The Whiplash of Being a Woman

I’m starting this post without a title, because I don’t know how to reconcile the many thoughts that are in my head about last week’s various stories about women.  The Google screed was everywhere last week, and there were responses everywhere last week, both from women in tech, women who study sex differences, and of course, bros.  The worst was David Brooks’ response. Seriously, I don’t know how something like that gets published (I’m not even going to link it; go find it yourself).

The David Brooks article put me over the edge. I seriously felt exhausted.  There is nothing more exhausting than having your very existence and experiences called into question. Having to explain again how implicit bias works, what discrimination really is, and why one might be offended to be told that your sex is biologically predisposed to not being the very thing that you are.

Thankfully, I got to spend a few hours last week with most of my old crew, the Women of Fear.  For about 5 hours, we talked about our careers, our hopes and dreams, our various health issues, our kids, our spouses, our frustrations.  We used to travel the country talking about various technologies and their potential to transform education (in the right hands and used effectively, we always emphasized), and we talked about women in the ed tech field and the lack thereof.  That evening, we didn’t talk about the Google screed much, because we’ve heard it all before. We’ve been face-to-face with the James Damore’s of the world. We’ve heard his arguments.  We’ve tried to counter them. We’ve moved into spaces where the battle is less uphill and in some cases, we’re fighting different battles.

I was so grateful for the companionship, the laughter, the respite from the real world.  There’s nothing quite like having strong female friends, something I posted to Facebook last week when I noticed my feed was filled with only women posting really smart things.  I suspect I have about equal number of men and women in my friend list, but the FB algorithm gave me only women that day. I needed it.

When I got back and plugged back in to the Internet, the top story was about Taylor Swift’s sexual assault trial.   I hope it goes her way. If you want to know what victim blaming looks like and what distrust of women’s stories looks like, read the questions the lawyer for the defendant asks.  And if you want to see how a strong woman responds, read her answers.  They’re basically a big ol’ FU.  As they should be.

It’s both exhausting and exhilarating to be a woman.  Working at an all girls’ school, I can feel the potential of all those girls, the great ways in which they’ll contribute, the friendships they’ll form that will make them stronger and more successful, the potential for them to move us forward. When I spend time with women and others who value women, I feel strengthened, ready to take on anything. My cup is filled up. These things help me deal with the exhaustion, and frankly, the worry I have for my students’ futures, my daughter’s and my own. Without these things, I might just give up.


One Reply to “The Whiplash of Being a Woman”

  1. Thank you for this. As one of those Women of Fear I wholeheartedly agree : I felt energized and supported being together with each of you. My all too pervasive and very annoying imposter syndrome melted away in your collective presence. It felt great .

    Let’s keep it going. Keep supporting one another, cheering each other on, staying in touch as best we can. I came home thinking that now more than ever, we need each other.

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