Confessions of a Bad Feminist

I believe that men and women have the ability and right to do and be whatever they want.  My father was the first male "Room Mother" at our Elementary School for my sister's 3rd grade class, thus changing the term to "Room Parent".  He cooked most of our dinners, grocery shopped and did housework.  So, in my childhood, gender roles were somewhat different than in a traditional household.

My Mom is a feminist, and Dad was too.  We had a copy of Free To Be You and Me that played on heavy rotation.  Along with Peter, Paul, and Mommy.  And Rita Coolidge.  Ah, the 70s.

But, I never felt like being a woman was "less than".  Not at home, anyway.  In the real world, I got the picture quickly. Not everyone is a feminist.

Despite my basic philosophy, there are places where I stray from the agenda.  I use the C word.  I judge women, and I'm not as body positive as I should be.   I don't really understand what intersectionalism is, and I don't know that I actually give a damn.  I often wish I was better with makeup.

But today, I did something I'm not proud of.  We got an e mail from a senior executive from The Mothership.  She had a fancy title, and it was an important e mail.  But at the top of it, was her headshot.  Which was weird in and of itself.  None of the other emails I've received, ever, featured a picture of the sender as a header.  Also, she was unsmiling.  Glaring at the camera.  And her arms were crossed, which made her jacket look ill-fitting, and while she was wearing a pretty statement necklace, it didn't work with the top she was wearing.

This is a stock photo, taken as hyperbole.  Just saying.

And the fact that I'm telling you all this, to begin with, is a problem.  None of what I've just described matters.  It does not matter one iota.  She had something important to say, and she said it perfectly.  That's what should matter.  But I critiqued the picture, out loud.  I used the phrase "resting bitch face".  I said she looked like the photographer had just said to her, "Come on, baby, gimme a smile!"

I laughed along with my colleagues, but then I thought about it - and I'm probably part of the problem, and I need to be part of the solution.

So, high powered executive lady, I'm sorry.  You sent a good e mail, and I read the whole thing, and I appreciate how hard it is to be you.  You have tons of education, and power and strength.  I honor you.

Hang in there.  And I, as a woman with education and strength (but very little power), will try to build you, and other women in the workplace up.  You deserve it.

But, damn, girl, would it have killed you to smile?  Even a neutral expression would have been less off-putting than your scowl.

Flies, honey, vinegar - you know the saying.

But for real, your necklace was tops.  I really liked it.



Christopher said…
I once called to order a pizza. While the young woman who answered was taking my order she said something about her boss going crazy. I said, "Is he having a bad day?" and as soon as I said it felt like a jackass. At every post-college job I've had my immediate supervisor has been a woman. At the place where I work now less than 20% of the employees are men.
And when the young woman at the pizza place informed me her boss was a woman I felt like an even bigger jackass.
The important thing, though, I think, anyway, is to learn from these slip-ups.