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.

Biggest Misconceptions of Turning 40

40th bday with my greatest life long friends!

40th bday with my greatest life long friends!

Remember when you were a kid and thought about becoming a grown up? We believed certain things would be true: People will be nicer. Bullies will stop bullying. Money will be easily accessible. You will become totally confident and won’t care what people think. Now that we are all adults, we know that this is all bullshit.

People don’t become nicer. Jerks stay jerks. They might even grow up to be bigger jerks. At least in school, they could only ruin your day. Now, they can destroy career, become your boss or coach your kids tee ball team. Hereby, ruining any chance your kid had at liking sports. The mean girls of the suburban moms can stop you from meeting new friends or have too much of a say in who calls your kid for a play date. They ruled the school and now they rule the community. I think they still wear pink on Wednesdays.

Grown-up bullies are the worst. The mean girl in my office once told a co-worker that she wouldn’t hang out with them anymore if they stayed friends with me. True story. Can you imagine? What’s worse is the co-worker listened and stopped hanging out with me. They even thought it totally reasonable to explain the situation to me, as if by knowing the truth behind their sudden departure, I would somehow hurt less. Needless to say, that plan didn’t quite work. Sometimes, ignorance IS bliss. I know people like to say it’s jealousy, but I don’t believe that to be true. Some people are just assholes. They don’t need a reason. In fact, maybe as parents we need to change how we teach kids to handle bullies. Maybe, we just need to prepare them for the truth. “Some people are assholes, and you will have to deal with them every day for the rest of your life.” If anybody wants to help me start that campaign…call me.

And what about that misconception of financial stability. Did my parents struggle like this? If they did, I never knew. I assumed that if you worked hard, you then lived comfortably. When does that “comfortably” part kick in? Do we all worry so much? Maybe that’s the biggest shock of adulthood: so much worry.

Also, I’m still waiting for that grown-up confidence to kick in. You know, that confidence you read about in every woman’s mag, that states women over 40 stop caring what other people think? That is such crap. Of course, we still care about what other people think. It might be less extreme, I mean I’m not succumbing to peer pressure at 40, but I sure do hate being blatantly whispered about. Or left out of an office gathering. Or seeing that my friends are all hanging out without me. Or having someone sneer at my outfit. That all sucks! Who are we kidding….it hurt at 16 and it still hurts today.

The good news is we do gain a certain power as we grow up: the power to weed out the bullshit. Learn to spot the mean ones and do your best to ignore and avoid. They do still get under your skin, and even hurt your feelings, however, we can choose to be surrounded by love and true friendship,instead of the insecurities of fake people. That’s a powerful choice. The picture above shows my best friends from kindergarten and middle school. The great ones are out there and they are to be cherished. I love these fantastic ladies with all my heart and love that we have chosen each other as forever friends!

Would it have turning 40 easier to know that the cliques and mean girls never go away; that they just become co-workers and fellow soccer moms? I’m not sure. I do think my “people are just assholes” campaign is brilliant and might be the way to prepare our kids for the future!