It’s a man’s world. Having twin older brothers prepared me well for the gender skewed adulthood. Me vs Them, I choose to sit back and watch, rather than join right into the center of the battle. I gave up the telly, I didn’t fight to play the video games, I didn’t challenge bedtime or pick fights with the babysitter. It is not that I am passive or not opinionated, I learned early on that is it best to opt out of playing the game rather then try to keep up with the tornado of young boys. I largely went through childhood unnoticed, and this I carry into adulthood.
The simple fact of gender difference is still very noteworthy. Kitchen life is boys club. It is basically an exclusively male industry that is very testosterone dominate and aggressive. It is competitive, stressful, and physical. I work in an environment where men still think that they can do better job than me. Sometimes I can do things just as good as my male counterpart, but hardly ever better.
Like a 2:1 ratio in childhood, this is how it is to be a women in a often 100 percent male environment. I have to work twice as hard, I have to be twice as good, I have to be twice as tough, I have to deal with situations that my male counterparts are completely unaware of.
Aside from the competition aspect in the kitchen life, harassment is a big part of dealing with this macho defined environment. I work in an environment where you have to verbally tell your coworkers that they cannot call you sexy, or beautiful, that they cannot touch you. When you nicely lay down these rules that have been in place in a professional environment for years, they get mad at you, stop talking to you, making work very tenuous. You have discussions about how you need to be treated the same as everyone else, and then they physically push you around because you want to be treated fairly, like a man. In situation you have to work so much harder to gain respect because they cannot get past small hands and generous curves
There are many things that you simply cannot say. How do you tell somebody that they cannot look at your while they lick there lips? How do you tell somebody not to pay unwanted attention to you? Not to stare at you? Not brush against your butt? How do you tell people not to whistle when you walk in the room? Say things under there breath?
What about the varieties of men who are in and out of the kitchen delivering things, how do you tell them not to stare at you, not to call you pretty, leave the room because they make you feel uncomfortable?
I really like to joke around and to talk to people, I care about people deeply. But yet this is often mistaken for flitting and interested, so I have to keep my mouth shut, not talk to anyone more than what is needed. Honestly, I don’t feel like I can be my true and charming self because this only brings about harassment.
You wear sweaters that cover your butt so that hopefully people will stare less. I want to look nice at work because I am a professional, but because these guys act like they have never seen a women, I feel like I have to hide behind baggy cloths, mismatched outfits. I do not dare wear make-up to work.
There are many accepts to my daily struggle that men do not understand, but I wish they would be a but more sympathetic to the only woman’s struggle and how much of an impact this still makes.
I prefer to go unnoticed, I prefer to work autonomously, I prefer to be alone, letting my work speak for me. I am not brazen, and my sensativies and emotions are not a shortcoming. I am not part of the club and I don’t want to be. I did not sign up for this egotistical measure of success. No I don’t want to compete in your silly games.
At the end of the day, and at the beginning of the day, I get to be a female, and I get to be me. That, ladies and gentleman, is reward enough to keep putting up with charade, to keep my heart strong and my verbs soft.