From The Other Side

I began losing power five years ago, when for the first time as an adult I was unable to control the course of my own life.  I’m pretty sure the lesson is embedded now, so I wouldn’t mind if the gods let up a little, though I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Apparently there are remnants of privilege that still need to be rooted out.

I was a bright kid. I did well in school and grew up on the right side of the tracks.  Teachers nurtured me; colleges competed for me.  I was 27 when I was first offered a CEO position in a large non-profit. Though I turned it down, I was confident they made a good decision when they offered it to me.  I accepted a CEO position in my 30s.  In the world I inhabited, that was right on time.

I had no idea. I mean, seriously, I had no idea.

About 10 days ago I saw powerful white men behave in ways that would have disqualified a woman on the spot.  Their privilege was being challenged, and they did not like it.

I do not personally know any women who have a lot of respect for those men.  I am sure there are plenty of women who are supportive, but those are not the women who are willing to be friends with me.  Hence my rather insular world of incensed females.  It’s fine.  The women I hang out with are teaching me a lot.  I mean, a lot.

One of them wrote last week to, I dunno, tell me what was on her heart, I guess.  She expressed a lot of frustration with her lot in life as an alpha female in an evangelical world.  Somewhere in the middle of the email she dropped a line about having felt dismissed by me back in the day.  I wrote and apologized.  I always thought highly of her, though apparently I was dismissive of her, as I am sure I was to a lot of women.  Not because I was an asshole, but because, well, uh, nope,  maybe I was an asshole, just like the men who threw tantrums.

All these men are clueless about their entitlement, especially the evangelicals and politicians.  The evangelicals because God told them they are in charge.  They’ve studied the Bible.  That’s what it says.  Just ask them.  And the politicians?  The politicians because absolute power corrupts absolutely.  But enough about evangelicals and politicians.  Back to me.  Because hey, I was a man for a lot of decades and I know how to make it all about me.

I have been a female long enough that I am starting to get the truth.  Powerful white men are not interested in what I say.  As a transgender woman, they really don’t care what I say.  Like my two male neighbors who refuse to acknowledge that I exist.  It is fascinating to see how hard they work to avoid sharing space with me.

White men throwing tantrums is disturbing.  To see them get their way is really disturbing.  To see a woman of incredible courage and bravery mocked by the President of the United States is more than disturbing.  It is evil.

Which brings me back to my diminished power.  Yeah, I have a platform.  A few thousand people a week read my blog.  And I get to speak about gender inequity to sizeable crowds every month.  But in a lot of ways, I’m still not sure I should be the one with a platform.  In some ways I’m just another white dude telling women what I know.

It is true that women almost never tell me that. Some of the reason is because they really do want to hear my unique “from both sides” perspective. Some of it is because I am learning a lot and starting to see the ubiquitous nature of misogyny.  And some of it is just because women tend to be more generous.

Everything I was scheduled to do this past Sunday cancelled, so I never left the house.  I worked out for an hour and listened to music. I booked a trip to London to speak at a conference in March, and worked on a talk I’m giving at a cool place I still can’t tell you about because it hasn’t been announced yet.  But for a lot of the day I just sat and wept.  You should have seen my eyes Monday morning.  I had to take an antihistamine.

I will vote on November 6, but so will a lot of the women who are not friends with me. And they have a different agenda than my friends.  I am afraid they may be more motivated to vote.  They are not as cynical about our democracy as the rest of us.

But this is a long haul, and I choose to believe what abolitionist Theodore Parker wrote back in 1853, that the arc of the moral universe is long, and that it does bend toward justice.  I believe there is a God, and I believe She is crying with us.  That’s not just a semi-cute cliché.  It is my abiding hope.

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