Office Politics, Part Deux: This Is A Man’s World

My professional evolution makes zero sense; I surprise even myself with it. Well, when life gives you lemons … blow shit up. Using lemons as ammunition.

Sports, media, finance … Bend It Like Beckham meets Mad Men meets Wall Street (1987, not 2010). It sounds like a science experiment gone terribly wrong à la Marvel comic. But their one unifying thread is the competition: they’re all fiercely competitive industries, inundated with dick-swingin’ alpha malesnot too far off from this, actually:

while we females are just here for ornamentation.

Something to know about me. I cry. A lot. For the most part, it’s for one (or a combination of) the following reasons:

–       I’m hungry
–       I’m tired and/or stressed
–       A celebrity dies (or they become dead to me because they knocked someone up who is infinitely more attractive than I am)
–       I’ve passed the peak in my drunk-curve and am now no longer a happy drunk but a self-pitying one
–       I daydream about life-threatening scenarios involving family members
–       I get a paper cut
–       I am wronged or betrayed in the most fabulous [and infamous] way

But hey, I’m a girl, right? I can cry about anything and be dismissed for my biology, just as I would if I got pulled over and the cop came over to the driver’s side to find an Asian behind the wheel.

This last Monday was a defining one for me, the day I realized that I’m going to have to put my bitch hoops in and start blowin’ shit up. I’m normally this very passive, nice individual: carefree California, peace and love, uninhibited limbs swaying with the wind, clad in tie-dye, shakas for everyone. But I’m nice until I’m not. And then you don’t want to know me. I hate when that happens.

We’re moving offices, from one floor to the next in a Midtown Manhattan highrise. About a month ago, we surveyed the new space with a furniture contractor to discuss its design and functionality. “I’m thinking Google—mod, chrome, white, sandalwood…,” he says.  I dig it.

On Monday, my ‘team member’ (read: only other female in the office and by default only ally) and I go up to the new floor and see how things are progressing. Holy Dolce & Gabbana – there are fuck-hideous black and molded brown furnishings dotting an otherwise pristinely white space. There’s a cubicle pig pen in the middle of the floor, where the sales team will work, and in each office, including ours, MASSIVE imposing desks the same putrid color brown. My team member and I are in a glass box of an office, further encased by a corral of desk space that we DON’T need.

I ask the contractor, “Can you just illuminate me as to how we went from what we spoke of to this? I’m just curious.”

Immediate defensiveness. “Well, obviously, this was what was agreed upon. This is cutting-edge stuff [for a rental]. And, I don’t mean this to come out the way that it will, but you, at no point, were in the decision-making process.”

I respond, “I understand that, and I’m not attacking you. I’m just wondering how we came to select this furniture when we seemed on-track for something so radically different. I mean, my coworker and I don’t need all this space. Most of our work is digital, so we don’t need massive drawers or anything.”

“You’re telling me you don’t need any storage space? Like, where are you gonna put your purse then?” Obviously I’m going to put my purse in the kitchen, where I belong. Wench.

We engage in verbal mortal combat. My male coworker interrupts.

Little backstory on Charlie WallStreet here: groomed for finance his entire life, works in ‘business development’, takes ski holidays, reupholsters a chair in his apartment in MIDTOWN MANHATTAN for $7k, obsesses over any sprout of acne on his face, and likes to assert seniority over me when he has none.

“Well, I gave him the executive order to start bolting your desks here. But you know what—with your permission—we can move your desks half a foot this way, and that’ll open up the space more, if your problem is feeling trapped. Would that be okay?” Fuck off, teacher’s pet. Don’t try to pacify me after you’ve already spoken for me.

Other like contractors and an IT guy arrive. Charlie WallStreet greets them, they shake hands, and they exchange business cards. I’m maybe a dead-body’s length away from them, waiting to introduce myself. They look over at me, look back, and continue speaking to Charlie. Well, ain’t that a bitch.

I go back downstairs to our current office space seething with rage. ‘Team member’ and I tell another male coworker about the sexist stew of a conversation that had just transpired. “Oh, really”… “Uh-huh”…

I’m angered, so I provoke.

Let’s call him Matthew.

“Hey Matt, tell your client I’m not making the changes they requested.”
Now I have his attention.
“What?!”
“If it takes me longer than 15 minutes to do, I don’t have to do it.”
“But … okay. If you could, though, that’d be really great, because I already told them you would.” Mudda-bitch.

Charlie WallStreet comes back into the office. To me: “I think [our boss] changed everything because he wanted rental furniture that’s brand new.”

“I get that but some of it isn’t even practical.”

“Well…we can trade places if you want.” He’s in the pig pen, and rightly so, because he was in the decision-making process. There’s nothing worse than a bitchy male with bad taste.

Now I’m made to feel like an entitled bitch for saying anything.

My fellow femme shoots me a look like “Check out this muh’fukka?” Realizing I was still upset about it well into lunch and the afternoon, she takes me to lunch at a local pub, then sends me this image, which will be framed and hung in our new office:

I have PLENTY more anecdotes in my arsenal, but this particular one stands out more than the others because I was made to feel by the end of it that I was wrong for having given any input at all, just as, when I stood up for myself for the first time in my life, I was made to feel like I’d overreacted. Because women carry guilt and shame with them wherever they go, even in their work. If I make a mistake, the hand of God rains down on me, and I travel the 45 minutes home on the subway with my tail between my legs, marinating in my own failure and ineptitude as waitstaff in The Big Boys’ Club. Then I stop by the liquor store, call my sister (who brands all my male work colleagues p*ssies), drink and eat my feelings with my chick roommates, and cry myself to sleep.

There was no real point of this post – glean from it what you will (Angry Asian with a fuse, chick on her period, outright inflammatory bish, whatever you want). But before you think that gender inequality doesn’t really exist anymore, watch this video:

1 Comment

  1. I’m so sorry it’ this way; and I’m so sorry you have to learn this lesson now that you’re in the workforce. It sucks! I can truly empathize. I will stay home and take care of my babies…hardest job that very few men can do successfully! Besos!

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