On Not Flickering


Here is how Hillary has been personally affecting my day and my year. This just occurred to me. (Let it be known that I voted for Bernie in the primaries and that I much more closely align with him and other candidates on vital issues like climate change, etc-- but that's not where we are anymore.) (Warning, this is long!)

I am a woman. More than that, I am a very short woman with a giggly laugh who is probably too obsessed with being nice and likeable. And now I am a woman who is in charge of a theater facility, which means I'm dealing with subcontractors, which means (because of the way our society is at the moment, though it does not have to be this way) I am dealing with an endless parade of macho macho men.

A handful of these men are great, SO great. But 90% of them are unable to own up to a single mistake, weakness, or doubt. Some of them will not stick to their word and say things like "I'm sure it's fine" without even coming and taking a look or "just don't use the (insert feature we paid for here)". They get frustrated and sad and it is so painfully obvious that they don't actually know exactly what the issues are or how to ask for help within their own companies, which they express by telling me (and others in my company) that we have no idea what we are talking about.

Yesterday I sat in a room with four friends under flickering lights, looking directly at them, while a contractor said defensively "I don't see any flickering." It was... insane. At one point one of our electricians floated the theory that our building was haunted and that was the problem.

To me, all of this is so obviously a result of toxic masculinity that I just feel kind of bad for all of these guys and their struggle to problem-solve while simultaneously never being wrong. Must be hard to live like that.

But the question is, what do I do as a result? What is my job here?

When I'm not working on the theater I'm obsessively reading about the election. I have been more and more horrified by Trump's behavior and more and more impressed by Hillary's. The ability to stay calm and confident in the face of nonsense is a serious skill, a skill that I would like to work on for the rest of my life. It's already hard to stay confident when you're a new leader. It's even harder when you're female and there are all of these social barriers in place in every last damn interaction. My job is to sail past those barriers and fix the problems.

But today, after sending a scathing email or two and making some phone calls that resulted in our contractors picking up the pace and at respecting what I had to say, I realized something. I wrote a stronger email because I watched that debate last night. I stood up for myself and my company better. I feel more confident because I had a model right in front of me. And because I was clearer and more confident, the contractors also seemed more at ease with the idea that we were here to solve this problem together. Nothing is totally solved yet but we're working on it together and that's all I need today. And I was not even conscious of the link between the two until just a minute ago, and now I'm realizing it has affected my whole year. The pace of my leadership skills is shadowing the pace of this campaign.

Hillary's campaign has quite literally made me a better leader. It has affected the way I speak, write, and act. It has made me more confident and less obsessed with being likeable. Her unlikeability is pointed out a hundred million times a day and she's still standing.

I am not Hillary, and these contractors are not Trump. But we are tiny branches off of those gender trees. We are, in a much smaller room, a woman fighting with herself over likeability and a set of men terrified of showing weakness.

Never before has a candidate actually affected my day to day behavior. The effects of her potential presidency, day after day, are actually starting to sink in. She is a model for any woman or girl who might want to lead someday. Not just the country, but anything.

Makes you think. Makes you think a lot.