*cues James Brown*
Life is a funny thing and I want to preface by saying this really is a more or less a life wide observation that turned into rant. I debated posting this but I think in this life I lead of being girl engineer/ business owner that while most of it's very good, I can't ignore the challenges I still face.
Somewhere along the way alot of us heard this notion that it's books or looks for us girls. I was one of the few who believed it, and while to this day I've never been called ugly to my face, I was simply more concerned about being smart than pretty. Add to this some of the inane pick-up lines I've heard "You're to pretty to be a nerd" I was convinced “books” were the way to go. Don't get me wrong, I dress nice and when it's time to dress up I think I do quite well. By the time I finished college I realised how silly this "books or looks" idea was. Presidents, Lawyers, and secret agents are often good looking and intelligent, so why not me? A woman who takes pride in her looks is thought to not have much depth, though many times this theory has been disproved.
I'm often thought of as having low self-esteem because I wear clothes that are too big for me (partly coz I've lost 29lbs in the past 9 months) or I usually dress quite boyish. In a response that sounds quite the opposite of low self-esteem, I know if I wear a dress somebody is gonna look at me and I don't like it when people look at me. The person who looks at me may make a pass and if I complain, lookers-on of any gender will shrug or even find it amusing. Maybe part of it is astonishment at how some go after chubby girls like me. In general though it's more of the "well you wore it, you had it coming" that goes along until something happens.
Everyone gets up in arms about how women should be treated better and be aware of their own strength. You know that same strength that gets referred to bossiness, stubbornness, or plain ornery Once a man sang (loud) to me on buses and then cursed my name because I didn't swoon to his advances. He kept trying to sit next to me and put his arm around me. Everyone else on the bus laughing or simply ignoring. Even the bus driver not saying a word, except for later that evening when I saw the bus driver again to look at me say "Well I can see why he was trying so hard, bet you have someone waiting at home for you" That was the last day I ever ties and heels on a bus. Once I had to punch a guy on a date for being fresh, to be fair I warned him twice and the bartenders took my side. Yet for weeks, other regulars would joke "Watch out for her".
I never thought it was fair by dressing up and looking nice, in fitted jeans or a dress, stockings, and heels, that I should expect unwelcomed flirtation. It's not amazing that I have an engineering degree, 3 years in construction, all while "maintain my girlish whimsy" (direct quote), it's simply the product of hard work and staying true to myself.
It just bothers me that my grandmothers had to deal with this in different lights. Maternal had the add issues of being a black woman, whereas my Paternal dealt with being known as a "dragon lady" My mother had to deal with it even after she was married which lead into some (now) entertaining conflicts when my parents moved to Georgia. My sister, and me, and my cousin in college. Admittedly, I've not had to deal with near what some women endure in their personal/professional lives. I look at my god-daughter sometimes and wonder if things will better in 20 years.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story
*steps down from soapbox*