Hey there, I’m a good liberal man who works at the same social justice nonprofit as you, and I want to have a conversation where I do all of the talking and give you unwanted advice. Sound good? Of course it does.
Look, we both work in this same touchy-feely, do-gooder nonprofit, so we’re all very aware of social structures around gender. Especially me. I have a minor in women’s studies. There’s no way I could be misogynistic in my thoughts or actions. But real talk: You are messy in your communication. I know this might be hard to hear, especially coming from a good liberal man who openly derides you verbally and in writing, usually in front of others. But I would advise you to reconsider how you approach me in the future.
Honestly, maybe the real issue is that I just don’t feel safe being alone in a conversation or email correspondence with you.
You can start by not sending any emails that are totally unnecessary and uncalled for, like asking for grant report numbers. I know this falls under my programmatic work, and I know you’re technically the department head, but when you tell me to do things that I don’t like, and you don’t add any smileys or exclamation points to your email, it makes me feel terrible, like I have no other choice but to complete the task.
On top of that, you give me deadlines that make me feel like you don’t recognize my full autonomy and individuality as a rare and special human being. Surely, as the person in charge, you can explain this to grantors if things are late.
Hey, here’s a suggestion: maybe you can just not communicate with me at all. In fact, I’ll start. This conversation we’re having will serve as the last communication between us.
You do this thing whenever I arrive ten minutes late to our department meetings where you remind me they start at 1 PM. What do you expect me to do? Jaywalk across a busy street and risk bodily harm in front of moving vehicles just because you scheduled a group meeting at a time that’s inconvenient to me, though this is the first I’ve brought it up? How I am expected to achieve self-care at work under your ridiculous and insensitive demands?
I guess I’m not surprised. When you ask how you can help make me feel more comfortable and welcomed on the team, it’s evidence that you don’t take my feelings seriously. If you don’t know and have to ask, how can I expect that this is actually important to you? Also, I don’t like being put on the spot.
Here’s an idea: you can make me feel more comfortable and welcomed by finding another job.
Why do you get to make the decisions anyway? So what if you have fifteen years of experience compared to my five years. As a junior-level staff member, I should also be able to make big strategic decisions. I would agree with more of what you decided if you just let me do all the deciding. It seems that you’re operating too independently. Who decided to put you in a leadership position in the first place?
Also, when you do ask for my opinion and I don’t respond, it’s because I don’t really feel like it at the moment. Plus, I don’t always have time to respond to your emails. I’m often so distracted by how uncomfortable you make me feel when you don’t continuously reassure me with nods and smiles.
You know I’m saying this all from a place of kindness and honesty, right? I totally get oppression. My reactions aren’t at all because I suffer from toxic masculinity when interacting with a female colleague who doesn’t conform to antiquated gender norms and expectations 100% of the time.
Speaking of which, yesterday when you gave me feedback on a task I screwed up that might cost our budget-strapped organization thousands of dollars, you were so serious. Honestly, I’m embarrassed for you. It kind of felt like I was being scolded by my fifth-grade teacher, who also happened to be a woman and who I also happened to dislike. If you had reassured me in gentle tones that it would all be okay, I wouldn’t have made a complaint to the Executive Director about how I think you’re damaging employee morale by not showing enough care towards others, even when they really fuck up. I mean, I shouldn’t have to do all the emotional labor in this relationship.
In fact, you should go out of your way more often to focus on me and how I’m doing, rather than spend so much time juggling an impossible task list that’s actually the work of 2.5 people. It would make me see you as much less of a bitch.
By the way, did you notice that I’m wearing my NASTY WOMAN T-shirt? And my pink pussy hat? I strongly believe in gender equality, and there’s no better way to show you’re a feminist than by wearing items of clothing. Again, I totally get it. I read that essay by Audre Lorde for my women’s studies minor, like, twice.