My first job was teaching theatre to elementary school kids. The second was a stage hand in the recital halls of Texas Christian University. The third was in the tiny box office at the Ft. Worth Japanese Gardens. The fourth (my first significant employment) was as a decorator at the Cookie Bouquet. The fifth (held for four and half glorious years) was at the library at my current university. The one unifying factor among all these jobs is that my supervisors were either women or gay men. Not a heterosexual male in the bunch. When I got my most recent job, all this changed. Not only did I work for two men, I was surrounded by an overwhelmingly male department.
At first I thought this would be fun. I generally have a jocular rapport with male co-workers. They gossip but they don’t get emotionally involved. It’s easier to conduct witty banter with them because they don’t want to hear how your kids are doing or whether your allergies are bad this season. But then an situation came up, the kind of situation an innocent like myself associates with a less enlightened time, the kind involving a male employer, an under qualified young female applicant, and a newly created position with indeterminate responsibilities and an exorbitant salary. It’s the kind of situation which inspired in me a kind of disgusted awe. You see movies where this kind of thing happens, but to see it happening around you, to be called upon to be complicit in it, was another matter entirely.
It made me feel angry and helpless and, after some thought, I realized why: I am not — and can never be – a bimbo. Bimbos are younger than me, skinnier than me, more conventionally pretty than me. They have an air-headed perkiness that I cannot summon. They inspire something in older men, be it mere loin-aches or be it a glimmer of lost youth, that a woman like me, a Girl Friday, does not. In a department run exclusively by men, Girl Fridays don’t get exorbitant salaries. They get a pat on the back and more work. Basically, I have no leverage in a department in which bimbos get all the breaks.
This is why I long to return to a primarily female workplace. In a department in which all the managers are women, the bimbos have no leverage. The leverage goes to the suck-ups , and anyone, regardless of gender, can be a suck-up. And this is why the world would be a fairer place if women ran everything.