Oh my god, Garrison Keillor, really?
Now as I’m thinking back on the life I led in a male bodied role, my new perspective from a transgender woman’s viewpoint is certainly unique. It has allowed me the gift to have seen the gender world from both sides. I have experienced the truth that women know from being raised in this world, a truth that I had never gave a thought to, I’ve also seen toxic masculinity in action, again, something that even when surrounded never affected me directly.
I also experienced the change in the way I was treated as the perception of those around me changed along with my gender transition. I certainly had heard from others that this was something I should expect. I do know it was still quite a surprise when I finally recognized what was happening and although I never called it harassment I guess that was what it was.
Before my transition did I ever participate in this display of toxic masculinity?
No, I was an asshole for sure but I was never that kind of asshole. I can’t even imagine the entitlement that it takes to believe it’s OK to touch someone else’s body without their permission. I think it goes along with my disdain for the jock culture when I was growing up, I tended to avoid the masculine power struggles like the plague.
Later in life I was dragged against my will to topless bars to entertain clients. I spent most of my time trying to keep from blushing and attempting to make myself invisible. The truth was that in outside sales at that time, it was expected. It was a rare Fortune 500 company that actually had women in positions of power so the good old boy network was in all its glory. Drinking, smoking, golf and titty bars were the rule of the day.
I was steeped in this omni present toxic masculinity and although I don’t remember being actively involved I was certainly complicit by my silence. I regret never having had the courage to stand up against the crude sexual comments but I was so insecure that I didn’t dare draw any attention to myself.
To say that I am now awake and aware would be an understatement, not only have I have now heard it directly from the women I call friends but I now seen it with my own eyes. I have watched the inter play as I sat at my favorite bar, the interaction taking place between the unattached males and any woman that looked like they would make a good conquest. Some of the phrases that they chose to secure the score actually made me laugh out loud. I’ve also watched the eye rolls, the subtle rejection of their advances and the not so subtle brush offs.
What is interesting is the slowly eroding patience with such transparent toxicity. The arrival of the “me too” movement seems to be gaining momentum and actually stands a chance of making a difference.
Relegated to the role of an observer by both my age and transness, I have nevertheless enjoyed the ring side seat to the small victories as women push back against what was once thought to be just the way it is.