FishDreamer scribbles: It ain't over yet.

Monday, 1 March 2004

Geek Camouflage

I discovered a hole in my jeans today. Not the five-year-old tapered jeans that I fit back into last year. No, not the brand new ones either. There is a hole right below the fly of the jeans I bought last year. Not even a year ago, I don't think, because I wouldn't have fit into them before I started losing weight in March last year. It's just a little worn spot where all the threads going one direction are gone, and it's maybe the size of my thumbnail. But I can't wear them to work anymore.

This is a problem of not buying clothes. Most of the time I've had those, I've only had three or four pairs of pants to wear, and they were the only blue jeans I had that I liked. I only got another comfortable pair what, two weeks ago? Dang. I am going to have to go out and get a new pair of pants, and I have to consider getting something that isn't denim.

I dress a particular way at work, for specific reasons. In summer, I wear skirts and dresses because otherwise I will pass out due to heat on the bus. But the rest of the year, I dress like the engineers. I have to. I am one of three women in our department of forty, and I'm the only one who doesn't have a technical background. (The fact that I'm more technical than some of the men can just be ignored at this point.) I deliberately dress just like the guys, so that I fit in and they don't subconsciously think of me as non-technical support staff.

I'm in a weird middle ground where I work. Mostly, it works. I'm older than most of them and I know my stuff, so when I get bossy about something I can back it up. But with some of the people who don't know me as well, how I appear is the only tool I have to get the respect they automatically accord other men. No, really. I'm not kidding.

I work in information technology. I'm not saying IT is all men (although the numbers are interesting) and I'm not saying I get treated in a sexist manner all the time (I don't). But it happens, and I can't always do anything about it. I choose to fight my battles where I see the most benefit, or where I just can't shut up and take it anymore. Work, for the most part, hasn't given me a whole lot as a feminist to fight about. Always some, but not a lot. This is good.

I run into prejudice more often in social situations, and I get it from both sides. I work with men, almost exclusively. I am not into things like clothes, decorating, children, and television. Sometimes that leaves me with very little to talk about with other women. And in these situations, I will generally go hang with the men (or I will just not stick around). I ruined a holiday party for one guy with this one, because it really bugged him that I was hanging in the garage drinking beer and playing darts instead of in the kitchen drinking kahlua and talking shopping and holiday decorations. And I'm really sorry that he's so sexist and misogynistic that he couldn't handle one pair of tits in the manly domain, but I'm not going to accomodate that. What, is it that threatening? Apparently it was, because I heard about it from the guy who threw the party (not the one with the problem) for a week after. But I am still invited next year, so I guess the guy is just going to have to come into the new century and deal with women as people.

The kind of women who have a problem with me not being up on Martha Stewart just tend to ignore me, which is fine. Being shunned by the Sisterhood of Chintz is not going to chap my hide. They're happy, I'm happy, it all works out. I don't care if decorating is someone else's big thing, it's just not something I am very good at or spend any time on.

But about work clothes. I have noticed recently that the people I work with are dressing better than they used to. Everyone still wears jeans on occasion, and no one ever wears a tie, but the khakis and the dockers are in more frequent evidence than they used to be. I haven't worn my khakis in quite a while (it's winter, and they're kind of baggy). I am thinking I might get a pair of pants in olive or black, rather than more jeans. But I am one hell of a picky person when it comes to my clothes, so we'll see what fits and I like.

I don't particularly like shopping, especially for clothes (although I love shopping for books). I always have an argument between the part of me that's cheap and the part that likes nice things. Which side wins depends on whether I find something that works and how much it costs. More often than not, I will come home with nothing. And then there will be that one trip where I get everything I've been looking for over the last two years, all for under $100. (It happens.) But I will go, and I will try on jeans and other things, and I will find more work clothes so that I don't end up wearing the holy pants to work when everything else is dirty.

I just won't be going now. I need new running shoes, and I'm going to get those this month. That way I can continue to run without more pain and damage to all my delicate joints.

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