Before I start this, I have to clarify a few things.
I’m not a girly girl. I’m most comfortable in a t-shirt and baggy jeans, and it’s rare to catch me in a dress. I know more about cars and sports than I do makeup and fashion. I have the hardest time wrapping my head around issues involving women’s rights and feminism might as well be a foreign concept to me. I didn’t become a mechanical engineer to prove that a women can do a “man’s job”. None of this, however, is a stipulation for me not to notice your blatant sexism.
I’ll pretend I don’t notice, as the only female in the department, that my male coworkers will all gather in one of their offices and chatter about their weekends or lives outside of work so loudly I can hear it down the hall, and when I decide to join it inexplicably dies off and they awkwardly shuffle off somewhere else. Or when I’m purposely not included in group texts because the discussion isn’t “appropriate for a girl”. Don’t worry guys, I’m bet your conversations about your trucks and weekend antics would surely offend me some way or another.
I’ll act as if I don’t notice when I’m talking to a contractor I’m hiring or an older male coworker and they call me “sweetie” or “baby” casually as if my name and intelligence level are a mystery to even me. Thank you for reminding me that the four years of hard work in college and the name I proudly inherited from my great-great-grandmother mean little when you noticed I’m a young woman.
I won’t notice how my male coworkers avoid going to lunch or hang out alone with me because rumors will start that we’re more than friends. I will be completely ignorant of the implications made when a vendor tells me “I can’t take you out to lunch without a male colleague because it could result in a legal issue if something happens.” I forgot as a female in a male-dominated industry that my moral compass disappeared and I will try to get into any man’s pants if I get the chance. But by all means sir, please continue to try to flirt with me uncomfortably like I asked for your unprofessional attention by just being here.
I’ll fake a laugh and not notice how funny my male coworkers think it is when I get asked out on a date by some random guy working in my area and he won’t accept my first three attempts at politely turning him down as an answer. My efforts to hide my curves and report situations that make me uncomfortable in the workplace are far better jokes than I realized. I appreciate the feeling of camaraderie and safety that’s created by your teasing and laughter.
I’m not blaming myself or anyone, but I am not accepting the excuse “boys will be boys”. I hope you take my dripping sarcasm and get a strong dose of reality. I’m a stronger person and better at my job because of an inadvertent flaw in society. Or haven’t you noticed yet?