“Breathe, Doctor Yang. Don’t be crass. You are skulking. Women of your generation are graceless. It’s an affront to nature. Mediocre surgeons will see you and feel themselves wilting in your shadow. Do not shrink to console them. Do not look for friends here, you won’t find them. None of these people have the capacity to understand you. They never will. If you’re lucky, one day when you’re old and shrivelled like me, you’ll find a young doctor with little regard for anything but their craft. And you’ll train them like I trained you. Until then, read a good book. You have greatness in you Yang. Don’t disappoint.”~ Beautiful Doom Grey’s Anatomy 9 ep 05

I have allowed a few things in life to pass me by. I have never felt the worse for it. Things like Grey’s Anatomy and Prison Break. Somehow the craze and obsession with these shows just went right over my head. I have caught an episode or two here and there but it’s difficult to get into something if you don’t know who’s who? Who’s sleeping with who? Which one of them is the famed Dr McDreamy. It’s all very exhausting. So I didn’t try.

As the universe and its unending sense of humour would have it, I find myself spending a lot of time with someone who loves Grey’s Anatomy. Try as I may, I can not avoid picking up a thing or two. Wonder of wonders it has not been as bad as I imagined.

During one of these episodes something struck a deep chord with me. Surgery is a tough, competitive field. It is a field that is largely male dominated. It is a field in which, as women, we may feel the need to let go of our more feminine tendencies in order to feel like we have a shot at competing with our male colleagues. The same may be said of a number of professions.

In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, an ancient older male surgeon, Dr Thomas, says to a much younger, and extremely talented female surgeon, Dr Yang:

“Don’t be crass. Women of your generation think they have to be crass, or no one will believe their strength.”

This statement jumped out at me in the most surprising manner. The profound underlying truth stopped me dead in my mental tracks and made me re-evaluate. Being a lady, sitting up straight, speaking correctly and politely at all times, dressing appropriately….these are things our society no longer appreciates. It is easy to feel the pressure to act and sound like one of the boys. To swear like a sailor. To run in the passage at work when you are really really late (all the time ignoring the nagging memory of my mum telling me “ladies don’t run”). Here I speak of myself and the things I sometimes do. It feels, sometimes, like I must show that I have that in me so that when my mostly male colleagues see me they don’t just see a little girl playing at being a lawyer. They see a gladiator in a suit…..yes I just quoted Scandal. Colour me guilty 😉 In doing these things I have become graceless. As Dr Thomas said

“Women of your generation are graceless. It’s an affront to nature.”

Feminism, equal rights, burning my bra……what do these things mean to me? It means brave women went before me to ensure I would have the right to the same opportunities and rights as men. It means they allowed me a chance to prove myself against those who thought their sex made them stronger. It is up to me to grab that opportunity and make the most of it. What it does not mean is that I must feel I need to act like one of the boys. I don’t need to be a graceless, foul mouthed, perhaps crass woman to get ahead in my field. I don’t need to fight a battle someone else has already won for me. The battle for me now is finding a balance. How to use my attributes to get ahead regardless. We all know women can do what men can do. Men, however, can not do what women can do as easily. It follows then that to be most powerful, a woman must be able to combine all her attributes to create something men can rarely produce….graceful power.

“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”