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Down with the Patriarchy

I'm MAD. Exhausted. Defeated. Frustrated. I could go on. How is it that as an almost 49 year old woman I'm just NOW realizing how very alive the patriarchy is and how it impacts women on a daily basis? Oh, I know. Because I've been busy doing all those things that's expected I do as a woman for my entire adult life, because, you know - the patriarchy.


I think as a female entering married life and motherhood, we are hormonally driven to take care of everyone else, especially our children. For me, my focus was on raising two kids, finishing two degrees, being a good wife, climbing the corporate ladder, and being the breadwinner - while also hearing how I wasn't cleaning the house thorough enough, often enough, cooking enough - you name it, I wasn't doing enough of it. Yet, three or four nights a week of intramural sports for the hubby was just fine, while I was at home managing "all the things." Now, was that behavior directly and boldly modeled for my ex-husband as he grew up? Absolutely. He also was not someone who expected me to do it ALL and him do nothing, so I want to clarify that he, too, cooked and cleaned, yet whatever I did, it still wasn't quite good enough.


Flash forward to now, as I enter mid-life and my kids grow up and move out, become more independent, and start to claim their own lives, and I move into a high-level C-suite role that I've strived for all these years, I'm looking around and asking myself WTAF. Now I've gone from being completely oblivious to this "patriarchy thing" people speak of, to having my eyes wide open to how the patriarchy still drives everything around me.


I think about the things I'm having to work really hard on to change at 48, and I see a theme. Body acceptance - beauty standards. Wonder what has historically driven what society defines as beauty? Yep. The patriarchy. Setting boundaries for what I will and won't tolerate from my relationships with lots of pushback when I decide something isn't acceptable or sustainable for me. Hmm. Well, I'd say most of those relationships, whether family or work, are with men.


At work, I often experience mansplaining, manologues, and manterruptions. I have had to say twice in the last week, "Please stop talking over me and interrupting me." To a man. At work. I've had to say, "You don't get to make decisions for my area of responsibility without my input." To a man. At work. I've been the recent recipient of a "manologue," that was intended to "coach me on our current budget status." By a man. At work. My response was, "If you recall, I'm the COO. I'm very familiar with our current budget, but thanks for the info." When explaining that a boundary had been crossed this week, I was told, "this is too much, I'm moving on." By a man. At work. That is code for, "YOU are too much, you emotional woman, and I don't like what you have to say about my behavior, so I am dismissing you now." I was asked "why I think *insert name* talks over you and interrupts you." By a WOMAN. At work. That's code for, "Do you think maybe you just talk to much and he needs to interrupt you?" No, I actually think this individual talks over me and interrupts me because he does it to everyone except his boss, and no one else addresses it as inappropriate.


You know the best part of all of this? As I now realize and see what's happening around me, and call it out, and put boundaries in place for what is acceptable, and what is not acceptable - guess what happens. Come on -I bet you know this one! I BECOME THE PROBLEM. Suddenly, when you decide you're not going to tolerate it anymore, you're perceived as "not playing well with others," or being too "reactive" or "emotional."

And to fight the patriarchy, because make no mistake - a fight is exactly what it is - you have to be willing to accept this as the outcome, and push through. Just another fact on the long list of facts supporting it often sucks to be a woman.


So, where does this leave me? Right where I was when I left work on Friday. Nothing will change except I will no longer tolerate being overpowered, overtalked, and mischaracterized and I will continue to call that crap OUT. It is what it is. I'm mad. Like really mad. And exhausted that on top of all of life's other stressors, I get to add this to the list when it just simply shouldn't be tolerated, period. I comfort myself by allowing myself to think that maybe there is some small chance that I'll make an impact that will result in a better experience for the women who come after me. It's the only thing getting me through, to be honest. Onward I go!


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