I’ve been wanting to be “one of the boys” since I was about seven. Despite my penchant for ballet dancing and pretty clothes wearing and my complete lack of any athletic prowess – I’ve always wanted to be in on the boys club.
I remember being in grade school gym class and being completely offended by the teacher’s explanation that boys were naturally stronger and would therefore be better at the whatever it was we were supposed to be doing. I marched my little seven-year-old-self right up to that big man and told him he was a CHAUVINIST!
He laughed. And then he said that I was the one with the problem since it was just a simple fact that boys are stronger than girls. Especially scrawny blonde ones like me. Harumph.
My mom had to fight the good fight against the boys most everyday. Her chosen profession (journalism) had been a man’s world for basically ever when she entered in the early 1970’s. She often found herself marginalized – sometimes by women who had more internal man-power than she did, but more often by men who didn’t think that women could handle the “real reporting.” Years later she would tell me, “do not cry at work… whatever you do. NEVER let them see you cry.”
Of course I picked a career in boys world… finance. I LOVED being on the sales desk of about 40 guys and THREE women. Of whom, of course, I was the “girliest.” I seriously loved it.
They made fun of my giggling, my squeaky voice, my short skirts – but like big brothers would. AND I made sure that I was always the most well-read, the most informed, the smartest blonde in the bunch, so that I could prove to them that I belonged in the boys club.
But, despite the playful banter and the loving smack downs, I knew, deep inside, that I was still looking in from the outside. Sometimes it was subtle. I’d approach a group of men talking shop and feel the ranks energetically shutting me out of the conversation. Or sometimes it was more blatant – the assignment to drive the beer golf cart instead of being invited to play from an actual golf cart.