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Courtney!!! Milan 🦖 @courtneymilan
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So I want to talk a little bit about the Asshole We Must Tolerate For the Sake of his Genius.

You know who I mean. By name, usually. There are different names you can put in that slot, but you know someone by that name.
This person is invariably a man. I’m racking my brains to think of a woman who fits the role—I’m sure there are some. Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada? There may be more, but whatever, there’s a massive disproportion.
This narrative is STRONG, so strong that sometimes being a dick becomes one of the immutable *traits* of being a Genius, proof of how he’s an iconoclast who can burn down all the bridges that society builds blah blah blah.
It becomes one of the proofs that men can take that they ARE powerful. “They let you do anything,” Trump bragged about his stardom.

Being a jerk then becomes one of the signifiers of Success as a Genius, like driving a car and wearing designer clothing.
And here’s the thing—almost none of these Iconoclastic Geniuses are actually doing anything iconoclastic.

Going against the flow? That would involve punching *up*, not preying on those who are more vulnerable, who can’t really say no.
All these Iconoclastic Geniuses are doing is reinforcing the present power structure to prove that they are, in fact, at the top of it. They’re not being Iconoclasts. They may not actually even be geniuses.
But we need to stop thinking of people behaving in predatory fashions to those who have less power as proof of genius.

We need to start thinking of it as proof that they have too much power.
But right now, in our culture, imposing burdens on people beneath you and pretending that all you’re doing is shuffling off the shackles of etiquette?

That gets interpreted as brilliance.
So let’s start pushing back on this narrative.

Let’s start asking, “What’s so ground-breaking about hurting people who can’t stop you?” Let’s start doing it again, and again, and again.

Let’s make people see it for the hollow shell it is.
And I just want to say that I’m lucky enough to have had a role model in what true genius looks like.
Sometime in September at the Court, Sandra Day O’Connor called me on the phone. She asked about a few things with the job, and then said, in a very serious tone, “Now that we have that out of the way, I have something very important I need to talk to you about.”
I was Kozinski-trained. My heart sank. I knew I had somehow screwed up and I was going to get it.
Then she said: “Thanksgiving is coming up, and it’s very important to not spend the holidays alone. I won’t be in town. Do you have somewhere to go, or should I make calls so you can be with someone?”
I hung up the phone after that call and cried in my office.
Don’t get me wrong—SOC was no shrinking violet. When I traveled with her to sit by designation, she refused to let the US Marshals take her luggage (with a firm “No, thank you!”)
She is also the worst backseat driver I have ever encountered, something I discovered when I had to drive her up from Richmond, VA, to DC.

But she was unfailingly, unflinchingly, supportive and kind.
(I waffled between that story, or the time my car broke down and I showed up late and bedraggled. The instant she heard my story, she reached into her purse and took out her keys and said, “Drive mine until you get yours fixed; I can get the Marshals to drive me.”)
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