“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
While we often think of self-care as bubble-baths and vacations, self-care has firm roots in queer, feminist and activist circles1 and is as much about “me time” as it is about committing to critical self-reflection and growth.
Self-care looks different for everyone, and that’s okay. It can take many different fo :
- Physical (like moving our bodies through dance or exercise)
- Emotional (like going to therapy)
- Spiritual (like taking time for reflection)
- Social (like keeping in touch with old friends)
Sometimes, self-care is something as boring as flossing or meeting a basic need, like drinking water every day. Other times, self-care can be uncomfortable, like not bringing our phones into our bedrooms, or downright challenging, like acknowledging and working to change our racial biases.
Self-care for those who’ve experienced sexual violence can look like:
- Finding a creative outlet to express feelings
- Going to therapy
- Identifying and communicating boundaries around sex
- Identifying and communicating boundaries around triggering conversations
“Shouting ‘self-care’ at people who actually need ‘community care’ is how we fail people.”
No matter how much self-care we engage in, the reality is that we all have needs that we cannot meet on our own. This is where community care comes in. Community care is “any care provided by a single individual to benefit other people in their life” from acts of compassion to attending protests2. Recognizing where we have privilege and the ways we can leverage this privilege for others is at the heart of community care. One example of community care that began during the coronavirus pandemic are the numerous “caremongering” groups that sprung up across Canada3.
Community care as it relates to sexual violence can look like:
- Supporting someone in our life who has experienced sexual violence by listening to them, validating their feelings and connecting them with resources
- Stepping in when we see violence (e.g., cat-calling, sexual grabbing) taking place, if it’s safe for us
- Educating others about sexual violence and consent through conversations or social media
1Spicer, A. (2019, August 21). ‘Self-care’: How a radical feminist idea was stripped of politics for the mass markets. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/21/self-care-radical-feminist-idea-mass-market
2Dockray, H. (2019, May 24). Self-care isn’t enough. We need community care to thrive. Mashable. https://mashable.com/article/community-care-versus-self-care/
3Gerken, T. (2020, March 16). Coronavirus: Kind Canadians start ‘caremongering’ trend. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51915723