I Didn’t Believe You

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Once upon a time, many years ago, an entire generation of teenage girls, or maybe it was just me, belted out inappropriate song lyrics about oral sex in theaters and angry diatribes about how men have done us wrong. We were strong and we could talk about sex, love, and life just like the boys. 

It was all so dramatic.

I was raised to believe I can do anything I want to do. My family indulged my whims and supported me completely. Even when their little girl eschewed all that was feminine. I was allowed to wear short hair and men’s clothing if that’s what made me feel strong. I believed I was no different than the guys. Feminism was outdated and no longer necessary. We had equal rights, thanks to the women who fought for us. Unfortunately, I also equated feminists with man hating, bra burning, no shaving screeching misandrists. 

I mistakenly believed women who complained were overly sensitive and needed to learn to go with the flow. If you wanted to play with the boys you couldn’t get mad when they treated you like one of the guys. They were only kidding. 

Except we never were one of the guys. Our attempts at learning leadership skills were equated with shrew bitchiness. Any effort at assertiveness was offensive. In order to be one of the guys we had to become weak. If we complained, we were difficult and must be dealt with. At work I was often shushed and put in my place by men. My input was ignored in favor of male members of the team. I could do nothing right. 

This attitude is pervasive in the work place. Even in a predominately female profession like nursing men are preferred. Men advance faster and their opinions more respected. 

So, what role should feminism play in my professional development? How can I become a better leader? How do I protect myself and my female colleagues from discrimination and harassment? 

Sometimes I still want to be one of the guys. I want to be included in the jokes and respected for my contributions. 

How do we fix this? 

How do we make these conversations more productive instead of resorting to complaining and man bashing? 

More importantly, why is this still an issue in 2017?