By Elly Zhilyak
I’ve recently embarked on a journey to reclaim my femininity amidst a scary ascertation that I was beginning to retain the masculine qualities of my male coworkers.
What does that mean exactly? And what does it have to do with feminism?
Let me begin with a brief synopsis of my life.
Life began for me with huge bows in my hair, amidst dolls, and kitchenettes, and ballet. It progressed into climbing trees, dressing up barbies, and playing with really cool toy cars, that my father brought from overseas (the Bugatti was my personal favorite). By the age of 6, I was outrunning all the older boys in the neighborhood. Needless to say, they were impressed. I was girly, and I was very comfortable with it. I was also very comfortable with all the “non-girly” things I did.
Fast forward to the awkward pre-teen stage, when I became extraordinarily shy, then to high school when I decided to reclaim some of the bad assery that lived somewhere within, by kicking most of the shyness to the curb, hanging out with all the older kids, and donning knee high boots and long trench coats. I re-added ballet to the mix with a large serving of boys. I was a typical teenager, looking for acceptance, and mostly loving flaunting the feminine side of myself that came so naturally. Then came my twenties and all the boys and all the more of the dress up of self, since I was now more of an adult and could express myself however I pleased. I re-added the running to the mix, nixed the ballet and dancing, and added going to the club(s) with my girlfriends/boyfriend. Still “voiceless”.
Whilst chasing all the boys in my twenties, I was all girl, ready to be saved by some Prince Charming. Independent, but still conflicted most of the time. Having a somewhat naturally shy disposition, or at least up-bringing, I think it was easy for me to lose my voice.
The little girl that outran all the boys when she was 6, dress and all, was lost all tangled up in the dress. She was Cinderella at the ball with some asshole prince. Somehow she forgot how to run and climb. She must have left her Chucks at home.
Then came CrossFit that gave the girl back some strength and a lot more confidence, followed by belly dancing. Although a complete 180 of each other, the two created an appropriately perfect balance.
Soon after, came a job, which was not unlike any other, except for the fact that I was now surrounded by men – a loosely used term here. Ten of them, ten of whom I had to manage, whose respect I had to evoke, and whose schedules I controlled day in and day out. My “sweet” disposition and sometimes quick temper won the respect of most, immediately. Unnaturally and unknowingly, I started to change. I wore more pants, less make up, less jewelry. I eventually became just as perversely funny, and even more smart assy than before. Continue Reading…