I think women can do whatever they want with themselves and their bodies. It’s your body. You make the rules. And you can break the rules, change the rules, and make new rules according to your own standards. I don’t give a shit.
But my laissez-faire feminism was tested at SHRM14, the other day, when I attended a party where I spotted two male friends. They are marketing professionals. Normal guys with spouses and kids. I walked up to say hello, and a young (and drunk) woman interrupted and said, “Do you know who these guys are? They are famous.”
And I’m like, okay, here we go.
Bradley Cooper is famous. Ryan Gosling is famous. My friends are not famous, but they are super interesting and chill. I tried to introduce myself to this woman, but she was on a mission: she wanted me to take her photo with these famous dudes.
The guys corrected her and said, “We’re not famous.”
And my friends encouraged this young woman to introduce herself to me because, you know, that’s what you do at networking events.
Unfortunately, this girl was oblivious to the social cues because I’m not one of those famous guys. When she finally paid attention to me and said her name, I extended my hand to shake hers — and she fell forward and handed me her phone.
She wanted the damn picture with these famous dudes! Then she wanted to dance.
So, yeah, that wasn’t great.
I am a good 10 years older than this woman, which means that — at the ripe age of 39 — I am invisible to a subset of young women who want to hook up and get a husband. But just as I was about to judge her in my head for being a stupid bitch, I thought, “What the hell do I know? Maybe this works for her.”
It is easy to look at a person and make assumptions about her character based on her behaviors and appearance. It is easy to hold someone to a specific standard and shame her for behaving a certain way. But I am not the supreme ruler of HR networking events, and this young woman was obviously having fun.
And her drunk behavior, while sorta rude, is no worse than some drunk dude’s rude behavior. In fact, it’s less rude than some of the interactions I had with sober HR leaders earlier in the day.
Most of us have been told not to judge a book by its cover. As I get a little older, I’m starting to feel like I shouldn’t judge at all. What the hell do I know, anyway? If I were smarter and more successful, I wouldn’t be at a human resources cocktail party in the first place.
I hope this girl enjoyed the party and liked her photo. I also hope she got lucky … with someone other than my two friends!