Yesterday while eating dinner with one of my fellow Executive Officers, he mentioned something to me that really struck a nerve. This week, his Commander told him that he needed to be careful about hanging out with me and eating lunch because of “what people will think,” specifically because I am a single female and he is a married man. I was shocked…honestly shocked…I have had derision come in my direction but never have I been accused of possibly putting off the impression that because I am socializing with someone that I am interested in them. I have never made any suggestion to any male in my battalion that I was interested in them other than working next to them in a military environment. Apparently this comment stemmed from the Battalion, the command group, not just his Commander.

Ladies, however much you try to be yourself and still put up a shield to the criticism and the perceptions you will never be exempt from the derision. However much you try not to act like Barbie, or Butch, your ass is still on the chopping block. You could be one of the best performers, never have an infraction in your unit, never have a relationship with anyone in your unit and yet still you will be looked at as a potential issue.

I went as far as to joke that I should cage myself in my office, maybe that will make it more obvious that I don’t have interest in anyone, but my Commander reminded me that taking a step back is not what to do. Instead, prove them wrong and keep going about your business. Never give in to the derision or act like you are privy to it, if you are doing the right thing, keep doing the right thing. She made sure to point out that if she and I ate every meal together, we would just be called lesbians. Therefore, there is no happy medium.

Your coworkers will always talk, the only way to protect yourself is to do the right thing, be yourself and prove them wrong. Never give up and keep reminding yourself that there are some things, unfortunately that will never change…the fact that you have boobs and a bun in your hair will always make you different than the guys whether or not you like it. You can not change who you are, and you can not change how people think or their perceptions all you can do is know in your heart that you are practicing patience and always setting the standard.

Girls in Green…don’t get discouraged…people will talk, and perception is NOT everything…