In light of my dear friend not winning her city council bid last night against the 4th term incumbent, after running a superior campaign with professionalism, transparency, care, and hard work, I feel compelled to use words again.
*** Do not be lazy and assume that gender is "an excuse" regarding the aforementioned bit as you continue to read. Rather, the point is to highlight a needed value/priorities shift within our culture.
I was scrolling through facebook in a moment of boredom yesterday and came across a video of Michelle Obama saying that if we want women to speak up as adults (using the context of the numerous sexual assault cases coming to light as an example), then we must teach them to use their voices as children. This is something girls learn by doing. As boys do.
Let's take this a step further and speak to teaching boys a few different things as well...here.
As I reflect upon a privileged and manageable amount of shit and try real hard to strengthen my weaknesses, I wonder, instead about focusing on our strengths as women. As my dear friend pointed out, who was the best candidate for that town's city council: "Katie, how much time have we spent working on our weaknesses?"
How many times have I personally fallen on the sword and made excuses for the bad behavior of some men and fallen in line with our generally accepted assumptions and apathy as a society?
I'm quick to say I'm sorry, to offer a disclaimer, to retreat within myself when I'm vulnerable or insecure, to subvert my anger as I will certainly be ridiculed. We could spend some time going over each of our experiences as women and find common through lines throughout the world. In the workplace, in partner relationships, in moving through the world on a daily basis. There are obvious differences in personalities between all humans and thus different reactions to adversity.
A few months ago I was trying hard not to break down one morning when my Dad asked, "where is ________?" after my then-partner did not return home to our house from a trip. As I fought back tears, he asked, "what's going on?" and I was uncomfortable with the reality of: I don't really fucking know, Dad. My Dad said to me, with impatience and frustration, (that I understand was his love and protection of me), "I don't want you to think that there is something wrong with you or that you did something wrong."
Yet I did. I made excuses that involved my anxiety, my insecurities, and my challenging, "opinionated" personality. I did not feel anger. I did not immediately recognize that after years of letting each other into one another's worlds, compromising, working, and building a life together, that if my partner could not give me the respect of clearly breaking up with me, or a simple, honest, I don't know, then that was a reflection of where they were at, which is not where I needed them to be, and certainly not a reflection of me. In time, I am wise to recognize that when a dog is growling and lunging, it may be because it's leg is stuck in a trap. I can have compassion and empathy for it, without compromising my own self worth. I was too kind and too apologetic and too nice in the face of not those things. I took the back seat - a common theme. I've been preparing my entire life for it.
My sweetness is a strength of mine. I'm 32 years old and after many painful lessons I finally understand my unordinary-ness and recognize my depth. My passion for gender equality is very much tied up in my own personal experiences and becomes complicated in certain situations. Which gives breath to my weaknesses, such as anxiety and freezing. I'm thankful to learn resilience at each new stage of life. And to look towards my strengths; of passion, focus, loyalty, resolve, and fucking grit.
Something of value I learned this week is that my go-to method of overcoming fears by putting myself directly in a situation that scares me, is not always the way to go as I take with me all that I've learned about myself thus far. I can and will continue to make mistakes. I am not sorry. And you can be sure as hell that my mistakes do not involve violence in my words or violence in my actions.
With ease and anger when you need to be angry,