On Being a Woman, Inequality…and an all girl’s Catholic high school

My friend, Darla, posted this video to FB that has the following caption..”Dustin Hoffman breaks down crying explaining something that every woman sadly already experienced.”  I love Dustin Hoffman and most of his movies so I clicked.  (I’ll wait while you click & watch it….)

So, after watching it, I started thinking about myriad issues relating to the differences between men and women.  I’ve always liked being a woman…and that’s good, because I don’t have much choice! (well, nowadays I guess I do have a choice but that’s a whole different post) I went to an all girls Catholic high school and I believe it empowered me to stand up for myself and not feel inferior to boys.  It’s just not something you think about when you’re surrounded by strong, confident women….even if it is only high school.  I don’t think I ever really considered that boys would make more money and hold more leadership positions.  I still consider myself a feminist of sorts….not like some staunch feminist who come across sometimes as man-haters…but I enjoy getting my nails done, putting on makeup and fun clothes…and I confess I feel a bit superior to men in that I can carry a baby for nine months and they can’t.  In the end, though, I just feel like men and women are equals….but, at the age of almost 55, I guess I’ve been naive…and to be honest, I like living in my glass-half-full world, even if it is naive.

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the media and with the presidential candidates about the inexplicable inequality between men and women’s wages.  How can it be that a male CEO makes much more than a woman CEO?  In the intro to Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, her website says “The book challenges us to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what we can do,…”  How sad that we need a book to tell us how to act in society in order to get ahead in the male dominated business world, but it did get me thinking whether there was any time, or times, that I felt I was being treated differently because I was a woman.  A few came to mind…

The only time I truly know I was treated differently because I’m a woman was the time the was-band and I bought our first new car.  It was going to be a mom-mobile, aka minivan, to shuttle the kids and their friends around to various activities, as well as for long road trips.  So, we go this dealership to get a car, for me, and the salesman literally asks the was-band all the questions….what color would you like? what model looks good to you? did we want to finance it?  Every. Single. Question. was directed at him and the guy barely looked at me.  When I tried to answer a question he’d give his rebuttal to the was-band.  Wow, was I pissed off!!  Needless to say we left there, me fuming, and bought the car from another dealership.

The only other time I felt I was treated differently because I was a woman was at a job I had back in my early 20’s.  I had busted my butt to do everything I could to get a new division at said job up and running, along with the other two principals in the new department. When it came time for our annual bonuses I didn’t get one from the head of the department.  I was fuming!  I immediately went to the president/founder of the company and this is what he said (I’ll paraphrase)…”Well, think of it this way Jeanine, if you and I went on a date and we woke up the next morning, but I didn’t really have a good time I probably wouldn’t send you flowers.”  WTF!!!  (today that would be sexual harassment)  My first thought was…who says I’d invite you to spend the night…and secondly WTF!!  This is your analogy of why I’m not getting a much-deserved bonus?  I left that division to move to another department and received the bonuses I deserved…maybe because the head of that department was a woman and not a hot-headed Italian man (he probably had a small penis…did I just say that!)

I probably should apologize to all the business women out there who get treated unfairly by virtue of their gender because it never occurred to me to stand up for them.  I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom and am very proud of the two people I raised.  It was a job that I loved, and not an easy one at times, but I never wanted to do anything else.  It never occurred to me that if I did want to do something else I might be denied the privilege due to my gender.  Naivete, probably, but maybe it’s just ’cause I’ve always been told, by my mother and by those nuns in high school, that I could do anything I put my mind to.  Maybe I should put that to the test and try to break some glass ceilings somewhere…at the age of almost 55!!? Oh yeah, there might be age discrimination now too?!

Have you had any experiences, in the workplace or otherwise, where you were treated differently because you’re a woman?  Do tell!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

1 Comment

  1. Dustin’s video really moved me and made me think more about what was going on in Tootsie other than the obvious jokes. I’m glad you blogged about this Jeanine. You have a great perspective. Xxoo

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