Not Being Judged By My Appearance and Age
My second “real” job out of college found me sitting in a boardroom with the President, Vice President, General Counsel, two lawyers, and a handful of Directors and Managers of a for-profit education company reviewing a new website I worked on. I was the only woman in the room and a mere 25 years old.
The room had a glass wall, like a “fish bowl” and as the presentation was going on an older woman walked by on crutches to drop something off at the President’s Administrative Assistant’s desk.
As she passed, the President of the company looked over at her and sneered.
Someone asked “what’s that look for?” To which he responded “Who is THAT?”
Someone responded “that’s <name>, she’s in the <healthcare> department.”
The President’s response: “If you ever wanna know why older men go for younger women, all you have to do is walk down to that department. Every woman there is overweight, unattractive, and middle aged.”
Everyone in the room laughed hysterically. My boss actually cringed. The Vice President who would later become my boss was stunned into silence. But the many VP’s, General Counsel, lawyers, Directors – they all laughed. And then everyone looked at me and I turned red and laughed awkwardly and we moved on.
A Day Without Women meant a day without hearing insults about my appearance or my age – something that happens far more than we even know.
Illuminating That I’m More Than a Reproductive System
My third “real” job out of college has been a much healthier work environment. Women aren’t insulted. We have a Women’s Network / Resource Group. I’m fairly confident we’re paid what we’re worth.
But yet… there are male leaders who have purposefully NOT offered positions to women because “well, I thought you wouldn’t want that role because you’re a mom now.”
There were men here who have said, out loud, “If extended maternity leave is approved and I’m ever in a position to hire someone, I won’t even hire a woman of reproductive age and if I do, it will be a lesbian.”
We are more than our reproductive systems – we are brains, bosses, persistence, passionate, organized, bad ass humans and professionals who deserve equal opportunities whether we have children or not.
A Day Without Women meant a day in which I’m not given opportunities because I’m child free by choice, and a day in which I don’t have to watch competent, qualified women get overlooked because they’re parents.
Finding Out Who Is, and Is NOT, Woke
I was thrilled to see my CFO, my boss, and many, many other men at my company wearing red yesterday. I loved seeing fellow ladies decked out in red – and the smile and silent comradely we shared – but the men… that was special. I can now see who is woke here. Whether they’re listening to news and paying attention to current events, or they’re truly supporting the women they love and know, it was fantastic.
That said, there are men here who have asked, quite seriously and bitterly, “when do white men get a day dedicated to the work we do?” Not just one or two men, but MANY within earshot of me.
What’s sad is that these men are married to women, have daughters, were raised by single moms. They rely on these women, they raise these women, they will no doubt be livid when their daughters or wives experience either of the two scenarios I detailed above.
And yet… when they hear “Women’s Strike,” or “International Women’s Day,” the first thing they think of is what THEY are being denied. It’s like that saying going around – more rights for others does not equal less rights for you. Human rights is not pie.
A Day Without Women meant a day in which no man can hide behind his bigotry and entitlement. Women have probably felt it… in fact, several of the men who questioned where their day was were also the men who made the comments above… and now we see it.
Inspiring Other Women to Be Vocal & Proud
At this point I’m pretty sure everyone knows I am pretty effing angry about women’s rights. This includes people I work with because they made this mistake of finding me on Facebook and I filter a lot, but I don’t filter everything. Here’s what really, really grinds my gears:
- Women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years.
- 1972 was the year UNMARRIED, SINGLE women were allowed to obtain birth control.
- Only a few months ago a popular neo-nazi website (who’s former CEO is the right-hand man of our current POTUS) made an argument that women should not even be allowed to apply for college degrees related to STEM fields, let alone be EMPLOYED in STEM fields, because “the work environment is too hostile for women so they usually drop out,” and “women can’t handle the stress of these professions.” (Never mind that the “hostile” work environment is created by men…)
- There are currently 10 bills with the Florida Congress that will limit a woman’s right to choose; effectively inserting the government between a woman and her physician. TEN.
- Women still, to this day, are not paid the same wage for the same job that men do. Still. And even less if the woman is not white.
- The current sitting POTUS has admitted to sexual assault on women – “grabbing them by the p*ssy” and “moving on them like a b*tch.”
My point is this: The empowerment of women to vote, to control their own medical choices, to pursue a field of interest to them, to be in the presence of a man without fearing for their safety or privacy is all relatively new when placed in the larger context of civilized society.
And even if you don’t agree with WHY I’m loud, and vocal, and obnoxious about women’s rights that is totally okay – because I’m fighting for you, and your daughters, and your granddaughters ANYWAY!
Yesterday, I had at least 3 women stop by my desk to show me their red shirt or scarf and say “I didn’t know who else would be in red but I knew at least YOU would be!”
A Day Without Women meant a day in which my every day fight is out in the open and other women can acknowledge that fight, be inspired by it, and fight by my side – even if that fight is simply wearing a specific color for a day.
Another Day, Another Fight, Another Reason to Keep Going
A few days ago I wore my “The Future is Female” shirt to the grocery store and as I rounded the chip isle I ran into two pre-teens by their cart with their dad browsing the isle.
As I said “excuse me,” and smiled and tried to scoot around them, they shuffled their stuff, their dad called to them to move out of the way,… and then he looked at my shirt. Then he looked at his daughters. Then he looked back at me. And he said “I love your shirt.”
And I literally almost bawled in the chip isle because nothing makes me melt more than a Feminist Dad who wants his daughters to have the same rights, privileges, and opportunities that he has.
The women that fought before me, the women I fight with, and the young girls I fight for, and all of those things above really lead to the one thing that A Day Without Women meant to me: I still have more work to do and I have absolutely no plans to stop anytime soon.