This is just a warning that I’m going to get on a *bit* of a soapbox here. But I can’t be the only one out there who feels this way. I’m also going to preface this blog by saying that not only do I spend every day in a male dominated job ( a job that I love and went to college for, I’m not here by accident), I was raised with a brother.
Now, my parents raised my brother and I the same way for the most part (up until those years where they think you might get pregnant so you have to stay home while your brother goes to a party even though you’ve never even had a boyfriend and he’s had several girl friends). As children, we were allowed to do things and try things that are not considered “lady like” by all, like playing in the mud, riding four wheelers, and learning to work on cars. But my parents raised us that it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. You can bring the same things to the table. They did, however, raise me to understand that I am a smaller person, and by nature, I am not as strong as other people. They raised me with this truth that although I am not as strong as some, it doesn’t mean that I am “less than”. It’s just what it is, and I need to accept my limitations so that I don’t hurt myself. They raised me to see that I am smarter than some people, like other people are stronger than me. And that you don’t use this as a way to be superior to others, but as a way to lift others up, while also figuring out other ways to do things that I am physically too small for.
Now, as I said, I am in a male dominated job every day. I work in the paint side of a body shop. My job is physical and demanding, and some days I come home dirtier than my boyfriend (who is a machinist). People ask me sometimes how this is being a lady and all. For the most part, I don’t imagine it’s much different than being a dude. In college (which ran for some parts like an actual body shop) and in my job, I’ve had the same experience with my peers. They are cautious around me at first, like they aren’t sure what to expect and how to act. Once I kinda (subtly) set boundaries for what behavior I will and will not tolerate (I’m a socially anxious person and I like my bubble), I just dig in. I get to work the same as they do. And once they realize I’m serious and I’m there to work, it’s all good. They help me lift parts that are too heavy for me to carry on my own without belittling me. They do it for me the same way they do for each other (granted for me it’s like a hood or a door, and for each other it’s like an entire truck bed but still). They do it with respect as equals. And I love them for it.
It’s often people outside of my industry or people in my industry who have not worked with females that I have issues with. There are two types of guys I meet when I tell people what I do. The first is the asshole. This is a guy who thinks that I’m either doing my job because I feel like I have something to prove as a woman (not true, it’s something my dad did and I grew up around my whole life) or that they know how to do my job better. My favorite is the one who thinks they know more than I do but has never done any part of my job. This is the person I get so angry with, I just smile and walk away. You cannot win with these types of people so it’s best not to engage with them at all. The second person is the one who is supportive. They want to know what it was that got me into it, are happy to answer any questions that I have, or (if they don’t work in my industry) ask me all sorts of questions related to my job. I love these people. They make me feel welcome in my industry and just make me feel like a normal human.
It’s not just in my job that it irritates me on being a woman in a man’s world and it being made obvious. I enjoy riding motorcycles. I have been on the backs of bikes since I was a baby and I’ve just last year went and taken a course to get my license. But when you go to look at bikes and equipment, you are usually made to feel different. It’s difficult to find serious equipment. Everything is usually overly girly and not geared towards safety, but towards fashion. Just check out your local Harley Davidson store. I’m not about that life. Fashion is nice, but I need function too. I don’t want things that scream “Look at me! I’m a lady doing man things!” I want things that scream “I’m doing something I enjoy, and I know how to protect myself doing it. I’m serious about this thing I’m doing.” Finding quality boots that have grip and don’t have a fashion heel is hard, and they’re usually way more expensive than comparable mens boots. Finding a jacket that is fitting and actually protective is another issue. They usually have rhinestones or things like that when I just want a plain jacket. I’m so small that the men’s jackets don’t fit without issues. I have no problem wearing men’s stuff, but I have a very small frame and it usually doesn’t fit as well as I need it to. Not to mention, not everything for women has to have pink or purple on it. There. I said it.
I am also getting into shooting bows thanks to my boyfriend. He has also been trying to convince me to go hunting with him. Holy crap is there a limited selection there too. And I swear, EVERYTHING has pink or purple on it. (I’m looking at you “Muddy Girl” camo). It’s very hard to find regular camo that is function and isn’t a v cut or have pink or purple. And small enough to fit. And no, I can’t wear the little kids camo. My waist is small enough but my legs are way too long. AND I do NOT want to be told to “just check the kids section”. I’m a grown ass woman and I’m closer to 30 than 18. I DO NOT want to shop in the kids section and no I’m not “luckier” because it’s cheaper. The only camo you can find that is cut for ladies but otherwise the same as the guys seems to be extremely expensive. (I’m looking at you Sitka and First Lite).
Looking for things for my bow are much the same. There are a million different options for the “guys” but there are only a few for women. (If you’re like me and need smaller equipment for my wimpy noodle arms). I seriously just bought a “youth” release mechanism for my bow because it fit just as well as some of the “womens” and it wasn’t pink or purple. I just bought arrows that are white and aqua and they were the ONLY ones I could find small enough between three big box stores that weren’t pink or purple.
Now, I know I’m harping on pink and purple, but if that’s your thing, power to you. I just don’t feel the need to highlight the fact that I’m a lady. I just want to feel equal. I don’t want to feel superior, I don’t want to feel less than. Just equal. There’s a name for this “marketing scheme” or whatever you want to call it. “Shrink it and pink it.” and I don’t feel that it’s a good thing to teach our youth, be they male or female. I think that if you enjoy something, the “colors” shouldn’t deem it a male or female thing. You should be able to get the equipment that you need, in the sizes and cuts you need it in, in whatever color you want. A Tonka Truck shouldn’t have to be pink for a girl to feel like she can play with it. Now, I know girls like things that are pink and purple sometimes and that’s fine, but the option should be there for girls who don’t. The NERF guns that are for girls, that are while and pink and branded as “different” drive me up the fucking wall. What was wrong with the regular ones? Why do girls who want to play with NERF guns have to be labeled or branded to as different?
Now, maybe it’s just me. And if so, I’ll get off my soap box. But I just feel like the difference in branding isn’t offering freedom so much as it is driving a wedge between gender equality. It implies that ladies are fragile and dainty and “less than” and “aren’t they cute?” and they need protected. Some people say this mentality is going away but it’s not going fast enough. This isn’t a subject I harp on very much, but I feel it’s important to visit every now and then. If it loses me followers, so be it. I just feel like it isn’t asking for too much to teach people, both kids and adults, that equal is equal and color doesn’t dictate what you can/can’t or should/shouldn’t do or enjoy in your life. And whether you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your opinions or comments, as well as if you’ve dealt with this in your life, be you male or female.