For the longest time, I’ve pined to belong to some sort of club. I imagined myself with a cocktail, talking business, and possibly wearing a crested blazer. Once a year, we would have a fancy members gala, and on the weekends we might have brunch while discussing the state of the world.
Where did I get this fantasy? I’m not sure, but I have an idea:
incredibly obvious sexist racist problem? From this fantasy I have derived from Hollywood, women aren’t allowed, and it’s not like I come from a family of financial privilege or status sooooooo…… While I had looked at some of the local social clubs here in Portland, I came to the conclusion that you indeed do need to be a man (of power and privilege) to belong to any decent social clubs downtown.
My research on Portland’s Young Business Alliance, which touted frequent happy hours to network with other professionals, revealed that it’s really a meat market for singles or a sad venue to peddle your pyramid scheme. Hrmmmm…
What’s a girl to do? I had written “Join a social club” on my ever-evolving list of future bucket list items years ago, but had mostly given up hope. By the way, no, this is not 1950, this is 2017.
So back in February, while trolling Twitter, an article came across my eye: Portland Now Has a Patriarchy Free Social Club. Hold up…SAY WHAT?! I learned that a new club had just opened up, and it sounded like what I was looking for. Was this really a thing?
But February and March were super busy, and based on the cost it would not be a spontaneous decision. I bookmarked the article and figured if I was still thinking about it in April, I would apply.
After an interview where I was expected to brag about how badass I am (which was surprisingly difficult) and what I would bring to the club, I was accepted as a new member.
It’s been about a month and now I think I can explain what The Perlene is mostly about…and while there aren’t crested blazer and cigars (although a “Crested Blazers & Cigars Night” would be dope), the vibe is laid-back but professional. At my first member brunch, I immediately made friends with a school board member (who shall remain nameless).
So far, I’m feeling things out slowly, but I’m pleased with the way things are working and expect to get more involved once the school year ends.
But we need some real talk: The jokes are flying from those who know I’ve joined. Of course I can laugh at how “Portland” it is that I’m in a patriarchy-free social club that is sure to be the set of the next Portlandia episode, but why are we making fun of this place while allowing the status quo of men to have their exclusive and hegemonic clubs? Why is it so ridiculous or silly that women want to get together to have intellectual conversations with other like-minded women? It’s not like we are planning a revolution in some basement, we are waxing intellectual about Carol Dweck and brain plasticity…all over mimosas and bacon.
So if you are snickering or skeptical I’m asking you to check your bias.
Oh, and speaking of bias, let’s also agree that if you want to add race to the table, finding a space like this becomes even more difficult (don’t believe me? Check those pictures above).
ANYWAY, I know I won’t change your mind in a blog post so I’ll get back to talking about meeeeeeeeeee. Since joining a social club was always on my list, I’m taking the liberty of crossing it off now – and the fact that I now have a space where I regularly hear, “Fuck patriarchy,” while I’m working is a bonus.
Want to know more? Check out The Perlene. It’s not for everyone, but in a time of Trump, it’s my place.