If I had a dollar for every time someone has treated me disrespectfully, I would be a gazillionaire. So Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, is my hero this week.
Nikki announced on Sunday morning that the United States would issue sanctions on Russia due to their role in Syria’s ability to access chemical weapons. On Monday it was reported that President Trump decided against following through with Russian sanctions. On Tuesday, Larry Kudlow, National Economic Council Director, said that Nikki Haley might have experienced “momentary confusion” regarding sanctions. When I heard that, I was outraged and immediately empathized with Nikki because I am no stranger to being blamed for others’ failures, feelings, frustrations. I find it easy to believe that anyone who is not a white male and is living in this “good old boys” world—which is what America essentially is—has been on the receiving end of frequent disrespect. Nikki Haley fired back with a statement I find completely heroic because it is a resilient response that empowered people who treat people disrespectfully hate to hear: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
Because it seemed like such an effective way to put the people who threw her under the bus in their proper place, I’ve now added “With all due respect” to the start of conversations I’ve been having in my head with people who are currently treating me disrespectfully. Unfortunately, those imaginary conversations end with: “you’re being an ass.” I need to work on that some more before I have those conversations out loud.
I know that as a result of being focused on following a path that is consistent with my personal truth, I might sometimes run over the toes of whoever happens to be standing on the trails I blaze. Even though I don’t mean to hurt anyone, I’ve frequently had people respond to my way of being with disrespectful words and actions. I’ve actually had more than one person tell me: “Nobody respects you, Julie.” The first time I heard this I thought, You’re just jealous that you’re not totally awesome like me (it was in the 1980s when I first heard it and I used the word awesome a lot). But then I kept receiving the message that I’m not respected in many forms: in the way men have leered at me; in the way they have hit on me; in the way men have talked condescendingly to me through concise statements, through verbal abuse, through silence. Disrespect isn’t exclusively a man’s game—and I have been disrespected by countless women—but disrespectful men tend to make me feel more violated because of the threat of financial or physical harm to me that has been attached to it. Human interaction is a mighty thing and the way we treat each other has the power to change people. I’ve definitely been altered by all of the disrespect I have received. I’ve been on the receiving end of disrespect often enough that I no longer respond to it with the thought that the person delivering this message to me must be wrong because I’m totally awesome; I respond by trying to figure out what’s wrong with me.
It’s time for me to try a more powerful way of interacting with people who treat me disrespectfully, while staying true to being who I am. While I work on finding new—Nikki Haley caliber—words to use with people who disrespect me, I will keep treating other people respectfully just because it feels like the right thing for me to do. I will also continue advocating that everyone be treated with respect. I will continue to use this platform to speak out against the disrespectful treatment of anyone: women, men, black, white, gay, straight, citizens, immigrants … And if you don’t like that I share my opinions in this way, yet you still continue to click on my blog to see what I’ve written so that you can feel justified in treating me disrespectfully, then my current thought on that is, “With all due respect …”
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