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Busting up the Boys’ Club

In my youth, I believed all the glittery, sunshine-y lies about women’s equality and the death of sexism and all that jazz.  Consequently, I never bought into any of the absurd and outdated ideas that women are in any way inferior to men.  Imagine my surprise when I first encountered the boys’ club.

I have spent the vast majority of my adult life working in the trucking industry.  A bigger boys’ club, I’ve never seen.  It took me an embarrassingly long time to recognize it for what it was, so ingrained in me was the belief of equality.  Once I got passed up for a couple of opportunities, I began to see what was happening.  It wasn’t really a question of equality, per se.  No one ever intimated that I was not capable, worthy or willing to do the work.  But I’m a GIRL!!  How is a girl going to deal with the rude and crude crowd we often encounter in our work?  (Please don’t write.  I’ve been working with truck drivers for over ten years and they are some truly wonderful, hardworking people.  But it is what it is sometimes.)    It’s frustrating and infuriating and subtle enough that you really can’t do much about it.  Except bust into the club without invitation.

It’s taken me years to do it, but I think I am (mostly) just one of the boys now.  (The guy who excused himself for saying “screwed” in my presence notwithstanding.)  It turns out that it took a lot of work, the occasional angry outburst and a lifetime of disillusionment to get there.  It took me twice as long as it should have to get where I am now, and I firmly believe that the delay had a lot to do with my female-ness and my eventual arrival is the result of a stupid amount of work, but maybe more due to the relationships I’ve formed with the right people.  The boys’ club taught me to be pushy, mouthy, annoying and loud.  It taught me to speak up and take what I want, because no one will ever even think of giving it to me.  For that, I suppose I owe the club some small debt.

It saddens me, though, that the boys’ club still exists and I feel that I’ve paid far more than I could ever owe.  Anyone reading this who happens to know where I work – please know that this is in no way meant to reflect on my company.  It’s just the way of the world sometimes and it makes me sad for me, for my daughter, and for all the little girls in the world.  You can break it, but it’s so much harder than it needs to be.  The girls have to scream when the boys can whisper.  You have to be the bitch to be heard.  You will learn to balance your ruthless work persona with your feminine charms.  You’re going to have to fight twice as hard to get the same rewards.

The moral of the story?  Life’s not fair.  I mean, it’s REALLY not.  Especially when you’re not invited in the club.  There’s hope for the girls, though, until our stunted society catches up with what we already know.  Just never, ever give up.  If you can’t sneak in the back door, bust down the front door and show those boys how to fight like a girl.

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  1. September 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

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