I’ve agonized over this post for weeks. The mere thought of authoring it gives me a sense of urgency in the depths of my bowels. But I feel it must be captured.
It started as a piece on being direct. In professional settings throughout my career, I have often been categorized as “the bitch,” thanks to my incredibly frank approach to work place conversations. I’m direct. Occasionally to a fault. But it’s not angst or frustration that’s fueling this directness. Rather, I simply don’t see the point in beating around the bush or softening things. I don’t want any ambiguity in my message, and I cannot be responsible for managing people’s feelings.
Now, if I were a male, this directness would be praised. Admired. Coveted. Seen as a mark of strength.
But because I am female, and because there is an expectation that we should be softer, more emotionally driven colleagues, and because I don’t align with that expectation… I am a bitch.
This double standard (among many others) is a regular point of frustration for me. I struggle with how to manage and overcome it. And after years of ruminating and experimenting with different styles, I still don’t have an answer. This post was originally intended to be an exploration around this issue.
In light of current events, I feel compelled to shift the focus. It’s going to result in backlash for me. Which terrifies me. Women I admire will look at me differently, possibly with distaste. But my viewpoint is important too, and deserves a platform to be expressed. So here goes…
The Women’s March was bomb
The sheer volume of human beings that came together for a common cause was inspiring. From my stance as an observer on social media, the coolest part was that not every person that congregated held the exact same views, so I appreciate the ability to set aside differences and focus on commonality of purpose.
But exclusive inclusivity is not okay
Little known fact: a group called New Wave Feminists was originally a co-sponsor of this march. However, other co-sponsors disinvited them after finding out that NWF were pro-life. So what I’m gathering here is that, to be a feminist, you must also be pro-choice. Meaning, I can’t advocate for women’s rights because I’m pro-life? I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. And in fact, I also struggle with what I saw on a LOT of signs: “Women’s rights are human rights.” So, an unborn baby is not considered human and therefore doesn’t “deserve” said rights that all humans are entitled to? Yeah, I have a real problem with that.
I respect your point of view, really
I’m not saying that people who are pro-choice are wrong. And I’m sure as hell not saying anything about legislation here, so please don’t jump to conclusions or put words in my mouth along those lines. I’m just REALLY struggling with the underlying logic. I want to understand, because understanding breeds respect, and I want to continue respecting the beliefs of others.
I also want others to respect my beliefs and not condemn me for them. Or assume that simply because I am female, I must be pro-choice or crazy-conservative AF.
There’s a better way to engage in dialogue
And it doesn’t include tearing down people that don’t believe exactly as you do. That means:
- no judging
- no stereotyping
- no name-calling
- no condescension
- no hatred
- no division
- no assumptions
- no attacking
- no persuasion
- no aggression
I’m talking about calm, open-minded, healthy, adult dialogue aimed at understanding, human-to-human. Dialogue that doesn’t aim to convert the other individual to your “side,” but that is at peace with difference. That’s what makes the world so damn interesting and beautiful.
(Again, NOT TALKING ABOUT LEGISLATION HERE. So no need for comments to the effect of, “But when that legislation takes away a fundamental human right, that’s not interesting and beautiful.” Believe me, I get that part.)
I’ve come to one important conclusion
I defy any unbreakable mold that has been pre-cast for me by virtue of my womanhood. I am a human that was born with free will and can form my own opinions and beliefs, which may very well be different from yours and that’s okay. Why would we want to surround ourselves only by those that think exactly as we do?
As so many smart, fierce, action-oriented, vocal, talented, brave women took a major stand this weekend, I respectfully raise a glass in their honor (well, as soon as Whole30 is over!). I am proud to know some of them, and proud to live in a world where a movement of this scale can happen.
I respectfully disagree with some of what they believe, but that’s my prerogative, just as it’s theirs to organize and march. Right on, sisters (and brothers!). You go get ’em.
Just as I cheer them on in fighting for their causes, I hope that they do the same for the women that want to make their voice heard in the March for Life. Thank GOD we live in a country where we have the ability to participate in these types of events without fearing for our lives.
My mold doesn’t really exist (and I suspect I’m not alone)
My mold is not like yours. Or hers. Or theirs. If you feel compelled to apply a label to me (“pro-life”), that doesn’t mean I fit a set of criteria that all must apply to embody that label. I am pro-life AND a feminist AND a Catholic AND (mostly) conservative AND a badass bitch at the office AND yearning to be a mother AND deeply insecure… I mean. Guys. Why do we beat up other women when they don’t fit our expectations of their mold precisely?
Isn’t that the definition of insanity?