I am a woman. I am a feminist. For me, the two go hand and hand. In the past few years I’ve been dealing with something that is, for me, an ongoing cycle of non-practicing feminism. Kinda like being a non-practicing Catholic, except you give a big ups to Mary. Women are supposed to help other women accomplish, inspire and motivate. Seems logical, we being feminists. The only thing I’ve encountered on my occupational path is women throwing other women under the pink bus, women being alpha females who want to control everything, and women who want to make you feel like a peon not worthy of their presence. Mind you, this is my experience and perhaps mine alone. This does exclude the many women who have inspired and mentored me through my life.
I deal with crazy all the time. Recently, my job as a waitress gave me knowledge to female millennial elitism. Girls who find that their newfound liberation allows them to act like they own you. Young women who think because they come from a good gene pool they don’t actually have to work for anything. Girls who think that being sexually liberated means it is ok to roofie a dude or fuck a married guy, because “hey, I’m comfortable with my sexuality.” Attitude-20+ Feminism-0 Work Ethic-who gives a fuck.
The corporate princess. I seem to encounter women supervisors that compare to that bully on the playground who constantly kicks your shins to tell you they like you…except they don’t. They kick you to let you know they are threatened by you. I had one woman supervisor rat on me to HR for “not dressing appropriately” and actually approached me before a meeting asking me if I had owned any camisoles. They’re breasts, I have them, they aren’t here to take the company down lady. Apparently knee socks are not favored as work friendly apparel either, but her dolphin ankle tattoo and tight camel-toe revealing jeans were more appropriate. Before that, I had a woman boss literally tell me she didn’t like me because I made friends too easily. I had another one comment in a board meeting that I was getting my information because of my “friendly” nature. The last woman I worked with, mind you I was HER supervisor, I asked to return some computer equipment she purchased to Staples. She proceeded to say that she was very busy and then entered my office, threw the equipment on the chair and says, “I just can’t today!” which followed her slamming my door. If I had done that, I would have been fired on the spot. This was also a person who was at least 2-3 hours late daily, left work early regularly, and was constantly incomprehensible in meetings. Her replacement, who at the time was a friend of mine, decided she would not tolerate me asking her for reports or anything else I needed and so she became quite friendly with my male boss, baking him goodies and often times inviting him to drinks in her home. The response was my getting “laid off due to budgetary reasons”. She worked in accounting. I rebranded the company and restructured an entire marketing strategy including gaining important partnerships for a dying company in less than six months. I’m the crazy one.
I worked for a prominent ad agency in town where I had a female boss that I expected would mentor me in some way. Instead I fetched her coffee, interrupted meetings to have her constantly left cell phone and purse returned to her and I had to constantly move her from meeting to meeting because she would “forget” where she had to be next. It was humiliating. In that same place, I had another co-worker, who incidentally was also female, actually physically block me by putting her hands on my shoulders, hindering me from leaving my desk and saying, “Can you do something for me right away, I totally forgot…” I was to receive a call from HR that would lead to my being laid off because I was not concentrating on my role with full dedication and was emotionally unstable. My husband just had a stroke leaving him paralyzed in which I returned 14 days after for fear I would be fired. Yeah, that was a real nice one. It was one of those scenes in a myriad of movies where there’s a need for “distraction” and the character is left doing absolutely ridiculous things, like spontaneously break dancing or spilling a drink to deter the other person from leaving the room.
My whole point in this is that these are all women who claim to be feminists. When I am in a supervisory role as a woman, I tend to encourage, to find a way to bond, to communicate effectively and to inspire collaboration. I don’t care if they are smarter than me, hell teach ME something. I don’t care if they are more attractive than me, if Bob wants to give those reports we need a day earlier because you smiled at him, good for you. I don’t care that you go out with the whole staff for happy hour, I encourage building relationships as long as they are productive and professional. We spend 8-12 hours at work a day as Americans. There’s going to be some personal shit that gets in the way. I say support it, don’t patronize it.
It is infuriating and if this makes me an anti-feminist then maybe my definition of such things is askew, but I don’t think feminism includes women stomach punching other women to bow down to some hierarchy. I’m successful at what I do because I do everything with passion and I do it effectively. It works for me. It doesn’t make me a weaker equal. It makes me a more rounded individual. It isn’t men who aren’t respecting my womanhood. It is women. The men I’ve worked for have been mentors, have inspired me, have given me confidence that I can do anything. They’ve commented on my intelligence, my ability to be creative, and have given me promotions. They have fostered my success with direct and non-threatening encouragement. The only time ever that a man conducted any kind of sexual harassment (mind you I’m excluding the restaurant industry) is when I got promoted once because it was not only discovered I could code, but also because my supervisor admittedly wanted to “spend more time” with me because he found me “attractive with good musical taste” and it is the only place he could “safely” be around me.
I know in our current political state there is no room for gray area. He’s an asshole. An asshole that encompasses a lot of backward, hateful thinking. I can’t help but think that he’s bullied his wife into not owning the one position that could lead to his demise. Behind every great man, there’s an even greater woman. For him money is power, for her…she hasn’t even delved into hers. We have powers that nobody can take from us. We are the element of surprise. We are the bomb inside the dragon.
So, I encourage my sisters to stand. I encourage them to fight for what is equal. I fight along with them. But I am also human. I am also an individual person. Most of the hate towards me in my life has been from working for women. I don’t need a symbol or a label or a day to make me a woman. I just am and I’m good at it. I embrace it every single day. I can wear heels and I can run in them if I have to, that doesn’t make me weak, it makes me versatile. All the women out there who put other women down, you’re doing exactly what you are fighting against. We have to fight for equality amongst each other, not just equality among sexes.