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Dealing with Male Bureaucracy

When you live in this part of the world, you kind of get used to the usual discourse on a woman’s place being in the home. It’s everywhere, in your house, at work, at religious gatherings, on the Ads we see every day and practically every physical or mental thing we behold.

To be fair on myself, my parents didn’t harass the girls with domestication, the boys did as much work as the girls. No leaving of house chores for the girls to do. But, outside of that, in Africa, a woman’s worth is pretty much calculated by how much domestic weight she can pull in.

Women, girls have been labeled the domestic ones since forever and even though the times are changing, the world has shown itself to be a cranky place when women flex their career muscle.

The woman is either told that her place is not in the board room, or she needs to take on double the work in order to prove that she is as worthy of a career place as her male counterpart, or she is denied leisure time just because. It is interesting to note that the same system which posits that the woman needs to be at home, cringes when she has to take  maternity leave for a couple of months. It is also interesting to note that it wants to pile an immense amount of  work on the woman at the office but cringes when she earns more than her male counterpart. The world is a cranky place.

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Back to domestic issues, I remember my first job ever. The office assistant/cleaner had left and one day the boss turned to us girls and said, “Why is this place dusty? You girls should clean the place up!” The first thing that came to my mind was, “am I supposed to add that to the list of things to do today?” It’s insane, I tell you. Sometimes I want to whip out my sexy genius and just be awesome, but the bureaucracy of the male counterpart just makes it extremely tough.

I could talk about all the things that are wrong with being a girl in this world and male bureaucracy, but, I’m trying to be a problem solver. So I’ll just shoot for the stars and be positive. Here are a few things that can help you survive as a girl in a bureaucratic world:

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1) Determine the role you want to play and the consequences/effects of that role; so that you know beforehand the issues you may have to deal with. This way you are not taken by surprise when issues start arising. For example, I’m about to start a new project outside of my business and I have determined that I will not work overtime, I will not do Saturdays (my Saturdays are for family, friends, TV and lazing around) and I will not to go the extra-mile in proving that a girl is worth a thousand boys. I really don’t care. Yes, they may call me a lazy ass, silly child, not worthy of being called whatever. But, I’ll put in my best in the hours allotted to work and I will not kill myself to prove a point. And I’m going to be nice about it.

2) Don’t prove a point to the world. It doesn’t care about your point if it’s not bringing in a lot of money. But, seriously, learn to prove a point to yourself only. I can do this. I can execute great ideas. I can create great stuff…etc. Those are things you want to prove to yourself. Don’t make it a point of duty to prove things to the world. Be your own audience first.

3) Learn to speak up and ask for what you want. Women are bombarded with the ‘prove yourself’ argument so much, that they think it’s a crime to ask for the things they need to even supposedly prove themselves. You are not a magician, you are human. If you need a pencil to do good work, ask for pencil. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you need somebody to help you with something, ask for help.

4) Be soft-spoken. This is where your femininity comes to play. You get more that way than being hard and harsh. Men don’t like harsh, brutal women. And guess what? Women don’t like them either. So, be the devil’s advocate and play nicely. You’re dealing with bureaucracy, you need the peace of mind to be able to get into every corner you want and get things done. Remember you’re not looking for arguments and fights. You want to get things done.

5) Do amazing work. Don’t be shoddy or clumsy. Make sure you are good at what you do and do it well. That way, you can get away with a lot of things.

The world is slowly changing its mind about the role of women. You can’t wait for it before you make your mark. So, flirt and dance with it, and get things done, while it makes up its mind.

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