I was having a chat with a friend of mine who travels quite a bit for work. He was relating a circumstance in which his team’s safety was of concern traveling between the job site and the hotel, and he had been clear with the female team members about no unscheduled cab rides, notifying the concierge of their whereabouts, etc. Apparently the ladies were not excited about this until they realized there was good reason for the precautions.

I could relate. I don’t want to be told what to do.

I also think I’m the baddest bitch on the block.

But I got it. He was taking responsibility for the safety of the team, and wasn’t interested in whether he appeared to be overbearing or patronistic or overprotective. It wasn’t about protecting the women, it was about protecting the team. It’s what a good leader does.

To say I have a hard time with that is an understatement. Because as a woman who has had to work SO HARD to prove that I am capable in my field, and who has had to prove that I am capable time and time and time again when the gender-based assumption was that I am not, the last thing I want is for a male colleague to tell me that I need to be cautious about my personal safety and to decide for me how to accomplish that.

Separating those things is a dilemma. How, as a woman, do you show your capability while letting someone take care of you? How do you not confuse care with control, and how do you let people help with you without being concerned about the impact on how others view you and your abilities?

It was good to hear his point of view, that it wasn’t about anyone’s abilities, it was about making good decisions and what made sense in the circumstances. And it’s good that I have finally begun to acknowledge that you can be completely capable and accept care and concern. And you don’t have to accept anyone else thinking otherwise.

Back to the concept of “and“. This is that.