I'm telling this story for a friend because she asked to remain anonymous. But, as such, her story needs to be heard for those who may not have heard anything like it before:
While arriving at my corporate office one morning, it seemed as if the world was openly against me. I felt frazzled and disorganized, and my stomach was cramping for no particular reason (JK my period), and all I could think of was that this was one of the many unfortunate joys of being a woman. So I wore my stretchiest, dark-colored jeans with a professional blouse. I even managed to suffer in heels to make sure I looked even better. My office culture was very much professional, yet I had witnessed other guys wearing dark jeans with their button-downs and ties when they didn't have important meetings. As for me, I needed the looks along with all the sense of comfort I could possibly muster. I sat down at my desk, closed my eyes and let out a big sigh. I set my bags down and began scrolling through my daily emails. Shortly after, one of my superiors came in and bluntly cross-examined my outfit. To make a long story short, I was sent home because I wasn't looking up to par with the rest of the office. Even though he, himself, was wearing dark-colored jeans. And ugly shoes, might I mention.
I recently shared this story with a bunch of my friends. The females all nodded with a depressing sense of empathy. There were several gasps and a few of my more progressive guy friends even said that was “bullsh*t.” But for the females, they got it; they had lived this story before, too.
One girl had experienced the same outfit scandal because she wore jeans to her office job. Another mentioned how she was sent home to put makeup on a zit she had on her forehead. And even another was told she was “being bitchy” for attempting to use up a sick day because of her period. Frankly, women all over the United States are having these issues.
A recent Buzzfeed article discussed men's responses to a policy proposed by a company called Coexist, headed by Bex Baxter, which would give women flexible time off for their periods. One guy had the courage to say, “It might be...slippy.”
As a guy, here's my logic: Men release unused sperm cells by having sex or by masturbating. A shocking 31 percent of men do this in the office, according to recent survey.
Meanwhile, women release unused eggs by bleeding and suffering.
My guess is that biology really seems to have given women the shorter straw here.
It still amazes me, with today's wide range of resources, transparency and availability, that people are still disrespecting and not being more receptive to women's rights and daily issues. In a country where we put on this persona of widespread freedom and blissful rights, it falls short in the depths and cracks of professional settings.
There is still a very high standard for women that men are not held to. Whether you believe it or not, it's true. Women are forced to stress out about what to wear to work, to job interviews and to anything else where other people in a position of power are involved. We want to believe that slut-shaming still doesn't exist, but what if a woman's skirt is an inch too short? Or what if she doesn't wear tights with her dress? Would she look too dressed-up or uptight? Would she be losing herself?
See what I mean? As a guy, I have literally grabbed underwear off the floor and gotten ready. There is no comparison.
In today's society, it is up to both men and women to push through the business politics. Everyone (mostly) in an office -- man or woman -- is there because he or she is capable. Everyone is there because he or she has a voice. And it is everyone's capability and voice that ought be taken into account -- not simply how someone looks.
We combat this by being professional, by being supported by those with a similar mindset and empowering others in authority who are proponents for us and our desires.
Being a man and supporting women doesn't have to be this outstretched, weird persona or stereotype. It's more or less being a human, who acts human.