March for Women and Staying Sane Post Election

I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging the past few months because my fall semester was physically and emotionally draining. Partly because of school and partly because I was pushing myself too hard in general. I was also emotionally exhausted following the election and just didn’t feel like expressing myself on my blog. Now that I’ve had a few months to recover, I’m more passionate and enraged than ever. Last month, I attended the March For Women the day after Donald Trump took office. I still cannot believe that that man is the President of America. And no, I will not get over it. Not because I didn’t vote for him, but because the policies he is attempting to enact are violating human rights as well as the U.S. Constitution.

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The day I found out about the Women’s March in D.C. I made sure I had the weekend off work. It was so important for me to stand with two of my closest friends (and Audrey’s younger sisters) in protest of something I wholeheartedly disagree with. It was therapeutic to get my anger out in a peaceful and cathartic way. The fact that there were men and children everywhere was so important as well. Feminism is not about women overpowering men and I will be the first person to say something when I feel that men are being stereotyped against based on their gender (although they are rarely marginalized or discriminated against in society, they do have an unfair set of societal standards to live up to and that is also important to talk about).

I recently took a trip home to catch up with an old friend from grade school. He’s one of those friends that bobs in and out of your life and every time you see each other you spend hours catching each other up on life and current events. One of our major conversation topics included what life has been like back home in Fredericksburg ever since November. Apparently, those of the community who have yet to accept that the Civil War ended years ago are trying to bring us back to a time when white people could openly proclaim they were superior. It makes me sick to think that people are using the current president as a way to instill terror in others. I have hope though, that this is a turning point. The number of people who are actually learning about the policies that effect them (like the fact that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are the same thing) is important and I refuse to give up on progressive change for our country.

 

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Do I Have a Sign on My Back?

Do I have a sign on my back that says FEMINIST: PROVOKE ME? The last few days at work have made me think that I do. I generally try to be quiet and keep my head down when it comes to any sort of political or hot button issue at work, mainly because I know that my opinions are different than many of my coworkers and unless someone wants to engage in an intellectual conversation where both parties have a chance to speak, it really isn’t worth my time. However, the following is an actual conversation that took place today:

Someone came into my office and told me that, although he had learned from his past that it is inappropriate to comment on a women’s appearance, he could however comment on her clothes (I’m not quite sure how that was rationalized or why he was bringing it up) but he ended his thought by telling me my nail polish looked nice. In the past, I’d have shrugged a comment like this off my shoulders but I feel like I’ve finally gained enough confidence in myself to respond (and this isn’t the first time he’s said this exact same thing with some other random “compliment” about my attire).

I looked up at him (from the work document I was typing) and told him that I was pretty sure that not commenting on a women’s appearance meant just that. Don’t comment on the way a woman looks. He rolled his eyes and immediately began ranting about how women can’t have it both ways. We can’t be able to file sexual harassment suits at the drop of a hat because someone looks at us weird but then want men to compliment them. He then stated he was going to start filing suits for people he thinks are ugly because “from his perspective” they’re offending him.

I, again, interrupted from my work, looked up to tell him that he clearly did not understand the female experience in the workplace (or just in life in general). Before I had a chance to go in depth into why exactly he was wrong, (i.e. I’ve never asked him for a compliment nor even hinted that I wanted to engage with him on a more personal level) he turned to another male coworker and started ranting about much of a double standard there is in society.

No sir, there is not a double standard here. I want, like most women I know, to be able to go to work and do my job without someone commenting on my appearance. Be it my face (whether I am smiling or not is none of your damn business), my skirt, or the color of my nail polish it is NONE OF YOUR CONCERN. This may come as a surprise, but I don’t care if you think I look hot or happy or grumpy or tired. I am here to do my job.

The thing that really bothers me about this experience is that it isn’t just one person. So rolling my eyes and ignoring him doesn’t solve anything for me (all of the above examples are real life encounters that have occurred to me). There is no double standard here. The thing that men using this “double standard” argument fail to understand is that there is a time and a place to tell a woman how you feel about her looks (hint, its not at work). Furthermore, if a woman isn’t flattered by your comments that’s not her problem. There’s no need to berate her with all of your insecurities because she turned down your advances (whether or not they’re “just a compliment”). That’s not a double standard or “having it both ways” that’s asking for you to be a mature human who respects other humans and their boundaries.

I really just want to live in a world where men don’t believe they’re being attacked because a woman isn’t interested. It’s almost comical how these same men who talk about a double standard in society are so thrown aback when a woman stands up and actually articulates her opinion to them. In my case, my coworker didn’t even bother to respond and he didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day (not that I was especially upset about it). What’s even more shocking to me is that I did not start this conversation. This was someone who came into my office, interrupted my work space and started a conversation that, I’m assuming, was meant to make him feel good about himself. When he realized that I wasn’t going to agree with him, nor was I going to sit silently and let him say something that made me feel uncomfortable he just walked off mid-sentence. The one positive thing that I can say about this experience is that at least I’ve grown from it.