Male privilege is interesting. When I still defined myself as female I was unsure in every part of my life and I didn’t feel entitled to any space – just like all women I know. I was self conscious whenever I walked into a room. I was desperately trying to determine how other people perceived me and then change my behavior accordingly to be perceived as favorable as possible. As a man however, I feel entitlement wherever I go. I feel that whenever I walk into a room, I have the right to be there. I have the right to be seen and heard just the way I am and I have the right to not be gossiped about. I feel this so strongly that I wouldn’t even get upset if I found out that someone’s talking behind my back. As a female I felt that gossip about me was critique that I needed to listen to, a hint that I needed to change something. As male I feel that gossip is others business, what they say about me has nothing to do with me as long as they don’t tell me up front. Then I’ll listen.
This change has been gradient. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and said “sod it, I’m gonna stop caring about what other people think or say about me”. I don’t know what sparked the change and it was certainly not something I expected to happen. The only thing I can think about is that when I started to define myself as male I started to look at what and how I did things in a feminine or masculine way. I was very close to changing one ill fitting box for another, so there and then I decided to take my transition as an opportunity to be the authentic me. I will no longer do things because I feel that they are expected of me, I will do them because I want to do them. Essentially I stopped to give sh*t about what other thought I should be doing. My energy is way to precious to be spent on trivial stuff.
It’s a liberating feeling that have snowballed through almost every part of my life. I’ve even stopped worrying about people assaulting me when I walk alone at night. Before I thought “better to be safe than sorry”, “you never know” and “where’s my phone and keys.” Now I’m thinking more in the lines of “why would anyone even bother”. If it happens, then I’ll deal with it then. Of course it helps to be generally read as male and therefore more unlikely to be a target for unwanted attention…
It’s hard to describe what it means to me to not be afraid or worried all the time, but I’m constantly reminded when I meet women. Their flacking eyes, shifting from one foot to another, talking fast, being eager to please and all the time trying to determine what I expect from them. It must be exhausting! I’M exhausted just by interacting with them and instinctually I want to tell them to chill down. There’s no fire and I don’t expect anything from them. I only want them to relax and enjoy their day!
I met one woman like that today and she was constantly apologizing, mostly for things she’s not responsible for or able to change. Of all people it’s the psychologist in my GIC team! In an ideal world working with people trying to break free from social expectations should’ve rubbed off on her. I know I used to do exactly what she was doing, which makes it even more painful to watch. One thing that I’ve stopped putting energy on is buying into this insecurity. I’m not giving any tilted head, chin forward, friendly smile and puppy-eyes (signaling in every way that I’m not a threat to her). Instead I try to simply say “you can’t help that” and “don’t worry about it”.
Ideally I would tell her to just chill down, but I don’t because I know that if a guy told me to chill down two years ago I wouldn’t even know what he meant. It’s like this internal self consciousness is socially hard coded in women and they’re not even aware of it because ALL women feel the same way. Socially, they’re just “normal”. Damn you patriarchal society!
Imagine what a relaxed place this world would be if everyone in it were allowed to feel secure and entitled. Imagine all the fun we could have if we didn’t have to worry so much about what other people might think about us!
I know I can’t heal all women, not in my lifetime, but I aim to save my daughter from this toxic waste of energy. I demand that she’ll experience the same inner calm that I do now. That she feel that she’s enough just the way she is.