What to do with misguided, poorly socialized men?

Dear President Trump,

During our morning text check-in Laura and I decided it would basically be a full-time job if we were to take on calling out male privilege. She told me that this past week she’d learned a tough and disappointing lesson having realized she has historically over-accommodated male arrogance, downplayed it, and overlooked it until it was egregious enough to impact others. I didn’t tell her this morning, but I too have had to look hard at my frequent willingness to cut abrasive, self-confident men slack because surely their bravado must mean they have it going on and are on top of things. Not. Except that I still find myself duped sometimes if they carry themselves a certain way and make good eye contact. I’m getting better at trusting my gut bullshit detector, but there are still too many occasions where I wish later that I’d listened to myself.

Although not in so many words, Laura talked (texted) about how overwhelming it feels facing the prospect of turning up the assertiveness and calling out crap regularly. I can relate. Despite my imperfect record noted above, I do call out such stuff fairly often and it is overwhelming. I second-guess myself about whether I’ve gone too far or if I’ve let something go, whether I should have addressed it. I worry that I’ve made a mountain range out of molehills and whether I even know how to discriminate between mountains and molehills anymore. It’s frustrating and exhausting as hell some days. A lot of days, if I’m honest.

I also told her that for self-preservation purposes, maybe we need to be more aware of men’s overuse and reliance on getting the benefit of the doubt as well as where we are on our own fatigue meters so that we can make conscious decisions about which things to invest in calling out. She thought that sounded rather sage-like, but I see it more that we are both stumbling along, trying to help each other figure out how to make changes in our own behavior without killing ourselves or the jerks in the process, it being important that we not become jerks ourselves in the process. (Note: jerks = misguided, poorly socialized men caught in the same cultural traps as we are, but happen, by accident of birth, to get far more than their fair share of the bennies and not give it a second thought – or a first one.)

May our actions be thoughtful and safeguard our integrity.
May we make space for joy and fun even as we take on patriarchal crap.
May we safeguard our health with conscious rather than reactive assertions.
May we push hard on misogyny and may we not miss the real progress that’s happening.

Tracy Simpson

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