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#Excerpt: RHONY's Barbara Kavovit Addresses Sexism in the Construction Industry in New Novel

4min read
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Heels of Steel follows the journey of Bridget Steele, the Bronx-born, tough-as-nails and sexy construction company CEO, who is determined to be the first woman to get a contract to build a New York City skyscraper. Fighting for her life and career in the male dominated world of the Big Apple's real estate industry, Steele also finds herself falling for her biggest rival, who could impede her rise to the top. In this summer's hottest beach read, Kavovit gives readers a look into the cut-throat business of hardhats and hammers, delving into the sexism, corruption, harassment and how far people will go to land a contract.


In the excerpt below, Bridget has a shot at signing her first major commercial construction project. This job would catapult her career in construction and give her the break she needs to compete with the Boys' Club of the industry. Her first assignment: negotiate with the misogynistic union delegate who shut down the project to begin with. Bridget has to think on her feet to navigate the sexist comments and ridicule that comes with being one of the only women in the business, because if she doesn't, she'll have to start again at square one.

Excerpt from Heels of Steel:

It was odd, Bridget thought, where life takes you. If she hadn't been mugged, her father might not have brought her a model to build, and if she hadn't built that model, she might not now be standing dockside in the middle of a dead construction site, waiting for the union delegate, Sal Delmonico, from the Local 6, to show up.

Once a site bustling with hundreds of carpenters, electricians, and masons all working like ants to build an ultra-exclusive condominium development for the mega-rich, now all that remained were stacks of rotting wood, moldy drywall, and crumbling bricks strewn across the ghost town that had been advertised as the new premiere private community in downtown Manhattan. Bridget shook her head at the abandoned garbage dump this priceless piece of property had become.

"It's a real shame, eh?" said a voice behind her.

Bridget turned to face a man wearing a blue polyester suit and what she was pretty sure was a fake Hermes tie. He was smoking a cigarette and his mustache put Sam Elliot to shame.

"You Steele?" asked the mustache.

"You must be Delmonico," said Bridget. She put out her hand to shake.

Delmonico waited a beat before he took it. His grip was so tight and clammy that Bridget could swear she heard a squelching noise as their hands parted.

"A girl, huh? What's Hannity's game here?"

Bridget shrugged. "No game. I was asked to negotiate a deal so we can move forward and get this project built."

Delmonico stared at her for a moment and then casually spat off to the side. "Let me paint you a picture," he said making a sweep of his arm toward the water. "Women who look like a young Cindy Crawford sitting on the decks of their husbands' 200-foot yachts, which are strategically docked smack dead in front of their condos that jet right out over the river. 360-degree views, floor to ceiling windows, plunge pools and gold plated faucets. Chefs kitchens that actually come with their own personal chefs." He paused to inhale from his Marlboro and then blew the smoke out of the corner of his mouth. "It was going to be a candy land sprinkled with diamonds, mink, big dicks, fake tits, and cocaine."

"Sounds nice," said Bridget.

"It would've been."

"And you ended it all," said Bridget.

Delmonico smiled a big, satisfied grin. "And I ended it all. Kicked `em in their balls so hard that they're still down on the floor crying like little girls. They came whining to me about how they couldn't afford to hire union labor. Wanted to make a deal so they could bring in a bunch of scabs. Said the whole job would go down if they couldn't cut costs. So I pulled the plug. One hundred percent union or no deal, I always say."

Bridget nodded thoughtfully. "How about fifty percent union?"

Delmonico's face scrunched up. "Did you not hear what I just said?"

"It sounded to me like you said you killed the chance for a whole lot of your guys to get some solid work. I wonder what they thought about that?"

Something passed over Delmonico's face and Bridget knew that she'd hit a nerve. "My guys got more work than they can handle."

"Yeah? Because at the very least this is a two-year contract, and if the client likes what your guys and my non-union guys can do, there'll be plenty of future projects for everyone."

Delmonico sneered. "What makes you think there will be future projects for you? I only brought you here to set you straight. You want to work with me and my local? You gotta know the score. Other guys have messed with me and see that river?" He pointed out to the steel-gray Hudson, still dotted with chunks of late spring ice. "That's a real strong current. You'd get sucked right under the ice, if you happened to fall in."

Bridget felt her stomach clench, but she forced herself to laugh. "So now you're going to throw me in the river? Listen, Hannity told me to tell you that it's me, or no one. He's sick of screwing around. If we can't make a deal, he's donating this property to the city to make a waterfront park and taking the tax write off. How do you think your boys would feel about that?"

Delmonico looked at her sharply. Bridget kept her face carefully neutral, but her heart pounded. Hannity had said no such thing.

Delmonico threw the stub of his cigarette and ground it under his heel. He looked back at her. "And what do I get out of it?"

She frowned. "What do you mean? How about none of the guys from your local will be sitting on the bench for at least two years? That's what you get."

Delmonico took a step toward her. "Yeah, but say I agree to your terms—fifty percent union, fifty percent whatever dregs you bring in—what are you going to do to sweeten the deal?"

"Are you talking about a kickback? About money?"

He shrugged and grinned. His teeth were yellow and stained. "Money or…" he let his eyes drop to her breasts. "Whatever else you think might make me feel good about things."

She folded her arms over her chest. "Not if you were the last man on earth, Delmonico."

He laughed and reached for her. "Look at them nice big titties."

She grabbed his wrist and twisted just like her dad had taught her.

"Ow! Shit! That hurts!" he yelped.

She twisted harder. "You know what else I've got, Delmonico? A nice big mouth. You think the press would like to hear the story of the union head who molested the sweet, innocent girl contractor?" She glanced at the ring on his finger. "You think your wife wants hear about that, too?" She threw down his arm.

He sneered at her as he rubbed his wrist. "You're going to be sorry you ever met me, Steele."

She turned to go. "I already am."

Excerpted from Heels of Steel by Barbara Kavovit. Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Kavovit. Use with permission from MIRA Books.

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Health

Patriarchy Stress Disorder is A Real Thing and this Psychologist Is Helping Women Overcome It

For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.


As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.


Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.

What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein

This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.

Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.

Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.

In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.

"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."

https://www.drvalerie.com/