When I first began my student career in journalism, I used to wear frilly tops and skirts. As I progressed, I started to wear button-ups and slacks, tightly pulling my hair back so as to not reveal my blonde locks. In today’s world, women can feel the need to mimic men in order to be recognized as equal. But even then, we are most often only perceived as the token woman.
But along the way I realized that I had sacrificed my femininity—my womanhood—in order to be shown respect.
I’m not your mom
I am quickly placed into the mom category when I work with men. They ask me to make them food, question me on what type of laundry detergent they should use if they have sensitive skin, and even ask me to make their school schedules for them. At first, this is very belittling, because they do not see me as another worker, but almost as the work-mom.
However, in a lot of ways too, these incidents remind me of my power as a woman. I am capable of creating and sustaining life. Men have something ingrained in their psyche that says women are safe to go to. It’s why they tell me about their love lives, their rashes, their difficult childhoods, and their dreams. They know I will gently encourage them, and be proud of them. There is no shame, no shouting “you’re gay” when they express how in love they are with their significant others. Men need the qualities only women have, and we need men for the qualities only they have.
Bring back the frilly tops
Yes, in the workplace it can be hard to be feminine. You have to go through a few weeks, months or maybe years of being the “lower” in order to establish rapport and get respect. This is wrong and reveals inherent sexism in the workplace.
However, do not let their ridicule of who you are change what makes you a woman—your femininity.
I’m not saying you have to wear frilly tops to be feminine, but hold on to what makes you undeniably woman. We are nurturing, understanding, long-suffering, we are able to maintain a household, endure pain, give life, but most of all, we are the yin to a man’s yang. We are different from men, there is no doubt. But that difference is good, and equal.
You are a woman, and it makes you powerful. Never let a man, or another woman, tell you that it makes you weak. We don’t have to be like men to be strong, isn’t that against the point of feminism? So, don’t be ashamed of the frilly shirt. Wear it with pride.