I know I usually direct my vitriol at sites like eBay on this blog but I wanted to address something a little different today. I’m pretty ticked, so watch out.
I know it’s a man’s world. You only need to look at how both Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton were treated in the media this election to see that we have a long way to go before we can change how people view women. Look how long it took us to get the vote? I get it. I don’t expect change overnight. But that doesn’t change the fact that it ticks me off.
I got a phone call the other day asking for a Mr. Hillary DePiano. When I told them that I was Hillary DePiano the caller then asked for my husband. When I asked why he needed my husband, he informed me, with the over-politeness of talking to a small child, that he needed to talk to the person who made the financial decisions for my company.
Yes, MY company. The one I started before I even met my husband. The company that my husband has only a cursory understanding of what it does. Here we are, in 2009, and this company trained this random operator that businesses cannot possibly be owned by a woman so ask for the man who must surely be behind it all. I told him that I could assure him that whatever it was he was selling, we didn’t want any of it and hung up.
It’s easy to say that this was a one time idiot caller and I would be willing to believe that if it hasn’t happened quite a few times. When we went to eBay Live, the person handing out the welcome packets, even though I was the one to go up to the counter, the one it was registered under and the one that asked for the packets, made a point of giving the PowerSeller packet, lanyard and bag specifically to my husband and the guest packet to me. Never mind that the guest packet was registered to “Steve” and I sure don’t look like a Steve. Obviously, my husband must be the PowerSeller and little wifey over here must be the guest.
I am sick of people asking me if I am running favors for my husband’s business. I am sick of people assuming that I must be a man, addressing their emails to Dear Sir even after they have heard from me once. I am sick of companies trying to take advantage of me because they assume I have no idea what is going on. I am particularly sick of telephone callers assuming I cannot possibly understand what they have to say to me so that I should put the big strong, smart man on.
Pardon my language but, fuck that.
I am a business woman.
Wait a second, let me expand that. I know who reads this blog. Some of you are wives, mothers, daughters, girlfriends, aunts, and grandmothers. You are making your living online, either full or part time, or you are trying to figure out how to make some money online. You are running a business while cleaning the house, raising your kids, making dinner, and living your life. Your business is no less legitimate because you are doing it with breasts!
We are business women.
Here’s what that doesn’t mean:
- . . . it doesn’t mean that we are just playing at running a business and mooching off our husband.
- . . . it doesn’t mean that everyday must be a vacation for us (as my older in laws are fond of assuming).
- . . . it doesn’t mean that we are idiots with no idea what we are doing so that you can take advantage of us.
- . . . it doesn’t mean that we need our husbands, fathers, brothers or other male figure to explain your service to us.
- . . . it doesn’t mean that its OK for you to assume we are male because you are undermining what we are doing right from the start when you do that.
Here is what it does mean:
- . . . it means that we are just like all those big, smart business men you read about, we are just women.
- . . . it means that we are running a business and, often times, running a household at the same time.
- . . . it means that we are working just as hard as you and facing the same challenges as a business man and sometimes we are working even harder because we have to work to change people’s perspectives.
- . . . it means that your stupid, thoughtless sexist comment isn’t as “hilarious” as you think it is and only makes us want to work even harder to make you eat crow.
I can’t speak for everyone but I can also say that it also means that I will rip you apart if you cross me.
On behalf of business women everywhere, can I make just one request? Think before you speak. If you wouldn’t ask a black business man to please put a white man on the phone, do you think its cool to do that to a woman?