This post was originally published on Medium on December 6, 2016.
I am no shrinking violet, and I am not afraid to voice my opinion when the situation calls for it. I am not, however, in the habit of making a scene in a meeting where I am unfamiliar with the leader and the rest of the people present.
I confess that I did do this last night.
I went to a writers group in Cleveland last night for the first time. Billed as a group to help writers learn about publishing and promoting their books, I thought the group might be helpful, as I am about to publish a children’s picture book. The topic of discussion was using social media to promote yourself as an author.
I was a bit taken aback when the male leader of the group began the discussion by using Donald Trump as a shining example of the use of social media. He spoke about how Donald Trump had won the presidential election on the merits of his social media prowess. He further claimed that “no one liked Hillary”, although he went on and on about how people did like her husband. He essentially heralded Trump’s use of social media and demeaned Hillary for her lack of stature in this area.
Were we in normal times, I may have spoken up and made a sarcastic remark, and then let it go. But we are not in normal times. I could not let it go.
There is ample documentation of how Donald Trump has used social media to promote racism, misogyny, and bigotry. He has promoted outright lies and fake news through social media. He has incited violence through social media. White supremacists and Russian hackers have used social media to elevate Donald Trump, and he has used his Twitter account to undermine decades of foreign diplomacy.
I found it highly offensive that a leader of a nonpolitical writer’s group would use Donald Trump as an example for how authors should use social media, and I told him so. When I spoke up to challenge the false narrative that “no one liked Hillary” (She did win millions more votes than Trump,) I was told “This is my meeting” and “just sit with being out of your comfort zone.”
Well here’s the thing. I have been “sitting with being out of my comfort zone” with misogynistic and bigoted men for too long in my life. I won’t do it for a silly writers group. So instead of sitting with it, I told him I would not, and I made a very abrupt scene of walking out of the meeting.
Were my actions unprofessional? Perhaps. Did I “embarrass myself” as the leader claimed in a tweet to me after the fact? Quite possibly. Was I rude and disrespectful as he claimed in another tweet (he has sent 15 as of this writing. I guess this “nasty woman” got under his skin.) I will cop to that.
Should I have just sat quietly while listening to him spin a chauvinistic and false narrative about the first woman presidential candidate for his example of social media promotion? Should I have let his use of Donald Trump as a positive example for social media authenticity go unchecked? Should I have conformed to polite conventions and just taken his provocation and subsequent silencing like a polite little lady? Sorry, I can’t do that.
We are not in normal times, and polite “professional” conventions may need to fall to the wayside in order for people to wake up to our new reality.
Our new reality is that the most repugnant, racist, and misogynistic demagogue has been elevated to the highest office in the world. He is radical and he has unleashed hatred and dangerous movements across our country. IT CANNOT GO UNCHECKED – even in the small space of a writer’s group where a little man thinks its OK to put women in their place and expect them to be silent.
I made a decision last night. I am going to be that woman who won’t shut up. Granted, I have already been that to some degree. But last night I made the decision that I will be relentless without regrets about speaking my mind when it needs to be spoken. I will face the critics and withstand their blather. I won’t succumb to the polite conventions that would be expected of me under normal conditions. We are not under normal conditions. Polite conventions seem unbearably quaint at this point in time.
This was not about a group leader using an example with which I simply disagreed. This was misogyny hitting me smack in the face. It needed to be called out. It won’t be the last time I do it.