Folks, in 1985 I had a dream and, for a change, it wasn’t one of those dreams.
The next day, I wandered into the factory and told my workmates, “Hey, I dreamed this place was hiring female tradesmen!”
Two of them sprayed coffee all over the floor and the cigarette fell out of my boss’ mouth.
Seeing their reactions, I wondered if I’d casually mentioned I was toying with turning gay and having violent sex with all of them; repeatedly.
The elder statesman of the team, his face white with anger, staggered to his feet, jabbed a finger up to the second knuckle into my sternum and yelled, “They will NEVER employ girls here!”
Then the rest of the lads lined up to tell me I was either:
a) a ‘F#@*ing moron!
b) F#@*ing kidding my f#@*ing self!
It was the start of a very long, and bad, day.
Word spread and a conga line of red-faced, angry fellas appeared in front of me to tell me loudly, with a lot of flying spit, why women were not cut out to work in heavy industry.
This was a job for men! Manly men! Tough men! Hard men! Real men!
Basically, the type of men we saw in beer commercials.
The only exception was an old Romanian bloke who collared me in the carpark after work.
“In old country, women work with men and fight in war. Is normal,” he said.
“Why didn’t you say something earlier?!” I cried.
“I’m not idiot,” he replied, “Hard enough being stupid, stinking garlic, wog here.”
The smelly old wog had a point.
Fast forward to 2021 and my old factory has been hiring female tradesmen for over thirty years and the world hasn’t spun off its’ axis.
Now, I’m not saying we chaps haven’t had disappointments as things transitioned. I once missed a job because ‘The Female Quota’ was too low and, as a result, my name was taken off the list of successful candidates.
The old bloke who gave me the ‘good news’ muttered, “I’m sorry mate, apply again next year, but then they’ll probably tell us ‘The Cripple Quota’ is too low and you’ll miss out again.”
Folks, you’ll be delighted to know I survived this crushing experience, and went on to live a full, happy and bitter-free life.
Because, I have three daughters, and the chances of them getting a job at any of the places I’ve worked at back in the day, were about the same as Phar Lap returning from the dead to win another Melbourne Cup.
Now, if they wanted, they can be engineers, electricians, soldiers, doctors, mechanics, cops, pilots or a cabinet minister (until some bloke stuffs up and they get tossed under a bus), hell, they can even drive buses!
Of the top five bosses I’ve had the pleasure to work for, three were women and I was the one crying when they left.
Of the few dropkicks I’ve grudgingly toiled under, only one was a woman.
Which just goes to show even ladies can be complete pricks.
Of course, there are a still some ‘Dong Dangling Dinosaurs’ who think:
‘Those uppity bitches are taking good jobs from men!’
‘They cry in a crisis!’
‘They want time off to have babies!’
And the classic, ‘They’re too weak/frail/puny/tired/stupid!’
Happily, those sexist fossils are vanishing. Except, oddly, at Parliament House where the ‘Swinging Dicks’ still hold sway; so to speak.
But outside those hallowed halls, things have changed.
It’s socially accepted that women have every right to work in the same dead end, demeaning, soul crushing, undignified, dangerous, patronising, filthy, noisy, dusty, debasing jobs as men (often for less pay).
Hey, you’re living the dream now ladies!
This article first appeared in the Regrow Queensland e-zine. Check it out!