No matter how much I adapt though, there are still moments when I realize that I am not “one of the guys.” Not only is my office dominated by men, most of those men are retired career military men. Many of them have long histories of using…ah…colorful language. But, what’s interesting is that while they are used to swearing in their work environment, they also have been trained to NOT insult a woman by swearing in front of her. This causes problems for many of them as more and more women enter the defense industry. Their two worlds, the profane and the clean, clash.
I’m very used to hearing men pause mid-sentence as they censor their comments for my benefit. In a way, it’s amusing because there are times when I would say exactly what they want to say. They are censoring things for my benefit that I wouldn’t even censor.
It also annoys me a little bit. I don’t really need to be protected from a few little bad words. I’m not some precious, delicate flower that they need to worry about offending. I’ve caught puke in my hands, I shoveled manure out of stalls, and I’ve done enough shots of Tequila that I don’t ever want to drink it again. Trust me, a bad word here and there isn’t going to corrupt me.
Yesterday, I was the only woman in a meeting with about eight guys. This is pretty common, and normally I hear a lot of pauses from the guys as they censor themselves. Yesterday however, one of the managers spoke the way he would if it was just the guys. He wasn’t cursing up a storm, but he did call something bullshit (which it was) and then later referred to something as crap (is that even really a bad word?) I was pleasantly surprised that he was comfortable doing so in front of me. Several of the older managers looked a little uncomfortable, but I just ignored them and enjoyed being one of the guys for a moment. Being treated with respect is one thing; being treated like everyone else can be even better.