If there was only one woman left on the planet would she be judgmental about herself? Would she question her value as a woman? Would she worry whether or not she’s taken seriously?
Or would she celebrate every moment like it’s 1999?
I would hope it would be the last suggestion, but I kind of get the feeling that she’d be too absorbed with the first three. ~sigh~
Why are we our worst enemy? I bring this up today because I just read Margaret Wheeler Johnsons’ post “Is Women’s Media too Girly?”
Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose.
Yes, girls and girls, here we go again.
When I first came of corporate-world age in the late 1980′s, I wanted to be taken seriously. I wanted to be respected. And it was pressed upon me that I needed to look a certain way to go about getting that reputation. To that end, I wore the largest shoulder pads I could find, not because it was in-style but because I was a skinny thing with big boobs and the shoulder pads de-emphasized my endowment. I also wore the highest heels I could find because I was short. See, I had to overcompensate for my curly blonde hair and high squeaky voice (those things that made me “girly”) that I could do little about.
The funny thing, though, was that as I worked my way up and sideways through various positions and at various organizations, I realized the only people who took note of how dressed and looked, the only people who judged me, were the women. Once I proved I was an Excel maven and could do miracles with a spread sheet, none of the men I worked with ever questioned my value or disrespected me.
The men would sometimes flirt or goof off with me, but they would also goof off with their male pears. The women NEVER did. We had to be taken seriously.
I had a series of male bosses who were much more easy to work with then any of the women bosses I had. Most of the women supervisors were of the generation who burnt bras and had to prove themselves as equal to men. I understand their struggles, I applaud their strength to stand up for themselves (and all of us). I am grateful for everything they went through to put women where they are. BUT, what I personally experienced from these same women was almost disdain for anyone young and pretty, regardless of how smart she might be.
Those women were the ones who made snide remarks, even when they complimented me. For example, I discovered a major mistake, corrected it and saved our company a load of money. The business manager in a different department heard about it and congratulated me int he brake room, telling me she didn’t realize I had skills. She’d assumed I’d been hired because I was good on my knees. Yes, that’s what she said.
Similarly, in college, my favorite professors were all male. Why? Because they were more human to me. I didn’t have to prove anything to them like I did my female professors before they’d treat me with a modicum of respect. I even had a female professor question whether or not I authored a paper because I “didn’t look” smart enough to have written it.
So when I read Wheeler Johnson’s article, I clicked on many of the links she references and I noticed that most of those works that question whether or not women are too girly are written by other women.
Why do they care? They worry that women who are girly won’t be respected or taken seriously. By whom? By other freaking women! Why can’t we accept that some of us are on the girly side, some of us are on the non-girly side and some of us waver back and forth and that’s OK because, really, it’s OK.
Empowerment comes from understanding who you are and accepting who you are. So, if you like to listen to One Direction while you’re concentrating on meeting a deadline or a bottom line, does it really matter? Shouldn’t our worth be determined by what we do with our lives more than whether or not we like silver-and-black-zebra-striped nail polish?
And women, let’s be honest. When we worry about whether or not we’re (i.e., other people) are behaving respectfully, it’s because we’re worried about how other women will perceive it. We may say it’s because men won’t take us seriously, but honestly, it’s us. We are our own worst enemy. We are the ones who tear us down the most.
Frankly, if we behaved more like men, we wouldn’t worry so much how we dress at work, whether or not someone in the restroom overhears us talking about partying over the weekend, or if our hairstyle if for a much younger person.