Jan. 19th, 2017

missroserose: (Default)
...my path through the cultural morass has mostly been to be unquestionably brilliant -- it's really hard for people to argue that you shouldn't be on the team if you're the best at it.
--[livejournal.com profile] thewronghands/[personal profile] ivy, on dealing with society's engrained sexism

Having written recently about my sense of pride, this quote resonated in my mind with the clarity of a plucked string. If I'm the best at something, no one can criticize me or tell me I don't belong somewhere; in our culture, as a member of a group traditionally excluded, that's a potent defense. Unfortunately, it feeds right into the negative side as well - It makes it difficult for me to learn new things, because I have to first admit that I'm new to this and don't already know everything about it. And if it turns out to be harder than I expected to pick it up, if my unspoken mental "time allotted to become brilliant" is exceeded, I grow very tempted to abandon the effort - the risk of being challenged on it is simply too great.

Upon reflection, I realized it's social as well as vocational: I used to be obnoxiously assertive with my opinions, arguing them to the death when challenged. I've grown better about this in recent years, cultivating the ability to ask others and listen to their responses as well as to pick and choose my battles, but I've noticed that the more men are in a particular group, and especially the less attention I feel they're paying to non-male points of view, the more likely I am to revert to my old habits.

And god forbid I am challenged and shown to be less than brilliant, says my insecurity - that might lead people to question my brilliance in other arenas, and soon I'll be shut out entirely.

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