It Is Not My Intent to Offend Half the World’s Population….

“To belittle, you have to be little” (Khalil Gibran) 

Serena Williams wins her sixth Wimbledon singles trophy, 7/11/2015. By Azilko via Wikimedia Commons

What is it about men? Sometimes I just want to take them by the arm and squeeze it gently while I look into their eyes and say, “Dude, really, get over yourself.” I don’t want to make blanket assumptions or paint all men with the same brush, but I am coming to a conclusion that a world run mostly by males is not working out as well as it might. How about you guys take a few steps back and let women have a go? Or, at the very least, move over, stop man-spreading, and acknowledge that maybe women have something to offer.

I don’t want to offend anyone and I’m not lobbying to make men “less than” (woman all know how that feels). But how about raising women to a place of equality—real equality—not pat-us-on-the-head-and-let-us-into-the-club-if-we-promise-to-be-good “equality”?

There are a lot of wonderful and wise men who read this blog. I love interacting with them. I love reading their blogs. There are a few I treasure as dear and beloved friends, and one with whom I sleep every night. I promise you, I’m not trying to take anything away from you.

And then there’s John McEnroe. Why did John feel it was necessary to weigh in about Serena Williams’ ability and how she would stack up in a match against a male tennis player? Surely, the 58-year-old McEnroe has lived a long and rich enough life that he can find other things to say as he promotes his new memoir and seeks a few more moments in the limelight.

McEnroe, a 7-time Grand Slam champion, declared of Williams, winner of 23 Grand Slams and currently ranked number-one in the world, “If she played the men’s circuit she’d be, like, 700 in the world.”

And, of course (of course!), the player ranked number 701 in the men’s circuit, Dmitry Tursunov, had to weigh in and say, “I would hope that I would win against Serena.”

Both men were quick to qualify that they didn’t want to denigrate Serena’s ability or amazing talent, but women just can’t compete against men. “The reality” is, according to number 701, Tursunov, that “men are stronger in general.”

That may be true. Men may be stronger “in general.” But physical strength isn’t all that’s needed to be a tennis champion. Nor does it justify world dominance. And it doesn’t equate to intelligence, endurance, compassion, complexity, common sense, or a dozen other qualities that people need to navigate their lives effectively and—at the end of it—be able to say with conviction, “I’m leaving the world a better place for having lived.”

Is what McEnroe claimed true? I don’t know and I don’t care. It wasn’t necessary. And it wasn’t kind.

Serena Williams demonstrated some of those other traits of whole-hearted people—including grace—when she responded on Twitter: “Dear John, I adore and respect you but please please keep me out of your statements that are not factually based” and “I’ve never played anyone ranked ‘there’ nor do I have time. Respect me and my privacy as I’m trying to have a baby. Good day sir.”

I realize that a few ill-chosen words by an aging tennis star don’t constitute proof that all men are clueless, or that the world would be in better hands if more world leaders were women. But, really, let’s think about it. And let’s try to do so objectively.

Is there anyone, anyone, who truly believes that 13 aging, rich, white men meeting in secret behind closed doors would—let alone could—craft a health care plan that would be fair to all Americans? Yes, those 13 senators believed in their own omnipotence and innate, “God-given” superior wisdom. It remains to be seen whether there are enough like them in Congress who will continue to assert white, male superiority and pass the bill that will harm millions of Americans who don’t share their power, wealth, or chromosomes.

There was a time when I had more faith in my country and the people who were elected to run it, when I would have said with confidence, “This could never happen.” And I certainly don’t believe that all women possess the qualities that would equip them to lead wisely. But the clock is ticking in a world perilously close to catastrophe. Something needs to change.

John McEnroe is just a reminder of what we’re up against if we want to change the world. Every day, millions of men say things that put women down. Every day, millions of men equate physical strength with power and entitlement. I know it’s not all men, but it’s enough.

As women, even if our physical strength isn’t equal, our intelligence, ability to reason, compassion, judgment, and endurance are. If we continue to step aside for men, if we continue to allow them to get away with saying stupid, hurtful, entitled things without calling them on it, then the world will never change. It could be so much better if instead of fearing a loss of their power, those with the power could see that by sharing it, everyone wins. Think about it.

“We can never elevate ourselves by putting someone else down.” (Donna Cameron)

12 thoughts on “It Is Not My Intent to Offend Half the World’s Population….

  1. Brava, Donna!! I had read some headline about McEnroe’s words, rolled my eyes, and moved on. Seriously, it was one of those might-lose-your-eyeball-in-the-back-of-your-head eyerolls. I supposed it might be an interesting academic question–if the world’s best woman opposed the world’s best man (in any sport or field), who would win? The infinitely more interesting question, to me, is, what would that look like? Unless it’s straight up weight lifting, I bet it’d be more interesting than we estimate. There are plenty of sports in which finesse and strategy are at least as important as brute strength. It’s high time we stop pitting the genders against each other, and start seeing the complementary and integrative aspects of our nature(s).
    I have just started listening to Kirsten Gillibrand’s _Off The Sidelines_. I think you may like it. In he introduction she discusses how she feels the need to teach her daughter, but not her sons, that she has inherent strength, intelligence, capability, and a right to contribute, because somehow her sons already assume that of themselves. I like her also because she comes from a long line of cussers and she keeps hers under wraps about as well as I do. 😉
    It really is about extending to all the kindness and respect that we expect for ourselves. It’s about fighting *for* rather than against.
    I’m grateful that you continue to use your voice, your words, and your platform to advocate for kindness, compassion, and consideration. One step at a time, my friend.

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    • You nail it, Cathy, when you say, “It’s high time we stop pitting the genders against each other, and start seeing the complementary and integrative aspects of our nature(s).” That goes for all the “pitting” we do: rich vs. poor, conservative vs. liberal, believer vs. non-believer…. It only serves to separate us and set up a dynamic where there have to be winners and losers. Also when you remind us to be “for” rather than “against”! Thanks for mentioning Senator Gillibrand’s book—I will look for it. And thanks for your thoughtful comment!

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  2. The problem is that every time women manage to take one more step towards real equality, there are ten thousand men struggling to pull them back again. In my darker moments I think it will never happen but, you never know.

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    • I so agree, Janis, it was unnecessary and entirely ungracious. Recognizing when to speak and when to stay silent is one of those lessons that comes with maturity and the awareness that our words and actions can harm or heal. Thanks for the quote you shared…love it!

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  3. Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add more conte7nt diversity for our community and I liked what you wrote. If “OK” please let me know via email.



    • Thanks so much for your nomination, Keith, I surely appreciate it. I decided a couple of years ago to be an award-free blog—I’m just not comfortable with the notion, for me (I should probably post that somewhere). I do so appreciate your kind words for YOLK. I’m also checking out some of the other blogs you nominated and finding some new inspirations. I really enjoy yours and look forward to more of your motivating and thought-provoking messages. Thanks again!

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