QTIP

That’s the message you want to convey? Seriously?

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.

Sigh.

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.

Ladder-of-Success

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The Cats of Mirikitani

One of the things I love about being a City of Seattle employee is that I am required to do at least two hours of race and social justice training per year. As part of that this year, I had the distinct pleasure of viewing a documentary called The Cats of Mirikitani. In keeping with my tradition of reviewing things that came out years ago, I will review this amazing video, which came out in 2007.

First of all, if you have the opportunity to see this documentary yourself, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Second, if you have yet to see it, I should say that the rest of this entry requires a spoiler alert.

This documentary, by Linda Hattendorf, is about an amazing guy named Tsutomu “Jimmy” Mirikitani. She found him sleeping on the streets of Soho in New York City. He would not take any money from anyone. He was 80 years old, and survived by selling his art to people.

As the documentary progresses, you learn more and more about him. He was born in Sacramento, but raised in Hiroshima. Needless to say, he was highly impacted by the bombing of that city. Fortunately he had returned to America in 1937. Unfortunately, that also meant that even though he was born in the US, he got thrown into a Japanese internment camp and lived there for 3 ½ years.

Then, while he was still living on the street, 9/11 happened. The creator of the documentary found him all alone on the street, in the dark, coughing in a toxic cloud of twin tower dust. She took him in. And that’s just the beginning.

This documentary really made me assess how I react to the homeless. I probably pass people by every single day who have hidden talents, and have witnessed history and have amazing stories to tell. The fact that this man lived for decades on the street without being connected to social services is just another in a long line of tragedies that Jimmy Mirikitani experienced in his lifetime. There really is no excuse.

Cats of Mirikitani