I've got nowhere to go with this, no forum I feel safe saying this: but I'm almost done with my Trade. I'm tired of the men, the discrimination, and my own fear showing up to the Union Hall to take a dispatch, and then going to a job and being rejected: over and over again, till I get to the point I reject myself because I have convinced myself I'm not worthy, capable, or have the self esteem I'll make it past three days. That happened on Monday, a foreman who would have hired me, and he wanted someone to do a particular aspect of the job(cadwelding) which many dont' like to do, and it can be outright dangerous dealing with potentially explosive and burning substances....I was in fear that I couldn't 'measure up' since I hadn't done that procedure more than 3-5 times in 20 years, and always under supervision or with another....I didn't believe in myself, shot myself in the foot, and suggested he maybe get someone very familiar with the procedure. In other words, I didn't believe in myself.....but this guy woulda given me a chance! That's how demoralized my self-esteem is: this situation was on me! Being a big Butch Dyke and feeling worthless around these men. When I'm around other Dykes and women, they APPRECIATE me for my skills and abilities and knowledge, but when I'm around these men in my trade, I feel less than worthless..and any other women, including Dykes I know, many are not in solidarity and certainly not around the menz...because to them it would be 'guilt by association', so most I cannot count on. A few, yes, but most, no.
So, the second day I went out on Tuesday, and I came to a job where they were going to put in a huge solar array. I actually was quite excited, because I've gone to 3 solar classes, including one I paid for myself, about $500, a women only solar class put on by Solar Energy International. I suggest you look them up if you're interested in the field, because these women who taught the class were incredibly knowledgeable and did a far better job of teaching and hands on than the union program. So here was my chance! But it's with a contractor that all they care about is the bottomline, and workers are nothing but cogs in a wheel. Instead of filling out the paperwork and getting ready to do the work, he put me through a long, extensive and what I felt was an outright invasive interview process I entirely did NOT expect and was not ready for....this is a hard contractor to work for, and they have been problematic in the past....but I was trying to keep an entirely open mind: till he gets to productivity. Now mind you, I've NEVER done this particular work in the field, only in class, and he mentions he wants 140 solar panels put in in one day..and if I'm not up for it, I'll be laid off in 3 days! And I'm desparate for work, haven't worked since last summer, and right in the front of the books, where I could have my pick of the crop! I got in such a state of fear...and said "If I can't meet your expectation can you turn it into at least a short call, so I can get back on the book?" The answer was an unequivacal "NO, I don't do that!" He might have said 1000....sure I coulda lied, I coulda taken my chances, but instead I broke down....I named it: 'Everything is cutthroat, I have no clue if I could meet that, ect." I cried, I mentioned being desperate for work, ect. ect. and people could say and do say "Never reveal your weaknesses" but some times, we do. We break down, I am human and FEMALE after all. I am in touch with my feelings, I am clean and sober, I don't bury them behind drugs and alcohol. I am open to my spirituality, which I could use more of at this time, if I can open myself enough, and get still enough....
I left extremely depressed, feeling that TWO opportunities were now snatched from my hands...but especially around the solar, because THAT IS THE FIELD I WANT TO GET INTO! And I called a friend and she said he coulda said ANY number...whether it was realistic or not....to get a rise...to test me, or to bullshit me and put me in a place of fear, or perhaps I shoulda just bullshitted and said 'yes'....but that the ethics both of us deal with, is CONSTANTLY being lied to by these foreman, these contractors, told one thing, and then another that are completely untrue to cover their tracks, and in fact the guy started hemming and hawing about the numbers....
Why I'm mentioning all this is cuz I'm in a state of paralysis and fear.
I've felt this many times in relation to this Trade, to dealing with these men, to this system....but it has gotten much, much worse since the economic downturn. These guys LITERALLY want blood. I'm getting older, I'm 51, I'm not 25 or even 35...I'm not young anymore. I don't have the same energy level or conditioning, and being out of work so long, even less so...they've ended Affirmative Action in California, so they're not beholden to hire a certain number of women per job like they used to be in the '90's before the 'California Civil Rights Initiative" or rather Civil Wrongs Initiative, Prop 209 passed in the State of California, eliminating Affirmative Action for women and minorities....and the numbers of Tradeswomen and Women and Minority owned contractors has gone down ever since..the big boys have gotten even more of the pie than they already had!
I'm laying it out for you here, for myself, my truth...is I'm almost done with this, with Ed Hill, and all the rest...cuz they've literally starved us out, and kept the good ole boys working...they've cherrypicked and denied us, and I'm almost D O N E...but not before a last Robinhood moment where I gain all the skills I can before going............
So, I am finally at a Hecate like Crossroads in my Career. I WANT to use the skills I have,but I KNOW I must take them in another direction, a direction my heart wants to go in, that takes into account my spirituality, my love for Mother Earth, and being in the Solution, and no longer in the problem..meaning, if SOMEHOW, I CAN get permanently into the alternative energy/energy management field, use my brains more than my body, be more than a cog in a wheel and MOST OF ALL BE APPRECIATED FOR MY EFFORTS, rather than being treated like a whipped dog most of the time, and always fearful I could get laid off at any time, or not able to get another job, and do what I believe in, in alignment with my values, then perhaps I can finally be successful in the work world after all....and thrive, not just survive.
So many Dykes, so many Butches, so many women are so used to just surviving, because of the multitude of ways we're discriminated against workwise, and as a result not believing in ourselves, or being given the opportunities others with more privilege get and TAKE FOR GRANTED, like most of these hetero white dudes in the trade, or in life, we just get so beat down because of it. AND I'M SICK AND TIRED OF BEING BEAT DOWN AND STARVED OUT! MOST OF ALL I WANT TO BE HONORED AND APPRECIATED FOR MY EFFORTS AND WELL COMPENSED AS WELL..I DON'T WANT A STARVATION SALARY LIKE MOST WOMYN END UP SETTLING FOR!
So, you've heard it first...not that I haven't been saying it to friends and my partner...but never in print have I actually put it out there, in it's entirety and this is just a small portion of the story...but I'm almost DONE. I've been saying this 20 years, but this is the end of the road...I cannot go on like this anymore...and She has shown me I must make other choices, that feed my self esteem, my self worth, and my pocketbook, in alignment with my values.