"I like women better than men."
Thus reads the opening sentence--one of the clearest and most direct I've ever written--of an essay I've been toying with for a few months about my deep-seated preference for the company of women to that of men. I haven't progressed very much on the essay at all, but that opening rings true and I will keep it.
This came to mind today, when Sarah Lacy accused me of sexism in response to my review of her book Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good.
My review includes this paragraph:
"Lacy portrays [Jay] Adelson and [Kevin] Rose's
mutual "man-crush" with good humor and relish, in a way that seems
possible only because she is a woman. Despite their ritualistic
grumblings about the media, the numerous men Lacy interviews have no
trouble opening up to her over crepes at Ti Couz or drinks at the Fly
On her blog, Lacy responded: "Wow. Usually it's only snarky gossip bloggers or anonymous Twitters that are comfortable being so outright sexist. Way to go, Mr. Banks! I applaud your absolute lack of a filter or political correctness! Of course, it could just be because I've been a business reporter in the Valley for ten years and built a lot of sources, but no, no you're right. It's because I'm a girl."
By now I've responded to Lacy on her blog and she's responded to me, and it's reached a stage of respectful but awkward rapprochement. Nevertheless I'm saddened, because I was actually complimenting Lacy's ability--after years of her hard work reporting, which I acknowledged at the very beginning of the review--to get supposedly gruff techie guys to open up to her. I thought it was funny that these guys supposedly loathe the media but clearly love Sarah Lacy.
This made me smile, and didn't make me think that Lacy only got to where she is today because she's a woman.
But hey--people can interpret words in multiple ways. Once the words are on the screen (or on the page), they are out of the author's control. Clearly I touched a nerve in Lacy, and her accusation of sexism touched a deep chord in me.
From a very early age I resisted most "boyish" pursuits--I didn't like roughhousing with the guys, and noticed that the phrase "boys will be boys" excused a lot of ridiculous behavior. I watched the nightly news and saw that all the murderers and rapists were male. So I figured out pretty early on that men make a lot of messes that women have to clean up. Given this knowledge, I couldn't believe that female babies could be left to die on a mountainside in some countries, while male children were treasured. Back at home I thought it was strange that sports coverage dominated weekend television, and that there was a sports section every single day of the week in the paper. And I noticed that an easy insult on the playground was to call a boy a girl.
And on. And on.
Now I'm a librarian, which places me in a mostly female profession. I'm also one of the few males in the Haas business school partners club. So on many occasions, in both professional and social situations, I am the only male in the room. This is an entirely comfortable setting for me. I'd have a much harder time figuring out how to act in a group of mostly (or all) men.
Maybe I'm maladjusted; perhaps I need a little more yang with my yin.
So yes, Sarah, I am a sexist. You just picked the wrong sex.