I had friends over the other night. The mom and two boys came and there were then four boys running rampant in and around my house. The Mom and I had a glass of wine and chatted. They were people who were not in my COVID bubble. It was weird and nice and bittersweet and overstimulating. How many nights have we missed like this over the past two years? While I love my two friends in my COVID bubble and am incredibly grateful for ALL the nights we have had in the last two years…it’s a weird freedom to see other people.
It was so great and the reason I say bittersweet is because I just couldn’t help wondering how the last two years have impacted my sons.
I thought back to my own time between ages 4-6 and I had a best friend who lived down the street. We were always in and out of one another’s houses and always together. We did sleepovers and campfires and so much more. And my sons have never done a sleepover at some one else’s house. And until last month they hadn’t even seen their classmates full faces.
I don’t regret protecting them over the last two years. I don’t blame science as I fully believe the mitigation steps we took were necessary. I am grateful they are vaccinated. I am taking them to NYC for two nights in April, we are going to the Statue of Liberty. I may have booked this during a moment of temporary insanity but we are going.
Life feels semi-normal again. And it’s weird.
Some things that have not changed- the Republicans continue to push their anti-abortion and anti-trans agenda forward with little to no resistance in midwest and Southern states. I keep working and growing my practice and upon expanding I have encountered time and time again the micro-aggressions of society toward a female business owner. I have built and moved more furniture in the last month since opening my second location…then ever in my life. Sometimes I have help, and sometimes it’s just me. Swearing at the furniture. Fighting back tears as I realize the last three steps I did wrong…it’s a good time.
Back to being a female business owner. There are good people who treat me with respect. But there are also not nice people, mostly men, who can’t believe that my pretty little head can think and speak and tell them to go to hell.
I’ve been asked so many things, “So you own this business or you’re the admin or something? Who is your boss?” “Yeah but who is in charge?” “Yeah but who is above you?” “So this is your first time having an office?” No- second office location 3rd space since I opened. “So your income last year was what? Around sixty thousand or so?” Uh no. “So you own a solo practice?” Uh no. I have employees also. “Oh you have one or two employees?” No, I have eleven. And counting. “So what it’s like a spa?” No. Mental health practice. “So what you talk to people about their problems? Like a therapist?” yes. Kind of. I prescribe medication also. “So there’s one person who prescribes and then the rest are therapists?” Five. There are five prescribers. Four, soon to be five, therapists. Two administrative staff.
When I give my answers that are complete opposite to what they are expecting- they try not to look shocked but seem to keep grasping at a way to make me be less successful with their follow-up questions.
I’m not a bragger and I generally do not like talking about my work. But if some one is clearly making assumptions devaluing me because of my gender. I have a lot of feelings about that. And it is conveyed in my responses. If I was male I do not think I would be approached in this way. And my practice is not huge, it’s still small, but yeah I have worked my butt off for all of it. And if all my employees quit tomorrow I’d start over on my own. Failure and success do not scare me. I have made mistakes and will make more mistakes. But I do a few things right too.
I’m in a single mom’s group on FB and there was a thread about how dating. Some one posted a link to an article published in a journal in 2021- that showed through a rather large and well done study that men are seeking attractive females and if the male has a high education level then they are seeking a female with a lower education level. Females on the other hand, while they also seek attractive mates, they seek education levels that are on the same level or higher than theirs. So females are looking for mates who are smarter, and males are seeking mates who are less educated. And there’s surprise as to why dating apps have low success rates in creating a long lasting relationship. It’s not the apps fault though it’s user error.
What is so threatening to a male about an educated female? We have all seen it play out rather publicly this week- not just a well educated, well spoken female but a female of Color. Judge Jackson was composed, intelligent, and everything that the accused rapist now sitting on the Supreme Court was not. The Republicans who questioned her were grasping at straws trying to break her and again- most of them were white males. It felt as though they generally do not like her. But deeper, they are threatened by a woman with education- likely more education then them.
I don’t know why- a google search says everything from threat to their ego to their masculinity makes them feel like a failure…etc. But the data is clear. Men are threatened by smart women. Not all men. George Clooney is a great example of a successful man who openly acknowledges his wife Amal is smarter than he is and he is proud of her. George Clooney brings his own set of skills to the table though so maybe that’s a bad example.
In my own life I certainly hang out with smart women who are in partnerships with smart men and it is not detrimental to their relationships. As a female business owner who has lived mostly in seclusion in the last couple years, it’s been hard to enter back into the world and experience men at their worst though.
All I can do is keep on keeping on. Each time a transphobic law is passed I hire an LCSW or an APRN in my practice. I will keep expanding an LGBTQ owned business that services the LGBTQ community and nothing spurs me forward more than the hate we continue to face as a community. It’s hard work. It’s exhausting. But it’s worth it. It’s important to me that I stand. When I first started my practice I wanted to just be in a place where I could practice as myself. A Queer provider. Now it’s a place for me to practice, but also for me to help educate providers on Queer competence, and a place for Queer individuals to feel safe. It’s become something bigger than myself.
So I’ll take all the demeaning questions and follow-up questions and I’ll keep answering them. Because men should not be threatened by a woman’s success. And if they are that’s a them problem. Not a me problem.
On the flip side, my two little men, are proud as heck of their Mama, and after I showed them the new office in the new town we went out to eat, and they told the waitress beaming that “My Mama has a new office, and she’s the boss of two offices, she’s the big boss in charge.” Hopefully I’m raising two boys into men who will not be threatened by a woman’s brains.