Nancy Pelosi’s Advice to Women, from an OWL Guy’s Perspective

On MSNBC, Joy Reid had a great interview with Nancy Pelosi.  At about the 2:50 mark, she answers an equally excellent question from Ewaloua Ogundana.  The gist was, how do you handle the "mansplaining?"

At the risk of sounding like I am mansplaining, I thought I'd give my two cents worth as an OWL Guy  If you think I am mansplaining, stop reading anytime!  It is not my goal to offend, just to give perspective.

The points that Nancy Pelosi made:

  1. Don't let misogyny stand in your way. (my words, not hers)
  2. Know your power.
  3. Know your "Why."
  4. Why are you interested in whatever you are interested in?
  5. Know your subject.
  6. Have a plan
  7. Be strategic
  8. Share your vision, your knowledge, your plan
  9. You will be able to attract that connection that is so important.
  10. Have your own confidence.
  11. Don't worry about their hangups
  12. Eat chocolate. (kind of just threw that one in there.)

First, don't let the misogyny stand in your way.  However, it doesn't help to fight condescension with condescension, unless you KNOW he is being condescending and he won't stop.  Here is a sad truth, some white guys (even me at times) don't even realize they are being condescending.

Think about this, we have not had your experiences.  We are not women.  We cannot possibly understand what it is to be appreciated for anything other than what we know and how we act.

I totally get that, as a guy, sometimes I have to get to a place where you, as a woman, can trust that I am only focused on the matter at hand, and I am not looking at you, as a women, in any other way.  It is a trust that I have come to understand I need to earn.  Liberal white guys are willing to earn it.

Know your power.  If you are a woman in power, you will be accepted as the woman in power by liberal men.  Will we be perfect, probably not.  However, thanks to the #MeToo movement, men are getting a much better at understanding of what is and is not acceptable.  II said better, not perfect) Keep pressing on that - especially on social media.  Keep giving us examples of misbehavior you see, it IS an education for us.  Your power is your voice - even through your writing.  Call us out on our misogyny.  If the nice way doesn't work, then don't be afraid of being more direct.

Know your "why."  This is actually true for anyone.  But it does seem to come across differently from a woman's perspective.  Now, I am not endorsing anyone for president at this point.  In fact, I many never do that.  However, in an interview with Rachel Maddow, (click the link above if you want to see the whole interview.) Elizabeth Warren showed that she knows her why.  Here is a transcript from the show:

"You know, you described this as my life`s work, but it truly is my whole life`s work.  I`m a kid who had a dream when I was a little tiny girl.  I wanted to be a public schoolteacher.  All three of my old brothers went off.  They joined the military.

"I just wanted to teach school.  But that meant I needed a college diploma.  By the time I graduated from school, no chance for something like that.  My folks didn`t have the money for that.

"And so, I ended up, it`s a bumpy path.  I drop out of school at 19, I got married.  I found a commuter college, $50 a semester.  And I got a four-year diploma that I could go become a public schoolteacher on a price that I could pay for on a part-time waitressing job.

"That`s how you build a middle class.  That catapulted me into the middle class.  I am the daughter of a man who ended up as a janitor.  And I got a chance to be a public schoolteacher, a college professor, and ultimately, a senator, because America made an investment in a kid like me.

"My life`s work is for every kid to have an opportunity, every kid.  Right now, those opportunities are shrinking.  And they`re shrinking even harder for people of color, people who have just always caught the wrong end of the stick in this country."

Warren clearly has her "why."  She wants people in the United States, especially young people, to have the same shot that she had coming out of high school.

It is different for most men.  Most men who enter politics, again especially white men, are only interested in power.  They may go in with commendable reasons.  Most women have open and visible motives.  Not all do, you can get others excited with your why.  That leads into the next one.

Moving on to #4: Why are you interested in what you are interested in?  You need to know this.  Stop and think about that one for a moment.  Why are you doing this?

Next, SO important to be taken seriously - especially by misogynistic men - #5 Know your subject.  When you know your subject, you can knock down unreasonable arguments brought up by others.  When you know your subject, it is easy to put them back in their place.

Next, (#6) have a plan and (#7) be strategic.  One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is not having a plan.  At the risk of mansplaining, I am going to stop there.

Share your vision, your knowledge, and your plan.  Share it strong and share it often.  If you do that, you will be able to attract that connection that is so important - just like Warren did in her interview above.

Have your own confidence.  It is interesting the way she said this.  She didn't say "Have confidence," she said, "Have your OWN confidence."  I am going to let that advice stand on its own merit.

Don't worry about their hangups.  That is, don't worry about the hangups we guys have.  Save your breath.  We have hangups.  Most of us.  Especially when it comes to women in power.  But, listen, we will learn to deal with it and work with it.  I happened to learn it at an early age.

My manager at my second job as a bank teller back in 1984-85 (in Santa Monica, CA) was an amazing black woman who I admired and respected greatly.  She treated me with respect, encouraged me, and there was no question that she was the boss.

On a side note (this is kind of a long side note, but I think it is important): I will be honest, at the time, I probably didn't fully appreciate the path that she had to take to get where she was.  This is a woman, I am now certain, who'd endured racism and misogyny at all levels.

In Los Angeles, the 70s and 80s were a time of desegregation.  Students were bused out of their neighborhoods and taken to schools mixed the racial profile.  At my school in West Los Angeles, we had the blacks bused in from South Central L.A. and the Hispanics from East L.A. Sure, their were racial tensions.  But one thing that we learned through desegregation, I believe, is that you couldn't read people based upon the color of their skin.

Because I was in a desegregated school, I saw the people I went to school with differently.  Did the blacks beat up other kids?  Yes.  Did the Hispanics beat up kids?  Yes.  Did the whites beat up kids?  Yes.  The Filipinos?  Yes. The Vietnamese?  Yes.  Were blacks nice to me?  Yes.  Were Hispanics nice to me? Yes.  Were whites nice to me? Yes.  Were Filipinos nice to me?  Yes, one of them became a best friend.  Were Vietnamese nice to me?   Yes.  The fact was, skin color never mattered to me.  I don't think it mattered to most of my classmates.  Did we have cliques?  Oh yes, but not by color,  You had the skaters, the nerds, the jocks, the surfers, student council, theater.  But they weren't separated by color, they were separated by interest.  We didn't judge each other by color of skin, only by the content of one's character.

So when I got a job at the bank shortly after leaving high school, having a black manager was not that big of a deal to me.  However, that does not negate tjat I didn't know about what life had been like for her.  I really didn't.  Now, I know better.  Partly because I am married to a strong, black woman now.

It is so sad to me that so many did not grow up in the same environment that I did.  It is getting better, but, unfortunately, all too often, whites try to separate themselves away from people of color.

Back to the list.

Eat Chocolate.  Yum!

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