Tools of the Trade

01:47Meg Cowan

Last week I walked into a trade show to set up for work in the heart of England. 
The place crawled with contractors in hi-vis vests and the clang of hammers and steel rang about the hall. 

After finding the space I was to call home for the next three days I headed out the trade doors to the car to collect my things. 
Jet lagged, in my favourite black jeans and an old sweater, hair pulled back carelessly in a messy bun I was minding my own business until I heard whistling and whopping. 

They chuckled and leered more vulgar sentiments. 

I was the only woman in sight and I turned, surprised their attention was directed at me and then found myself caught by surprise again as I firmly raised a swift middle finger in their direction to match my scowl. 

They laughed and I walked out feeling perplexed at the whole situation. 

As I collected things from the vehicle I stood still somewhat confused for a moment as a security guard approached me. 

And in that moment, everything I thought about how wrong they were swirled around me and I wondered if maybe I was the one who was in error.  

Here came the security guard, because I had been offensive to his workers, undignified and certainly un-lady like. 

I worried that I would be asked to leave the event and momentarily kicked myself for being so transparent in my response. 

‘Do you know those guys?’ The security guard asked me.

‘No sir I don't, but frankly I didn’t appreciate the way they behaved’. 

‘Fair enough, no place for that here. I’ll have a word and let me know if you have any more trouble’. 

Relieved, I set about my work thankful for the good men in the world who get it, but over the course of the afternoon I found myself feeling worried about if there would be any backlash from the ones who’d so rudely called after me. 

After all, I might have caused trouble with their supervisor. 

Would I come back to find my trade stand missing some part or a box of product moved to somewhere obscure?

Should I watch myself if I had to leave late?

Part of me thought I should brush it off, take their behaviour as a compliment of sorts and move on. 

But the more I thought about it the more it really pissed me off. 

One, I shouldn’t have to worry that some guys and their bruised ego’s would threaten my safety.

But I know the statistics. I know that violence against women doesn’t always need large triggers. 

Take a man who has absorbed privilege and power, expects it’s his right that the world falls at his feet or his belt buckle and that’s cause enough for a woman to watch her step. 

But safety aside, there was more that annoyed me. 

Because I know what it took for me to get there, and every whistle and catcall threated to undermine internally all that I tried to remind myself of. 

I am more than a pretty face. In a world that tells me how I should look and behave as a woman, I am more than that expectation. 
All my hustle and hammer, my fierce determination to be there with a company Ev and I have built from the ground up.
My overcoming illness and being there despite my history.  All that real stuff. 

That was what I wanted them to see first.
That I am a boss lady, juggling life raising two kids and doing school runs, and talking to clients late at night, then flying to the other side of the world to help secure financial freedom for her and her family. 
 
Not my untoned arse that I’d hauled into a pair of tight jeans I love because of the way they stop me wobbling all over the place. 
Not my woeful bust that’s given life to two children, propped up with push ups and sitting pretty inside a sweatshirt I’d been wearing for three days. 

That is just the package and frankly, I don’t put a lot of time into it, so why is the packaging valued above the the gift itself?.

I want more for my daughter and girls all around the world. 
I want them to be all the kinds of beautiful they are and not live in fear that they should hide themselves or their light.

And I want them to rise. Fierce and free. 
And to always remember that those kind of men are not the sort of men who’s attention you want. 

There are so many wonderful men who will love you and champion you. Find the good men and treat them right. 

And know that they’ll laugh with you when you tell them you flipped the bird at some louts who, by the way, only have jobs because you were smart enough to build a company that pays for them to be there. 

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