi-weekly podcast, she invites listeners to peek into deep and mindful chats that revolve around healing and the importance of unleashing the true woman within.

StyleLikeU was founded by Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum. The mother-daughter duo work endlessly towards chipping away at the restrictive beauty standards we are all taught from a very young age. I especially love their videos where they sit down with brave participants who share their stories while removing articles of clothing as a visual representation of returning to a raw place.
There are many ways to learn about proactive allyship and I think it’s something that’s essential in a creative community. Love by listening is also my simplified response as to how we can go about this. Support the voices around you by stepping back and paying attention as they carve out their own space for expression. 

If you’re having trouble finding impactful resources, take a trip to your local independent bookstore. Read far outside of your own reality.

Thank you to Another Story Book Shop for curating this month’s booklist. Their list includes amazing titles from contemporary female writers, non-binary writers and NBPoC.

Jessica Kasiama is an emerging writer, currently working as an intern at With/out Pretend. Through her work, she hopes to hold space for raw storytelling in order to inspire social change.

follow her on instagram 
On Another Story's Shelf
Sour Heart: Stories
by Jenny Zhang
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir 
by Kai Cheng Thom
Heart Berries:
A Memoir

by Terese Marie Mailhot
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