Disclaimer: this post contains a lot of Navy Lingo. If I talk about something I haven’t posted on the Jargon/Slang page, please, email me or ask in comments and I’ll add it there.
Fellow blogger Leopard asked “how did the guys cause the women to turn against each other?” Summerville, a previous Engineer, briefly touches on the fact that the female Engineers wouldn’t unite together on her ship.
I’ve mentioned in the past that I was also originally in an Engineering rate in the Navy. I’ve waited a bit to start discussing it, as it will span a series of subjects, but no time like the present, aye?
When I got on board my first ship, I was one of the first 10 enlisted females to be stationed there. In the previous year the ship had been modified to accommodate females (read: rip the urinals out of the now female berthings, and install another stall/shower). I was on a ‘small boy’ (destroyer), housing anywhere from 200-300 personnel. Right from the start we ladies were outnumbered. You’d suppose in such circumstances the small amount of female engineers would band together, right?
Wrong. Right from the start I was snubbed by the other girls. No worries, I realized you can’t be everyones friend. Slowly as time passed we gained more females, and by the time I left the ship I believe we were hovering around the 50 mark.
A) Alright, statistics out of the way, here is how it all starts. As a brand new female on board, you are immediately hounded by many of the males. Before you even get on board your facebook has been scoped out, and any pictures of you have been passed around. I saw it happen after I got on board with females coming after me, and only then did I realize that the pictures they had asked for to identify me at the airport were really for.
But I digress. So here you are, brand new. Immediately you will be propositioned and asked if you need anything from a group of seemingly nice guys. “You moved in all right?” “Need a ride anywhere?” “Hey there’s a party going down this weekend, you should come out” etc etc. This immediately sets most of the other girls on edge.
There’s a certain sense of jealously that happens with a new female on board. The previous girls may start to be ignored by some of the guys they had been hanging out with, because once again, fresh meat. If the girl appears to anyone as being friendly with any of the guys her first day she’s immediately a tramp. I guarantee that for every girl that came on board after me there were stories the very next day about who she had already fucked.
And there is the first wedge driven between the females. The perceived promiscuity. We’re already deeming her a whore because of the male attention she has garnered, by simply existing and showing up to our ship.
B) All females are horrible Engineers. Sort of how in Highschool there is this percieved notion that girls suck at science/math/whathaveyou, everyone on board assumes that females just aren’t cut out to be Engineers. They point immediately at the girl who does use the “girl card” to get out of hard work (“Oh it’s so heavy, would you lift that for me?” “I don’t understandddddd” “What’s a wrench”? <– yes honestly, there are these types, but there men who are just as bad but don’t use gender as an excuse). They ignore other all other females who actually are good at their jobs. Tooting my own horn here, but I left my command all the way to EPCC and In Port CCS watch, with my ESWS pin, and WCS for my shop. Navy lingo aside, I was doing very well for someone of my rank. I had people higher ranking than me coming to me for help and work questions (positional authority).
B1) Going off the above, no one starts as a great engineer (except maybe people who did it as civilians beforehand). When I first got on board I really didn’t know the difference between a lot of tools. BUT! But! All the new guys are like that too! But the moment a new female comes on board she’s instantly incompetant because she’s a gurlllllllll. As the guys snub their noses at the new females, us previous ones, having busted our asses to get some recognition, nod and agree emphatically, pointing out that they just don’t have what it takes like us.
C) And going off of that again. Those females who do try their hardest to be seen as “one of the guys” will fight tooth and nail to keep that status. I remember the few times that I spoke out against sexism I was immediately ostracized by the males whom I would have counted as good coworkers, sometimes even friends. It’s a very subtle process, but to stay on top of this pile, to be seen as a coworker (albeit an inferior one, never accepted as a true equal), we would often stomp all over each other to stay there.
(Now I know there were more things, but this is all I can recall at the moment. As I remember any other circumstances I’ll slap ’em in a snippet post.)