Setting the bar for women..
I’ve never considered myself anything remotely close to a feminist. As a woman behind the stick, I always felt as though demanding equal treatment meant that you were taking the easy way out- neglecting to “prove yourself”. This is the way I had been taught.
I have always been the sole woman behind a group of men, fighting for my chance at the service well, and desperately needing to be accepted. The only reason I was able to do this was because of the “thick skin” I had to develop. A skin that feels uncomfortable, and at the end of the day- too thick. In the bartending world, men are still holding to their homies, protecting each other and hugging each other. In the bartending world, they call strong women “bad asses” and “ninjas” for doing exactly the same job as them. In the bartending world, if you see a woman double shake and “throw down” then it truly is a spectacle, and trust me, as the one in the spotlight- I have to say, I’m tired.
I’m tired of being the “unicorn”, marveled at and treated like a commodity for doing the exact same job as the next “bro”. I’m tired of this because the hypocrisy is still very much alive. When one of my fellow bartenders makes a mistake, they are talked to, sat down with, and it becomes a diplomatic discussion. Ideals are met- they are “heard” and all is well again. It in fact, brings them closer together and where once they high-fived, now they embrace. It’s a bromance to the highest degree.
I’m tired for being told that “perhaps” I am not treated equally because of the things I am most proud of. Because I am strong, because I care too much, and because I have the opinions and skill. I am tired of pretending that I don’t have the same need to be accepted as the men I work alongside. I am tired of being compared to a fictional horse that doesn’t exist, a fairy tale that continues to keep me at a distance from my male counterparts and superiors.
In this industry, I have multiple women that I hold close to my heart. Women that can “throw down” women that are “bad asses”. These women are also funny, zany, and suffer the same struggles throughout the shift as the men they work alongside-worse even. Never once do these women complain to me about anything they have to do to survive- to pretend they don’t mind being set on a pedestal. It’s only until they have been fired, wrongfully disciplined and picked on, that the lightbulb goes off- and it happens all the time.
I see it every time I work, the customer will try to grab the man beside me first- and the begrudging way they approach me instead; a kindergartner on their first day. I see it when they tell me to “smile” whilst three deep on a Friday night. I feel it when I turn around to grab a bottle and a flash goes off followed by bellowing laughter. I see and experience all these things on a nightly basis and I put up with it because I’ve developed a “thick skin”. I have done it to survive, and for some reason our industry promotes that type of do-or-die mentality for women.
Bartending is a scary place for women because we are never truly accepted for who we are. We are always over-compensating and then when we let our guard down, we are told we are too sensitive- that we care too much. What is wrong with the industry today is that we don’t treat care as a commodity- only a really strong double-breasted-double-shake.
As a bartender that can “throw down”, I have to ask why? Why do I have to prove myself anymore? Gender inequality is as simple as saying, would I say this to the man to her right? Would I discipline her team mate for the same thing? At the very least- would I treat him the same?
I take pride in what I do, it’s hard enough dealing with the day to day belittlement from customers, maintaining dignity and growing “thick skin”. I am tired and it’s time for us to change the way we see things. I am proud to be who I am, but I am tired, and I’m too old to be a ninja. To be honest, I just want to bartend. That’s all.