Are you a bimbo? A bitch? Or one of the boys?

Written by guest blogger Marit van Gijtenbeek from tribecalledrest.com. 

 

Let me tell you a personal story.

About why I started tribecalledrest.com and about the process I’ve been through to get here. Four years ago, I started working in the financial sector. I loved my colleagues and I loved my job. But I was also young and insecure, being only 24. After a year, my former manager told me something that stuck with me for a long time. He pulled me aside one day and said: “Look. You’re a sweet-looking girl. But the goodwill you’re receiving will diminish after some point. So you have to work on your image. Will you always be regarded as that sweet blond thing? Or will they remember something else?”

The three categories

By ‘they’ he meant the upper management which almost exclusively consisted out of males. However, I can see the logic in his advice. Even now. Why? Because I believe that most young women, at the beginning of their careers, are offered three choices to position themselves:

Are you the bimbo? The bitch? Or one of the boys?

I chose the latter. I quite liked it for some years. It was working for me. But colleagues and even some of my friends noticed that I toughened up. I grew more distant and business-like. I myself however, still had the feeling I had to prove (or excuse) myself every day for working there. I noticed that, when in a meeting with men only, I felt I had no room to speak up. To make a point. I did however, but I usually would say: “I would like to add a few details.” Seriously woman, how small can you make yourself with words! After that, I changed my vocabulary a bit, but the feeling remained.

A different view on things

About a year ago, something happened that completely changed my view on things. I had an accident and was diagnosed with a concussion. The only way to recover from a concussion is to have ab-so-lute rest. So no reading, no Netflix, no visitors. I couldn’t even do the groceries. My brain couldn’t process such a simple task. For someone who always trusted on her brain, it was a very difficult period. But during my recovery, in the safe environment of my home, something happened.

I could not reach my brain, but I could reach my heart.

I noticed I softened. I became nicer. After a while, I started missing my job. But I did not miss the feeling of managing a nice project. Instead, I missed my colleagues. I missed their jokes in the morning. I missed building up relationships with people you work with. I missed human interaction.

How ‘Tribe Called Rest’ came to be

With a new sense of what I found important in working together, I got back to the office. I felt that I knew what I deemed important, but I couldn’t appreciate my ideas just yet. And that’s where Carla Clarissa  helped enormously. She taught me about a woman’s worth and how to connect with my femininity. I learned that the company I was working for had a dominant masculine culture. Which isn’t bad, but in my opinion it needs to be counterbalanced by feminine values. If not, women and men alike, start to feel disconnected from the company’s goals. Start to behave in ways that do not feel natural. Start to feel unappreciated. Start to feel exhausted…

A Tribe Called Rest

In my search for finding different ways of working together and with my new insights, I started A Tribe Called Rest. Because I believe there is wisdom to be found in the way communities in different cultures organize themselves. Because I think that a common, collective goal, might provide a starting point for a new model of how to cooperate. Because I hope that these collectives have a set of shared values, both masculine and feminine, that might be the answer to why people feel connected to the community.

Eventually my personal goal is to feel that, when I start a new job somewhere, I can be the bitch. Or one of the boys. Or a bimbo. Because I choose that role for that moment. And it doesn’t define me, because I am so much more… I am a woman.

Originally published at tribecalledrest.com/bimbo-bitch-one-boys/.

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