WHO ARE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT WOMEN?
The woman sounded angry when she asked me that. Or maybe I should say seemed angry, since it was in an email, in response to a blog I wrote that mentioned I was working on a book called Why Women Rule: The Rise of the Female Warrior.
I had to think about that question. Who was I to write a book about women? My first answer I typed to her, would not be the right answer because it contained an accidental obscenity, so I didn't send it. I used the backspace button to delete it. Besides, everybody says that obscene stuff these days in response to the slightest provocation, and I don't want to be like everybody else just to look trendy.
Who am I to write about women? Well! I had a mother. Is that good enough? Well, maybe not. Everyone has had a mother. So I'm not exactly an outlier there.
I have two sisters. I have three daughters. I have a wife. I have women clients. My favorite philosopher/spiritual advisor is Byron Katie, a woman. And I cheer for Jennifer Lawrence every time she picks up her bow and arrow in The Hunger Games.
Besides, I have always rejected the excessively tribal claims that only women can write about women, only blacks can write about blacks, only dwarves can write about dwarves, and on and on. If we have too much more of that tribal isolation no one will be bonding with anyone else ever again. It will just be islands of isolation and tribal rage.
Oh, I forgot one of my best qualifications: my grandmother was a woman. She was a hero of mine, and a role model. She never hated anyone. When she didn't like someone she would always say they were "insignificant." Sometimes she would say, "He's the most insignificant man I know of!"
My grandmother was not tribal, either. If the boys (her sons and grandson) were in her living room watching a football game, she would poke her head out from the kitchen and ask, "Who's the underdog?" We would shout back who the underdog was in the game, and she would say, "That's who I want to win."
She was always for the underdog. But it made no sense to her tribal boys.
"Who's the underdog?" she would say, as we watched our Arizona Wildcats play New Mexico.
"New Mexico!" we would shout.
"Then I hope New Mexico wins," she would say.
"Why?" We couldn't understand it. "They're playing Arizona!"
"They're the underdog, that's why."
"But Grandma! You live in Arizona, your children and grandchildren went to the University of Arizona."
"That doesn't matter. I hope New Mexico wins."
Her loyalty was always to the underdog. Ours was to our own exclusive tribe. Her heart was bigger. Her ego was smaller. Her anger (the ultimate result of tribal loyalty) was almost non-existent.
She was my hero. But who am I to write about women?
My real answer? I don't care who I am. I am insignificant.