Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Long Post About Being a Woman

This morning on X96, they had an X poll about what annoys you most about your spouse.

One guy complained that his wife leaves a pile of dirt in the corner of the kitchen after she sweeps. She only sweeps it into the garbage every couple of days.

The host asked if he had told her it annoyed him. He replied, "All the time!"

And I yelled at the radio, "In the two seconds it takes you to tell her to pick it up--grab a dustpan you LOSER!!"

Next guy gets up and complains that his wife always washes her clothes and the kids clothes before she washes his clothes.


Lately, I've been watching Mad Men on netflix. It's an interesting show about life in the 1960s in New York City--or rather--life today in Utah.

No one writes about women's issues like a gay man. Good grief. Who told Matthew Weiner all of these secret struggles women go through?? I've never felt so utterly understood!

I'm joking today, but most of the time these things really bother me.

It bothers me when a stranger comes into the office and calls me Honey. Maybe it shouldn't, but there's this part of me that wonders at his intentions. He's not hitting on me, but he's making himself familiar in a way I didn't agree with. Again, nothing technically wrong with it, but there's something about when some guys do it that makes me feel like I'm somehow giving up some of my power as a person--not just as a woman--but as a person--when a stranger calls me honey. At the same time, presumed intimacy can be a real treat--reminding us that we're in a small world and that even strangers care about one another. But there are times where it doesn't feel good. And I can't pinpoint why.

Now for the story I want to share publicly, but in a private way, so as to not embarrass the real people I'm talking about. I was with a group and one of the leaders began to cry because she's worked hard and crying is her stress release. I get it--it's mine too. I once wept during half of a shift at Denny's because the stress of working graveyards and going to school full-time broke me down. I told everyone in the restaurant I had horrible allergies. But I digress... She began to cry. The other leader stood up and apologized for her with an amused smile on his face.

He might as well have said, "Sorry guys--she's totally PMSing..."

I was livid.

I feel very fortunate. My boss is a fantastic man. His wife owns and runs the Midvale Main Street Theatre and he knows how to treat a woman with respect for what she brings to the company as a person and not as a woman. It's been such a pleasure to work for this company.

The entire series of Mad Men talks about the complexities of being a woman. They have all the different archetypes--and each of the archetypes possesses elements of the other. The madonna, the whore, the witch, the vixen, the virgin... all of the women in the show have proven themselves equal to the task of each archetype.

Being a woman is something entirely different from being a person. I don't know if I'm saying that right. I go to work and I'm me. I'm a person who manages a storage facility. But then there's this part of me who is also a woman. I'm not always a woman when I'm working. I'm just a person--a manager. But then there is this side of me that is very much a woman. And I can't turn that part of me off. I can't make myself less pretty when I'm around predatory eyes. I can't make myself stop crying because it's an inappropriate time to be overwhelmed with emotion. Luckily, most of my person qualities mix rather nicely with my woman qualities. (In stating this, I'm probably offending hordes of you... I know--men cry too. And being a woman isn't being weaker. I just mean, there are moments where I am fully aware that I have boobs and lots of hormones.)

This isn't a man hating post. Like I said, I adore my boss. And after the condescending episode, one of the other guys came up to me and complained about what happened and decided to do something nice for this woman who had put in so much time and effort. He showed compassion and zeal.

There are men on Mad Men who are surprisingly respectful. And there are men who are incomprehensibly horrible. And it's not often the guys you expect.

If you don't have time to watch the entire series, my favorite episode about women is called "The Other Woman" from Season 5. In this episode, three women are treated like prostitutes in subtle and not so subtle ways. You watch each woman process the treatment in very different ways.  

One woman uses it to her financial advantage,

another woman walks away from the mistreatment to find better opportunities,

 and the other woman dejectedly surrenders to her lot.

So what do I do in those situations? All of the above and none of the above. What's the right answer? You can't change the world. You're going to be treated like an object to be bought and sold at some point in your life. Especially as a single woman. I don't know the answer.

But I think the key lies in seeing myself for who I am.

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches me that I am a daughter of God.  I am a human being sent to earth to gain wisdom through my experiences, joys, sorrows, and even mistakes. I am blessedly human, and I am a woman. I wouldn't have it any other way.

My relationship with the world is only a reflection of my relationship with myself. As I respectfully honor myself, the world will follow suit. This is the only thing I can truly control. Sometimes I think that we mistakenly think the world should teach us how to view ourselves. This is a mistake. We teach the world how we ought to be viewed.

Instead of putting on an outfit and turning to a friend and asking, "What do you think?" Put on that outfit, and turn to that friend and say, "This is what you think."

We're so concerned about fitting into a mold. We cram ourselves into these petty guidelines set for us by the world. We can break the mold and there's nothing the world can do about it.

Today I am grateful to be a woman.


Melissa said...

I count my blessings every day that I married Shane. I realize all the time, and more than I want to, that he is a rarity. When I break down because the house is a mess and I ask him why it doesn't bug him, he always tells me, "it does bug me, but would it make it any better if I got mad at you?" A messy house just comes with having kids and a life. He helps me out so much, housework, diapers, taking care of kids, you name it, he does it, and sometimes insists that he do it so I can get a break! Guys that comment the way those men did... Shane would be like, What a jerk!! I will say this because none of them read this...unfortunately some of my b-i-l's are big jerks. They are so old school I want to hit them. I used to knock heads with one of them because he has the "women are stupid" attitude until I decided it wasn't worth the breath it took to argue with him. I guess this is a long way of saying that I enjoyed your post, and having worked in a job where my value was questioned when I did get so stressed I cried... yes, I can totally relate.

Eve said...

Good men just go to show that bad men have no excuses. Shane is a good one. And you're an awesome woman!

Larissa said...

I feel the same way you do in your post. I actually enjoy Mad Men because it makes me understand my grandmother more...why she views men the way she does and why she acts the way she does. It's all very fascinating. She told my mother not to get married because no man will ever be faithful to her no matter what, yet my grandmother loved my grandfather more than her own life. She worked in an office as a secretary and I have old photos from her work where everyone around her is smoking. It's all so strange.

Eve said...

Oooh! Interesting! My grandma worked as a secretary too at the time. After my grandfather died, she was a single mother in that environment--and the stories she could tell. I love having her in my life because she understands what it's like being single in my 30s.