I have so many words and emotions right now, I have a hard time placing them. However, anger feels right on the forefront, leading the charge like a Viking on the day of battle.
I work hard at my job and am damn good at it. I put in my hours plus many unaccounted for late night calls and early morning emails. I am personable, smart and find most tasks (even the hard ones) mountains I enjoy climbing almost daily.
For my age, I make decent money and take pride in the success of my still-growing career. I am not paid more than I deserve, and if I’m being honest, probably in some cases compared to others it’s too little. I had to fight for every penny I made from the day I took the job offer, to the many position and responsibility changes. Nothing was ever handed to me, and there is no doubt I had to fight for it all.
Yet some way, somehow I still feel less than my male counterparts — both above me and below me in my company. I am a in position that should yield some power; however I still am treated more like an assistant or a task-doer than the tenured, experienced employee before them.
Time after time, I grit my teeth and agree to put some numbers in a spreadsheet or book the reservation or schedule the meeting that everyone else is attending. I know my role is bigger than this, but I still play the part and do everything I can to be seen for more than just someone good at finding a good restaurant to eat at.
Then there are days like today, where I find it not only hard to bear, but hard to breathe. Like the men who confine my potential are actually suffocating me.
A male superior knew there was a project I was working on, and because he didn’t agree with my methods, he did everything in his power to undermine me and my work. He had conversations with everyone but me about his thoughts and opinions, and blatantly demonstrated his commitment to making me look bad.
When I found out (from another female of course), I was red with rage. Yet, I calmed myself to an acceptable degree and approached this supposed professional to acknowledge the discretion and work towards a mutual understanding of how we could work together better.
I had facts written down and points clear in my head. I wanted to have an adult conversation and walk out with a clearer picture of how future situations will be handled.
Now time for a service announcement, gentlemen: Women are allowed to share our opinions and feelings at work the same as you. We are allowed to come to you with adult topics that affected us in certain ways, and in turn, it is your job to treat us with the same respect you would for a male colleague.
Because on this day, I went into this toxic male’s office and began my list of notes. I was clear, concise and to the point. And then I made a mistake.
And by mistake, I mean I chose a word that this predator felt could be ammunition for his seething hate. I used the word “feel.”
It was in that moment that he chose to attack. He chose to fight back at my professional conversation with childish words of disgust and distaste.
He put his hand on his chest, dramatically threw his head back and said, “Ohhhh, did I hurt your feelings?”
I was stunned, and shamed into silence that a person in his position would respond to my comments with such a belittling remark.
Do you think he would have said that to our company’s male owner if he said he “felt” something? Do you think he would have said that to a male salesperson if he had mentioned the word “feel” in a sentence?
I think we can all agree that answer is no. He knew he could say that to me in person with no witnesses because I was a woman. He said it behind a closed door so that if I complained, it would be my word versus his. He said it because he never once thought he couldn’t, or even worse, shouldn’t.
I am smart. I am talented. I am honestly better than most at the job that I do. However, I will always be made to feel less by some. I will always have someone who judges my opinions based solely on the fact that I wear a bra.
And this makes me sad, but it also makes me incredibly angry.
The brave generations of women before me have fought for equal rights for all women, and I find myself having to fight for just mine and I want to back down.
However, I can’t. I have a daughter looking up to me, and I need her to know that her mother is strong. I want to show her that this treatment is not only wrong, but it should also not be tolerated by me or anyone else who sees it or experiences it.
So I will take a few deep breaths and step into the sun. I will burn bridges and stomp down the walls in front of me. I have tried this the nice way — it’s time to take a stance.
My feelings are valid, and not for someone to use against me. I am done being judged based solely on my anatomy. I am ready for my anger to take the front seat.
Men lead with anger when I show my emotions, so maybe just maybe, if I lead with anger too I can give them something to really complain about …