blog 31: I swear I will come back for you all!

We hervatten de blog-marathon op een dag die voor velen samenvalt met het hervatten van het werk na de vakantie. We starten met een Engelstalige column van iemand die laat zien hoe moeilijk het kan zijn om in die werksituatie de goede voornemens ook uit te voeren. Mede daarom wil hij anoniem blijven.

My, former, great hero Louis CK said that he loved the fact that his daughter was a third wave feminist.

I say former because, well, in case you have been living under a rock, Louis was outed as having sexually harassed women several times. His inevitable apology was bland but did  show me that there is a lot I’m holding on to and wish to stay blind to about the current state of affairs. It illuminated an ugly truth in my self-described feminist mind that I had only partially acknowledged until now.

1. I am privileged.  

Of course, I am. I am a man, I have inherent advantages but is there anything I can do about this inherent, -static- state?

2. I enjoy the power I have.  

Yes who wouldn’t? Power is awesome.

3. I use the power I have.

I do, but I try to be a good ally, I swear! I do my best to use it for good. 

I have power, I use power and I enjoy power. An uncomfortable truth that I navigate while walking the tightrope that is my conscience as a self-proclaimed heterosexual feminist man. Why Louis’ story hit me so hard was perhaps because it brought to light an even more uncomfortable truth about the current trend or state of affairs namely;

4. I am afraid of losing power.

I am writing this piece for the white ribbon campaign and while brainstorming the many topics I could write about, the following thought kept hitting me: Will people still want to work with me? What if they find out I am one of those people?


I work in the world of startups, where money flows and sexism is rampant as well as denied and demonized. But when a potential investment opportunity comes up, what do I want the potential money men to find out about me? A. My business accomplishments OR B. My business accomplishments and political views on feminism.

My gut tells me to choose option A because in my mind there is about a 75% chance that the investor or investment firm doesn’t want to work with someone who could cause ‘trouble’.

I am not only complicit but also actively contributing to the status quo in the following ways:

I have decided to stay anonymous, for the same reasons as Louis, Weinstein and their army of agents and profiteers covered up their horrible acts. I am not willing to lose power or pass up opportunities as a trade-off to having the moral high ground.

Many investment meetings I have attended in the past included much male macho bravadoes such as booze and drugs and the implicit implication that girls could be arranged. Though I can’t deny that I partook in the former two, my questionable conscious is at least clear of the third, but, there is a lingering nasty thought in my mind that tells me that a non-heteronormative male would not have done nearly as well as I did in those meetings or even been given the opportunity at all.

How do I sleep at night? My startup is a positive one (I hope). It will do good for everyone. And last but not least, I’ll change the world when I have the money and power I need. I swear I will come back for you all!

I can’t deny the reality of sexism in certain industries, including mine, but apparently I am only willing to fight it in limited ways. Does that make me complicit?

Of course, it does.

And is that on the basis of my being male? Because women are complicit in the same sense. The answer is a tricky one. Many women come from a position of power and are not willing to give up that power for this cause in the same way that I want to stay anonymous. But can we do more to stop this replication of power? I think so.

So thank you Louis? All the other reports flew right over my head. My belief in you and your mistakes coming to light has led me to realize I have a lot of learning to do and have many opportunities to do better in the future. I will continue to do so in anonymity for now. Navigating the system while feeling like a coward, but I swear I will come back for you all!


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