Know when to say when?!

We had an event this week for work — it was a membership breakfast meeting where we invited a guest speaker, who is a political commentator.  The evening before, a few of us took the speaker to dinner.  One of my staff members & I flanked the speaker.  As the evening went on, he told political stories of past, that were entertaining for those of us political dorks…  Yes, entertainment for a very small audience.

At one point, this man crossed the line.  I didn’t know how to handle it.

The history of the Capitol is sketchy.  There are stories upon stories of getting prostitutes for legislators in order to deliver votes.  Drinks, food & any type of “entertainment” you can think of, were used to ensure an elected official voted a certain way.  I get that.  But those days are over — with a few rare exceptions.

At one point, he started telling stories of people I know & respect.  One of them is a female member of the Governor’s cabinet.  He told this story of a committee hearing he was at with her “back in the day” where her nipples were so hard, it literally delivered a handful of votes for her cause of the day.

WTF is that?!  At that point, I asked for the check in order to wrap up the evening.  I didn’t want to call him out on it because I was afraid he might bail on the following day’s breakfast.  Now I am wondering, do I make a call or send an e-mail to his speakers’ bureau?  Do I e-mail him directly?  I don’t know what to do, but I feel like I need to tell him the nature of that conversation was NOT okay.

Men are idiots!  Why do they put us in these positions?  And how come we aren’t allowed to smack them the moment they make some stupid comment?

 

 

Choosing a Man vs. Career

One of my colleagues that I have known for a while (even before I took this job) asked me if I would leave the job if my husband had to take a job elsewhere.  For me, the question doesn’t compute.  My husband is a teacher, a teacher with quite a bit of seniority at that.  There is no way he is taking a job elsewhere, under any circumstance that I can think of, under any scenario. 

But the person asking the question, asked in attempt to define what type of woman I was — was I career driven or driven by my personal life?  My colleague also happened to be a man.

Of course I told him I would go if I had to, but that I really didn’t really think that was likely to happen.  So it was an easy answer.  The more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t sure if that was the case.  I am not saying I would leave him, but I would strongly lobby him to stay and forgo the other opportunity…  But then what?

The question didn’t bother me at first.  But the more I thought about it, the more it did. 

  • Why would a question like that define the type of woman I am? 
  • Why the hell didn’t I ask him the same question back?
  • Why is it okay to ask a woman that question, yet it didn’t even PHASE me to THINK to ask him the question back?  Is it because he is a man?

Gender roles are so engrained in our thinking, that clearly even our most automatic of our behaviors are trained by those roles.  I didn’t even THINK to ask him the same question.  Wow.

Well it’s been a rough day due to some stressful situations around the office today.  So I am going to forgo my gender role of drinking wine this evening, and opt for the Crown.  Because it has been one of those days!

Have a great weekend!

Don’t Laugh… It’s for School Girls

I always reminisce about the years past this time of year.  Not only has the previous year wrapped-up, but we are about to embark on a new year (or already have done so in our personal calendars at least–fiscal calendars vary).  I try to think about the missed opportunities, goals that have been accomplished, and all of the crap I tried to bury along the way…  So as to NOT go there again!

This time of year is when my annual convention comes to fruition.  It is a challenging event to pull together.  My clients demand a 4 star location.  5 star is too much; but 3 is not enough.  It is tough to find a 4 star in this state that can accommodate a few hundred people.  And no matter how beautiful the setting is, there is always somebody that doesn’t like it.  We get criticism from the meal quality to the beds being too stiff.  Things way beyond our control.  I mean, do we NEED to tuck you in at night??? 

So be it…  It is the nature of the beast.

One of the shittiest criticisms I have ever received during an annual meeting is totally something within my control (which I actually appreciate for once), but shitty nonetheless.  This little old woman who has to be pushing 90, told me I need to stop laughing.  WTF?!  She said something to the effect of “Stop laughing…  It makes you look like a giggling school girl.  Men will never take you seriously if you keep giggling like that.  You see so & so, (name blocked for privacy), she doesn’t giggle.”

I do have a nervous laugh when I give speeches.  It is a nervous tic.  I am working on it, but it is an ongoing battle.  About an hour after this woman gave me this comment, the woman she referred to that never giggled, broke down crying into a microphone.  Now that is something I would NEVER do. 

That being said, was this old woman a male chauvinist? 

I shared her comment with my Chairman and he laughed.  He said “You have taken some pretty crummy comments.  If you are to take anything seriously, don’t take this seriously.  Because your laugh, is like quintessential you.”

He also went on to say, he didn’t particularly care for my laugh (no joke), but he actually got over it because he liked me so well that he doesn’t even hear it anymore.  I don’t know if that was supposed to be a compliment — I doubt it — but it was his statement.

I am working to get rid of the nervous laugh.  Now my loud, boisterous, “goddamn that was f-ing funny” laugh, that will NEVER go away.  I mean that laugh.  That “did I just piss myself?” laugh…  That I am not giving up because it just feels way too good.  Nobody, I mean nobody, in this nation feels that good anymore.  So why should I give that up???  Screw that!

I can’t help but wonder though, that little old woman, pushing 90.  She was definitely raised during some rough times.  And for that, I am thankful.  I fully recognize that I could not have the position I am in without my female predecessors before me.  But I wonder, was she a male chauvinist?

I think so…  So why bother paying attention?

Past & Present

This week, I flew across the country for a business trip that lasted most of the week.  The last evening, I couldn’t sleep, so I headed down to the hotel bar for a drink and some reading of the WSJ.  Eventually, a little old couple came and sat down next to me and we started chatting.

The woman asked me why I was in town, so I told her.  She responded, “You are one of those young women that I read about that travels around the country for work and has one of those jobs that the men used to have.”  Then she asked what I did and I told her.  She said, “That is a big job!”  She proceeded to tell her date about my career and he didn’t quite get it.

She then looked at me and said, “Things were so much simpler for women when I was your age.”

I assured that although I am a busy person, I am happy.  She agreed and said she could tell.

I couldn’t help but wonder what she meant by simpler for her.  We were in a bar, so I didn’t want to get into a super deep conversation, but it has been driving me crazy.  Now I wish I would have asked.

She asked me how I liked working and if it was stressful, etc.  Of course I told her “I love my job, but it is also the reason I drink.”  We had a wonderful evening chatting about work and other things, like her date and lingerie football.  I had so much fun with these two that I bought them a round before I left. 

Anyway, I have been struggling with her statement all day.  For several reasons — I know I am in a male-dominated line of work, but I work to make my position and organization a woman-run organization.  I avoid getting into pissing contests with my male competitors, I try to be progressive with my staff and the goals and objectives we embark upon, and just try to have fun with work.  But it also makes me wonder, how much more “simpler” did they really have it?  I mean, there was the whole womens’ lib movement since then, so apparently somebody wasn’t happy!

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.  ~Timothy Leary