My number one soapbox issue is women. Plain and simple. It’s a hugely unsexy topic and I am also guilty of tuning out when I hear “Women’s Issues”. Dear god, such a horrifying phrase.
You know what’s sexy? A man who finds strong women sexy. That’s a man who is so sure of himself in a deep, resounding way that the only mate he’s interested in is one who is equally sure of herself.
You know what’s not sexy? Men who denigrate women behind their backs. Yeah, we know who you are. Insecurity that deep expresses itself in all your facets, not just in the secret comments you make to other members of the old boys network.
(Note: My issue here is with ‘old boys’ and how they denigrate women, so the focus of this particular rant doesn’t take my homosexual brothers and sisters into consideration. There are a whole myriad of issues there that I have great sympathy and outrage for, but that’s another post.)
You know what’s horrid? Women who are trying to build a career and must learn how to function in an old boys network. Women who have learned how to not rock the boat by making the old boys feel justified, ergo not threatened, thus saving their careers.
I’m learning more and more about old boys networks and man-o-man does it explain a few things. I’ve felt confused over the lack of response from some men – you know, that blank look that you get when you say hello – and have immediately assumed that it was just me. Well, in some cases, it is just me. And the fact that I’m a woman who doesn’t seem to know her place.
Guess what? I know my place. It’s right here. Exactly wherever I am and doing whatever I’m doing.
So, what happened to spark this crusade? A good friend, who happens to be a great man, related a story to us last night of a conversation. Somehow we’d gotten onto the subject of old boy networks. I think I’d said something like, “I just can’t get a read on him.” Well, in his story, he explained why. The person we were talking about told our friend, “Yeah, I’ve met Ron. He’s a good guy. But, I don’t know about her.” Yeah, he was talking about me.
My immediate response is to wonder what I’ve done to alienate someone I don’t even know. Who I had just met and had never had a conversation with. My friend went on to explain that this statement is typical of this person. That he’s a member of a well established old boys network and that many of the women who work with him (and the other old boys) run into this attitude with regularity.
I felt better.
I always first assume personal responsibility. But, sometimes, it’s not me. It’s him. Or her, if she’s been brainwashed into believing that women should act a certain way and I’m rocking the boat.
I’m not mad – although I’m sure this rant will sound like I am.
I’m not feeling vengeful, either. I’ll continue to work with these people. What I won’t do is change who I am to make them feel less threatened. Yeah, I’ve been in the world. I know the woman tricks. I know that if I ask their opinion of things that I’ve already researched and decided and then hang on their every word that it will make them feel superior – which in turn makes them feel more charitable toward me.
My instinct is to poke the bear. I can’t help it. I think that, instead, I’ll put my righteous energy into creating something that’s worthwhile. To continue to grow as a human being. To find ways to be better at what I choose to do. Chances are, I’ll gravitate toward people I enjoy working with which means that fewer and fewer of the old boys will be part of the future. I’ll have less and less inclination to put up with this bullshit as I meet more and more people who are strong, focused and moving forward. People who aren’t grounded in insecurity.
Women and Men.
Susan Scot Fry
Update… It’s rather refreshing to have hit upon a point in my life when I don’t need to do anything other than stay the course. Granted, there are times when I need to evaluate what I’ve royally screwed up and make appropriate changes, but that’s not automatically the case any longer. I’m a good person (which is kind of like being a lady – if you have to point it out, then chances are, you aren’t one) and am doing good things.
It’s also not about ‘woman power’. I don’t believe in advocating for extremes like that. I believe in people power and when there’s an inequity, I’ll say so. My crusade isn’t about women coming out on top. It’s about women being women to the joy and benefit of all.