If you asked me, after nearly 50 years of political activism, what was the most difficult thing for me, I would answer the misogyny & disrespect of male activists; the putdowns, the snide remarks, the rolling eyes, the umpteen ways they have of saying you don’t count, you’re a nothing. And because I’m working class, my sensitivity to all that was quite acute.
It took me years to learn how to defend myself against that crap & I honed those skills working in a predominately male factory. Many of the men objected to unfair treatment & tutored me to effectively respond to harassment.
I don’t believe people should put up with any kind of abuse, especially of the sniping kind, & I’ve always wanted to teach aggressiveness training to women & others who don’t know how to parry insults. It takes practice, you have to change your energy a bit to accommodate aggression, but the rewards are many–especially confidence & self-respect. The moments in life I most regret are not those when I awkwardly protested abuse but those when I felt constrained not to. One doesn’t have to find just the right words but only learn to cop an attitude that you have boundaries that no one violates without a counter thrust. That doesn’t come easy for most people because it requires aggression & most of us detest that. But social hatred often makes it necessary.
So all of that to say I approached a fellow about his Lilliputian socialist group endorsing our election campaign & helping set up speaking engagements. He was favorable & said he’d propose it but “If we get anywhere with this, try not to be cranky or raise festering old grievances.” He added “You may think that sounds mean, but all I can promise is to speak frankly.” He’s the same guy who calls my posts “rants & fulminations.” Well I promise to speak frankly too & I don’t care if it sounds mean.
My adrenalin shot sky high but I thought for a moment I should stifle it in the interests of an endorsement & some speaking gigs. In a pig’s eye! One should never grovel to get something. It’s unseemly & takes a toll on dignity. So I let my adrenalin do the talking. That isn’t crankiness kicking in. If a woman doesn’t take crap she’s called all sorts of things; the vocabulary of abuse is extensive. So I probably lost the endorsement but for heavens sake I haven’t lost my self-respect.
PS: If anyone would like to know the simple formula for defending yourself let me know & I’ll teach you the art of aggression. It’s my way of reducing the quotient of misery in the world. Just know you’ll be henceforward known as cranky & festering with grievances.