“Anita, why are you stomping around the brewery? You’re putting out really negative energy and it affects everyone.” It was a question I never would have expected to have to answer. The truth is that there are no local stores that carry women’s sizes in the steel toed, water proof, slip resistant boots that a gal needs to work in a brewery. That means that I can’t try them on before I buy them. I’m forced to order what I think is my size in a men’s boot, wait for them to arrive, and then hope they fit. Sure, I could always return them and ask for a different size, but in the meantime, what would I wear to work?
This is the dilemma I faced last year when my work boots arrived about a half size too big for my feet. Would the next size down (most work boots don’t come in half sizes) be too small? Would I end up sending those back as well? In the end, I chose to wear two pairs of socks to help keep them from being quite so big on my feet, though they still slip a little with each step, shredding my socks and sometimes my heels as they go. Steel toes are heavy. It’s kind of like wearing ankle weights. That stomping my coworker observed was simply the sound of misogyny rubbing the skin off my feet every time I took one of the 7,000 or so steps my pedometer tells me I take at work each day. Couple that with my perennial resting bitch face, and suddenly what I thought was simply walking has been judged as an act of aggression.
This experience isn’t new or unique. Women across the country are having a hard time finding the protective wear they need in order to perform their brewery jobs safely. While breweries vary with their requirements, and each position has a different kind of safety need, it isn’t out of the norm to find a brewer wearing safety glasses, slip resistant, water proof, steel toed boots, heat resistant and/or chemical resistant gloves, and