The Unspoken Plague that Haunts Women in the Workplace

You don’t want me to be your secretary.  In fact, you should turn around and walk in the opposite direction if what you have to say to me starts with “Could you…?”

We live in a fairly modern world; typewriters have been stored in our garages for years and no one’s done “the twist” to be sexy since 1994.  However, certain men my age seem to be under the mistaken impression that women go to school to serve the needs of others.

I’m gonna say something approx. 47.6% of feminists dare not speak for fear of jinxing every move forward in the sexual revolution.  Sometimes I envy men.

It’s true.  Sometimes I look at them and long for what they have: the ability to be carefree, the knowingness of confidence, and the bestowed impression that apparently everyone works for you.

In the last semester alone I’ve spent more time avoiding classmates than brushing my hair (trick analogy, I don’t brush my hair.) I see these people in class every day, texting, sleeping, bathing in the symphony of their own existence and all around imperviosity to note-taking…and when it comes time to interact with these people around midterm and final season, suddenly they are extra friendly.

My story is only my own, but it is my experience that women are more likely to ask me to collaborate with them, whereas men will walk up to me with no shame and ask me for the entire semester’s notes or the answers to review sheets.

And my question to these men is: why me?  I highly doubt men ask other men for help in this way.  So why are you asking me? Do you not respect my dedication to honest work? Do you think I like serving you?  Do you think I am less intelligent than you?  More?  Do you not care?  Do you think I’m a book or the Internet or your mother? Do you think I don’t understand that you’re cheating, or that I do see it and I think I’m some cool cartoon cat smoking doobies getting ready to hand out class info at the drop of a hat?

By your refusal to participate, followed by asking someone for their hard work, you are implying that their time isn’t as valuable as yours.  Certain men will treat me as if my stay in college is temporary and I’m just here to timestamp until I find the value of vanity, taking up space like some testosterone-diluting alien.

I’ve avoided a grand total of six people this semester alone that felt entitled to my work even when they were capable of participating.  Of these six people, zero were women.

There’s a certain unspoken plague that haunts women who feel they are not able to get into the ‘inner circle’ of careership, and it doesn’t even begin with unequal pay.  The workplace begins with networking in college.  People’s attitudes toward women in general is offensive and inconclusive, the most violent of which implying we sit around bathing in our tears and period blood unable to get work done. How frustrating must it be for women to be treated as placeholders even in a classroom setting?  This frustration leads to self-doubt, repressed talent, and stagnancy.

The irony of it all is that while men invalidate women by treating them as their personal secretaries, they also validate the implication that women are organized, attentive, and reliable—all qualities of fantastic employees and employers.

Meanwhile, men are forgiven for mistakes while paving the road to success, but women feel the need to be perfect at everything or their voice may not count.  The countless cries of hatred against women in the workplace hits individually, and enough to make one’s stomach churn.  Even casual remarks at the workplace such as “Well you don’t want to worry your pretty little head about it!” negates every push against a society that is resisting inevitable change.  Not only that, but the workplace is a public setting and if there are others present for those pithy remarks they are likely to view you in the same dizzy manner others have remarked upon to you.

Comments like those bring immediate shame to the women on the receiving end, because the subject is being publicly questioned as to her capabilities.  Furthermore, any public refusal of acceptance to statements like those receive comments such as: “Oh I was just being polite/telling a joke/lighten up, kid/it’s not that big of a deal.”  Whole films are being made about women struggling to enter into the workforce– Meanwhile here is a hypothetical movie pitch, with the opening scene between two men, one of which questions the capabilities of the other.

M1: What makes you think you can do this job?

M2: I just do.

M1: Oh okay.

The end.

Let me put it this way.  Propagandic society has dictated that men’s default settings toward women are that they are wet blankets with no possible contribution to success or gain other than sex.  Certainly there are men who disregard the propaganda and are strong allies for women (and certainly the men who dehumanize women and were also raised by strong women will have a VIP pass to a special pocket of hell.)  However, this doesn’t discount that a woman feels the need to explain herself to every person she meets because his or her interpretation of the woman’s character may not be applicable to the fact that she is actually a human with a voice and ideas and several thoughts strung together.

So what do women do in a shitstorm of simultaneous praise and repression of character?  Exactly what we’ve been doing.  Keep being awesome and finding allies, keep working honestly, and keep your notes to yourself.  #notyoursecretary

 Author: Aubrey Jacobowitz

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