I’ve recently had some experiences of being taken seriously and listened to in situations where I don’t expect to be. It puzzles me. Is it because my voice is deeper? Or is it a result of finally growing up? It might have something to do with the publication of my second book this year?
I like being the underdog and the outsider. But now it seems like I’m being forced out of this comfort zone of mine. I am not used to being a person of any significance, but now it happens that I am forced to realize that I am, in some contexts, that is.
I’m no longer a misunderstood poet to be. I’ve proved that I can write, and been recognized for it. The reviews has been many (ca. 6) and mostly good, some of them extremely positive. There is a saying that almost anyone has one book to write inside of them. Some debutants never publish another book. I’m not one of them.
And then there is the thing about male privilege. I don’t like it. And at the same time I have acted as if I had it most of my life. Being percieved as a girl, this behavior only seemed charming, in a «feminist statement» kind of way. It was never taken serious, and had a taste of irony attached. Now that I am recognized as male most of the time, this same behavior makes me seem like a dickhead, just like any other man using his privilege. It makes me feel guilty. And I don’t want to be taken all that serious. My built-in irony is no longer visible.
A while ago, I was present at a pre-meeting where the women had a brief seminar in taking up space, being vocal and proud, while the men sat down to discuss how we could leave some space for the women, how not to use our male privilege etc. I’ve been to a number of similar events, then presenting as a woman, and never felt that the topic had anything to do with me. I always took up space, was always vocal about my opinions, never afraid to speak. This time was different. I finally felt that the topics discussed had some relevance to me. But I’m still not certain that it has so much to do with gender.
I don’t want to grow up or out of my under-dog position. But if the alternative is to be seen as an immature dickhead, I don’t feel like I have a choice. I do not want to be all selfconcious and serious. I want to continue being me, but a better version, maybe. And how much is it possible to change one’s personality after the age of 33 anyway?
Sad thing is, men are taken more seriously in certain situations. It annoys the hell out of me, as I have never been afraid of speaking my opinion etc.
For me, the most annoying situations are when I try to talk to some men about tech stuff, and am met as if «you’re a woman, you don’t know these things». Gah!
I know about taking up space, and while I feel it certainly has to do with gender and even with binary gender it’s so much more complex than the «women need to take up more space and men less». It’s true as a group, but assuming that means that all individuals are typical of the group doesn’t sound all that feminist to me.
I take up space. I try to share space, I try to claim it too. Knowing when to shut up and when to talk is good and necessary work, and I wish we’d all do more of it, gender aside.
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