A woman’s place

I know more than you give me credit for. I know that if I bat my eyes and smile prettily when I state my opinion, you will accept it without balking.

I know that despite the fact that I am a breadwinner just like you—you want me to act subserviently as your wife does. The one you support financially. I earned a Masters so I would never have to be in her position.

I know that if the powers that be offered me your position, they would offer me less money. Because you have a family to support. They assume someone else is taking care of mine.

I know that you feel because I do not cut you slack for your beer drinking, cigar smoking, entitled self, I scare you. Because if “men are men” is not acceptable, you are out of excuses for your poor, chosen behavior.

I know I scare you because I come with tenderness and emotionality, but also a blunt edge and a razor-sharp mind. The latter two are not solely your purview and are actually more effective when combined with the former two. Score one for the ladies and your more enlightened compadres.

I know that you can walk into the conference room carrying an extra 20 pounds, with bags under your eyes—but still command respect from your cohorts because of—your gender? Put a female in the same situation and the scenario plays out a different way. All eyes and ears turn only toward the well-coiffed, svelte female version of you.

I heard two young women scoffing at the idea of feminism the other day. Saying we “no longer need it.” Oh, my dears. As the breadwinner for my family, as a woman who remembers every lewd comment made as I walked out of a meeting room filled with men—your naivete astounds me. Spend a while longer in the world at large. Maybe you have been lucky enough to avoid the Neanderthals. But they’re still out there.

The good news is—many men aren’t Neanderthals. My sons will have grown up with a mother who worked long hours at the kitchen island—on a laptop, not a stovetop–and paid the bills.  When it comes to work, they don’t see gender. They see ability. My eldest thinks no differently of the girls in his shop class than the boys. He holds them to the same standard.

That’s feminism. And he’d cringe if he heard me say that. But it is.

I don’t think, like some young girls do, that the world can afford to let it go just yet. But I sure hope it can in my lifetime.





52 Comments Add yours

  1. Barbara says:

    We are not there by a very long way, but your words have nailed it. Your sons sound like wonderful young men and respect goes a very long way in a woman’s mind.

    1. candidkay says:

      But so many of us out there–men included–trying to change that fact. That part I hold onto. I have to think we’re becoming more enlightened, even if it’s at a snail’s pace.

  2. George says:

    Perfectly said. Let’s hope it happens much sooner than that. Mind boggling that this still exists at all but to the extent it still does is sad.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree, George, on the mind-boggling bit. I wrote this blog just before the Harvey Weinstein debacle hit. Couldn’t have been more timely!

  3. Michele Coppess says:

    Wow! This is so spot-on! We need to raise each other up , support each other to ensure we get the respect and same benefits as our male counterparts ! Thank you Kristin for always making us think!!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks:). One of the nicest things you can say to a writer is that she made you think. I hope it’s not just us raising each other up but the many truly great male coworkers out there. I’ve had plenty of them!

  4. fritzdenis says:

    My wife faced discrimination as she studied to be a scientist, worked as a researcher, and as a professor of biology. She remembers a grad assistant who patted her on the butt during a lab class, a grad school advisor who ignored her when she arrived to work at his lab, a male department chair who visited her class, sat down in front, and read a newspaper while she gave a lecture. It still goes on today even when a woman has a position with some power and authority.

    1. candidkay says:

      Indeed it does. I bet your wife and I could swap a few unsavory stories. But who would want to, right? I am enjoying working with more enlightened teammates for the time being. I certainly hope she is at that point also. It should be a right.

  5. Barbara says:

    Fantastic post – I fear we still have a way to go but with your boys leading the charge there is hope. Thank you Kay.

    1. candidkay says:

      And it would help if they didn’t keep rolling back women’s rights . . . oy.

  6. nimi naren says:

    Loved every word. Beautiful, powerful….brilliant!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! So glad this one resonated with you. Seems to for a lot of us.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Every once in awhile I get it right:).

      1. Well, from what I’ve read so far, I think it’s a bit more frequently than that. 😊

      2. candidkay says:

        Aw shucks ☺️

  7. Well said. And I love how you juxtapose the bad behaviours that you have seen, versus the way your sons are being raised. Another one knocked out of the ballpark, K!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Cynthia:). I hope there are many more sons being raised with a new lens!

  8. Roy McCarthy says:

    Absolutely. As with most of our hopes for the world it starts with our kids. Your boys seem to be the standard to match.

    1. candidkay says:

      That’s awfully sweet of you to say, Roy:). They don’t always get it right (nor do I), but we sure do try . . .

  9. Oh so right! And as the mother of daughters, I am grateful to the women like you who are raising sons who respect the other gender for their ability, not their looks.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m trying! And I know so many others who are too. That’s heartening.

  10. Aunt Beulah says:

    This is a hard-hitting and true post, Kay, with examples that ring true for women in the workplace. I experienced most of your scenarios in my career in public education, except for wage discrepancy which was done away with due to teachers’ unions a few years after I started teaching in most states. I see a strong feminist spirit in my young adult granddaughter, not so much in the three younger ones who are still in high school. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them.

    1. candidkay says:

      If you haven’t yet seen the new movie, “Battle of the Sexes,” about match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, you must see it. They did a masterful job of capturing the patriarchal culture–the one that smiled while it gave women so much less . . .

  11. Archita says:

    Absolutely loved this post. The world needs more feminists everywhere.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree. I love how outspoken Justin Trudeau is on the issue.

  12. I also hope more progressive thinking toward women will become widespread during my lifetime. But I’m convinced the cause always will require vigilance and dedication. True, there are more and more young men and boys who see the person and not the gender, like your sons and like mine as well. But look at the message coming out of the White House toward women, toward disadvantaged people, toward storm victims in Puerto Rico or others victimized for so many reasons. It truly is an assault on decency, respect and regard for one another. Keep fighting. We all must stay devoted to doing all we can, always.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh yes. I am embarrassed of our president on a daily basis. And I can only hope that we never elect someone whose views on women stem back to caveman days again.

  13. Bernadette says:

    The very best thing we can do is raise our sons to be feminist. I know that I have and I am damn proud of them.

    1. candidkay says:

      Good for you! And I’m glad they’re out there in the world–we sure could use them right about now.

  14. Too right, we still need it, but hopefully there will be a time when we don’t, helped by women like you raising sons in the right way 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope we live to see that time!

  15. Something happened recently?

    1. candidkay says:

      No. Nothing prompted this one except hearing two young women in a conversation:). Hope all is well!

  16. bone&silver says:

    Great post! My 17yr old son proudly calls himself a Feminist “It’s so obvious isn’t it Mum?”, and I honestly think that’s my most wonderful Life’s achievement. Now let’s see how the next generation can finally fix the mess we’ve made of the world… 🙏🏼

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s wonderful that he’s willing to call himself that :-). Taking a page out of Justin Trudeau’s book :-). I am not sure my son would go that far-but it is enough for me that I raised him to know and respect strong women. At least I’ve tried.

  17. Oh we are not there yet, and this attitude unfortunately continues to travel through the generations . Standing in authentic truth, often creates controversy, but isn’t that how we create change? Maybe you could run for President my clever friend! I think we’ve seen enough Men apply for that job!! 💃🏼💕

    1. candidkay says:

      It still amazes me that I live in one of the most progressive countries in the world, but we have yet to see a female president.

  18. And it is just our fears that will always hold them in place…his and hers 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      Let’s hope the next couple of generations erase those for good! When that be nice?

      1. It is a gradual building process, like our hearts, to find that truth within ourselves and then give it out to others so that it is no longer a block in our lives 😀

  19. Great insights Kay. Thanks for being a good model for the best of masculine and feminine. I’m grateful for a mother who instilled similar values.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s nice to have a rock star mom, right? I hope you told her how much you took away from that :-).

      1. Agreed. Not lately, but good reminder Kay!

  20. I once had a much older guy (I was 30) tell me right to my face that the only reason I was promoted ahead of him was because I’m a female. Affirmative action. And he might have been partly right, because he did have more job experience on big ships than I. At the time, he didn’t know he was about to move up as well, but the position hadn’t been vacated yet. I believe he ended up on a ship that was a lot busier, where he would earn more OT. What pissed me off was he never saw my resume and didn’t have a clue about my experience; he just assumed. He bragged about having sailed as a second mate (we were moving up from unlicensed into third mate -lowest licensed position), and I should have hit him with, “Then what are you doing here sailing unlicensed?”

    1. candidkay says:

      Ouch. Sad that he didn’t account for the potential your superiors may have seen in you and went instead to “it’s because she’s a woman.” This may sound like Pollyanna, but I’m hoping in a generation or two, that’s really rare.

  21. BillGFL says:

    Sorry about your experience with Neanderthals. But, believe me, it does cut both ways. Hopefully, someday, you’ll meet someone who sees the big picture – sharp mind and batting eyes . Sounds like you’ve won the war, enjoy peace.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’ve worked with some really great, decent men also. It just seems that-at least when I was moving up the ranks-the Neanderthals ruled. I was also working in a very male-dominated industry.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks! I think it takes those of us old enough to remember how it used to be to realize we’re still not there . . .

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