Corporate America as a Woman Sucks Sometimes
Alternatively titled: No I’m not on my period, thanks!
Illustration by Sofi Naydenova
I’ve always thought of myself as well-informed and well-educated. I went to college, and now have a job within the nest of corporate America. I have also, within the last four years, identified myself as a feminist (look what college does to you!) I used to see that word as taboo and strange, but with a little understanding I realized it isn’t. I’m a woman who demands equality and respect, and I’m not afraid to say we could do more. The pay gap is a real thing, gender stereotypes suck, and women are strong.
With all of that being said, I doubt many people would say “Oh yeah she’s a feminist” when referring to me. I don’t mind, I’m not really in-your-face about it. I never really encountered a time where I was being stereotyped or discriminated against for being a woman. Sure, I’ve dealt with what most women do—the casual whistles, the looks, the questioning if what you are wearing is inappropriate or could tempt the boys* (thanks small town Oklahoma high school), and the belittling based on gender. However, since stepping into the corporate world, I have already begun to seen firsthand what I had only ever heard of before.
Of course, these small encounters are nothing on the large scale of what women everywhere face every. single. day. I mean for goodness sake, Nepal JUST made it illegal to banish girls while on their period. THEIR PERIOD. The cycle that TRULY makes the world go ‘round.
While speaking to coworkers about an upcoming trip, we were told the girls would have a spa day while the boys went golfing. WHOO HOO. Golfing sucks. But get this—the boys would golf with the “higher-ups” of the company and get “face time” with them. The girls would not. While of course I’m grateful to be offered a spa day at all, it would have been nice to have the option to golf for the sake of networking/etc. What if a sister has some game? Or wants to further her career? GASP!
And another thing—boys get the swag. T-shirts, polos, hats. All made for men. Girls are told we can wear them too if we want. And we do. But c'mon.
While speaking to someone while at work recently, a middle-aged man went on a 20 minute rant about God knows what. It was all “my ex wife divorce drama” to “I’m actually an a**hole.” FUN. In my job relationships matter, so I nodded along. The man was in the middle of a story about a relative when he casually used the term “put a tampon in” to basically call this other guy weak. A baby. A wimp. I’ll tell ya about babies, sir! I don’t know why this stung and angered me so much, but it did. He spoke so fast it wasn’t until I got back to my car that I realized I was upset by the comment.
Of course, I’ve heard this comment probably 100 times before. So before you start calling me a sensitive millennial with a vengeance on micro-aggressions (what up Kimmy Schmidt Season 2) let me just say this. Those little comments here and there we are so used to hearing, especially where I live geographically, get old. After 20 years of “don’t be a girl about it” or “are you on your period” or “put a tampon in” constantly feed the mentality the men reign supreme and "woman" is synonymous with "weak," "inferior," or "crazy."
I don’t mean to sound angry, or maybe I do. The question is—what do we do? I don’t have a solid solution just like the rest of us, but this equality/feminism movement can’t be so bad. What’s the worst that could happen, women are actually treated better than fairly?
One more story: my mom is a part of a business associate where she attends meetings to further her own endeavors and network with other people in her line of business. This particular group is probably 90/10 men to women. Go mom. While attending a meeting recently, a man who was speaking stood up to address the group. When he did, you know what he started with? “Gentleman…”
Something to chew on.
*yoga pants of course!