Friday, March 09, 2018

The Power of Listening

Hi,

Earlier this week it was International Women's Day. I am not a woman and I doubt I'll ever make the journey to become one. There are some who believe that trans women can never be women. I'm not going to address this in this post. So, do I think of myself as a woman when in Lynn mode? No, I don't.

I'm a part timer. Trans, possibly, but wholy 'male' in behaviour? Not so much. I'm someone not quite wholly in one camp or the other. Sure, I easily pass as a bloke, and provided I keep my trap shut about my true self, I think I get away with it. Certainly no-one's called me on it. If they suspect, they're too polite to say anything.

So, I hide in plain sight, getting away with my middle class, white privilege. But, I listen and I see.

I hear some female colleagues interrupted. I see news stories of the gender pay gap. I've heard horrible stories of women being mistreated, groped, attacked, etc The crap around "she was asking for it, dressed like that.". The constant drip of everyday sexism and the BS around 'touching'. I've seen #MeToo rise through social media and spill out on to the news and radio.

I may not be female, but I've walked in their shoes. I may not pass, but I know when I don't look wholly male, I'm a second class citizen. Men stride in front of me, men talk over me. I have to wait. I've learned to 'know my place' if I want to blend in. In conversations in stores, if a man is talking, the rule seems to be to wait. As a man looking in on this world, I find this so odd.

I've felt the fear of violence for being out on a night going back to the car on my own. I've heard my heels announce my presence as I walk by a bar. The undercurrent of something dark within drunken cat-calls (get your eyes tested fellas :-P ).

But....

I won't stand for it. I try to listen, and never mansplain. I try to treat a women as an equal, and if she's better than me, I acknowledge that. Lots of people are better than me at many things; seriously, just let it go, guys. I call male colleagues out when they interrupt. I've called men out on their sexism. Tried to debate with them, rather than burn then; but somethings, they're beyond the pale.

I've tried to coach (but not teach) my daughter that there's more to life than being popular, pretty, thin, or cool. I do tell her I love her for who she is. That she's capable, awesome, and fantastic. I do my best to listen, even when I'd rather talk, because doesn't she need to be heard just as much?

I am not perfect, not by a country mile, but I can't turn away when I've seen the mistreatment.



On to lighter news.... :-) Chams was my first night out in a while, and I had a bit of panic around if I wanted to go, or even what should I wear or bother? Ah, but I've been here before and found a well stocked bag covers many ills. :-)

I even got to wear my new top that the Ever Lovely Mrs J bought me for Christmas. Sheer sleeves and a velvet centre. I did feel rather special in it. Just team with skinny jeans and killer heels for added smiles.

Anyhoo, I'm very glad I went as it was a good night. A few of the new folk had decided to visit again, and I got to talk with the regulars too. It was a late night because towards the end of the evening, somehow he group's conversation combined into one, and we started talking about the trans-men's experiences. I guess we're coming back to them truly knowing what it was to be female, and seeing male privilege in action.

It reminded me just how easy I have it comparatively. We spoke about loving our bodies as well as not. We talked about feeling pretty, handsome, or even sexy when everything was just so. We talked about 'what is it to be a man'. We laughed about errors in body hair removal, and we listened to each other share their views.

All in all, it was a very deep conversation with many people adding to it. I know I learned a few things. As we packed up for the night, I was reminded of my coaching tutor and her words on how important it is to truly listen.

Take care,
Lynn

6 comments:

  1. Your posts are always good, sometimes they go beyond and are have a life of their own: this one is very meaningful and so well put. Hope it gets shared further. Take care Lynn. x

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    1. Thank you. I'm feeling it's a little disjointed because I wrote it rather late in the evening, but I think the spirit of it's there.

      I did start to write about the exclusion of some, but.... I felt afraid in doing so. What if some got hold of this and, well, you can write the rest of that story. :-/

      Wow. Fear of a minority movement that says it seeks equality. That's not the feminism I know, or the one the Ever Lovely Mrs J runs. It's also not the words from Nottingham Women's Centre, who have been incredibly supportive to Chameleons, bless them.

      L x

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  2. I don't think that I could put it any better than Rhiannon :) Great post!

    Losing male privilege was something that I knew was going to happen, but still shocking when you hit it. From the car salesman who thinks that your friend is the person who needs to know about the car you are thinking of buying and simply keeps repeating to me that it's a comfortable car (like that is all I should ever worry about...), to the computer salesman who refuses point blank to listen to what I want to buy (a USB stick for music), insisting that I really want a USB disk as the GB / euro is better. Eventually I point out that a spinning disk would probably not last long sliding around the center console of a car as that is where it would like for listening in the car. At that point he acts like he has some wonderful insight and tells me what I need for this type of situation, due to the environment it's going to be used in is a USB stick... And the salesman who came to the office and in the introduction round accepted everyone's job title except mine, he wanted me to prove that I was really technical...

    The cat calls and the walking through deserted car parks late at night, with the click click click of heels echoing around make for the most disturbing emotions. Vulnerable doesn't really cover it...

    Groetjes,
    Stace

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    1. Thanks Stace. The car thing is something Mrs J has had too. Have you had "do you want your husband to drive it so you're sure?" WTF? As to the salesman and that numpty not believing your skills, what pair of dimwits. :-\

      Sorry to hear about the vulnerability and car parks. It's a crazy world. :-\ I hope things change for the better. Maybe as these things are highlighted, more enlightened males will listen and continue to improve and challenge bad behaviour.

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  3. Some interesting points there. I often wonder just how much our own perspective is different to others - and it can also change over time. I would like to think I'm not someone who has indulged in typical male behaviour towards females - and being trans, I like to think has given me some greater perspective or understanding in that respect. But, even so, I would have to admit that I never totally got it - until venturing out into the world as Claire on a regular basis.

    With that in mind - I think there's a good case for an equivalent to a sort of 'Speed awareness course' things as a 'Trans awareness course' thing. Anyone guy guilty of sexist behaviour has to spend several days presenting as female in public so that they finally 'get it' - or hopefully!

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    1. Thanks Claire. I'm with you on 'not getting it'. I think we can listen with an emphatic ear, but it's not until we actually experience it - even in fleeting days out - that it actually clicks.

      As to a Trans Awareness Course how many false positives will you get, so part timers and the curious can blag a day out? Maybe there's a business opportunity in the making! ;-)

      On a less flippant note, the idea of a GoPro style 'camera glasses' and playing this video back to people may help others learn. But then, only those who are curious. People who have their minds made up don't, IMHO, take readily to having their biases challenged. I'm sure the same applies to me to an extent too.

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