Choose to Challenge | David Wilson
"Again? You’ve asked me to write something for you again? What can I say this time? The first one struggled enough with what I could bring to the table.”
These were just some of the questions I asked myself after one of the editors of House of Revolution asked me to write something for International Women’s Day. I say asked, more like forcefully twisted my arm and had we been in each other’s company, I fully expect to have been given a burn. I admit this was one of the few times I’ve been grateful for social distancing.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Choose to Challenge”. Which, as a non-confrontational people pleaser, completely terrifies me. Challenging people for outdated views about gender stereotypes and assumptions is always awkward. Unless you’re the editor of this site and you, well let’s say, enjoy a good fight.
When the two of us were travelling through Australia, we encountered a lot of misogyny from the people around us. Over the months we were there, she actively challenged those around us for what they believed, and while never not agreeing and always saying “she’s right” or “I agree with her”, I never actively went out of my way to directly challenge them with her. My excuse would be that I was battling undiagnosed ulcerative colitis and was more preoccupied with thoughts of “Am I going to shit myself?” than actively challenging the patriarchy.
But, there isn’t really an excuse. I could have done more.
One thing I did do - after a heated debate where I was called out for my lack of urgency on the matter - was write on individual pieces of paper, in capital letters “FEMINISTS ONLY” and fixed them to the ceiling of the house we were staying in. Tokenism at its finest really but I was still pleased with myself nonetheless.
From then on I’ve tried to be more active in challenging views. I’m evening listening to a podcast called “How To Win An Argument With RuPaul” as I write this latest rambling. For me, so much of the issue stems from the fear of being or shouted down or punched. It’s some childhood trauma and the legacy of growing up as an effeminate gay boy in rural Ayrshire. But I’ve learned over the years about how to use persuasive techniques, emotions and witty one-liners to challenge people (and myself) on gendered stereotypes and biases.
I’m not perfect and I probably fail more often than not and still back down from the fight way more than I should, but to quote one of the editor’s least favourite people in the world*, at least I’m trying.
Maybe this long-winded sorry excuse for a submission is one way of challenging views by being a starting point for more discussion. Maybe it’s a bit of a cop out and just nonsense. I’ll leave it for you to decide if you’ve made it this far.
For those of you who are more like my friend the editor, I stan your strength to get up there and argue as your life depended on it. For those of you who are more like me, I would say, try and be braver and get used to being uncomfortable. It’s not easy and if you don’t quite meet the occasion in one instance, there’s always going to be another day and another argument to be one.
*Taylor Swift. That’s who I’m quoting just FYI. Stream “Folkore” and “Evermore”.
‘David is a Beyonce enthusiast, pantsuit aficionado and Bush Turkey fighter. When he isn’t bringing companies their latest political news, he’s on a mission to empower his female friends and fight the patriarchy alongside us. #StreamChromatica’