So first off let’s address the elephant in the room. I simply cannot add anything to discussion of Ron Lindsay’s opening remarks that holds a candle to what’s been said by Secular WomenDan Fincke, Adam Lee and a whole host of other people. I’m not even going to try because the more I think about it the more irritated I become about Dr. Lindsay’s careless remarks and reaction to criticism. I’m simply not able to able to make a reasonable criticism will not turn into a giant “fuck you.” The experiences of the last week have given me many reasons to reflect on the arc of my life over the past few decades and how exactly I got here. I’ve decided to write about the things that I’ve learned about life and myself over the past 20 or so years.

I am, to a large part, who I am because of the women in my life. I have three much older sisters who were, to a large degree, the majority of my socialization until I reached school age. The women in my family are strong. Strong physically, mentally and emotionally. They are gentle and kind. They are wonderful people who taught me a lot about what it is to be a good person. Two of my three best friends are women. I’ve been surrounded by amazing women that put up with my bullshit for a long time. I’d like to think I’ve learned some things from them.

Presented without (much) comment: things that I have learned from women in my life and being involved in the feminist movement:

  • Just because I’m not going to have sex with someone doesn’t mean they can’t be a great friend.
  • Not every idea I come up with is a nugget of wisdom, especially when it involves the someone else’s experiences.
  • I am defined by the company that I keep. I refuse to associate or pander to bigots.
    • If you even think about making a comment along the lines of “But Rebecca[Ophelia/Amanda] says mean things all the time… she’s just as much of a bigot” then seriously man fuck you. You’re a deluded, pathetic jerk who’s afraid of losing the privilege they’ve been afforded by virtue of their birth. If I had to deal with assholes like you all the time I’d be pretty fucking angry and short with people too.
  • Questioning the value of my ideas is not the same thing as questioning my value as a person. If I don’t give myself time to digest / think about a criticism I’m more likely to to say something that will make me look like an jerk.
  • I don’t get to determine how other people feel. Telling others how to feel never helps.
  • I don’t get to determine how other people feel. Telling others how to feel is horrible.
  • I don’t get to determine how other people feel. Telling others how to feel makes me an asshole.
  • I am much more likely to hurt those I care about by being selfish with my demands. Just because I care about them more does not mean I deserve more from them.
  • The need for my position to be the “right” one can interfere with my ability to evaluate things fairly.
  • Cherry picking personal accounts and experiences to fit my own narrative makes me a bad skeptic.
  • Feminists will almost always provide insightful, valuable feedback. I simply need to ask for it.
  • Most people will not tell me about their painful experiences if they don’t trust me.
  • Talking about painful experiences is hard and emotional. If someone is ready to tell me something, they’ll tell me. It’s okay to ask if someone is okay, it’s not okay to badger/push them to tell me what’s wrong.
  • Women pretty consistently take the time to listen to my concerns, but I’m not always as good at listening to theirs.
  • If I’m formulating my next counterargument before someone else begins speaking I’m not actually listening.
  • Discussion or debate does not require that I “win.”
  • I don’t need to fix / analyze everything. Sometimes it’s better to listen and say as little as possible.
  • Writing an angry reply before understanding why someone is upset with me will almost always make me look like an asshole.
  • The five hardest words in the English language to say sincerely and without qualification: “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

Privilege has a way of tricking me into thinking I’m smarter than I really ma. It took me many years to realize that I was weighing my own personal experiences more than other peoples’ experiences. A friend once said “dude, every woman on campus can’t be wrong”. That phrase stuck with me – if a large portion of of women are telling me something is a problem then I should probably examine what’s going on and why I feel the need to disagree with them. I’m sure it’s technically possible that a situation exists where my disagreeing with them wasn’t self-serving, but that has yet to be the case.

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