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with Robert Haaland

Republished with permission

Your Life is Now

By Robert Haaland

April 24, 2006

"Would you teach your children to tell the truth?
Would you take the high road if you could choose?"
John Mellencamp

Someone once told me that San Francisco is a man's city. If you look at who is in power in this city, there is some truth to that observation. Being a woman involved in SF politics isn't easy. Over and over again, you hear things like "she is manipulative, she slept her way to the top, or she is stupid." If it is a guy, he is a good organizer, you never hear about who he is sleeping with unless he is bragging cuz he is such a stud, and well, intelligence isn't always a prerequisite for advancement for men. Men don't understand how much power and privilege they have in the world and particularly in San Francisco. As a female to male transgender person, I have a somewhat unique perspective on this issue. Prior to coming out as transgender, I experienced or saw much of this. After coming out, my experience has been very similar. When I am organizing on the same side as someone, they call me a good organizer. When I am not on their side, I'm being manipulative. I will never, ever really be a real man to most, not that I really want to or care. I am me, not some caricature of masculinity.

Former Supervisor Harry Britt, Debra Walker, and Robert Haaland
Photo by Tommi Avicolli Mecca

But the one thing I have tried to bring with me as I transition from female to male is my grounding in feminist theory and feminist behavior. I am by no stretch of the imagination perfect, but I do my best to call out sexism and misogyny when I see it. I think the mark of a "real" man is someone who treats women with respect and honor. So when you hear guys call women manipulative, make sexual slurs, or question their intelligence, show the world you are different, that you aren't insecure about your masculinity. Call it out and do a better job of supporting and promoting women. There are some real powerhouses in SF. Women like Debra Walker and Josie Mooney for example. Both are incredibly bright and when I hear men disparage either of them, I think less of the men-much less. Some say you should ignore men like that. There is some truth to that argument. Usually insecure bullies are only seeking attention and why give it to them? Well, I agree with Tim Redmond, editor of the Bay Guardian, I think it is important to call it out when important lines are crossed: racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, immigrant bashing-none of it should be tolerated.

Speaking of calling stuff out, no one is perfect in this town and those that think they are should take a moment and reflect. I know I make mistakes all the time. I try but I know that I can and should do better. But at the end of the day, I need to do a better job of supporting and promoting candidates of color. Is there any doubt that there is institutional racism in the world? Given that, shouldn't we all be pushing harder to support candidates of color? I'm running for the DCCC and while I tried to recruit more women and people of color to run, largely I was unsuccessful, particularly African American candidates. We are losing Malik Looper on the DCCC, and while I'm sure Bill Barnes will be re-elected, having only one African American on the DCCC is just unacceptable.

Bill Barnes

Happy Birthday Debra! Happy Birthday Maria!

Marc Geller, Mary Magee, Maria Guillen, Ed Kinchley, and Mary Sanders
Photo by Ruben Garcia

Today is Debra Walker's birthday. It is also the birthday of Maria Guillen, Vice-President of SEIU Local 790. Both of them contribute so many positive things to the world. We are lucky to have them in the world, they both show me so much about what it means to try and change the world, and I am lucky to know both of them.

Krissy Keefer and Debra Walker
Photo by Robert Haaland

"In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now"
John Mellencamp

Robert Haaland publishes leftinsf.com.
Email Robert Haaland at robert_haaland@hotmail.com.




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