Learning from Werner Herzog

While doing some research about cinematic icon and author Werner Herzog, I found a quintessentially Herzogian story. Apparently, after one of his film screenings, the crowd booed him and his movie. He walked onto the stage and simply said to them, “You are all wrong.”

I marvel at his male privilege — and believe me I’m not saying the phrase pejoratively… this time. I‘m truly in awe of how most men consider themselves, at least at first, to be right. In the face of anger, accusation and doubt, I find so often that men like Herzog default to “They’re wrong; I’m right.” It’s instinctual. It’s learned.

As a woman, whenever I’m challenged (especially by a man) I automatically believe him. It’s only after I re-read, re-think and take some time out that I realize “No, wait, I AM right.” It’s not that I have self-esteem issues. It’s that from the vagina to the grave, I have been and will be doubted before I’m believed.

How wonderful it must be to say something such as “You’re gonna take a left up here,” without being asked “You sure?” How stupid is it that I reply “I’m pretty sure…” Instead of saying “Yeah, I’m fucking sure, you fucking wanker.” (Unless it’s my husband, who I have no problem challenging.)

There are not many scenarios where I want to forsake my natural abilities to become more like a man. That “lean-in” bullshit is some fucked up advice. It reminds me of my parents trying to teach my brother to walk and talk more “like a man” when he was gay bashed at school. I don’t feel I have to be less emotional. I don’t feel I have to be less caring, less empathetic, less apologetic. Those aren’t bad things.

But I do feel like I need to learn something from privilege, because a lot of the time that just means believing what you’ve been told by society. Is it really so simple that I can just disbelief what society’s told me instead? I dunno, but this year I plan to find out. By the way, you’re all wrong.