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Have Some Respect For The Young Women

23 Aug

We all know that there are some professions out there that are completely male dominated, right? Like banking or working on Wall Street or being an attorney. Yes, there are wonderful women working in those professions, but if you work in one of those professions you often find yourself surrounded by men, and older men at that. Not only is it hard to speak to older men who are of the Good Old Boy Club, but it is hard to feel welcome.

The other day one of my Facebook friends (who shall remain anonymous) posted this:

“Dear Male Attys in their 50s: No, I am not the paralegal. Yes I am under 30 and female. Please do not call me sweetheart and do not say ‘just between the girls.’ As a warning, I do not respond well to bullying or manipulation. And, by the way, I’m not a -itch  if I object or question something you do that I believe  is inappropriate under the rules of civil procedure. I’m just doing my job. Thank you. Truly Yours, Esq.”

At first I read this and thought, wow, she must have had a bad day, but then the more I thought about it the more I thought, Good for you!! I have to give it to her – she spoke her mind and said what a lot of young women were thinking – that they arn’t respected just because they are young women in their profession.

How many of you out there have been in a situation in which someone assumes, just because you are young, that you are a secretary or an assistant or the lowly intern? How many of you have found that just because you are young your opinions are not respected? How many of you think that just because you are young your older colleagues try to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do? How many of you have been in a meeting and suggested something only to have the older men laugh and push it aside?

This has happened to me quite a few times in my short career, and I have to admit that when it does happen it is sort of embarrassing. It makes me feel like maybe I am not worthy of being in the profession I am in or that I am not worthy of having other people respect my work. And having to explain to people that you aren’t the intern and are actual an attorney or a broker or a counselor or a doctor is awkward. And then they look at you with a scrunched forehead and their head tilted to the side as if they can’t possible comprehend how you could possibly be in the position thar you’re in.

And when this happens all you want to do is scream at the top of your lungs, “Yes, I am a young woman, but I am a _________, so respect me!”

I know that everyone has to pay their dues and has to put in the time before respect is given, I get that, but people can’t just assume that because you have a young face or because you’re attractive or because you are female that you are the secretary. I think that sometimes, just sometimes, people should respect you and remember that they were once in your position.

Any of you have similar experiences in your professions?

Are Terms Of Endearment Ever Ok At Work?

12 Jun

I recently came across this fabulous rant from the blog Rantings of a Sub-Editor. In it Cathy Relf, the author, discusses a phone call she had in which the guy on the other end of the line called her honey. Here is the call:

Cathy: “Hi, it’s Cathy, we spoke yesterday.”
Guy: “Oh hi, yes, thanks for sending that through, I’m going to look through it at lunchtime and get it back to you early afternoon.”
Cathy: “Super. Because I’m working elsewhere for the rest of the week, so I do need to see it off today.”
Guy: “Yep, definitely.”
Cathy: “Great, speak to you later.”
Guy: “Thanks honey.” [phone down]

According to Cathy, she was in charge of the phone conversation up until the point the guy on the other end of the line said “Thanks honey.” How did this make Cathy feel? Rather pissed, and I don’t blame her.

I have never particularly been a fan of words of endearment coming from people I either don’t know or whom I am in an argument with. Having another co-worker that I barely know say, “that’s great sweetie” would just make me uncomfortable and make me feel inferior. To me the “sweetie” in that context is completely demeaning (especially if the person saying it is in a higher position than you). Also, having someone I am arguing with tell me “settle down darling,” would literally make my blood boil.

It’s not that I don’t like terms of endearment, it’s the context they are said in that I don’t like. If my husband called me “sweetie” or “darling” I may wonder if he hit his head, but I wouldn’t get upset. But when certain words are used in certain contexts (like work conversations) they make you feel as if someone has made a power grab and left you in the dust.

When I read through the comments to Cathy’s post I was shocked to that some commentators believed she was overreacting. What do you think? Do you think that it is completely inappropriate to use a term of endearment in a professional context? Has anyone at work ever called you “sweetie,” “darling,” “love,” or any other word that made you feel inferior and unworthy?

Women Are Still Underrepresented in America

21 Feb

I must admit that I am a little behind on the whole birth control debate that swarmed the blogs last week. For those of you who don’t know, on Thursday, February 16, 2012, five male Congressional leaders held a hearing about women’s access to birth control. More specifically, the hearing was regarding whether or not religious employers should be required to pay for birth control for their female employees. Despite the fact that this issue is dubbed a “woman’s issue,” there were no women invited to partake in the hearing and there were no women at the Congressional table. Religious or not, the hearing was being held to make decisions about a woman’s body, yet no women were invited to give their opinion. Isn’t it strange that women are 51%of the population, yet they still don’t have a say when it comes to their reproductive rights.

In addition to last week’s Congressional hearing, the State Legislature of Virginia passed some awful law requiring women seeking an abortion to receive a trans-vaginal ultrasound, which requires the insertion of a probe inside of a woman’s vagina, whether or not she agrees or wants an ultrasound. This bill, if passed, will be considered one of the toughest ultrasound laws passed in the states. What is most shocking to me about the trans-vaginal ultrasound is that there is a noninvasive ultrasound procedure that could be adopted instead. The law will also require a printout of the ultrasound to be placed in the woman’s records, whether or not she wants to view it. To put it another way, Virginia has authorized State sanctioned rape when a woman decides that she wants, or in some instances needs, an abortion.

Then, to top it all off, Rick Santorum backer, Foster Friess, told host Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC that “Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” Essentially Friess was telling women to keep their legs closed, and getting annoyed that a debate on contraceptives was even going on. Seriously? Does this guy still live in the 1940’s? Does he not see how we live in a hypersexualized society? Does he not see that the media often depicts women in a derogatory manner, making young girls think that sexualized activity is normal? Freiss’s comment makes it sound as if the increase in sex among young, and even old, women is simply due to the fact that these women can’t keep their legs closed. This guys needs to come to grips with reality and open his eyes.

Now, although it may seem like I am, I am not trying to talk politics or religion. I am simply writing to express how concerned I am that more women are not represented in the U.S. government. I am also frustrated that despite our grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ efforts, women still don’t have a say when it comes to their reproductive rights. Women hold only 90 of the 535 seats in Congress, which is an astonishing 16.8% of seats within the U.S government. Only women are currently acting as state governors and only 35 women have ever held a governorship.  What statistics cannot explain, pictures can. In an article entitled It’s Reigning Men: Birth Control Panel As One Float in DC’s Televised Patriarchy Parade, Karrin Anderson showed various pictures proving that it is mostly men who debate the hot topics in Washington that have an impact us. The pictures prove that women still don’t have a seat at the table when it comes to important decisions.

If the past week has shown women anything, it should be that we are not adequately represented in our government. Because of this, we cannot automatically assume that equality will come from our government and the laws and policies they enforce or enact. Sure, there are some men who have women’s interests in mind, but men and women often have different views on such issues and men don’t really understand what it is like to be a woman. Does a man really know what its like to have a probe inserted into their vagina? Do they know how uncomfortable that could make a young woman feel? I doubt it.

So what solutions do we have? The only solution I see is to encourage other women to run for political office. Women need to come together and support, rather than criticize, female candidates. Sure, we may not like Sarah Palin’s politics or Hillary Clinton’s stance on a particular issue, but that doesn’t mean that we need to put her down. Women need the support of other women. We need to support all women that run for political office as they are our only chance at equality.

How can you get involved with this cause? There are a lot of organizations out there trying to ensure that women are adequately represented in government, such as the National Women’s Political Caucus, The 2012 Project, and Off the Sidelines.

In my opinion younger women need to step up and help women become better represented in Congress. What are you going to do?