Don’t lift that it’s too heavy, wait for the boys to get it. You want to be a surgeon? Don’t you know that’s a boy’s job? Don’t wear navy, that’s a boy color. The majority of my childhood was a series of reprimands for not being girly enough. I didn’t understand why wearing navy couldn’t be girly, and I was frustrated that my grandmother was constantly telling me not to do this or that because it was “bad for girls.”
Well, I’ve left my days of pushing boys on the playground behind me and am a firm believer in pink now. So, why do I get made fun of for ordering wine instead of whiskey at the bar? And why am I called a bitch for being aggressive in work situations while my male colleagues are praised for their focus and drive? And why, even though I now work in a female dominated industry are the majority of senior executives, presidents, and CEO’s male? Why is being a girl – the one thing that was reiterated for me to be – a bad thing now?
That’s because embracing my “girly” side is not enough. Girls have to act a certain way or risk being ripped apart for every action that does not fit society’s ideals. Instead of laughing in jest at my sarcasm like people would do if my sharp wit came out of a man’s mouth, people look at my boyfriend and ask “how he deals with me.” Pardon me, or don’t actually, but I force no one to stay in my life. I am not a nuisance that needs to be dealt with. Being a girl with fire is something that should be admired – only it isn’t.
When did being a girl become a punchline? I did not ask for this gender. I was born into it and happen to like it. I enjoy traditionally feminine things and pursue traditionally feminine interests. This extends to my career. I proudly attend Boston University’s College of Communications where almost all of my classes are 90-99% female dominated. I intern at an incredible niche public relations agency that is run by fearless, brilliant, and inspiring women. This monumental organization motivates me to be who I am and strive to have it all. I love my job, I love how empowered I feel among my colleagues, and I love how when I am at work I feel as if there is no limit to what I can one day accomplish.
I do not love how quickly those feelings evaporate once I leave the office. While my favorite former Professor goes out for drinks with another former student, I have to go home because of how it would look if he was seen socially with a female student. My networking opportunities are reduced to cyber volleys because we live in a world that hyper sexualizes women to absurd extremes. So while Joe* gets to reap the benefits of a casual sit down with a dynamic industry leader with over 35 years of experience, I miss out because I’m a girl. It doesn’t matter that I am brighter than Joe, have more passion than Joe, and will be more successful than Joe, my education and my opportunities come second to Joe’s because of the predicament my gender places on my Professor.
It isn’t fair that I get shoved out of these opportunities. Leslie Knope said it was ok if you want to stay home and bake a pie, or if you want to be a CEO, and it’s ok to be both. Well, I want to run my own company, not be ostracized for acting the same way my male counterparts behave, and not have my gender used against me at every opportunity. Instead of being described as a motivated, successful and smart young woman, I am difficult, abrasive and a self-absorbed bitch. Well, if that’s what weak-minded individuals who feel threatened by me need to say then that’s fine. In the meantime, I’ll be clawing and battling my way to the top. After all, Beyoncé, says that girls run the world, so it might as well be law.