Have you ever felt that you can go several days at work without really being able to relax? Without feeling entirely safe in the space you spend at least 8 hours a day? Because I have, on and off for as long as I’ve been in game development.
It is part of the nature of the job. Most of my colleagues are men. I spend most of my days in meetings where I am the only woman and it is honestly exhausting.
Having a space where I am not the odd one out, where I am not the only one in my “group” is an amazing feeling. All the masks can be dropped. I don’t have to worry about how I’m sitting, who I’m talking to, if I hold eye contact for too long, if I smile too much or maybe not enough… Believe it or not, a lot of my energy goes to make sure I’m not giving off flirty vibes – because I’m fat and old and don’t want to horrify my younger colleagues by giving them any kind of impression that I might like them in a non-professional manner.
In other words, I try really hard not to be creepy1.
With that in mind, can you imagine how blissful it is not to have to worry about things like that all the time and just hang out?
That is of course not the only positive aspect. Another thing I honestly don’t thing men reflect on all too often is how rare it is to have one’s knowledge and experience being taken for granted and accepted.
Up until my current job – where I work mostly with people new to the industry – I went into meetings and discussions and fully expected to be totally dismantled, disbelieved and not listened to. People sometimes tell me that my arguments are well founded, informed and researched. That is absolutely true and also by necessity. I can have 20 studies backing my opinion or recommendation, but it only takes one man with an unfounded hunch to invalidate anything I say.
Not having to deal with that is honestly pure bliss.
Another thing I appreciate with separatist spaces is that people from marginalized groups usually doesn’t steal ideas from one another or attribute them to a man.
In short, while I generally like men2, being the only woman in a room full of them is exhausting. It is a constant reminder that no matter how far we believe we have gotten, we have a long way left to go.
- Here’s the thing. I was told a long time ago by a then colleague that he was in no way interested in me – entirely out of the blue – because apparently I smiled too much and held eye-contact too long. It was unsettling because I was not on that page at all. I also knew men are a bit weird when it comes to fat women and their possible interest so I’m basically trying my level best not to disgust anyone with unwanted attention. Okay, I know, I’m weird!
- Not like-like! I don’t want to seem creepy!