It’s time to say “Yes, we’re angry” and fix things!

I saw a fantastic “Brief but Spectacular” essay on the PBS News Hour last night. In case you missed it, go see it now!

cindi leiveHere, journalist and women’s advocate Cindi Leive, “Glamour” magazine’s editor in chief for 16 years, reflects on the well-known phenomenon of men interrupting women and engaging in other dismissive treatment, at everyday places of work all the way to the Supreme Court. 

To quote the beginning of her talk on Women and Power:

“We don’t really embrace female rage, which is why bestselling books for women about work are usually called things like “Lean In” and “Not Screw You, Kevin, for Taking Credit for My Work After You Interrupted Me 12 Times in That Meeting,” which is a book I would buy.

There’s a very well-known phenomenon that most women have experienced and social scientists have studied whereby men enjoy interrupting women, often without realizing they’re doing it. Even female Supreme Court justices are interrupted three times as often as their male peers.

I mean, that’s RBG. Women apologize more than men. Hillary Clinton, by the way, is the only presidential candidate ever to use the phrase “I’m sorry” in her concession speech.”

Does any of this ring true for you?

Sometimes I feel like I spent my entire life apologizing for my very existence! It became a natural part of my speech pattern. I only truly found my own rage at this situation during my midlife crisis when I realized how many cards were stacked against me as a young girl trying to make a difference in the world. It became perfectly clear when a sad and inadequate boss of mine fired me for being too certain of myself at age 49. Yes, he was canned soon after that, and yes, I have been embracing my rage ever since…

“If we tell women, don’t be enraged about the fact that you have been denied a promotion, don’t be enraged at the rates of sexual assault in this country, we’re never going to get anywhere.

We have to say, yes, we’re angry, and now we’re going to fix it.”

I had to spend a few years in counseling and at anger workshops in my 30s before I realized exactly how angry I was. I had spent a lifetime fearing the expression of anger towards anyone. When I finally started having anxiety attacks where I couldn’t breathe or speak when my full anger arose, I learned how to take charge of my rage, instead of it taking charge of me. I owned it and let it out finally!

Interestingly, starting my own blog “Midlife Crisis Queen” in 2007 (now deleted) helped me to begin expressing my full range of emotions, but that wasn’t enough either. So I started the “Midlife Queen Blows Off Steam.” My byline was:

larger things left unsaid

These days I am certainly in charge of all of my emotions including my anger. My “ouch time” has shortened dramatically! Unfortunately Mike sometimes bears the brunt of this new discovery, but I always explain and apologize if I feel I am being unfair to him. I must learn to direct my rage towards those who actually cause it!

I like to think we are all making progress in this department, both men and women. Women historically have only been allowed their pain and depression, and not their anger. Men have been delegated only anger as an expression of frustration. I still find my unhappy moments begin as a deep sadness, but eventually may develop into outrage at the many unfair situations I face.

Observe yourself and you will discover how you deal with life’s frustrations!

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!

Watching the news lately, I can’t help but wonder if anyone truly respects women in this country or in this world. It sometimes seems like a free for all for anyone with money and power to demean and abuse their acquaintances and partners. Even the POTUS does it in well documented ways, and his supporters think that is just fine.

This all brings back memories of a report I clipped from the newspaper back in 1993. It is still on my bulletin board, brown and tattered, about a report from the United Nations which stated back then:

Women to have clout in 1,000 years. And I quote: “It will take nearly 1,000 years for women to gain the same economic and political clout as men if current trends continue…”

After over 60 years of witnessing worldwide demeaning attitudes towards women, I believe they may be right, although I wonder how anything will ever change in this country. Remember the Equal Rights Amendment 35 years ago? Why was that impossible to pass in Congress? What happened to the crusade to enshrine women’s rights in the U.S. Constitution?

love and respectWomen generally raise men, and yet men also tend to be the worst abusers of women. Go figure! Even some women treat themselves with incredible disrespect. I have trouble with the women I see everyday on the news, who find themselves in horrible relationships with abusive and disrespectful men and yet they stay. What is that about?

Yes, I have found myself around completely disrespectful men. I have even stayed in bad relationships for short periods of time, but something inside said “Get the hell out of here!” and I did!

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, helps you grow, or makes you happy!

I do see very small signs of change occasionally. I was shocked last night to see a short segment in the Miss USA pageant devoted to asking the contestants whether they had personal experience with #MeToo. And sure enough, these stunningly beautiful women all spoke up about being treated badly or even abused.

Change is so SLOW! In fact it seems like nothing has changed at all when a known woman abuser can get elected president! It seems only outrageous examples like the POTUS on video stating that he loves to “grab pussy” brings out a strong reaction from those of us who demand the rights of women to be in the world in a respectful and safe way.

I am ashamed of what the present administration represents to the world and sorry we did not leave a better world for girls growing up today.

Speaking Truth to Power

speak truth power

I feel inspired to speak my own truth after observing so many come forward in the past few months in the #MeToo movement. Hearing so many women’s stories, I feel fortunate to have only experienced a mild case of sexual harassment in my 62 years on this planet. It was a simple case of attempted date rape at age 27. I told him to disappear and never come back. He listened.

But I still find the way I was treated by Regis University Libraries when my boss fired me back in 2004, to be unfair and unwarranted. Believe me, when one female librarian stands up and protests to an all male administration at a Catholic University, from the head of Reference, to the head of the Library and the head of HR, nobody listens.

“Speaking our truth is the most powerful tool we have.”  – Oprah Winfrey

mean bossI was unfairly charged with being rude to one student at the Reference desk, her word against mine. That’s all it took. I had been in my position for almost 6 years with no training, no evaluations and no previous complaints against me. It looked to me like my new boss didn’t like my uppity attitude. This from a man who had lost previous positions for being a terrible head of reference. And sure enough, he lost his position at Regis too, but in the meantime, he had the power to fire me so he did, quickly hiring a friend of his to replace me.

As it turned out, my life improved dramatically after I lost that job, so on some level I need to say, “Thank you!” I got out of a dead end job with a bunch of dead beats, got out of librarianship entirely, moved on to professional writing, a marvelous new marriage and a comfortable and happy retirement.

Whenever I meet people like that boss, who treat others badly and seem truly miserable inside I think:  Being them is punishment enough!