A month ago, four hours from home, I arrive at this new work site, 6:45am, bleary-eyed and desperately clutching my nearly empty coffee cup. Turns out we were called in early just for the sake of being early and sorting paperwork, which really only took 20 minutes. By 7:45 my bladder is full of coffee and I have to ask where the restrooms are… only to find out that we had access to porta potties. Perhaps if I walked half a mile up the road to this fancy arena people would be there and let me in to use a real restroom. But that was perhaps. After tucking a just in case tampon into the shorts I’m wearing (which are really my new boyfriend’s extra pair of work shorts) I hand my helmet to one of my female coworkers and head to the row of porta potties. My hands have already touched the gross “community box” of hard hats, borrowed someone’s pen to sign paperwork, and had just touched the door of the porta potty. While trying to keep the bottoms of my shorts from touching the pool of water around my boots, I discover that I have indeed started my period. And I have no where to wash my hands before I use the tampon. Surely comical if anyone had been watching, I managed to keep the shorts out of the puddle and put in the tampon. About to walk out I remember, I still have no where to wash my hands. I clean my hands to the best of my ability with the one-ply, but have no choice but to walk out, grab my hard hat, and get ready to work.
It’s a male-dominated field and we’re in the south. Essentially, if you aren’t a badass feminist with a point to prove you won’t last more than a few months. As a general trend around here, the women have a larger skill set and a better work ethic. The men can get by as long as they’re very muscular or tall, or if they’re funny and love to kiss boss-ass. A large number of the guys will flat out tell you that they would rather have only guys working with them. More and more are getting smart enough to keep their mouths shut and just look down on you. As long as they don’t grope and don’t name call, they can’t be called out for being sexist, so they can’t get in any trouble.
If the work community doesn’t want women around, all they have to do is keep providing porta potties– no one wants to feel dehumanized, which is exactly how I felt using dirty hands to put in a tampon while making sure my shorts didn’t get wet. Maybe if cargo shorts were made for women and not nearly-exclusively for men I wouldn’t have had to worry about the bottom two inches of fabric getting pee on them. Maybe if there was just a jug of water nearby for hand washing I would have felt much cleaner.
Besides the panties and bra, my clothes were asexual. No, actually, that’s not true. Asexual would be fine. I was wearing men’s shorts, and men’s steel toed boots (what? women wear steel toes? never. hope they made a small enough men’s pair for you). I was wearing a t-shirt that I got after a show, which meant that others there had the same shirt too. And because of my big boobs, I can’t get away with a tank top or a cut-neck t-shirt to provide the twin heaters with some ventilation. The fastest way to be sent home is to have any sort of cleavage. (The fastest way to be sent home SHOULD be not wearing steel toes, or not wearing your hard hat.)
Indecent and distracting, boobs are definitely evil and always dangerous for men. Before and after every show the lights are on. During the show, the lights are off. When the lights are off the men can stare at anything and anyone without being caught– they can watch dancers change backstage, they can watch singers strip down and redress with so few seconds that modesty has no time. We are all human, and the understanding is that no one is watching because no one cares, because we are all people, with variations on the same parts. But the problem is that some of these guys are watching. And their bosses know, and don’t care. Some of these guys are watching the private dance studio 14 year olds change clothes, they’re staring at the bouncing boobs of a 19 year old college dance major. But it’s dark, and no one can see where they stare. Until the lights come on, and then suddenly they’re in deep shit for staring at the tiny bit of a coworker’s cleavage. So in an effort to save the good old boys from any embarrassment, cleavage goes home immediately so that guys don’t have to be reprimanded.