Things That Shake Me

I want you to listen to this. Quinn Christopherson wrote this based on his experience living as a woman for 25 years and then being suddenly thrust into a male world that confirmed the terrible experiences he faced in his previous life.

I want you to set aside the transgender discussion for another day, and imagine a world where people interacted with you not based on what they take in when looking at you: your face, your breasts, your hair, your voice, your ass - but based on what your mind holds, what your soul delivers.

I am an advocate for largely traditional gender roles. I do believe we were created with different strengths for good reasons. I am a proponent of stay-at-home moms and provider fathers. I believe biologically we have specific designations for caring and conquering that society can't mitigate or mute, for all of their trying. Not that men don't care and women don't conquer, but we are engineered for and driven by different strategies.

I also believe that any human should be able to do whatever they are capable of doing fully. I have been a firefighter in both the structure and wildland world but I removed myself from that active role when my physical performance could compromise the safety of myself or others. I am not against women doing whatever they are able do, or men for that matter, in non-traditional roles if they do it well. I have met some super stay-at-home dads that would put my mothering skills to shame and I have met women that can outperform 90% of the men I know on the fireline. 

I doubt there is a man that could relate to the lyrics of this song, and when I heard Christopherson tell his story, it broke my heart. It broke my heart because last week I sat in an office with a man who "listened" to me share my passion about the Veterans Service Organization and shooting team that I work with, and this man immediately converted the talk into one about my "brother's vision." Because he couldn't accept my voice. I am a woman. He kept offering his support of what my brother and the other men were doing, and offered to pray for me when I left his office. It ripped me apart inside. He's not a bad man. This is just normal for him, it's normal for most of the world I live in, and what really killed me, is the realization that it's normal for me and it barely phases me anymore.

I was raised being told that college, the workforce, etc, were "no place for women." I grew up believing I had one option. I took that option, and while I wouldn't change anything, it makes me angry that I didn't know better. I didn't know that I could chase my own passions and do anything I was capable of. Obviously my world has changed since then, or I have migrated toward a larger and broader world. But those ideals are still alive and well.

I am grateful that my children have grown believing that they can do it all, anything they're physically qualified for. Anything they work hard for. I am proud to know that they will never settle to only serve the vision of their male counterparts. I know that they run into the same faceless judgement, passed over because they have less  hair on their arms or don't look like a sawyer should look. But I know they are smart and resilient enough to push back and stake their claim on life.

We live in a time where women have more voice than ever, and when I have considered traveling back in time, there is no spot in history that I would trade places with. But we still have room to grow. Especially in our small, backwater towns, like the Alaska where Christopherson was raised, where education and growth and expansion still loom as threats to a ritual lifestyle of repression and entropy. I am still interrupted. My opinions are still second guessed. I am still occasionally told that I can't do things.

I am tired of people trying to erase me. It's my dream, it's my passion. I love my brother and back him and his vision up 100%, and he the same does for me. I will be a relentless and passionate supporter of the man that takes me as his partner in life. I love that. But he will be mine as well. I don't believe in the male privilege complaint, but I do believe that men who are not raised to respect and cherish the intelligent soul of women are deadly to our species. Men who cannot see us as intellectual and spiritual equals, and even physical equals in context, hold back the whole human race, just like women who emasculate and deface the strength of manhood do.

We are different, we are equal. Harnessing that perfect fit together makes us powerful. Why would one horse want the other tied behind the wagon instead of pulling alongside, or even pulling a relief shift? Where you lack, I compensate, and you do the same for me. It's how we're made. Erase one and you weaken the other.

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