Hello SOTGC community,
I’ve been debating about whether to, or how to write this for the past three weeks. This post comes from an experience one of my friends recently had, and reminded me of countless similar events. There is a good chance that this post will piss some people off. So I need to preface it with, I am not trying to scold anyone, nor am I looking for an outpouring of sympathy towards the ladies I’m referring to. I also want to recognize that this is NOT true for all encounters at events like this. Simply that it has happened often enough for me to think it warrants a post. If you are reading this, and have another perspective, then I would love to get feedback. This blog is not aimed at blasting any one lifestyle or another, simply to offer views and outlooks that one might not previously be privy to. At the end of the day, us ladies are all on the same team.
A couple weeks ago I was having dinner with one of my friends who is a successful Physician. This woman is extremely intelligent, multi faceted (amazing chef, interior designer, fashionista, etc), and also happens to be very attractive. After asking about how the blog was going and what kinds of posts seem to be getting the most attention, she shared with me an idea she had for one, based on an event that recently happened.
“Veronica” (not sure if you noticed but anytime I write about someone who wishes to remain anonymous, she will be named “Veronica”) was getting ready for a work event with some new co-workers. Last minute she realized the slacks she intended to wear were dirty and so after a 15 minute debate opted for a beautiful, feminine, yet “work event appropriate” dress. During the cocktail hour, as she was mingling with her new male co-workers and their wives, a series of these encounters occurred.
Colleague to wife: “This is Veronica, one of our new colleagues.”
Wife (smile that didn’t reach her eyes, cold extended hand, quick up and down glance that took in the dress and the fact that there was no ring on Veronica’s finger, promptly followed with some version of this): “Oh, yes, I have heard about YOU.” Then an imperceptive dismissal that all my girl friends look for and are quite used to. Followed by said wife IMMEDIATELY seeing someone across the room that she HAS to speak with and maneuvering herself and her husband quickly away.
Hearing about this immediately saddened me for the injustice of the situation. Here is a wife who admires her husband for the care he gives his patients. When he comes home late from operating at all hours of the day and into the night, she greets him with affection and admiration for the sacrifices he makes to help people. Their children look at their father with all the awe and wonder that only a child’s innocence and love can express for their “hero”. Her husband comes home mentally and physically exhausted and has a huge support system awaiting him. His worries and stress can be eased in the arms and laughter of his family.
Yet as she looks at Veronica, she only sees an attractive and outgoing woman who works side by side with her husband. Instead of showing empathy for the fact that Veronica has made the same (if not MORE) sacrifices to achieve her success, that she too takes call at all hours of the night, stands for hours in cases with her only thought being to help her patient, gives up a lot of her weekends, and that after all this, Veronica comes home to a quiet house. There is no huge support system that greets her to let her know everything will be OK and to relieve her mind of the weariness of that day. That her family may or may not be in the same city, and the support of close friends is what Veronica depends on when she’s exhausted and run down.
How about extending a warm, friendly handshake to Veronica? What about offering a smile that actually makes it to your eyes, and expressing admiration that Veronica is achieving the success that you may be promoting to your daughter? The dream that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything you want and become anything you want. How would you feel if your daughter, sister, cousin, was greeted time and time again like this? Why not show empathy for the sacrifices that Veronica has made to get to where she is, and continues to make? The same sacrifices that you admire your husband for?
Then, maybe take into account that you noticed she doesn’t have a wedding ring on, and instead of viewing her as a threat and treating her like a leper, you realize that Veronica does not have the contestant support that your husband gets, and realize the kind of inner strength and fortitude it takes for her to get through those taxing days.
What is interesting about the lack of empathy displayed in the event I described above, is that in general, women are more apt to have an empathetic nature, yet for some reason this sentiment flies out the window when we view another woman as a potential threat (either at work or in our personal lives). Ladies, this is already a very fast paced and cut throat world that we live in. So instead of letting our jealousy of our successful and beautiful sisters get the better of us, how about we remember that we’re wearing the same jersey? How about putting away the claws and extending the high fives instead? How about we grab hands and race towards the finish line where we see more women CEOs, executive Vice Presidents, and support of our own cause.