For the first time in a long time, I had to delete a comment from one of my online spaces. I thought about it and wondered if I was being ‘too sensitive.’ *
Is being too sensitive an actual thing? Or is this just yet another dismissive characterization for the times people don’t wish do address their own cruelty or lack of sensitivity? As a child, I was constantly told (and again in my early working years) that I took things “too personally,” and that I needed to let things go because it was just the way of things, not actually personal.
Looking back on those things, I am just about prepared to call bullshit on being too sensitive or taking things personally which I ‘shouldn’t.’ Because–saying degrading things about women, to me or around me? That is personal–I’m female. Saying homophobic things to me or around me? That is personal–I’m bisexual and my family of choice is largely gay/ lesbian/bisexual. Even if I weren’t bisexual–still personal. Saying racist things around me? That is personal–because it violates what I (and good people everywhere)know to be right. If you transgress my sense of right and wrong, that *is* personal.
That doesn’t mean I don’t disregard some things. I’ve been called names and had personal insults on my appearance thrown my way. I actually don’t take those personally because that speaks more to the lack in the person doing the attacking than anything missing or wrong on my part.
Now attacking my intelligence, or being dismissive of things I say in my space–that’s a problem. Historically, Women have long been portrayed as less intelligent. I fought to have my intelligence recognized from elementary school through graduate school. So, if you are male and dismissive of what I say, or that I’m too sensitive, or too emotional–I’m going to say something every time now. I am entitled to my viewpoint. Likewise for women, but in my experience I have found, this occurs more in men. If you, as a matter of course, assume your own eminence, I’ll ask for your and provide my bona fides. If you approach me as an equal, there is no need for that.
I think ‘too emotional, too sensitive,’ and being dismissive, are stilettos too much in common use. So long accepted that they are nearly unnoticeable. I’m tired of stitching up my wounds.
Being sensitive makes me a better parent, friend, and person in general. I am able to feel another’s sorrow, joy or longing and hopefully support those feelings in a caring way. Having strong emotions tunes me in when I need to be there for my child, my friends or my cats. Sensitive is not and should not be pejorative.
‘If I be waspish, best beware of my sting’ ~Katherine, The Taming of the Shrew
* Though an exchange that I found uncomfortable prompted my thinking on this, this posting is not just about that exchange. I extended the analysis of my feelings to analogous situations.