Lucky to be a woman

Yesterday, was International Women’s Day and social media’s reaction really made me stop and think about a woman’s role in society today.  I saw some beautiful tributes made by men to thier wives or mothers.  I saw the usual tea party jerks posting offensive “jokes”, and I also saw a few women wonder out loud, “when are men are going to get their day?”  Because, clearly men don’t have enough perks in the world today.  Sigh.

My answer to all women who believe we live in an emasculated society; Stop!  Please, take a look at congress.  Women hold only 20% of the seats in the Senate and just about 5% of the seats in the house.  The gender pay gap is just about 77% and women hold only 4.8% of the CEO positions in all fortune 500 companies. We aren’t even close to getting the same teatment as men. This is only a statistical snapshot of the United States, where women enjoy more freedom than most.  Imagine having to cover your face in public, or living in fear of getting gang-raped on public transportation, or even being forced to marry your rapist at the young age of 14.  This is the sad reality for many of our sisters across the world. We American women can consider ourselves lucky.

But, are we “lucky”? Sure, we get to vote and work, but are we really that valued by men in society?  I recently ready Amy Poehler’s novel, “Yes, Please,” and she references how “lucky” she has been as a women in a man’s world.  Basically, every demoralizing thing that happens to women in society, has also happened to Ms. Poehler, but because she hasn’t been raped, she sarcastically calls herself “lucky”

“On the other hand, men are sometimes wildly inappropriate in the way they share with women. By a show of hands, how many of you have seen a strange penis on the street? On the subway? At a sleepover? I was once walking with my friend Keri in the middle of the day and some guy asked us for the time. When we looked down at our watches, his dick was in his hands. We giggled and screamed and ran away. We were probably ten. I have been really drunk in high school and had a guy try to fool around with me. I have been called a bitch and a lesbian when I rejected a guy in college. I have locked eyes with various subway masturbators. I have been mugged but not raped, pushed and spit on by someone I knew, and forced to pull over in a road-rage incident where a man stuck his head into my car and told me he was going to “cum in my face.” And I count myself very lucky. That is what “very lucky” feels like. Oof.”
Amy Poehler, Yes Please

I was recently invited to a concert with a male acquaintance. I did not know this guy very well, but it seemed harmless enough, so I accepted. What I learned on the drive to the show: He is a classic narcissist; cheats on his wife, only hears himself talk, needs constant positive affirmation, etc. This is a newer acquaintance and the narcissist red flags were flying high. We had just arrived to the show and I mentioned that I knew a friend sitting in a Suite and that maybe she could get us in…. he called me a “Bitch” for bringing it up when he was trying to tell me that he knew someone in a suite as well. I thought he was kidding, until he threw his full beer as hard as he could into the trash can. I guess he wasn’t kidding.  He was actually pissed.  We left at that moment….I at least saw 1 song.

A few months ago, I ran into an old friend and a very powerful CEO in town.  I mentioned that I was looking for a new job and he offered to meet me for a drink to discuss potential opportunities.  I can’t even put in writing how excited I was to meet him.  I really want to find a new career.  I was the first to arrive and grabbed a seat at the bar. When I saw him approach, I stood and extended my hand. Instead,he went in for the hug and whispered in ear “let’s just get this over with and f*^k.” I was so deflated.

Once, I sold a huge advertising program to a very popular local home improvements company.  It was my biggest sale to date. It was going to pay a ton of commission and help me get promoted.  We signed the contracts earlier in the day and agreed to meet for a celebration dinner later that evening.  We had a delightful dinner. The business owner was quite a character with some very funny stories.  While I was signing for the dinner, he said now that the contracts were signed and the dinner was complete, he could tell me why he really did business with me…..he wanted to make me his mistress.  Sigh.  I smiled politely, because that is what us “lucky” girls do in society, and made sure he knew I wanted to keep our relationship professional.  To retaliate, he never paid for his advertising, and I got stuck paying back the commission.  He also cost me my promotion.  My male boss knew he harrassed me and did nothing about it. I am so “lucky”.

Like Ms. Poehler, I have been called “slut”, “bitch”, “whore”.  I have also been taken advantage of after too many drinks and called a “tease” when I didn’t cooperate.  I have been fondled in a dressing room when I worked retail, and told by a male boss that I had to keep helping the customer.  I have been called a “floozy” by a boss (I was 16) because my earrings were too big.  I have been hit on by a therapist, told my mom, and she said that I exagerated the story (I didn’t exagerrate the story, btw). I was once slipped a roofie. I work in a typical “boy’s club” industry and frequently get called sexist nicknames by clients (ie: blondie, sweet cheeks, eye candy).  I smile politely and imagine punching them in the throat, just as society has taught me. I’ve been asked to wear short skirts on sales calls. On certain summer days, when no men arrive at the office, we realize that they are at another golf outing, of which we weren’t invited. I could keep going…

No, our men are not emasculated.  That is ridiculous. In fact, I wonder how evolved they have become?  I know that my boys will not use any of the offensive words listed above.  While they are being taught to love and respect women, they are far from emasculated.  Women need and deserve to have a day of empowerment.  A day in which we celebrate each other instead of tearing each other down.  A day where we aren’t called any negative names or worse.  Most importantly, giving one day per year to the empowerment of women does not take away from our men.  It has nothing to do with our men.  It should only be about us, the Lucky ones.