Grant Every Woman the Confidence of a Mediocre White Man
By Rebecca Shaw
Illustration by Ellen Porteus
My first instinct in attempting to come up with a theoretical overnight change to bring about true gender equality was simply the idea to evaporate all men immediately (as is my first instinct probably once a week).
Imagine waking up Christmas morn, but instead of unwrapping a SodaStream or weird hat your aunt knitted, you unwrap a beautiful new world populated only by women.
It may initially seem like some kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare had befallen earth, at least for a while, until it became evident that this was in fact a Utopian story. The Great Evaporation of 2016 would contribute to solving a lot of the difficult issues that the general female populace faces because of men or the patriarchy. But, because I am benevolent, and because I wish to spare the good men who want to make things right, and those women who are burdened with the unfortunate curse of loving men, I have a different idea.
Instead of evaporating men, let’s instead draw inspiration from writer Sarah Hagi’s quote “Lord, grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man”.
We all know these men. We’ve probably all worked with one of them, and been astounded at the confidence they have while simultaneously noting their incompetence. We’ve probably all come across them in social situations — the person who loves the sound of their own voice the most; saying the worst things. And yet, these men should not be evaporated.
But their confidence should be.
My life is a series of interactions with men and women who have equally confusing disparate levels of self-confidence. If I could change anything overnight, it would be to take the confidence from the mediocre white men who hold an unjustifiably large portion of it, and inject it into the minds of those girls and women we know who, for some strange reason (society, patriarchy) are held back by a lack of belief in themselves. A lot of time is spent trying to fight back against this gap in confidence. A lot of time is spent trying to convince talented, funny, smart women that they are worth something; that they are worth more than they think, or at least more than what they have been told. Trying to convince them to apply for jobs they don’t think they are qualified for when much less qualified men feel confident enough to apply. Trying to get them to stop apologising for themselves and their ideas. Trying to get them to demand better treatment, personally and professionally.
The outcome of this Robin Hood rob-from-the-men-and-give-to-the-women experiment would be fascinating. What would happen if the surplus of confidence in undeserving men was simply transferred to women who should by all rights have more of it?
What if the next generation of young women were unrepentant, and were not conditioned to apologise for their place in the world.
What if they were not socialised to be more concerned about being friendly and not ruffling feathers than getting what they want? Imagine if they believed in their ideas, and if they didn’t care about how the world would react if they stood up for themselves, because all other women would be doing it too.
Hopefully it would start a trend. Maybe men would start to recognise the fact that a part of their success is due to the way the world at large treats them. Realising that their confidence has been gifted to them, whether they actually deserve it or not, and that it simultaneously is not gifted to women in the same way.
But more importantly, that magical morning that I get my wish and more and more women wake up and feel confident and self-assured is the morning that great things will start happening. The world is not set up for us. It is not an easy place for women to demand more. But all that would change. If women stopped taking no for answer. If women found it easier to ask for what they want. If they started to prioritise themselves, and create more, and have the opportunity to lead and continued to lift each other, and if the voices of all women were heard, it is not only women who would benefit, but all of society would as well.
That’s because I believe women are the best — and that is something I am truly confident about saying.