“Just go along to get along.”
“It’s not a big deal.”
“You’re blowing this out of proportion.”
Yeah. That’s what they always say.
So there’s these little things, at work, going on. We’re in an industry dominated by women, but by a twist of fate, nearly everyone on my current team is male. Male supervisor, only three women, and neither of the other two women is what you’d call a feminist. One’s too timid to stand athwart the tide, the other one doesn’t care. That leaves me as the Lone Social Justice Ranger.
And it sucks.
B’s on the same team. It suits him. He likes the easy camaraderie and the fact that our manager doesn’t toe the business conduct line. Honestly, most of the time, I’m just as glad.
But there’s this projector we play stuff on, and guess what? The dudes dominate. They make the overwhelming majority of decisions as to what we get to watch. Sports. Shoot-em-ups. Gritty comedies. Heaven forfend we should watch anything girly. It might threaten their masculinity. So every time I look up, it’s something dudely playing. And if the ladiez choose, well, doodz get to interrupt partway through and choose something else.
I’m sorry, but we ladies have spent lifetimes subservient to dood wishes. We’re taught from a young age that what the doodz want, they get. If you want to be a cool lady, you don’t ask for, oh, say, The Notebook. You ask for a kung fu movie. And even then, if there’s a game on, the doodz get to overrule you.
Every time I look up, with trifling exceptions, it’s all doodz all the time. And while my tastes run overwhelmingly dood (to the point where I scream if they try to turn off the Nascar races on Sunday), it still gets old.
That’s Point #1.
Point #2 is that our manager decided to relate a funny story from his teen years, when he went to Canada where the drinking age was 18, and proceeded to get so drunk he invited a prostitute back to his room – until he realized the prostitute was a man. Transphobia ensued. It wasn’t over-the-top, just the typical red-blooded American male brand where there’s no way in hell he’s gonna end up in bed with a man, no matter how good his or her makeup is.
And those two things were breaking points for me. I’ll let a lot of things slide offline that I wouldn’t give a pass to online, in the interest of diplomacy and just being too fucking tired to fight the good fight again. But when you’re talking about being on the verge of killing a prostitute for being a man, no matter how jokingly you put it and no matter how unserious we know you are? When the choice of entertainment conflicts could be solved with a mild, “Hey, not cool that you’re not giving the three women on this team equal time”? Yeah. Gonna speak up. And my manager’s the kind of dood who may not like it, but will negotiate beautifully, with a happy ending for all.
I didn’t expect this to blow up like it does online, but you know that when you’re standing up for what’s right, something’s always gotta come along and rip your heart out for that crime. So B started in on this, “You’re overreacting!” bullshit, and it culminated in a confrontation tonight that has left me with no doubt that my intention to stand on principle makes him uncomfortable, and deep down, he wishes I’d stop, because it threatens his equilibrium.
B is the most important person in the world to me, and this rips my heart out to say, but: he’s not as important as this.
I won’t stop for his comfort. I won’t stop for mine.
I can’t see the world the way he does. Mostly, because I’m not a cis white male.
And it might cost me a friendship that means more to me than nearly anything else in the world, one that I’ve already sacrificed a lot for; it might cost the team’s peace and contentment, but fuck this shit. Fuck if I’ll stay silent. Fuck if I’ll let things slide and slide and slide. I may end up alone with nothing but a 19 year-old cat and you lot, and I might scream with the pain of losing yet another cherished friend to this, but fuck if I’m not going to stand for what’s right.
So I’m alone right now, rather than happily watching Doctor Who whilst eating seafood, because some things matter more than friendship. Things like ensuring women don’t have to sacrifice everything in the interest of keeping peace with the doodz. Things like making people understand that their funny little stories aren’t so funny to those who have heard the stories of those who were harmed or killed by transphobic violence. Things like taking a stand for little equalities, because if you don’t stand up no one else will, and no one will ever realize there’s anything wrong with running roughshod over the sentiments of the less-privileged.
I don’t want to lose B. I didn’t want to lose Garrett, my best friend of over twenty years, either, but it’s been a year since we’ve parted company over his stance on abortion (not to mention misogyny). I didn’t want to lose so many in the atheist movement over simple questions of how to treat women in elevators, or sacrificing stupid bloody transphobic or sexist jokes, or any of the other dumbfuck fucking battles we’ve fought that have split this movement apart. I’ve not wanted to be the person standing up in the boat and rocking it side-to-side until all the bad stuff goes overboard. I’ve not wanted to make the sacrifices I have in order to stand up for what’s right.
And I don’t want to lose B, who is, hands-down, the one person I care most about in this world right now.
But fuck what I lose. Fuck who I make so uncomfortable that they distance themselves from me. There are things more important than my happiness, and some of those things happen to be correcting the minor problems that are a reflection of far larger ones. I may cry until my heart breaks, drink far more tequila than a sick person should, sob myself into state that decongestants can’t remedy, but I won’t stop standing right here upon this rock. This rock that says that someone has to speak up, stand up, do the unpopular thing in order to change this fucked-up culture of ours. I could lose everything, and you know what? It wouldn’t be a fraction of what people less privileged than me lose, every single damned day.
The right thing is far from the easy thing, and it costs almost more than I can bear. But I will do it.
And you know what? It won’t be that bad. Despite what the don’t-rock-the-boaters like B and so many damned others think, it isn’t the end of all the fun and spontaneity and sexy fun times. It’s not the end of anything except things that should have ended long ago.
Someday, that will be well understood.
Until then, I’ve got you, and I’ve got my kitty, and a bottle of tequila, and it will eventually be enough.