New-Age Feminism: The Year of the Woman.
Disclaimer: This is not meant to offend anyone or insinuate that my beliefs are the be-all and end-all. The below is merely a commentary on a situation that recently occurred. You have the right to have your own thoughts (as I hope you exercise this right to the fullest extent possible) so please be mindful of my own thoughts that are just that, my thoughts. The experiences, no matter how great or small, I encounter along the way shape who I am as a person and what I base my moral compass after.
First of all, I am slightly feminist – okay, so not slightly but very much so. I’m not feminist in the “I’m free and au-natural” kind of way, but I do believe in female empowerment, equal pay, having the ability to make choices that affect my body and changing the perception of a woman’s role in society. I like to think of myself as a new-age feminist (or more recently the press has dubbed the likes of me a “millennial feminist”). I define that term by the fact that I drink beer, eat chicken wings, yell at the replacement referees while naming the best players on my favorite football team then turn around and slip into a pencil skirt and some pumps the next day and don my face with a bit of makeup. The definition, more importantly, also includes a certain level of confidence in my abilities, a demand for higher pay based on my credentials (yes, I have done this) and the idea that you can be feminine while being feminist. The definition is constantly evolving just as much as the world around us.
So to the point of this post; this weekend I was situated firmly in the back of a bar between Ave A and B. The crowd at the local watering hole can best be described as being an adult Frat (Fraternity for those of you gents who were members of a fraternity) littered with a bunch of 25 to 30 year olds in button-down shirts with vests. They all looked like city-slicker financing money-makers who work hard only to party harder.
As the night progressed I met one too many interesting characters. A few guys came up and introduced themselves to me and we carried on with the typical “what do you do?” dance that always ensues. Then there was this one particular guy. Oh the nerve. Blame it on the slight impairment that was perched firmly in my grasp or the fact that he was just so ignorant but we had a few very nice words at that corner in the back of the bar – needless to say he left with his tail between his legs.
He asked what I did. Standard question. Okay, so I take a sip of my drink and the conversation goes a bit like this:
Me: My job is just temporary until I go back to school or figure out a direction in my life. And you? Rob (I honestly don’t remember his name): So you’re unemployed? Me: No, I have a good job it’s just not what I want to be doing long term. What is it that you do? Rob: So you’re a waitress? Me: No, I’m an assistant. Rob: Oh so you’re a secretary, I get it. A lot of girls do that. Me: Actually I am an assistant – I do more than just answer phones. Rob: Well, yeah, secretary, assistant it’s all the same. Plus, your boss must love going to work. Me: Ummm….? (Looking puzzling at him and deciding to let the secretary vs. assistant battle fall by the wayside) Rob: I mean, it must be nice to have someone like you sitting outside his office. Me: (choking on my drink while my eyes bug out of my head) What is that supposed to mean?! Rob: I’d make sure I went to work every day if I had someone that looked like you sitting outside my office. Me: Okay, okay. (here I go – my hands are very engaged in the conversation at this point) That’s enough. First of all my looks have nothing to do with me getting my job. I am an assistant to the President of our company and I can assure you it’s not easy managing someone else’s personal and professional life. I don’t just answer phones and I do way more than schedule meetings. Rob: I’m just saying that you are hott and I’d like to have someone sitting pretty outside my office too. Me: I guess I should be flattered by your approval of my looks but seriously? Don’t ever say that to anyone ever again. I value my intelligence way more than my beauty. I have a college degree and a brain. Just because I am someone’s assistant does NOT make me less than adequate. And it makes me sick to think that I would ever get a job based purely on my looks. I am more than just a pretty face! (why yes, I did in fact say those words) How dare you objectify me like that. Rob: Woah, woah, woah… Me: Maybe you interact with women who do not value themselves and put too much emphasis on their own looks to get them through in life, but I am most definitely NOT one of those women. Not to mention, what that says about you for thinking I sit around all day powdering my nose. Yes, I am a decently attractive individual and, judging by the way you are staring at my chest (yeah, that elicited an interesting head-snap response), I have other assets going for me but what’s up here is far more important than anything else physically. While you clearly misjudged how to hit on me your comments are in fact demeaning, at the very least. Rob: Look, I didn’t mean it like that. Me: But you did. Rob: Okay, look, you just don’t seem like that type of person. Me: Okay, dude, we are done here. I don’t even want to get into what “that type of person” means to you. Goodbye. Rob: Sorry…I really didn’t mean anything by it. Can we just start over? Me: No. Goodnight.
While it’s unfortunate that he happened to use that line on me of all people, I do not feel bad about my “intelligence over beauty” rant. I do my job incredibly well and for someone to discredit my work because of my physical appearance is very disheartening. I understand that some people out there are okay being an assistant for the entirety of their career and there is nothing wrong with that; it is just not my long term plan at this point. I can, however, guarantee it is an incredibly difficult job and often times it’s those “secretaries” that know more about the company than anyone else.
If you’ve made it to this point in the post, congratulations and thank you for reading! While the perception of women has drastically changed over the years and our society has deemed it the “year of the woman” we still have a lot of work to do. While the United States may be “female friendly” there are still countries out there that do not value a woman’s role in society or even as an individual.
Be kind, wear your heels and stand up for yourself! I hope others out there are doing the same to schmucks like Rob.