One of my coworkers took me aside last week and told me I needed to be more “thick skinned,” referring to my workplace as an “Old Boy’s Club.”
I observed some women at my work being more masculine, and also realized I have no desire to be thick skinned or less sensitive. I am a sensitive-as-shit Cancerian, and live with a wide open heart.
I am proud of my paper thin skin and its ability to let me to live like I mean it, without a filter. I feel the sorrows and relentless joys of our world daily, and my heart is better because of it.
The following day I was present to hear a woman who works in a male dominated environment subtly praising herself for how guy-like she is. Boasting about being one of the dudes, talking about how much she loved sex, speaking crass.
I observed her as she spoke and couldn’t help but feel some of it was misplaced and not authentic. I love sex, I think the word “slut” should be retired. Women love sex just as much as guys. Being one of the guys is also completely fine. But somewhere in my gut I couldn’t help but feel her intent in doing these things, and in boasting to me about them wasn’t completely sincere, or a true expression of who she was.
I drove home and took my femininity out of the closet. All my frilly, floral skirts, dresses and bright lace bras. I couldn’t remember the last time I wore any of them.
For so long in society the norm of women was to be soft spoken, feminine, in the kitchen, raising children. I feel like we rebelled in an uproar, flipping gender norms the bird, and shaving our heads in faux-hawks. We threw the pendulum to the extreme opposite of the spectrum. Telling our femininity to fuck off so we could breathe and be whoever we were.
My femininity has a place in this world. I feel sometimes I too am guilty of repressing my womanhood to accommodate male dominated environments. That being less emotional and able to live and love like a guy is somehow better or more attractive. It makes my male coworkers and peers more comfortable when I exist “like a man” around them.
Our world needs women being themselves, be that soft or hard. But I think we sometimes invalidate the strength in our softness, and need to reconnect with it. Our sensitivity and connectedness to our hearts is our biggest strength—not a weakness.
If it serves one of my sisters to have no strings attached sex, sweat testosterone, and chameleon to be a dude—so be it. I support you existing how you wish.
It serves my power to sweat estrogen and exist thin skinned as I am around my company, be they female or male.
I attended a Women In the Trades conference put on by BCIT and listened to stories of struggle from women to exist in shop culture, of women being fired because they wouldn’t sleep with their boss, of having their work sabotaged, women who altered their names on their resumes in order to not be discriminated upon due to gender.
I heard employers speak about how they want women at their companies, but they simply aren’t applying. How there are many women who go through post secondary and then don’t pursue further because of a hostile, unsupportive shop culture dominated by males.
Being “one of the guys” to accommodate crass derogatory behaviours and environments that encourage chauvinistic male pack mentality isn’t healthy. It isn’t the solution, in my eyes.
I would like to live in a world where we teach men to create a space for women in shop cultures, not ask them to conform to be one of the dudes—put up with porn, racist and sexist jokes just because it is what they knew before women picked up wrenches.
A world where women can be thin skinned, thick skinned, soft, hard, masculine, feminine, sexually empowered, cold, vulnerable—but remember that their sensitivity is a force to be reckoned with. And at the end of the day we desperately need women who are empowered.
Feminine energy is invaluable and has a place in this world. Being a woman is just as valuable as being a man, therefore there is no need to suppress our femininity or womanhood.
Women, I ask you of one thing, to walk in your power in whatever and whichever way it serves you.
“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.”
~ Roseanne Barr
We need to show that being #likeagirl is just as valuable as being a man. That being born a woman is not a weakness or disadvantage.
Part of the inspiration for me to write this article was from this incredibly powerful commercial by Always. I feel as if the whole world is on the same page right now—we want our women empowered. We all win when our planet is full of humans who walk the earth knowing their worth and breathing, and living in their power, regardless of gender.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Image: Pixoto/Danielle Tourigny