I think I must have had the chicken pox the day they called all the girls together in the school auditorium and taught them a whole list of things like:

  • Evaluate parts of your body negatively as if these don’t make up YOU. “Oh, I hate my nose.” “My butt is so fat.”
  • Weigh yourself compulsively even when you don’t have to make weight for anything.
  • Don’t get obviously angry. Don’t swear. In fact, don’t do anything that might make anyone uncomfortable.
  • Just be “Happy to be here.”

Oh, by the way, if you agree with any of that, it would be better for your state of mind if you quit reading right now.

The first time I heard that, “I’m just happy to be here,” was when I was on the U.S. team, in Europe, training for the world championships. There were a lot of rules laid down by someone who had obviously never competed in their life. Exhibit A: Everyone has to eat together because we are “a family.”

Now, my teammates ranged from some people I could tolerate to some people I liked, but even if they had been my actual family, the fact is that I weighed 56 kg for about 10 minutes a year, that being the few minutes before I was on the scale for weigh ins and the few minutes after.

My daughter, Maria says,


Being an adult means replacing, “Go fuck yourself” with “Okay, fine.”

Clearly, I was not yet an adult, because I told the team manager in no uncertain times that I was not going to eat with the team because I was not eating.

There were other rules, like not sharing a room with anyone who was not a team member. This was clearly aimed at one particular team member who was gay. It was enough to make me want to be a lesbian except for the whole having sex with women thing, which my teammate pointed out to me was kind of the point.

They brought along alternate team members in case a member of the team got injured or died. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Eve Aronoff, the 56 kg alternate, for not poisoning me – which would have been hard because I was not eating – but still, she didn’t even try and I am not sure I would have been as restrained in her position, so props to her).

About the twentieth time I said to the team manager something that was NOT, “Okay, fine”, one of the alternates said to me,

“I don’t know why you can’t be nicer. I am just happy to be here.”

– Person who pissed me off

I turned on her and said, “You may be just happy to be here but I have a RIGHT to be here. I earned my way here by beating everyone in the country over and over, and a whole lot of people in the rest of the world. “

If you earned your spot, don’t accept being treated as if you should be grateful to be there

This lesson goes beyond judo. Recently, I was working in an organization where the treatment they were receiving was just pathetic. They would ask for information or support they needed to do their job and not get it. So, they worked weekends and late nights just to get caught up. When I asked why, I was told that was the way it was. They were a small organization and the other organization was much larger so they were just happy to be involved.

I watched this for a while and realized that the smaller group was actually providing a lot of value. I was NOT just happy to be there because, completely immodestly (I told you I missed that week at school), I am very good at what I do. So, I called and emailed, and talked to people in person and nothing changed. Then I called someone’s boss. Then, I contacted that person’s boss.

Does it ever occur to people that maybe sometimes Karen is not an entitled nut job and perhaps your customer service seriously blows?

It took every single ounce of professional veneer I have acquired to not go full Karen on someone and scream,

“Motherfucker! Whose dick do I need to suck to get some help around here?!”

In the end, I did not say that, which I guess, proves I am adult after all. I just kept contacting people over and over, higher and higher up the chain of command until something finally moved. If I had not gotten assistance when I did, I was prepared to keep going, contacting everyone’s boss and their boss’s boss every day if I needed to. If necessary, I would have written a program to do it automatically. I’m good at stuff like that.

What I absolutely refused to accept is that I was not getting treated with respect and I was not going to stop until someone acknowledged that and did something about it.

I see this kind of disregard more often (although not exclusively) in non-profit settings where predominantly (but not only) women accept mistreatment because “Yes, it is incredibly difficult for me to do my job/ survive on my salary/ put up with the abuse but I am helping children/the homeless/ animals . ” Anyway, that’s another post. Stay tuned.

I also see it more often from women in tech companies who are told they are lucky to have the opportunity, to be getting experience.

If you are doing your job and worth what they are paying you, or more, then you deserve to be treated with respect. You shouldn’t feel, “Just happy to be there.” If anyone treats you like that, don’t stand for it.

Although, you should probably take Maria’s advice and be a little adult about it.

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