Recently I got to watch a video of a conference that took place in honor of International Women’s Day. It counted as credit for a work requirement. I have to have a certain number of hours of Race and Social Justice training every year. But I was actually looking forward to seeing this video regardless of its mandatory nature. It’s refreshing to see feminist issues being addressed when you spend the bulk of your time in a male-dominated workplace.
The majority of this particular conference addressed that very concern: how does one cope in a job where women are often discounted or shunned? So, I settled back with a notepad and a pen and prepared to be enlightened.
A lot of the pearls of wisdom were things that I had already learned just out of pure survival. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Don’t try to change yourself into something you are not. It’s not only okay to be who you are, but it also brings value to your workplace. While this information was not new to me, it was comforting to have it validated.
I was also listening closely to what was being said because there was a short questionnaire that I had to fill out in order to get the training credit. They were questions you couldn’t answer unless you watched the entire conference. That makes sense. No cheating.
But of all the takeaways from this forum, I was a little befuddled by the one the training department really seemed to zero in on. The question was, “What is QTIP?”
It turned out that the subject was brought up by one of the last women to speak at the panel discussion toward the end of the video. Her main coping skill, she said, was QTIP: Quit Taking It Personally.
That’s their primary takeaway? The words of a woman who is propping up that male bias? Seriously?
How many times have we heard some version of QTIP? “All you gals (and I hate the word gal, for what it’s worth) need to stop being so emotional.” “Don’t worry your pretty little heads.” “Stop being hysterical.”
Until people stop equating having emotions with weakness or a mental health issue, most women are going to be sidelined. Because most of us do have emotions. And when it comes to sexism in the workplace, we have a great deal to be pissed off and upset about.
How can you not take it personally when you’re being singled out because you’re the only woman in the room? That is personal. That’s highly freakin’ personal.
Now, I agree that how you express those feelings makes a difference. It’s never good to have your head explode during a staff meeting. But you have a right to be heard, and to speak your truth calmly and clearly.
No human should fly off the handle. It gets you nowhere. But take it personally? Heck yes. It’s personal. And anyone who tells you it isn’t is lying to you, gal. Make no mistake about that.
The article came to several conclusions as to why we seem to be moving away from horizontal activities. The most obvious conclusion is an aging population and higher numbers of unattached people. Americans, in general, seem to be partnering up later in life. It also says that the employment rate among young people has declined, and the number of them living in their parent’s houses has increased. That has got to hurt your ability to get busy, as the saying goes. We are also spending a lot more time in cyberspace.
But I can think of several more reasons for this decrease in sexual activity.
A friend of mine said that he thinks the depressing state of the world and our politics is influencing this. That dreary mood could indeed, have something to do with why we as a nation are not in the mood.
Unfortunately, too, more and more of us feel the need for antidepressants, and they’re more readily available, and most have the side effect of decreasing one’s sex drive.
But I also hope it has to do with the younger generation becoming more aware of sexually transmitted diseases. I know for a fact that this had an impact on me. I was looking forward to going to college and really letting loose. But I arrived on that scene just as AIDS started to rear its ugly head. Noooooooooo! Life is so unfair!
Also, I believe that today’s women are starting to realize they have more to offer the world, and are less apt to view themselves as some kind of sexual commodity. At least I hope so.
We’re also even more busy and distracted. We have a lot more options to occupy our minds and fill our lives.
I think we don’t feel the need to procreate as much, or marry as much, in order to feel successful and/or to survive.
And yeah, we’re an aging demographic, and becoming more obese as a species. Declining health and less energy equals fewer shenanigans.
But I tend to look at these polls with a jaundiced eye. (Look how inaccurate they were during the last election.) How much of the population was sampled? How do you know they answered honestly?
Plus, nobody asked ME. No one ever asks me. Why is that?
The other day I was walking across my drawbridge to do some sweaty, greasy routine maintenance on the south end. I was in my sweaty, greasy safety vest and my hard hat. (Incidentally, why do I have to wear a hard hat on an open sidewalk? What am I protecting myself from? Meteor showers? Low flying planes? Beats me. I just do what I’m told.)
As I walked, I was lost in thought. Gazing at the sunset, humming a little tune, I suspect that I wouldn’t have noticed if Peter Dinklage had walked past me in full Game of Thrones finery. Thusly, I found myself in the midst of a film crew without even realizing what I had walked into. I have no idea what they were filming, but there were about 8 of them out there. I picked up my pace, hoping I hadn’t interrupted anything critically important.
As I left the “set”, I heard one woman whisper, “She looks so official in her green shirt.”
First of all, huh? I was literally wearing a green t-shirt that I had picked up at the Goodwill ages ago. What’s so official about not wanting to get grease on any prized garments?
I couldn’t work up the energy to turn around and ask what she meant by that. It didn’t seem hostile. I don’t think she was making fun of me. She sounded sincere. But what on earth?
Mulling it over later, I realized that no one would have said that about a man. Men don’t look official in their green shirts. It’s just assumed that they’re official, full stop. It wouldn’t occur to most people to even remark about them.
So now I’m a bit irritated. But I wasn’t put on this earth to teach every random stranger that I encounter about gender equity. I’m just workin’, here.
Personally, I think women should be celebrated every day, not just on March 8th, but I figured this was the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the many blog posts I’ve written over the years on women’s issues. For a complete list, click on my “Feminism” category. You’ll discover that this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.
I have shared one post, in particular, with various authorities in the City of Seattle, to no avail. Entitled The Cubic Yard Test, it highlights the city’s ridiculous and unnecessary test that pretty much excludes most women from ever being able to obtain a field work positions in Seattle.
One of the most powerful weapons that we have as women is the ability to effectively communicate. So I’ll continue to write about these issues. I hope you’ll continue to read these posts and spread the word.
Most of my life, I’ve toiled in male-dominated fields. More than once I’ve been told that a woman should not be (fill in the blank). I know what it’s like to be looked at with suspicion and not taken seriously. I know what it’s like to want to be one of the guys.
I recently witnessed a woman in the earliest stages of trying to fit in under these circumstances. She’s taking the, “I’m every bit as manly as you are,” route. She’s tough. She’s aggressive. She’s territorial. She’s cold as ice. She’s a show off. She’s even condescending to her fellow female coworkers. If this were her natural state, I’d say, “Fine. Go for it. Be your insufferable self.” But it’s so clearly a show that it’s annoying the guys she works with. They find her to be pushy and rude. It’s making her become even more of an outsider.
Don’t get me wrong. I think women have as much right to be pushy and rude as men do. But I think that behaving that way simply because you think it will make you be accepted is the wrong way to go. Nobody likes an obnoxious person, regardless of gender.
Yes, I do things to adapt to my environment. Everyone does. I’m not going to carry a purse up to my bridge, or wear high heels. This is partly because I’d be laughed at, but mostly because these things would be safety issues. I expect to get greasy, and so I dress the part.
I also tend to be a straight shooter. I tell it like it is. But that’s in my nature. I think guys appreciate it, though. They don’t want to waste time having to read between the lines.
I knew I had made it as far in to the inner circle as I ever would when the guys started joking around with me like they do with each other. That is an achievement. I’ll take it.
I never wanted to get so far in there that I had to listen to locker room talk or discuss sports that don’t interest me. They can have that. I don’t want it.
But I think that I crossed my highest hurdle when I came to realize and accept the fact that no matter how hard I try, I’m never going to fit in completely. And that’s okay. Now, instead of feeling like a turd in that punch bowl, I look at myself as an exotic piece of fruit: Never quite blending in, and perhaps unexpected, but adding to the overall flavor in a significant way.
No matter how you look at it, I’m still here. And somewhere along the line, I stopped caring. For the most part, so have they.
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There are some sick, twisted people in this world, but ones who hold their daughters captive, just because they can, are right down there in the deepest part of the scummiest of ponds, as far as I’m concerned. You’d think I was talking about something in the distant, ignorant past; some dark age custom that we can look back upon and shake our heads. But no, this is going on right now.
According to a recent article in the New York Times entitled, A Princess Vanishes. A Video Offers Alarming Clues, Sheikha Latifa, a princess from the United Arab Emirates, has not been allowed to leave her emirate in 18 years. During that time, at various times, she has been beaten, she has been held in solitary confinement for years on end, she has been deprived of medical care, she has been drugged, and even deprived of a tooth brush. She is escorted everywhere, cannot go to private residences, and is prevented from furthering her education.
Recently she escaped, but days later she was abducted again and returned home, kicking and screaming and begging to be killed. Such is her life. She’d rather die than be with her family. It’s horrifying. It’s heartbreaking. It’s criminal.
This is not the first time, nor the first country, where such atrocities have been exposed. Back in 2014, it came to light that 4 Saudi princesses had been locked up on the brink of starvation, and as recently as 2017 the situation has not changed for those poor women, despite the fact that their father has since died. But you hardly hear anyone talking about them anymore, because it’s so hard to get new information, and even harder to keep our attention, despite a movement for them, created by their mother, called Free the Four.
And make no mistake, this doesn’t just happen to royals. For example, according to this article, if you don’t have a benevolent male relative in Saudi Arabia, your life can be a living hell. You cannot travel without that relative’s permission. Your passport is confiscated. You can be forced to marry. Your salary can be confiscated. You can be abused, starved, and imprisoned. In fact, you cannot be released from prison without the permission of a male relative. And honor killings do, in fact, exist, and are a constant threat.
This situation devastates me. Here I have a guest room, sitting empty, that many of these women would kill for, and there’s nothing, nothing I can do to share this good fortune with them by obtaining their freedom. Except blog.
Such a simple, elegant phrase. Such a kind and decent concept. I don’t know why so many people struggle with it.
There are so many out there who make it a point to say just the opposite. You’re not welcome. You shouldn’t be able to come here. You can’t buy my cake. You should sit at the back of the bus. You shouldn’t be allowed to marry the person that you love. You are not welcome to be a part of our club. You shouldn’t have the right to vote. You can’t rent my apartment. You don’t belong here. America used to be great when we didn’t have to treat you with respect. How dare you speak up? We get to control what you do with your body. You must be walled off. You must be silenced.
We see it everywhere. In the red MAGA hats, in the “lock her up!” chants, in the attacks on innocent people on the streets. We see it in the hatred that oozes from the mouth of the very man who is supposed to lead this country. You’re not welcome. You are an enemy of the people.
Hate makes you look ugly. It reveals the disease in your very soul. It makes us all so much less than what we could be.
When you hate, when you marginalize people, when you try to prevent people from having the same rights that you do, you cause suffering in this world. Why would anyone want to do that? I will never understand it as long as I live.
When you find yourself in a place of inclusion, where people are welcoming and accepting and embracing of your unique qualities, it’s such a freeing experience. I’d rather be wrapped in a rainbow than beaten by a tiki torch any day of the week. That should be obvious. Why isn’t it obvious?
I’m feeling very ineloquent about this whole subject compared to the conversation Ellen Page had with Stephen Colbert recently. Check out the video here. It’s really worth watching.
Thanks, Lee (and Ellen Page) for inspiring this post!