My ex-husband, who is also my best friend (but that’s another article), is a progressive white male in the South. He’s a freaking unicorn.
He also drives me BATSHIT INSANE.
He doesn’t know this, but in my head I call him “Pollyanna.” He is so unbearably optimistic about the future of this country and the world.
Just this week, I was despondent over the news – net neutrality up for gutting, a budget rewriting the tax code to benefit corporations over individuals, and all the federal judges Trump is able to appoint because Republicans blocked all of Obama’s nominees – and I told Pollyanna that I felt like giving up and leaving the country.
But we can’t do that – oh no! Not while we have the power to effect change right here where we are! We can’t leave people who are worse off than us financially or people of color or people without appropriate documentation – what will they do without us to speak out?
And I get that sentiment, I really do. Even though it has the ring of the White Savior in it. It feels wrong to leave our fellow Americans (or future Americans) who have less privileges and less access to the resources we are able to access. But for one night, nay, one phone conversation, I wanted to imagine that I could do it.
I have been fighting for forty years. Fighting, and failing, to live equally to men in our society. Fighting to live peacefully in a female body when that body entices men to, at the very least, give me their opinion on it, good or bad.
Fighting to live peacefully in a female body that a very large number of men – apparently, from the news lately – think is theirs to do with as they please. And this isn’t even delving into my personal history of sexual abuse and violence. This is just the news reel. Roy Moore and 14 year old girls. Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood starlets. Donald Trump and 16 accusers he calls liars.
(And keep in mind here that I have not EVEN addressed equal pay, reproductive rights, and the fact that even though America is over 50 percent female only 20 percent of Congress is.)
I have been fighting this and I am tired of fighting. For one night, I wanted to not have to.
Pollyanna, of course, would NOT let it go.
The thing is he’s NOT tired. This fight, this resistance we’ve seen since last year’s election, is new to him.
He’s never been continually low-level pissed that he makes so little that his kids get reduced lunch. Although he may have been catcalled, he’s never felt fear that an instance of that would escalate beyond his control.
He sees people like him (white, cis, male) in every level of government. His body type is well-represented in movies.
Do people tell HIM to smile? I doubt it.
I don’t know how to educate an already educated and progressive man on these issues. Maybe it’s something you can’t know until you experience it, and these are things that he is not likely to experience. I do, however, know when to stop arguing and go to bed, and that’s what I did that night. And in the silence that followed, these thoughts formed in my head.
Of course I’m not giving up. I’m a white, educated woman. I will leverage the privilege that I have to take these issues as far and wide as I can.
Neither Pollyanna nor I apologized to each other for arguing. I woke up the next morning, called my Senators, and texted him their numbers.
We fight another day, tired or not.