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I began writing this column with a very personal tone. I was telling my tale, my story, my saga. About four paragraphs deep, I realized that this was wrong. Immediately after watching Pantene’s newest commercial which addresses nearly every single stereotype and double standard for women in the workplace, I felt a connection. I wanted to tell my story. But it’s not my story to tell, it’s our story.
If you’ve read any of my past columns or follow me on any form of social media, you likely know what I did jobwise before I began working for the magical world of the internet. Likely, as you’re reading this, someone out there has my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages all pulled up and is currently googling the name of my 9th grade math teacher. But don’t do that. At least not right now, because that’s not the point of this column.
I won’t get specific and I won’t get too personal. Like I said, this is our story, not mine. I will say, however, that throughout college and after, I worked in a very male dominated field. So much so, that there were many times that I was the only female working in my office. Being young and naive, I enjoyed this at first. I appreciated the attention. I liked that when I dressed up or curled my hair, someone was always there to tell me that I looked pretty. I liked getting teased and flirted with in a manner that was reminiscent to playground crushes. I played up my “sorority girl” stereotype with giggling and exaggerated reactions. I was the token female, the little sister, the girl next door. All eyes were on me and I loved it…at first.
After a while, however, it got old. The jokes and the teasing and the nicknames and the attention, it all got old. As I started to assert myself more and attempted to shed this image that I had once embraced, I was met with hostility. I didn’t want to be teased; I wanted to be taken seriously. I didn’t want to curl my hair everyday and wear heels; I wanted to be professional and sensible. I didn’t want to babied or pitied or treated any differently; I just wanted to be one of them. But that didn’t go over well, and in countless offices across the world right now, it’s not going well.
Since being accepted in the workplace decades ago, it’s sometimes difficult to feel as though we truly are accepted in the workplace. Women don’t earn as much as men do. And yes, I understand factors such as maternity leave, taking children to doctor’s appointments, little league games, and sick days. But what about women who don’t have children? What about women who aren’t even married? They’re not reaping any of these benefits that misogynists are so quick to taut off when confronted with the “70 cents to a dollar” discussion. And it’s infuriating.
I’m likely going to be called a feminist by some of the male and female commenters, and truthfully, that could not be further from the truth. I’m not a feminist because I don’t think that men owe me anything; I don’t think that they resent me, and I don’t think they hate me. What I believe is that I should be treated equal to men. I believe that women should be treated equal to men. And that is not the case right now in the average workplace. Women who stand up for themselves are considered bitchy and whiny; I’m sure many of you reading this are thinking just that of me right now. Get off your soapbox, you’re thinking. You have the right to vote. You’re equal. But we’re not. Women who ask for a raise are considered needy; men who do it are considered assertive. Women who take responsibility are considered selfish; men who do it are considered powerful. Women should be team-players; men should be go-getters. Women should be nurturing; men should be cutthroat.
In just 60 seconds, the Pantene commercial addresses the double-standards, the unfairness, and the inequalities. It’s simple, it’s powerful, and it gets the message across. It’s a man’s world out there, and we’re just living in it.