What I got for Women’s Day was a good laugh because my employer organised an event talking about equality and women’s rights with three male speakers and one woman and variety of tasty Oberweis “petite mignardises” offered by male colleagues at the unit meeting. Behind this nice gesture was one particular colleague who surprised us last year with flowers and who probably enjoys a bit the sighting and giggling and admiring as thank you from female colleagues. You know – women crack so easily for the romantic stuff. (Prince charming aka Mr Rochester galloping through the night is immediately in front of our eyes and we are swept off our feet in tiny shiny slippers immediately – at least for 5-10 minutes of our working time and we are paid for it!).
I thought about all the stuff that makes women being women. We love chatting about fashion, hair, make-up, boyfriends/partners/husbands, job and private life balance, kids (if we have some), hobbies, appalling nature of politics,disasters all around the world and again about our kids’ illnesses. Pregnancies are among the favourite topics too followed by bad weather and how we love lying on sunny beach with long drinks (envying younger girls running topless in front of our wrinkled eyes behind fashionable and expensive sunglasses). Our ancestors – grand mothers count too and mums and mothers in law form an extra chapter.
Additionally there is this underlying force called hormonal cycle. We try to live with it, ignore it, take it for granted, not to think about it, laugh about it, cry about it, swear against it but in the end it presents itself in its own beauty, horror, doubts, crises, exaggeration, complete misery, revival, euphoria and so on…Welcome to the world of independent, equal human being to a MAN – a WOMAN.
She is a lady who walks through life with confidence, sharp focus in eyes, head up, words well-weighed, smile in her cheeks, soft voice – compassionate and balanced. She feels good, in fact great – the entire world lies on her feet. She navigates through informatics, on-line shopping, crèche/pre-school/school, washing machine, cooking, picking-ups from floor, inviting friends for dinner, baking, comforting bruised kids and pissed off husband with ease and after all this she makes miracles in bed (or elsewhere).
Then comes the day when her breasts hurt a bit, then a bit more. She has long ago stopped counting her days until the next period so she starts wondering. What is happening? It is probably too early to the next period. Do I have a cancer? She excludes it immediately with the thought of the last check-up with gynaecologist but still her friend has discovered recently…No this cannot be happening. Next option. Am I pregnant? Despite all the precautions taken I can be pregnant. Help! I do not want to be pregnant. What do I do? She imagines small feet and tiny hands and smiles instantly. In a second she imagines sore nipples and sleepless nights and reflux and colics and she wants to cry. No this is not happening either. The weather is grey, people are somehow annoying. Nothing works. Work sucks. Kids suck. Husband sucks. Why the hell I wanted to have kids? Why did I wish to live abroad? Where is my mum? Why is she not here? I need a warm meal to be prepared by my mum! The boss is asking me how I am and I cannot lie. I am definitely not ok. So I answer “I do not know yet.” Yet? What on earth am I talking about? Yes, now I talk about weather and he buys it. He thinks I miss the sun. In fact I miss chocolate most of all. Sugar, cakes and chocolate!!! And quiet, yes shut up everybody! I want desperately to accuse and blame someone. Hmmm….maybe the colleague who is writing me the email. She should have called or see me. I am sitting HERE and I count and nobody cares. Apparently she called but I was not in. Damn, should I say sorry? No definitely not she should have tried to call me again and again and again!
Here we go. Yes, I do have my period. Hooray I am not pregnant! What a pity my breasts go back to normal! Hell I am in pain, a lot of pain and I need to go to work. (If it is Saturday I still cannot stay in bed the whole day long because I wanted to have kids and they are there and they want to do something meaningful. Is not lying in bed meaningful enough? Apparently not and I need to wait until they are teenagers. Super – by that time I will be in menopause, needing fan, phytotherapy, low-fat diet and soja beans for every lunch – wonderful perspective.
Things go back to normal. Maybe I should wear that red dress I bought when I was ovulating. The world will lie on my feet again. I am smiling through the rain, I can give my strength to everybody. You cannot offend me easily. I pardon quickly. I forget wrongdoings. I am confident that all things will work out in the end. I trust everybody. I can do overtime. I allow the kids to stay longer awake. They can shout again.
Then YOU come. You are a male colleague, I trust your expertise. We are two women and you working on something and you blatantly say. “Can one of you get me some coffee?” I freeze. I picture the whole century backwards, I see you seated with confidence while I stand. I want to be ironic as I often do when not easy with something. I want to tell you: “with sugar and milk, honey?” “Any other wishes at this time of the day?” I want to tell you that you are an asshole and you should f*ck off to ask your wife (probably you cannot even ask for a cup of tea when you are sick at home). Finally I say nothing, the younger female colleague rushes to prepare you a coffee. She will also clean the cup after you. I am wondering if you would like your daughter be treated like this. I guess you are not even aware what you said because probably your mum is fainting when you come back home because you are a big guy making career in a big world. I feel bad that I did not manage to put things right…
It is clear to me at this point that no matter what men claim, what the society claims, what women claim…before we get the same salaries we need to stop making coffee on a command. I want to pass the following message: The way you address us matters. The way you look at us matters. The way you accept us when we do not feel well because the mother nature made it so matters. We do not need big agendas and big visions about more women in power. All we need is you to give us a break. Give us a break with your macho approach. Once this is done we will not need any marches for equality. You can still talk chicks, cars, politics and sex and porn but please spare us of theses topics. We are kindly sparing you of Rochesters riding a horse and falling for us or shiny slippers left behind our wonderful dancing performance. You can daydream your fantasy of being served by obedient women and we can daydream our fantasy of being conquered by powerful heroes. However, at the same time both parties need to live the reality of 21 century the best we can while incorporating our wishes, expectations, fantasies by using respect, employing common sense, putting ourselves in the shoes of the other, showing compassion and understanding and whatever you think may make your life more cheerful, happy and meaningful. Thank you.
P.S.: If you are the guy with cakes thank you. Courtesy is always appreciated. If you are the guy commanding coffee next time I will simply tell you that I would love to have one too and maybe we can go to the machine together and buy one. I will secretly hope you will pay my coffee but I will not mind to pay mine, even though most probably I earn much less than you do.