Protected: It’s a Woman’s World 6 comments


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6 thoughts on “Protected: It’s a Woman’s World

  • Kayla

    Interesting Damien, Corvus brings up a lot of good points as we ll. It sounds like you haven’t really been in groups of girls by themselves before ( which isn’t really a suprise since your a guy) , we Can be more crude in groups of our own gender, just like guys can , now a highly gendered job such as hairstyling basically counts as this by defacto even if its not exclusivly composed of a single gender, just talk to a female Car mechanic if yo u want proof. there is also probably a certain amount of male privilege going on here, guys are generally, much more shocked by this type of behavior because they don’t encounter it On a regular basis like women do. I hate talking about privlage because it’s so overused, but it does kind of fit here.
    I know myself I have this somewhat ditzy “valley girl” persona that is often what people first notice about me, but if you get to know me there’s actually a lot More Underneath, I don’t know if this is true for other girls, but I suspect it may be, in some ways I’m actually more stereotypical than most of my girlfriends. I wish I could give some examples From the hair industry, but I’ve been out of the industry For quite a while (not by choice, but I had a lot of trouble breaking into the industry in Vancouver and My life was going through a lot of upheveal, so I’m just working at a grocery store at the moment) . You honestly seem like a really cool guy, I hope I gave you a little more insight.
    PS Sorry about the inconsistent capitalization, I wrote this on a Samsung Note tablet

    • Overdirected Post author

      I see where you’re coming from – but I’m afraid I can’t abide by female privilege any more than male privilege. Just because douchebag men get together to be douchebags doesn’t make it ok for douchebag women to get together to be douchebags – all parties in this case are douchebags, and guilty imho.

  • Corvus

    I have a lot of respect for anyone choosing to work in a field that’s culturally ordained to be “outside” his or her gender — male nurses or stylists, women on the oil rigs, etc. — because that can involve so much extra (and wholly unnecessary) grief. It sounds like you’re very aware of stereotypes, that you’re trying to work against them, and that you’re conscious of the thin-but-vital line between “I don’t understand the women at my work” and “I don’t understand women.” I also think there are parts of your post that may skirt that line, like when you say “The way they [girls] objectify and degrade men is hard for me to understand.”

    Speaking as a woman, I’ve never talked about men that way, I don’t condone it, and I’d very quickly be disciplined were I to participate in that kind of behaviour in my workplace. My female friends don’t have those conversations with me; if they did, we wouldn’t be friends. So, no: it’s not okay for women to objectify men. But I object to the sweeping nature of that particular sentence, and I think it’d be helpful to keep it clear here that we’re talking about a specific group of women — namely, the ones you work with. You yourself have said that you’d never encountered “stereotypical” women before, so I’m not sure why this is turning into a conversation about stereotypes?

    I might suggest, though, that you work in aesthetics, and that the aesthetics industry is a large part of the cultural forces that give us those stereotypes — that tell us how “women” (for a particular definition of that word) dress and act. Can female stylists who don’t dress and act in that way get ahead in the industry? (I don’t wear makeup; would I even get a job interview?) Does this industry attract — or cultivate — women with a particular personality, and could that explain this particular trend?

    That said, the comment just above this one suggests that all salons are not the same, which suggests that even that limited position is suspect. So I wonder if a more productive approach might be “what is with this group of women at work,” period full stop, without expanding generalizations any further. In which case, depending on your work environment, I wonder if documenting instances and making a formal complaint would be a viable approach? Basically, is your boss liable to be sympathetic? I think you have valid concerns.

    • Overdirected Post author

      I am definitely conscious of the line between “I don’t understand women” and “I don’t understand the women at my work” because until entering this industry, I thought on average that I DID understand women. More than men, anyway. As much as you CAN understand another human being. It wasn’t until the hair industry I realized it could be different, and so many references in our culture that I hadn’t picked up on started fit into place – the divides between men and women, the references to women as “others” in songs and movies and culture, etc.

      I also think there are parts of your post that may skirt that line, like when you say “The way they [girls] objectify and degrade men is hard for me to understand.”

      Speaking as a woman, I’ve never talked about men that way, I don’t condone it, and I’d very quickly be disciplined were I to participate in that kind of behaviour in my workplace. My female friends don’t have those conversations with me; if they did, we wouldn’t be friends. So, no: it’s not okay for women to objectify men.

      But I object to the sweeping nature of that particular sentence, and I think it’d be helpful to keep it clear here that we’re talking about a specific group of women — namely, the ones you work with. You yourself have said that you’d never encountered “stereotypical” women before, so I’m not sure why this is turning into a conversation about stereotypes?

      And I absolutely agree, I did not mean all women, for most of this post I was talking about a specific demographic and tried to make note of it wherever I could. But I was feeling kind of down when I wrote it, so my mind wasn’t firing at full capacity I think.
      Also, I bolded a specific part of what you wrote because it is almost exactly how I felt and what I wrote in this post, only mirrored.

      I had never encountered the “stereotypical women” who are preening, predatory, back-biting, gossipy girls with histrionic personality disorder before, but I’m not sure it is turning into a conversation about stereotypes – I’m just mentioning that I had never encountered that before, and I didn’t think it existed. Then I encountered it, and now I’m surrounded by it, so now I believe it exists… Which is just an observational statement. And as a disclaimer; I’m referring to a specific demographic (The demographic of women who possess the aforementioned traits), definitely not women at large!

      I might suggest, though, that you work in aesthetics, and that the aesthetics industry is a large part of the cultural forces that give us those stereotypes — that tell us how “women” (for a particular definition of that word) dress and act. Can female stylists who don’t dress and act in that way get ahead in the industry? (I don’t wear makeup; would I even get a job interview?) Does this industry attract — or cultivate — women with a particular personality, and could that explain this particular trend?

      That is a very, very complicated issue and I have had conversations about it with men and women who’ve been in the industry almost twice as long as I’ve been alive. The answers to your questions are many, but for starters, a lot of the type of girls I am talking about (For our purposes lets call them “Cordelia Types”) are attracted to the hair industry (not the aesthetics industry, specifically the hair industry). There are many factors. Some think they’ll be able to sit around and not work all day and chat with their friends, some like playing with their hair and somehow that that translates to them going to hair school, and some just want to be a hairstylist.
      I can tell you that most certainly, not all hairstylists or hair school students are attractive in the commercially viable sense. Not even most. A minority are. Just as an aside.
      All shapes and sizes there physically, but common personality traits.
      As an industry, I don’t think you’d find any industry that supports individual expression in dress and fashion more than hair – within fairly liberal limits, you can dress and look however you want. It doesn’t divide your appearance into commercially sexually attractive and non-commercially sexually attractive, there is every shade of the rainbow in the hair world. If ever there was a profession in which you did not have to dress or look a certain way, this is it.

      As for would you get an interview – maybe, maybe not. Depends where you went. Most of the really great salons don’t care at all what you look like, or even how well you cut hair – they are looking for someone with real passion and a drive to learn. They’ll teach you to cut hair and do all the rest, the drive is what they want – so if you have that, you’ll get an interview. At a good place. Not at Tommy Guns. Much like how you could be applying for a job as a server, and would get interviewed at some restaurants that focus on great service, but you wouldn’t be interviewed at Moxies. (The waitresses there ironically all seem to have gone to hair school. No lie!)

      The hair industry is a refuge for a lot of women who don’t fit the mold – who can’t wear a tight dress and bartend, who can’t fit in at an office, who can’t or don’t want to become a doctor of something. It’s the island of misfit toys. The burnout rate is extremely high – 3/4 stylists leave the industry in the first couple years. But all the misfits end up staying because it’s the place where you can be an individual and be part of a crowd at the same time.

      About the industry cultivating trends… Each salon is an autonomous unit. It’s very hard to examine salons as a whole, because they are all so individual – but one common theme is that they often become a self-sustaining narcissistic autocracy that builds and builds until it eventually buckles under the weight of itself. These salons breed these “Cordelia Types” because they’re all run by a king or queen of the hill, and they attract and create minions who will one day aspire to rule their own hill or find another king/queen to follow.

      Now there’s something really interesting thing I realized, as I was discussing this post with a girl I know who works at a big hair school in the states.
      Hair industry shows are big events, and full of platform artists and educators. These are the people the industry tells us are the best, brightest, stars, etc. Whether they are or not is another matter, but this is how they are presented and largely how they are accepted by the hair industry as a whole.

      The interesting thing I realized talking to my friend, is that there are a lot of male platform artists who have been doing hair for lets say… 7 years, and have been a platform artist for 5 of those 7 years. And I don’t mean to stereotype here so I will say that this by no means applies to ALL males in these job positions, as there are exceptions, but it seems like you don’t need a lot of time/experience/skill to be a male platform artist. You just need a great look, to look good with your shirt unbuttoned, and to look good in leather pants. And have a strong jawline. There are very few raggedy unpolished, chubby, unattractive older male platform artists. They’re all toned guys in nice European cut suits, or leather, etc, with great hair and twinkly eyes.

      FEMALE platform artists, however, come in all shapes and sizes and ages. There are young ones, there are mature ones, there are thin ones, there are not so thin ones. There are very attractive ones, but more common are average and less attractive ones. The common denominator is skill and talent. The women aren’t picked for how good they look in leather pants.

      Which is completely backwards from what we see in the rest of society, but makes sense in a way if you consider that the industry is predominantly female and and so a female audience (and more specifically, an audience of Cordelia Types) would be marketed to.

      That said, the comment just above this one suggests that all salons are not the same, which suggests that even that limited position is suspect. So I wonder if a more productive approach might be “what is with this group of women at work,” period full stop, without expanding generalizations any further. In which case, depending on your work environment, I wonder if documenting instances and making a formal complaint would be a viable approach? Basically, is your boss liable to be sympathetic? I think you have valid concerns.

      Not all salons are the same, but the fact of the matter is that I work in a VERY good salon where this is concerned. It was started by a man, and surely in part because of what I am talking about. He wanted to create a salon that fought all of these problems (as well as other problems in the salon world), and he’s done a very good job. But you just can’t seem to completely get rid of this behaviour… It has gone down, as we’ve lost people and gained people who have different personalities. But the underlying world I live in day to day is still the same, and I’m still the “other”.

      I have talked to my boss extensively about these things, and he is very sympathetic, he does his best but a lot of this stuff is stuff you can’t do anything about in a salon environment. If it was a corporate office there would be methods and protocols and channels. But in a tribe of 8, it works differently. Mostly he’s helped by counselling me and giving me advice on how to have a tougher skin and avoid the situations that will cause me problems.

      As a footnote, this post has garnered a lot of attention and I’ve had a surprising amount of men send me messages telling me that I said what they’ve been feeling their whole career, and thanking me for putting it out there, and sharing their experiences. From people just new in the industry, to veterans. All privately messaging me, because I think they don’t want to voice their feelings publicly… So I am sure this is not a local occurrence, or something specific to my immediate environment. :/

  • heather

    Maybe it is the salon that you are working in. A couple of my closest stylist friends are male stylists. The salon where I work would never allow the type of crass talking that you have mentioned, whether their were guests in the salon or not. 🙁