It is our goal with this guide to arm women who want to work in this industry and all industries with the proper tools we wish we had navigating our career. We are not experts, but we have experience and would like to share and offer some tools to young women at this moment in time when so many people, including ourselves feel unsafe in the world.
1. BE AWARE OF HOW YOU SEEK MEN’S APPROVAL
“Don't be a bitch. Don't disappoint Daddy. Be a nice girl. Be smart but not TOO smart. Be pretty but don’t feel pretty.” It's time to hit unsubscribe to these bullshit, repressive female archetypes.
Ladies - just because every guy doesn’t break their neck looking at you when you walk by them doesn’t mean that you’re UGLY or undeserving of respect. Also, it’s not your fault society programs us this way...it’s exhausting.
Hold a constant, obsessive awareness about how you unconsciously seek approval from men in your life and from men out in public. Instead, shift this approval to yourself. Yea, you might be walking down Sunset Blvd on a busy Friday night with no makeup and exposed zits while wearing your ex-boyfriend’s crusty old high school sweatshirt en route to the tanning salon to get ready for the weekend… but YOU MATTER and YOU DESERVE TO BE RESPECTED IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE NO MATTER HOW YOU LOOK ATM. If Harvey Weinstein can ejaculate into a f**king planter box in the back of a restaurant while trying to sexual assault someone, then you should be able to walk down the street or run errands in your gym clothes, pajamas, or your mom’s old wedding dress. Stop objectifying yourself--you are not a Barbie doll and you don’t have to look perfect at all times, no human does. Stop apologizing for how you look. Sure, we like looking our best out in the world, but we all have to get things done and the world is not always your cat walk (unless you’re Ru-Paul-jk). The point is that you still deserve to feel confident about yourself no matter how you happen to look that day.
We also put ourselves down in the most minuscule ways with our language. STOP USING THESE WORDS: Just, Sorry, Kind Of, Hopefully, Actually. All these words MINIMIZE what you are trying to say. These words insinuate asking PERMISSION. Just be straightforward with what you want… Be straightforward with what you want. See the difference in how that feels?
It’s harder in speaking to edit these out of your language but you can start by editing your texts and emails and keeping an eye out for these sneaky words. They do not serve you and what you are trying to do… like take over the world right?
How many times has a stranger told you to smile as you walk down the street? You autoreflex smile and then are left with the weird empty feeling that you are just an object there for men to control and manipulate… If someone tells you to “SMILE” - hiss like a cat, stick your tongue out, tell them to get down and give you twenty push ups or some other inane request. We’re not here on this earth, in this lifetime, working on our goals, processing our emotions, navigating our relationships to suddenly be interrupted by some stranger telling us to smile.
- HOW TO REJECT A MAN WHEN HE DOESN’T GET WHAT HE WANTS
Someone buys you a drink:
“It was really nice meeting you. Thank you for the drink. I’ll catch up with you later. If you want you can add: I’m going to (FILL IN THE BLANK: go see how my friends are doing, go to bathroom, etc). AND THEN WALK AWAY. You don’t owe this man anything, he wanted to buy you a drink and he did. You are not responsible for his assumptions or actions.
Someone asks for your phone number and you’re not into them:
“I’m flattered but I don’t give my number out to people I just met. I know you can understand that. You can follow me on instagram!” (if you think that’s safe).
IF THEY START SAYING WEIRD RUDE STUFF… WALK AWAY. This is everything to do with them, their low self-esteem, and how they handle rejection and NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. You’re womanhood, beauty and sexuality are not a commodity to be consumed.
One time in Aspen we were trying to get brunch and the host who was going to seat us was asking for my phone number while making derogatory remarks. I responded “Are you serious? I haven't even eaten breakfast and you’re sexually harassing me before noon? I’d like to speak to the manager.” He responded “I am the manager.” I said “Ok, then I’d like to speak with the owner.” The owner was also a super douche, first offered us shots (yea…), and made a list of excuses like “Ya know, I have a family, I can’t deal with this. I mean...trust me I know how bad that dude is, I have to deal with him every day!” Cry me a f*cking river bro. Point being, a lot of the time the chain of command is also made up of terrible humans. So in that case, go to Yelp, talk to people about that place and how bad it was, use your voice and air out their laundry. It’s called “Aspen Over Easy.” :)
- OTHER WOMEN ARE NOT YOUR COMPETITION
Respect, believe, and support other females in your career and friendships. There isn’t one spot for women in the workplace, and there isn’t one Prince Charming for all women either - if we help each other we all succeed. We don’t all need to be best friends - this is about respect.
Who are YOU? What makes YOU happy? Just because you do not fit in the “female girly girl box” doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Also NO ONE FITS IN THIS BOX - IT’S A MADE UP BOX BY THE MEDIA TO SELL YOU THINGS!!!!
If you see a girl who is crazy drunk at a party or overhear someone being spoken to in a disrespectful way SAY SOMETHING and HELP HER. Get that girl’s back, if she doesn’t seem to have any friends around her - be her friend. Don’t roll your eyes and say “ugh stupid drunk girl” “white girl wasted” etc… WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE. Check in with her (she’s probably going to say she’s “fine”) - see if she needs help getting home. See if she needs help calling her friends - make sure she gets out of there safely.
4. YOUR PERIOD IS NOT GROSS:
-Do not be ashamed of this. Stop it. And ladies, if your boyfriend thinks it's gross or weird to go buy you tampons, Midol, or a box of double stuffed Hostess cupcakes while you're curled up in a ball of pain - dump him. For all of humanity, do not procreate with (or give the time of day to) someone who wants to put their penis inside of you but also thinks your period is gross. EVOLUTION IS FEMALE CHOICE FOR A REASON. The time has come to prove to yourself that you deserve someone who sees you as a human being. Stop feeling ashamed of this part of the amazing process of your female body. Sure periods can be inconvenient at times, make you want to eat allllllll the snacks, and give you cramps (that you know no man could handle) BUT go easy on yourself. Be kind to yourself during this time. Take your list of things-to-do down a notch - the world isn’t going to end because you are taking some time to nurture yourself and your body.
- WHAT TO DO IF YOU'VE BEEN SEXUALLY HARASSED, RAPED OR ASSAULTED
If you are sexually assaulted, raped, date-raped etc - first know it was NOT YOUR FAULT. You have nothing to feel ashamed about. You did not ask to be raped, even if you blacked out at a party. Reach out to family and friends that you feel safe and supported by. Talk about it, get it out - do not hold it in. You have a right to be angry and emotional, you do not need to normalize this assault - it is a serious crime. After a rape or sexual assault it is very hard to think clearly. Go to a hospital or urgent and immediately get a rape kit especially if you decide to press charges. If you need medical attention or want to press charges there are organizations here to help and support you immediately such as https://rainn.org/ or the National Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) - GET FAMILIAR WITH THEM so if this happens to you or your friend you have an immediate resource.
There are anonymous places where you can tell your story such as http://theindustryaintsafe.tumblr.com/
For too long sexual harassment and assault have been kept a secret. We need to start talking about rape, consent and harrassment with our friends and young children - boys and girls. We do not talk about the dangers of rape or sexual harassment with our children because we don’t want to “taint their innocence” but by not having an open dialogue about this we are keeping them ignorant and without tools to help protect themselves when a situation presents itself. Our society makes it feel natural to want to sweep this under the rug, but IGNORING IT DOES NOT MAKE IT GO AWAY, it only hurts women more later. As a society we need to take the shame away from the victims and put the shame onto the perpetrators.
- FAME & POWER ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR CHARACTER:
Girls: Just because you are a fan of someone's music, they are rich or famous, or have a lot of followers on the gram does not mean you know them or that they are to be automatically trusted - our culture worships fame at any cost and unfortunately uses it as a placeholder for character. (Our president is a “rich, a sexual predator, and famous from a reality TV show... wonder why he got elected?). Your boss or someone “trying to help you” all are in positions of power - stay aware that they might abuse this power and know your worth. Don’t be afraid to speak up or call this person out IN THE MOMENT (it will give you more power rather than waiting) if they say something or touch you inappropriately. Memorize these phrases or something similar so in your moment of shock you can have some tools and this abuser knows that you know it’s wrong.
-“Just because I like your music doesn’t mean that I’m into you like that...I look up to what you do and wanted to have a conversation with you.” Check them.
-“You’re touching me inappropriately. You can either come with me right now to HR or I can go by myself and let them know what happened. I have rights and I won’t stand for this.”
-“What are you trying to do right now? I do not feel comfortable here with you alone.”
-”I don’t like how you are touching me and you need to stop right now. This is NOT OK.”
And then LEAVE. If you stay, this person who: was trying to help you, is someone famous, or your boss - will make YOU feel guilty for calling them out and make YOU feel like YOU are wrong or losing an opportunity. They were never interested in helping you or respecting you in the first place… so leave. BYE.
If you work at a corporate setting, your first day on the job introduce yourself to the person heading the HR department and create a relationship with them.
So often as women we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations with men and we nervously laugh it off, try to change the subject or maneuver away from someone's advances. NOW’S NOT THE TIME TO BE COY ANYMORE LADIES. CALL IT LIKE YOU SEE IT. THE REST OF US WOMEN HAVE YOUR BACK.
ALWAYS HAVE AN INCOME TO FALL BACK ON
If you are pursuing a creative field like djing, acting, music, etc have some kind of job to protect your creative vision so that you are not in a vulnerable place of having to say yes to job opportunities, people, and circumstances you aren't 100 percent comfortable with on a gut level. We felt having jobs would make us appear less successful, which people in the industry do talk shit about (to make women seem illegitimate). Do not do that. F*ck them. Get your music, your movies, whatever it is, the way you want it. Being your best authentic self is what will make you successful, so play the long game.
THE REASON WOMEN DON’T SPEAK UP IS BECAUSE WE GOTTA PAY THOSE BILLS. So take the pressure off as much as you can. Protect yourself with another job until you don't have to or have some savings to fall back on. Who cares what other people think if having financial security on your terms is protecting your craft and your values?
PRACTICE WALKING INTO A ROOM THE WAY A MAN DOES:
It feels like CONFIDENCE doesn’t it? Unwavering confidence, like the world owes you something and you can adjust your own genitals at any point throughout the day in public cause ya know, balls make babies and stuff. But seriously, try this as an exercise if you’re walking into a party and you’re feeling a little insecure, or a work meeting, a Christmas party, or Trader Joe’s. Try this because as women we are taught to minimize our existence and hope that everyone likes us, but that’s not what you really want, is it? You wanna have fun, be respected, and be taken seriously. Try this and just see how it works.
Write your own rules for you as a person, not a female. Make a list of how you want to be and be treated in public. Sounds weird but only because you don't think you deserve it. You do!
- DON’T BE A LAZY-ASS TAKER
It is your duty as a human being to fight for your rights (and to also fight for your right to party and pass out without fearing you’ll get raped). But seriously, women like Tomi Lahren are wrong about feminism and we'll tell you why: Tomi has free access to birth control, she can legally get a job and have her own bank account, she is able to freely express her political views and VOTE (what she has built a career on)... so we aren't exactly sure what version of "feminism" she doesn't like because she is currently utilizing every single other freedom that women have fought for - and some have died for - to grant women access to. She is a hypocrite and a very confused, sad person.
We are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us - and that includes, if you're a white woman, speaking up for women of color and understanding that you do not fully understand what POC face on a daily basis. WHITE MEN, this is your time to help us all if you really wanna change shit - speak up to your douchey boss when he says something derogatory or inappropriate to your female or POC co-worker, or if your drunk friend is about to take home a girl who’s next french kiss might taste like a chunky tequila barf, say something. When your gut tells you something is wrong, it always is. Act on it.
- SPEAK UP IF YOU ARE A WOMAN IN A RARE POSITION OF POWER
You are contributing to the problem if you are not using your platform to support and champion other women. There is not just one coveted female position, help the women under you, reach out to other women coming up who you believe in and use your power and connections and SHARE WITH THEM. This is what dudes do and why they all call each other “bro.”
If you feel that you are the token “chosen woman” of your field, know that if this makes you feel accomplished or better than, it’s because you are buying into the game that getting approval from men is why you feel “above” other women. You are contributing to a poisonous cycle which signals permission to men to omit power from the majority of women.
In whatever profession you are in or interested in, seek out a female mentor in that field who you feel you can trust and has your back. If she is a “sexism denier” do not trust her, she will not have your back and in the end, she will see you as competition. Seek out women who will help you with the tough questions, help you navigate a situation professionally, and offer you her connections.