I don’t know what it’s like.
I don’t know what it’s like to hustle from meeting to meeting carrying around another human that’s taken over my body and the food I feed it and the energy it gives me and the space for my other organs and be expected to be the same or better as I was when I wasn’t. Or what it’s like for the reward of that hard work to be a break away from the career that I’ve worked my ass off for so that someone else gets to do my job just long enough for me to feel uneasy about it while I’m gone.
I don’t know what it’s like to stand up in front of a room of men and give a presentation that I’ve poured my mind and soul into and have only the most evolved of them ignore their millions of years of primate evolution and refuse to acknowledge whether or not they found me attractive. While the least of them wonder silently, or allowed to their buddies in the men’s room, if I was the kind of “teammate” that was fun to have around on business trips.
I don’t know what it’s like for my body chemistry to change so much over time that the medical community refused to test drugs on me from the 60’s until nearly today because I didn’t represent a stable enough test subject to be considered, “all other factors held constant.” Or what it’s like to never, ever be allowed to let anyone know that any of that is going on in the background.
I don’t know what it’s like to be four times more likely to raise your kids on your own when your marriage fails than your spouse is. Or why it seems so much less fantastic to members of the opposite sex that I was a single parent than it would be if I were a man.
I don’t know what it’s like to have my period (that’s right I said it) while in the middle of conducting corrective spinal surgery and just push on through. And then wonder at what point over the next six hours the rest of the operating room will know. But apparently it happened enough to Miki Agrawal’s sister for her to launch a company that makes Thynx, women’s underwear that represent the first innovation in feminine hygiene in about a century. I don’t know if they work. Because I’m a man.
I don’t know what it’s like to for my business clothes to actually show the shape of my body.
Or what it’s like to serve in the military as a deployed mom.
And I don’t know what it’s like to be at the physical mercy of nearly every man I’m ever alone with.
I do know that I don’t ever have to think about any of that crap. Or about a hundred other things that I couldn’t include because I don’t even know what they are. And that the world doesn’t expect any more of me, as a man, as a result.
I also know that I’m surrounded by women at work and in my personal life who are amazing at what they do. As good or better than any male counterpart. And I can also tell you that I’ve never heard a single one of them ever tell me that they didn’t get done what they had to get done because they were a woman, despite the clear and unambiguous evidence that they simply have to put up with much more shit than I do.
I don’t care what your politics are. Or if you stayed home yesterday to protest. Or if you posted a snarky Facebook video response to all the “whiny” women who did. It’s clear that there are both conservative and progressive women. And they’re showing their equal standing in that field too by making it clear they hate each other right now just like we men do. But let’s not let that get in the way of the message.
Women are marvels of towering strength, tolerance and patience. And maybe I could do what they have to do every day just to live at parity with me. And maybe I couldn’t. I don’t know. I’m prone to throwing things around my office if I skipped breakfast in the morning and the line was too long at Starbucks to wait for my spinach feta wrap. The point is that I’ll never have to find out. And the amazing women in my life are surrounded in frustrating perpetuity by men who range from ignorant to apathetic to resentful of their plight.
And it must drive you all out of your minds.
And for that, I am forever appreciative.
Yesterday. Today. And every day thereafter.