I had the most hilarious experience today at a women’s luncheon meeting.
I tend to run from these types of events on a regular basis. I think it’s because I’ve been accused of being part guy. Even in grade school, my best friend was a boy up until 7th grade. In college, same thing. I always had guy friends with a few more avant garde female friends thrown in. I was in a sorority for all of 6 weeks. To say I hated it, would give it far too much value. I most definitely mocked the experience. I’m about as far from a girly girl as you can get. Not that I don’t like to look nice, it’s just not my number one priority. A day of manicures, People Magazine, E Network, giggling and shopping is my idea of a day in hell.
As I became an adult, I started in a largely female career- human resources- and ended that rather quickly and found myself in finance. I work predominantly with men, in a predominantly male industry. While I often make jokes about all the sports references (largely made by nerdy men who have never thrown a ball or been picked for a team) and the leering (which I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy somewhat—c’mon, you would, too), at the end of the day, I’m much more comfortable in a group of men than in a group of women. Plus, there is never a line at the restroom.
This, however, does not mean that I am not proud to be female. Quite the contrary. I am very loud in my support of women’s rights. I’ve stood up for myself more than once and without care of being labeled a bitch. I am proud that I belong to a book club full of smart, intelligent women who have been a huge part of my life for the past 12- yes, that’s right TWELVE- years. I love having a bright, vibrant daughter who has taught me so much.
And isn’t there always a but?
I hate when women- or anyone for that matter- plays into a stereotype.
So back to this women’s luncheon. It’s a group of female business owners. I’ve been in business 15 years and have never felt compelled to join. There were a few things that lead me to change my mind- all good things.
I walked into the luncheon and wow- my fears were cast aside.
The energy was amazing. Music was playing. This wasn’t a Rotary club meeting, folks. It was women. Women like me. Women who owned businesses. IT WAS FABULOUS. You could feel the estrogen in the air. Some of it was probably prescribed by a doctor, but still, it was there.
I ran into some business colleagues and sat at a table with one woman I know fairly well, and 2 women we didn’t know joined us.
One owned an etiquette company. I thought “Cool, maybe I’ll ask her about doing a client event…”
The speaker was exceptional. Motivational. Funny. Wonderful.
I was feeling my X chromosomes jump with joy.
Then I overheard the other 2 women at our table chatting. The Etiquette Queen—let’s call his Miss Mannerless- was TRASHING THE OTHER WOMEN. “Oh my God, look at that… I can’t believe she would do that how rude! No etiquette whatsoever…”
Because talking about people behind their backs is SO much classier?
Was this the junior high lunch table?
My jaw dropped. I wanted to say something, but I’m a new member, and honestly, I’m sure my shoes weren’t right, I held my glass wrong- so what could I know?
And then I remembered why I hate women’s groups. The backstabbing. The nastiness. The pettiness. The girliness.
Fortunately, I took the time to look around the room again. I was surrounded by dynamic women who had broken through glass ceilings. Women who had probably burned a bra or two. Women who made it possible for me to have my career.
The yappy gossips next to me were silenced. At least in my mind.
I wish that women could support each other more. I wish that the girl’s club was as powerful as the boy’s club.
So I decided, as part of my new 2011 attitude, that I was going to make it that way. That I would participate and truly be a part of a great group of women. Despite the women at the table.
If there's one thing I learned from my love of John Hughes movies, in the end, the mean girls lose.
And I bet they don’t put back their shopping carts, either.