Balancing womanhood and the workplace can be tough. And I’m not talking about the whole notion of ‘women have to have it all’ – husband, kids, kick ass job. I’m talking about how we often have to bury traits that make us women in favour of walking the tightrope and getting ahead. The recent release of PR mogul Kelly Cutrone’s book, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside, made me wonder, do we have to check out femininity and emotions at the door before the work day?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should all be blubbering messes if someone doesn’t make our coffee right, but there are times when we need to be a little more aggressive, a little more assertive or a little more vulnerable and as women, being just the right amount of those things to keep everyone happy is hard.
It’s hard of course, because there is a complete double standard when it comes to these things. Men can be assholes and no one bats an eyelid. A woman acts the same way and she’s a bitch, subject to office gossip. You see, for men, they’re just being men, it’s alright if they’re a little pushy and aggressive in getting their points across. For some reason, dependent on the workplace of course, it still ruffles a few feathers if women act the same way.
I haven’t read Kelly Cutrone’s book. From what I’ve seen of this woman, she’s a walking stereotype and often seems to be just unnecessarily mean, relishing making her servants feel uncomfortable and less than. Cutrone, sadly, is similar to many female bosses I’ve had, who for the most part, have been unbearable. (Not for a second am I suggesting I’m a breeze to work with – if you can tell anything from this blog, it’s that I’m very opinionated and I don’t often keep those opinions to myself, which can be problematic). The women I’ve worked for have been insanely bitchy and demanding (with the possible exception of one). As women in power is still a relatively new phenomenon, these women are taking their leadership cues from men, when really the message needs to be that you can be feminine and powerful without being a bitch.
We’ve all been in the bathroom at work and seen a girl in tears and can instantly put it down to one of three things; horrible boss (man or woman), late night break up or she’s the target of a colleague’s plot to destroy her (in her own head) – if she’s particularly unlucky, it’ll be all three. Many of us have had that bathroom cry, because God forbid we express an emotion in the office.
Sooner or later, there’ll come a time where we can be assertive without being perceived as bitchy, passionate about a topic without being perceived as over emotional and disagree on a tactic without being seen as catty. Maybe then we won’t have to go outside to cry. Maybe then, we won’t have to cry at all.