For Girls Only… or, How Much I Love Shoes

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For Girls Only… or, How Much I Love Shoes

The moment I heard about an “all-female” issue of Parking Today, the soapbox I stand on when I share my feminist views started to rumble. But I worried that PT’s readers would not quite enjoy a lesson in gender equality.
Then I started to think I could write an entire column about how much I love shoes, because I’m female, and that means, naturally, shoes are my emotional currency. But even though I do love shoes, they’re not much to go on.
The parking industry leans toward the masculine side, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s incidental and not intentional.
The Women in Parking (WIP) organization and all the exposure women in parking are getting in this very publication are great tools for addressing gender discrepancies within the industry. Hopefully, these tools are used to enhance the abilities and understanding of women and men.
The workplace is a tricky environment for everyone – male or female. Whether you work to live or live to work, there are days that go badly; there are people who offend you in every possible way; and there are moments when you feel like a bird in a cage. Even if you love your job, personal needs get placed on hold for the deadline; dreams of bigger and better things sit on the horizon like a mirage; and some days you want throw things and tell your boss what a jerk he or she really is. And “jerk” isn’t the word you’re really thinking.
Now imagine, besides the usual frustrations, you go to work and your employers assume all you care about are shoes. Imagine they think you are bad at math. Imagine they attribute any show of emotion – including excitement, anger and annoyance – as a hormonal issue. Imagine they offer you a promotion and quietly rescind that offer when they find out you’re pregnant.
I really do care about shoes above all else. You should see my credit card bills. I’m average at math. Some of my strongest emotions exhibit themselves in a cyclical pattern. And some years ago, I really did have an employer conveniently forget about my promotion, and raise, after I shared the news that I was going to have a baby.
Acknowledging the differences between the genders is not sexism. Treating one gender as if it is less than the other due to the inherent characteristics of that gender is sexism. To me, sexism can be summed up in a hundred ways, but these are a few of my favorites:
1- Upper-body strength. If women had the upper-body strength that men do, we wouldn’t have to talk about gender equality. It’s human nature for the strongest to dominate. That domination gives one group power over the other. It gives one group the ability to marginalize the other and ignore the other’s point of view.
2- Children. Women have babies and very few work environments accommodate that reality. Men don’t lose promotions when they have a baby – but women do. Being a mother can be a real career-wrecker.
3- Shoes. Men’s shoes are so much more comfortable than women’s shoes. It’s complete garbage. Men’s dress shoes are especially comfy with arch support and wide toe boxes. But women’s dress shoes are either hideous or excruciating. Very few women can command respect in high-heels, because high-heels are, by tradition, a mode of transportation that emphasize sexuality, not professional capabilities.

Women make up half the world’s population, but in many countries, they are still treated like property, or worse. In the United States, women have an abundance of freedom and opportunity, but they still face economic and social hindrances based on their gender alone. Like any minority, they often have to prove themselves better than the majority to be considered equal to the majority.
There are many minority groups in our country, and every one of them wants to be treated equally, to be paid the same for the same work; to be treated with respect regardless of race; to be offered the same chances as their counterparts.
I believe no minority group needs more support than women, and that if we put an end to gender inequality, we would put an end to most other modes of discrimination.
The solution is respect. Treat each human being as an individual of worth regardless of race or gender, and prejudices melt away. People still have to prove themselves, but they don’t start that process handicapped by arbitrary biases.
We can’t change the differences between men and women, and I wouldn’t want to, but we can accommodate those differences to make the workplace a fair and empowering environment for everyone.

Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader, occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.

Article contributed by the Parking PT team.
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