On gender, beauty, and finding yourself.

Dear Coquette,

I’m about to enter a job where I’m the only girl in the room with three dudes. Our jobs have more or less equal standing and are all positions of power over a group of about 40 people (men and women represented almost 50/50). These are all dudes that I respect and trust and who I know respect and trust me in return. I’m not worried about harassment or sexism per se, but I’ve been alive long enough to know that it would be foolish to think that gender wouldn’t play a role in some ways.

These dudes identify as feminists, and we’ve already talked about trying to make sure that we’re aware of our gender dynamics, particularly with regards to the other people we’re responsible for. I’m just wondering if you think that gender is always a presence in power dynamics, and if so, what things I (we) should do to make sure we’re being good people with regards to gender in a work space.

I wouldn’t say that gender is always a presence in power dynamics, but I would say that power is always a presence in gender dynamics. It’s a subtle distinction not to be overlooked.

If the three dudes you work with identify as feminists, then you’re already way ahead of the game in terms of workplace ethics. Feminism is about equality, after all, and if you’ve already established an open dialogue with your co-workers about gender dynamics, then I’m sure you’ll be able to deal with pretty much any situation that comes along.

Here’s hoping that everyone stays cool.

If you sell the Western ideal of beauty (as you don’t buy into it) and we can’t afford it, what happens?

The Western ideal of beauty is not a commodity that can be bought or sold. It is a form of embodied cultural capital that can only be transmitted or acquired by those with privilege.

To say you can’t afford the Western ideal of beauty is to suggest that you want to possess it, but you don’t have the means to acquire it.

If you want to know what happens when you want something only available to a privileged few, it’s the same thing that always happens: envy.

I’ve come to the realization that my whole life, I’ve been nothing but an imitation of all the things I see and experience around me. I’m not interesting or extraordinary, like I deluded myself to think. I don’t think it’s too late for me to stop being boring and unoriginal, add the things I lack from my life, and find hobbies I enjoy. The real question here is, how do I find myself?

If you really want to find yourself, try coming to realizations without using the words “I,” “me,” or “my.”


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