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Saturday, April 05, 2008

The problem with being female

"My wife used to work. But when she became pregnant with her second child she decided it was time to quit." he, my boss at the time, said, emphasis on quit.

I nodded mutely not sure what to say about this. I was going back to work no matter what. I knew he couldn't fire me for getting pregnant and having a baby. I had to keep telling myself that. My inner guidance told me it was the thing to do, it would be important for my family.

It was no easy homecoming.

It didn't matter that a project I initiated and executed was saving the company close to half a million US dollars per quarter (because he had conveniently given all the credit to one of my colleagues who was lapping up all the unearned glory).

It didn't matter that before I got "knocked up" I was the golden child being groomed for Directorship.

It didn't matter that I had great reviews and had gotten a lot of good press for our department which was only such if it could pull it's own weight in terms of ROI (return on investment).

None of that mattered. All of the sudden my credentials were in question as was my competence. I was different, less worthy, less trustworthy, less successful. Less everything. And most of all, very disappointing now that I was an unwed "single" mother. It felt like I was speaking to an unhappy father. And that was amazing because Dave and I were over the moon about being pregnant.

It didn't matter that I lived with my baby Daddy (Dave - OF COURSE!) and that he was there by my side in the NICU for the 134 days.

It didn't matter that we were committed and the actual act of getting married (which we finally did in 2005 by a very drunk priest) would never change any of that.

"So you don't care that you are having a baby out of wedlock?" asked the unearned glory lapper upper.

"No, why should I? We will get around to it eventually, there is just too much going on right now." I said annoyed to even be talking to this person.
"But don't you care that your baby is going to be a bastar.." he persisted until he saw my look.
"Is that what you think? Wow! What century do you live in?" I said.

But apparently he lives in this one and these conversations took place in this company, not in 1952, but in 2002.

Three years later when Dave and I felt Ellie was well enough for us to safely plan a wedding without having to cancel because she was in hospital, I had several men ask me when they heard, "Oh, are you getting married to the baby's father?"

Instead of saying something that involved many curse words and Homer Simpson impressions I would just say quietly, "of course."

But it was too late. the only way I would really be seen as someone to promote in the company was to have remained single and childless and either one of the guys or one of the women the guys wanted to have sex with. That is what this HUGE company was like for women where at the time there were only two women on the leadership team and now there is only one.

When I was in my 20's making a living as an artist and living in Western Mass I thought chauvinism was a thing of the past. It wasn't until years later in entering corporate America that I realized how alive and well it is. And in fact since Bush took office I think it has gotten worse.

So welcome back Twisty. We need you. But please stop referring to the mentally disabled as the "r" word. I truly hate that word and all it's destructive consequences.