Not a Date
When I first started my business, I knew this was going to be hard. I had no preconceived notions that this was a walk in the park or that I would be making six figures within a year.
What I did not plan for was what it means to be a woman trying to start my business.
Being a woman* in business is mentally exhausting. I'm exhausted.
I'm exhausted from trying to explain to men that they are not allowed to touch me.
I'm exhausted from having to balancing "looking presentable" with "looking sexy."
I'm exhausted with having to be cordial all the time when so many people I interact with are so. damn. disrespectful.
I'm exhausted with being gaslit when I tell people about my experiences because they "aren't a big deal" or just "aren't real."
I'm exhausted from catching an attitude when I explain that this is a business meeting and not a date.
Here are a few general guidelines for me (that echo sentiments from many other women I have spoken to about this topic):
1. Do not treat me differently than you would a man. I do not want your "chivalry" that acts as an excuse to justify your inappropriate flirtatious behavior.
2. I am dressing in a way that makes me feel good; makes me feel confident. It has nothing to do with you, and I do not want your feedback.
3. I do not owe you my time or attention. I do not owe you a smile.
4. So many business groups claim to want more female entrepreneurs; to want more women. Act like it. There are many women who have walked away from entrepreneurship because the environment feels hostile.
5. If we meet for a 1 on 1, it is not a date.
*Although this post is about my lived experiences as a young femme white woman and collected experiences shared with me on and off-line, many business environments are not welcoming to those who are not cis het white men. The fewer of those categories you align with, the more difficult and hostile it can feel.