|Don't need any balls, thank you very much.
||[Jan. 28th, 2013|10:33 am]
So, last week, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the front page of the New York Post and I know that frothy, outrageous headlines sell papers. It was a picture of Hilary Clinton at the hearings, clearly in “are you expletive kidding me? I am only going to explain this one more time!” mode, which is near and dear to my heart, and if not my homeland at least my vacation cottage by the shore, responding to a question. And the headline was “No Wonder Bill’s Afraid”.
You think the look on HER face was scary? I think I actually snarled. Maybe even growled a bit.
I am really fucking tired of assertive, even aggressive women being seen as scary. Emasculating.
Fuck. That. Noise.
I swear, the next person who uses the phrase pussy-whipped is going to wake up a few minutes later wondering why he/she is laying on the floor and his/her jaw hurts so much. Yeah, his/her. I take gender equality very, very seriously.
Hauling off and punching someone may be a little damaging to my point. Except that I would use that as the occasion to say “Physical violence, my friend, THAT is a reason to be afraid. But just because I know what I want out of life and am going to make it happen, which may include disagreeing with a man, that is not scary. Giant human-sized spiders, yes. Me telling you how I’d like to see something happen, or what we’re going to do next, and having ovaries at the same time? NOT SCARY.
And why the hell would that make your balls fall off? Jeebus. If they’re that fragile, maybe you shouldn’t leave the house with them. Gorilla Glue? I really, really resent the implication that in order for a woman to be in charge, leading, being the decision-maker at the time, all the men in the room have to let their testosterone drain out of their left heel. Why should an assertive woman diminish a man?
Just the other day, my boss, a man, asked me to do something and I said no. And explained to him why I wasn’t going to – he’s not an idiot, just new, so he’s doesn’t understand all of the variables involved. And I enumerated some of the reasons and he pushed back. So I went into full details and spelled out exactly why what he was suggesting would have marginal value compared to the time and effort spent. And he, perhaps a little grudgingly, accepted. And a male colleague, who’d overheard, made a joke about not even letting the guy settle in before I snipped off his balls. And called me “a handful” and chuckled. Now let’s be clear – this same guy has heard me do this same thing, over and over to my previous two bosses – both female. Just business as usual, I guess, who cares if the women give each other shit? Why the hell would I act any differently with a boss who was a man? But apparently if I dress down a male superior, I’m a side-show act and he’s a wuss. Hey, maybe it’s just because I had a good point, communicated it well, and he saw merit.
I’ve overhead a former boss (who didn’t realize I was around the corner) tell someone who was looking for me that maybe he shouldn’t try to find me because I was being “bitchy today” and I said loudly, “I’m not bitchy, I’m pissed off, and there’s a big difference.” Be scared of me because I have good hearing. Be scared of me because I’m more confrontational than the average person…although honestly, I did that mostly because I’m a comedian and it was funny as hell. But don’t be scared because I did that AND have ovaries. And don’t diminish my pissed-offedness by making it a female thing.
I supervised a security team composed completely of Egyptian men once – the chief was a recent immigrant from Egypt and he had hired a bunch of his friends. And it was a bit of a struggle – clearly as a woman, how could I possibly tell him what to do? My directions were regularly ignored, until finally one day, after specifically asking for something to be done and having them blow it off, I got loud and fierce, and scoldfinger came out and I took him out back to the loading dock and spelled out how we were going to work together. I can guarantee you that perhaps barring his mother, when he was a child, that no woman ever had spoken to him like that. It was foodservice, so there was a lot of swearing, and definitely a line drawn with “you will do this or I will paper your and your team’s ass right out of here, because I depend on you to keep us safe and if I can’t depend on you to either follow my direction or explain to me why it’s a bad idea, then I cannot depend on you at all.” We were on the loading dock, but there were windows, and apparently his crew, was clustered around one of them watching their boss take a beating. (Welcome to retail/foodservice, where having an office, with a door, that only you are in, but could fit more than one person is unlikely and luxurious.) Later my loading dock manager told me that he’d overheard one of the crew asking his chief how he could stand to be yelled at like that by a woman. “Oh, well, clearly she is not really a woman. Do not think of her as a woman, and just do what she tells you.” Okaaaaay…….
I could go on and on about our word labels, but that’s another post. And frankly, a giant-ass windmill to tilt at and I’m not sure I’m up for that this week. But this whole idea of a strong woman making the men around her weak by association? Yes, there are bullies. And bullies do, by definition, exist by making the people around them weak, and by preying on and feeding those weaknesses. And I don’t for a heartbeat support any woman who bullies a man any more than I do a man who bullies a woman. Reverse discrimination is not payback, it’s just more discrimination. But whatever your political stripe, it’s still bullshit to assume that Hillary Clinton made/makes Bill Clinton weak because she’s strong. That she “wore the pants” in the family because she….what, had an opinion? Had a career? That makes her a bully? Because whatever you think about Bill Clinton, he’s not cowering at home.
I find it frustrating that we can’t, as a society, as a culture, (I’m tempted to say species, and depress the crap out of myself) possibly perceive that a woman can be strong without diminishing the men around her. Or that the only way a woman can be strong is if the men around her allow it by being passive. That people can be strong and be strong enough to let someone else lead, with no regard to which genitals are in charge?
I’ve had the good fortune to have had slightly more than a handful of men in my life who clearly were not diminished or threatened by my strength and assertiveness. But seriously, it’s like hitting a gold mine. A huge sense of relief to be able to “have an opinion/give a direction” without feeling the need to now follow up with some kind of affirmation of masculinity/strength. But those men are also at constant risk of some dipshit accusing them of being pussy-whipped, of being submissive, of it somehow becoming a BDSM joke...
A small sample does not convincing data make, but I can assure you that these guys are perfectly capable, perfectly likely to take the reins, take charge, be opinonated and lead. But they've got the self confidence and strength to know that following a woman doesn't make them any less a man than would following a man.
I’ve contributed to the problem myself – making and laughing at jokes about the keeping various men’s…jewels…in jars and letting them have them from time to time. But that just perpetuates the problem, doesn’t it? So, I’m done. Time to own and celebrate my strengths, but to shut down the jokes about that power coming from the diminishment of the men around me.
As one man wrote:
Just a reminder, ladies, that you may graduate from Wellesley, then Yale Law School, become one of the most powerful and influential lawyers in the country, then the First Lady of the United States, then a U.S. Senator from New York, come this close to being the Democratic nominee for president yourself, and ultimately serve as the Secretary of State, but you’ll always be a woman — an emotionally unhinged, woman.
Trust me. We’re pissed off, but we’re well hinged.