Always remember, how you let a man into your space will determine how he behaves once he gets there. Years ago when I worked as a stylist in the music and entertainment industry, I constantly stood at a crossroads between right and wrong. My moral compass was always being tested. Working in a male-dominated industry definitely teaches you some things. Not only did it test my patience but it also helped me get a backbone. I was young, curious and exposed to sex, drugs and (business) politics on a regular basis.
Not actual sex. But what I mean is that I was in an environment where women are seen as objects and not heard. Just to give you some context, I’ll tell you a quick story.
I was working on the set of a music video (girl, 24hr video. Ugh. Set life) and getting a girl dressed for her scene. It was a bed scene. Bikini shot by a sunlit window and her only job was to roll all over the sheets and look sexy. While tying her strings together, she started crying. Of course I panicked because this had never happened before. For the most part, the talent keeps it pretty profesh. So I asked her what’s the matter and she replied that she didn’t even know how she ended up here in the first place. She continued to tell me how she got the role and all the things she had to do to be the lead vixen. It was the first time in 6 years that I was so disappointed with myself. I felt like shit and I hated that my part contributed to the downward spiral of girls I met on a regular basis. It was the first time I questioned the work I was doing. Moral of this story is that I’ve heard and seen many things .
But anyway, my point is that every woman should have standards or what I like to call non-negotiables. I don’t need to tell you this, you know it. However, a simple reminder never hurt anyone. I want to replay some scenarios I’ve experienced and explain how I practice what I’m teaching.
1. Set strict boundaries
Funny enough, I was in an uber with a girlfriend yesterday evening (around 8pm) and she was on her phone replying via email to a male colleague. She was scheduling their first meeting and looked over and asked, “Should I tell him I’m available now?” I said hell nawl. He can wait till sunrise. Don’t give him any leads to assume it’s anything more than what you intend this call to be. There were two other gentlemen in the car who laughed so hard. Then my girl and I joined. I wasn’t surprised when the two gentlemen agreed with me. They knew exactly what I was talking about. Unless absolutely necessary, I really try to keep all meetings during the day – coffee or lunch at best. In my personal opinion, dinner is suggestive. Give him an inch and he just might stretch it. Nawl. I’m not here for it. I’ve had instances when it all went left. In addition, whether man or woman, I also mention that I have another appointment afterwards (which is sometimes a lie – oh welp) so they understand that I don’t have time to waste. It creates a sense of urgency and tightens the agenda.
2. You don’t have to bend
On another set of a music video I was working on, one of the rappers started rolling a blunt. I thought three things. Number one. Smoking is lame (personal opinion). Number two. I have thousands of dollars worth of clothes here and I can’t return them to designers smelling like smoke. I wish he’d try it. Try me. Number three. Do I say something or play it cool?
Girl, nawl. I definitely said something and the crew and artists definitely did not like it. I came across as the goody-two-shoes but this was something I wasn’t going to compromise on. I told him to take it outside. He looked at me like I stuttered or something. I told him that if he didn’t I’d walk and he wouldn’t have anything to wear in his video.
He took it outside.
But don’t get it twisted. Not every story will have a happy ending. Taking a stand for things I believe in is hard bruh. I’ve been called all kinds of names and have been mistreated because of it, but stand tall and stand strong. If it’s important to you – do not bed.
3. Pick a location wisely
I can’t even tell you this story without laughing because this guy really tried it. A very well-respected businessman in Toronto requested a meeting with me. I know (of) him pretty well because we have many mutual friends. So I suggested a cafe that was mutually beneficial from a distance standpoint and his response was as follows:
“My accountant has me on a budget. I’d much prefer to meet at my home office.”
I’m sorry. Wait. What.
Oh Sir. Hell nawl.
He could really be telling the truth, but honestly, I don’t care. I don’t like how it came across and declined the invitation immediately. I lost money. I lost a potential client. But don’t care – I kept it pushing.
4. Charge what you’re worth and don’t feel bad about it.
Girlfriend. I be chargin’ a bag of money PLUS tax. I do not play. This is what I do for a living. I’m confident in my abilities and I make every effort to deliver quality so I really don’t like when anyone, be it man or woman, requests a discount or doesn’t come correct. I’ll give you another scenario that recently happened. Someone reached out to me via Facebook to do a radio interview. I am always flattered whenever someone wants to feature me on their platform. If the initial touch base is on Facebook, I’m cool but I typically like to keep all business correspondence via email. So I asked him to email me. He #swerved and continued speaking to me on Facebook.
So he proceeded to send me details on the interview such as the theme, time, date, etc. however, before I could confirm the interview, I responded with a few questions of my own: Number one. May I see your website? Number two. Can you tell me more details about your audience? Number three. Who else has been featured on your show? Number four. Tell me more about your daily/monthly views.
Simple questions. It’s business, not personal.
His reply *Crickets*
Ok sir. We’ll leave it there. My assumption is that he felt some-type-of-way by my questions and that I should’ve already assumed ‘he’s poppin’ and should’ve agreed.
No sir. Keep it pushin’
Listen, you get what you expect. People need to know where you stand. I’m more than happy to contribute to your platform but I have a protocol that I follow. Sir, it’s called being professional.
Below is a video clip of Nicki Minaj that I really love. She speaks a lot of truth in this interview. Take it in.
“When I am assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss.”
These are only very few instances that shed light on how I navigate my business relationships with male counterparts. But don’t get it twisted. All men are not dogs. All men are not assholes. Some are really awesome and have your best interest. Either way, keep an open mind and heart always. Just don’t lose your head. BOSS UP. Don’t get weak. Boss up!
Peace & Love