On Men, Bees, and Anger

 
Marissa Conway Photography Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy Branding

I'm exhausted.

I’m exhausted of men. And I’ve held this thought back in my mind for fear, ultimately, of falling into the fun stereotype of “man-hating feminist”. 

Men wield their power in such ignorant and unruly ways. Men don’t understand that even carefully phrased criticisms, offered because they “want to be open and honest”, are perhaps not theirs to share. Men don’t understand that sometimes, their opinions are simply unwelcome. And so it becomes my job to police the onslaught of unsolicited opinions I receive: Well have you tried it this way? Well for me it works best like this. Surely you’ve given thought to this?

Yes. Yes, I probably have. And I don’t want to discuss it with you. I want to discuss with my team, with my Co-Founder, with my best friends, my partner, with my therapist. Crippling imposter syndrome means that at every step of my career I question, like a broken record, my ability to do my job. I hourly question my ability to oversee an organization I’ve already been running (very successfully, I might add) for a year and a half. And I don’t need men to question me as a way to “help me learn more”. Because ultimately, this won’t be discussing, this will turn into justifying. I will end up justifying the choices I make and the work I do, to people (men) who are not part of that work.

I’ve had plenty of women challenge me, push me, engage in conversation with different opinions. But never do they belittle me, try to manipulate me, make me feel unworthy. Perhaps I’m lucky in this, as we know patriarchy stakes a claim in every single one of our minds, regardless of gender identity.

I saw a tweet recently from @eekshecried: “Every woman I know has been storing anger for years in her body and it’s starting to feel like bees are going to pour out of all of our mouths at the same time.” One simple sentence and the wall holding my bees back cracked, so here they come flooding out. It’s not even anger. It’s visceral hatred of the way I continually have to prove myself to men, still fearful of calling out bullshit and having it backfire, of gaining a reputation of being “difficult”. But I honestly don’t care anymore.

I don’t think I hate men. I'm just exhausted of them. I hate patriarchal values, which many men hold, intentionally or not. But I can also understand: it is so easy to hate the messenger when they don’t realize what they’re delivering.

PS - If you’re a man, reading this, thinking: Marissa wrote this about me! Please don’t flatter yourself. This a culmination of interactions with more men than I could possibly keep track of. And if telling women how to do their jobs is something you admit to, then please just take that energy over to ICE and get families reunited instead. 

 
Marissa Conway

Hi there!

A few years ago I uprooted my life in California and moved to London, where I founded and run the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy in the UK and work as a photographer and branding consultant. Learn more →

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