Saturday, June 25, 2011

Potentially Incendiary Post

I clicked on some NPR article today on the post-gender world. I read about that kid, Storm, who will remain publicly genderless until such time as s/he declares his intentions to the world. I saw photos of Storm's brother, sporting long braids, and read related blogs by other post-gender parenting folks. I'm not going to pretend I even have a cursory understanding of the challenges faced by transsexuals (though I have the pleasure of knowing a wonderful one in my life - Hi!) But, this morning reading got me thinking.

As a professional adult in a highly male dominated segment of a highly male dominated industry (not really cheese), the fact that I'm a girl is ... obvious and differentiating in many contexts. I'm regularly in meetings with a dozen men of various ages, presenting to them. I'm often the only girl on the conference call line. I'm 33 years old, and yes, I prefer "girl."

I read about women rejecting dresses and sparkles and feeling ashamed of their being girlie. There's apparently some societal implication that being girlie is somehow acquiescing to the will of "The Man" to be a pretty shiny object, rather than a free willed actor in your own world. Somehow, sparkles mean oppression.

All I'm going to say is this. In my world, of admittedly typically socially backwards individuals, I do not believe my career would be significantly impacted by a choice to be "girlie" or to be a tomboy - or even a real boy. Nerds have a certain meritocracy that rewards action, conviction, intelligence - more than heel height. I've spent years in basically male work clothing - and only recently switched to embracing the girliness. I can't say anything changed professionally for me.

I actually think that being a girl - and girlie - is an advantage. There are dozens of men, but the chick in the pink dress can usually take the floor and speak. People may have initial misconceptions about what I'm going to say - but they learn fast that I'm no shirking violet. And there's something very confusing - and amusing - to me by how often I'm characterized as "intimidating" when I stand only 5'2" and spend my weekends perfecting homemade bread.

I do believe, therefore, that there's plenty of room to wear sparkles because you want to - and get respect because you deserve it. There's room to coo over a baby (hi moose! hi bean!) and then handle the tough decisions. There's room to be a girl - and still be an adult. So, I embrace the cute dresses and ballet flats and sparkles. I wore pink to board meetings and skirts to executive presentations. Why? Because that's what I like. And I wont have any "business professional" BS take that away from me.  And - newsflash - no one seems to care.

Except that salesman, who had a vigorous debate with me over whose sweater was more pink. He won.

1 comment:

Shannon C said...

Brava!!! Great post. I too prefer GIRL and I am a ripe 41. Girls rock. :-)