back to work, I mean, Kindergarten part II

by dominicdemeyn

Needless to say I was stunned and disappointed at my male (and some female) colleagues. I was also somewhat disappointed at myself, for playing the role of the Neutral (which is a useful protecive strategy of sorts). I didn’t get mixed up in the debate and justified my not speaking up for my colleague’s rights by mentioning that I did not know the circumstances, didn’t realise what behaviour was going on and was too new at the workplace to be legitimately able to speak up.

It’s true, I was really new at the workplace and hadn’t even seen the supervisor that often and he never even came close to me. But I feel like a coward for not supporting K. more and standing by her side and communicating my disgust with fellow co-workers.

Indeed, I am also treading a slim line between being mistreated or being part of the group. Everyday I struggle to assert my identity using only the words and phrases at my disposal. If I cater to the females in the group, I will be considered a female (like them), and thus ‘the enemy’, if I cater to the males I run the risk of (a) being considered one of them, albeit a faulty one, since my body speaks volumes about my ‘alien-ness’, even with having my breasts removed, or (b) just another female who uses male tactics to try and belong and therefore I might evoke hostility if not utter disgust for trying to be part of the club.

I am disappointed at people at work and at myself for being so cowardly and selfish and full of shit.

While I try as hard as I possibly can to not get involved in anything and stay on the sidelines, I am being just as irresponsible as my co-workers, who are oh so accepting of my gender, because they call me Dominic. When it comes to real life, important matters, and gender equality, however, they fail miserably to live up to their words. Their actions are, in fact, almost the exact opposite to their stated ideals.

I still don’t want to belong to either gender, although I do sympathise very strongly with K, my struggling-for-manifesting-humanity co-worker. I’m getting too tired to speak up, for I feel like if I do (and have tried many times before) I will just be speaking against a brick wall. If the people at work see the negative effects they have produced on a usually happy and carefree individual, who is immensely sensitive and trusting, then they are not showing it. Perhaps they cannot admit to themselves that they do not in the least resemble white knights who fight for justice and equality and are chivalrous and brave. Perhaps they cannot look in the mirror, do not want to see the truth. For everytime one doubts oneself, one’s self-esteem takes a hit and one’s arrogance gets chipped away. Without this barrier, how will one protect oneself from the mental assaults by others?

I don’t like going to work, not so much because I have to get up at 4.30 am or the people are all creeps and hypocrites, but because I feel like I’m torn between two warring sides and am constantly made to choose which one I am on and to reveal myself as either male or female. I feel like I’m trying to be bought off by either side, through positive reinforcement, through well-meant advice, through compliments. If I agree with one, then I shouldn’t agree with the other. If I talk with women about ‘womanly’ things, how can I possible then talk to the men about ‘men things’?

My desk at work is currently very much in the male section, full of male energy and I also get to hear a lot of male talk. I sometimes wish I could sit closer to my female co-workers, not because they are better, but they don’t make me sad or angry, they don’t keep asking inapporpriate questions when I have stated my side of the story in an argument, they don’t keep opening up new stale arguments or discussions that have been put to rest, they don’t question my identity every five minutes and watch me in case I act male or female. They are easier to get along with.

But what torrent of abuse will I encounter if I dare to decide to sit with people born of the female sex? It will be said I am a traitor, I am female after all, eventhough I was so well-treated and accepted for who I was by my male colleagues. It will be said there is a conspiracy going on and we used to all get along so well together and could all make fun and have a good time before ‘the incident’ occured, but now the females destroyed the mood. ‘Females’ will be seen as agressors and the workplace will be segregated and vile energy will be floating around.

I feel like I am trying to act as barrier, as diplomat in a role I despise. I am the least likely candidate to perform such a task, and it shouldn’t even be necessary to have an intermediary between the two sexes, especially not one who identifies with neither.

I hope these people can get their act together and set aside their differences, because when one thinks about it, there really aren’t that many. It’s quite funny how the gender-queer is sort of included in both groups as part of making fun of the other, while those people, who actually have a lot in common (because of, instead of in spite of, their gender difference) gang up against each other.

Hell, I really don’t want to be the scapegoat or the one everyone hates and wants to get rid of, but I would be really happy if there wasn’t any conflict at work. Why alienate someone who has worked with you for a long time and agrees with a lot of the things you agree with, why not alienate the one who secretly loathes you and everything you stand for and wishes humans would cease to exist?

What will these people do when they start realising that gender doesn’t really exist? How will they structure their personalities and their lives? How will they communicate with people around them?

I never thought there would be such drama in such a common, boring workplace, that such heightened emotions would emerge out of the most menial tasks, that such feats of rhetorik and political debate would be enacted in such an ugly and barren setting.