The Subtleties

This post was written by Cynt and Amanda Wall


When you’re a woman in the workplace, in a position of power, you always question what actions and words, from men, mean.  When the actions and words are obvious, you understand what someone wants and expects of you. When a woman asserts her authority and is called a bitch, we understand the thought process behind that word.  When a woman is sexually harassed, we know what the man wants and thinks about that woman.  But what about when the actions or words are subtle? When a woman is not allowed to make a decision, is that because the woman is a woman or because the man is a micro manager? What if a woman is told that her success will be encouraged but when she dissents from the status quo, her success is ignored? Is that because they are a woman or because the man has an ego problem? What if subtleties are happening to other women in the same workplace? Is it because they are women or because they are all having the same Goddamn nightmare?

A couple of weeks ago I tried to explain to a friend how a woman gets conditioned to ignore the subtleties.  I gave him the example of a  girl at the age of 14 or 15 who is talking to her father about one of his friends:

Girl: Jack looks at me funny.

Father: What do you mean ‘looks at you funny’?

Girl: I don’t know, he just looks at me funny.  I feel weird when he looks at me.

Father: No, Jack loves you.  He’s known you since you were a baby.

At that moment, the girl dismisses her discomfort because she doesn’t understand her instincts and she trusts her father.  Maybe she convinces herself she’s making a big deal out of nothing. This is not the fault of her father.  Why would he think his friend Jack was thinking of his daughter in any way but love?  But like I explained to the friend I was talking to, it sets up the beginnings of a woman not trusting her instincts, not believing things are inappropriate and believing when they tell her she is imagining things.  But she is not.  Those subtleties are real.  And I am sure many women, if they sat down and wrote out all the subtleties they’ve experienced or seen, would say, “holy shit!”.

We do not need to start a revolution in the workplace against men.  But we do need to be aware of the subtleties.  Women have to stop believing that the subtleties are not real.  We can’t keep allowing people to make us feel like we’re exaggerating; even other women.  That is a trigger word used to imply that a person didn’t just witness what they think they witnessed.  Other trigger words or phrases: ‘misunderstood’, ‘taking things too personally’, and ‘in your mind’.  When someone is disrespecting you by not including you in decisions that affect you, or if they treat you differently than they treat male counterparts, it is not you – it is them.

When I discussed the subtleties I experienced with the person involved, it was suggested that there was a need for a change and the change was mine to make. I’m not changing! I like who I am and who I’ve become in my career. I am a strong woman who knows her job, I will say if you’re wrong, and I admit my own faults. I will not be docile and I will not be accommodating; I will not conform to make others comfortable. I know who I am, I know what I am capable of, and I know how good I am.  I will not allow anyone to make me question myself, my abilities, or my knowledge.  The best option for all women in this position is to be as respectful as possible, but not to allow ‘them’ to sweep those subtleties under the rug.  They are real and no woman should permit subtleties to become the norm of their career life.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thedreamingyogi
    Oct 21, 2016 @ 14:57:06

    Wow you ladies are a great inspiration!! I can relate after taking on a career that was mostly male coworkers. I didn’t have any bad experiences but can recall a few subtleties. I will definitely be more aware moving forward!


    • Cynt
      Oct 24, 2016 @ 10:29:41

      Thank you! We appreciate your support. It’s not easy to do sometimes, but we hope people who read this think about it and become more aware.


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