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Independence Should Not Equal Insecurities

Why is it that when a young woman succeeds at a stereotypical man's job, he gets insecure about his masculinity?

We are all aware that in the past, women typically stayed home, took care of the kids, cleaned, cooked, etc. Even today, many women still take on this role. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I for one think that the diversification of women's occupations is a beautiful and much needed thing. 

I was raised, for the most part, by a single dad. I learned how to do a lot of things on my own that many girls or women don't learn until into adulthood, if at all. My senior year of high school, all seniors were obligated to do a 40 hour project and write a 12 page research paper that related to the project we chose in order to graduate. My dad had just bought an old truck that needed a new transmission, and I saw an opportunity. 

Our project had to fit in one of five categories. I chose the one requiring that we learn a new skill and use that skill to do a service to someone. My project? I decided I would research and teach myself how to rebuild an automatic transmission. I thought this would be a great way to tie in a research paper on diversity and globalization in the workforce.

Our project first had to be approved by our senior English teacher before the end of our junior year. When I submitted my proposal, he showed nothing but doubt. He wrote back advising me to pick something more "realistic" and "practical. When I argued with him that I could and would do it, he reluctantly agreed. He made it very clear that he wanted to get it in writing that he had warned me and I had gone against his judgement knowing that I could not graduate if I failed. 

His response aggravated me, but mostly, it just drove me to prove him and others wrong. I set out and was determined to do this on my own. The first week of school, we all were to tell the entire class what our idea was and how it was going so far. A lot of the guys were doing typical things for male students at our school. These were sports camps, agricultural research, welding, carpentry, automotive repair, etc. The girls also stuck to typical things like sewing, knitting, baking, cooking, childcare, etc. 

However, when I got up and presented my project, I got a lot of negative responses from the males in my class. When the teacher calmed things down a bit and asked me how my project was going, I said I was done. A few scoffs later I just invited myself to sit down. I had to have meeting later that week with my dad, English teacher, and principal to have my dad tell them I did it by myself and no one did it for me. 

The fact that I worked so hard for something and then had to validate that only I had a part in it, was absolutely ridiculous. I felt enraged, embarrassed, and a million other emotions that I can't begin to explain.  It reminded me of when I was growing up. It always seemed that in elementary school, when you would race with your friends, it always ended the same. When a boy races a boy, or a girl races against a girl, whoever wins, wins fair and square. However, when a boy races a girl, if the girl wins, it always seemed that the boy would make up some excuse as to why she won. This would happen, or his boy friends would make fun of him and make him feel insecure for losing. 

I was so proud of what I had accomplished, the project I had done, the paper I had written, and the presentation that I had made. In the end I earned almost a perfect score, but this earned me some negativity from people in my school, particularly males. Since then, I have found myself in a lot of situations where men feel less masculine due to me taking on some roles.  I held the door open for a guy, and we had a 5 minute argument on why I shouldn't be holding open the door for him because I am a woman. I helped a guy friend install his new floors, and his roommate was upset that I did it and not him. He criticized me and my work the entire time.

These are only a few of the instances. Consider this a PSA to all men who may act like this whether they know they are doing it or not. MEN, women are rising in society. Our success and our power is not a form of your destruction. We are not here to steal your jobs or futures. We are here to create our own! Just because in the past we did not take on more stereotypical male jobs, doesn't mean we can't. Respect yourself and respect women. We are not here to make you feel insecure. The only person that can determine your worth, is you. 

To all of the women out there who have had similar experiences, do not let your success be diminished by a man's insecurity. You are where you are because of you! You are successful on your own, and no one can take that away from you! To parents of young children, let us start explaining to children that gender roles are not boundaries or written in black and white. Success is something we should celebrate, either for ourselves or for others. So why not teach our children young to celebrate the success of themselves and others no matter the gender or role? 

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Independence Should Not Equal Insecurities
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