Permission, Entitlement, and Responsibility

Hey,

I focus my work on helping myself and helping other women claim their right to raise their voices and be heard.

When men have ideas – good ones, bad ones, whatever! – they share them publicly. I’ve seen it in the workplace and I’ve seen it online and I’ve seen it as an entrepreneur.

They’re here to lead with their ideas. I want to see women lay claim to give themselves permission to do the same.

But.

Last week, I came across Bill Burr’s SNL monologue. (That’s 2 weeks in a row referencing the same SNL episode in my letter. I guess it was a good one.)

Anyway! In the monologue, he calls out white women. I had a visceral, internal groan of a reaction when I saw the web search result.

I so very deeply did not want to watch it.

I know. I know! We SUCK. I don’t need to hear it again from a white man, of all people.”

Whenever I (metaphorically) stick my fingers in my ears that’s when I know I should probably force myself to listen. So I did. Here’s part of what he said:

… somehow, white women swung their Gucci-booted feet over the fence of oppression, and stuck themselves at the front of the line. … The nerve! You guys stood by us toxic white males. … You rolled around in the blood money. … So why don’t you shut up, sit down next to me and take your talking to?”

The nervous, hesitant laughs really make the monologue, so check those out yourself over here.

I am still here, in business, to help women give themselves permission to lead with their ideas. To claim a platform. To raise their voices.

But when it comes to white women, I’m not here to do that unless all that permission-giving we’re doing for ourselves also includes responsibility-claiming.

To my fellow white women: let’s stop talking about our proximity to power without acknowledging the power we do have.

We have proximity to power but part of the benefit we derive from systemic white supremacy is power itself.

This is what Lisa Betty unpacks in her recent article, “White Supremacy and White Women: In Response to Glennon Doyle,” (She also links to Bill Burr’s monologue in posts on Twitter and Instagram.)

She makes several sharp points about how we white women claim our perpetuation of white supremacy is unconscious. And about how we are not just in proximity to power. We wield power.

The faster we acknowledge it, the faster we can examine and change the ways in which we wield it to oppress others.

You need to pay to read the full article, but here’s something that stuck with me:

“3) white women as powerless, having only “proximity” to power, not power itself — This is not true.”

She wrote that in response to Glennon Doyle’s comment that “somewhere along the line we learn that we will accept our proximity to power and all of the comfort and safety and belonging that that will get us. But in exchange, we will never ask for any real power.”


Amy Coney Barrett is likely our next Supreme Court justice. She is a white woman, a white mother, and she is about to assume a seat of “real power.”

In 2016, 53% of us white women voted for Donald Trump. That’s an exercise of power.

Somehow, I want to find a way to sidestep this painful reality. My impulse is to claim I don’t have power. … OK, maybe the power to prop up white men, but THEY’RE the problem. Right? RIGHT?

As we hurtle full speed toward … the next effing thing on and after November 3, we have to start taking responsibility for the way we white women wield our power.

We have to be wary of “centering [ourselves] as victims” of a white supremacist system that we actually benefit from.

We have to be wary of swinging our feet over the fence and sticking ourselves at the front of the line.

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