SEPTEMBER 2016 NOTE FROM DOYENNE GROUP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
I want to take a minute and get real about things women encounter on a daily basis. I also want to preface this post with the fact that Doyenne nor myself are in NO WAY “anti-men” or “man bashing”! Part of Doyenne’s mission is to bring to light the sexism, gender bias and pure bullshit (for a lack of a better word) women deal with on a daily basis.
Amy and I are constantly asked if women still face the same issues as women did 30 years ago, or are told “Women don’t face these problems anymore”. I bring this up because of the blinders we wear, and I too have been wearing lately, by trying to pretend that everything is nearing equality between sexes. Part of what made me take off my blinders was reading this article. I had an “OMG” moment where I realized how I’m constantly bombarded with reminders and subtle comments that minimize me professionally, within my personal interactions and the work Doyenne does for our community.
I’m not going to lie, Madison’s community and culture is different than other places and in many ways we do live up to the cliche “77 square miles surrounded by reality”. But once I started noticing what was going on around, in front of and behind my back everyday I started to realize that we are no better than anywhere else.
Here are some of the sexist comments I’ve had others tell me, I’ve witnessed or have been directed at me within the last 7 days in professional settings or events…
- “When you complain about something someone said you’re doing exactly what they wanted you to do by telling your friends about it and creating buzz for them. You should just shrug it off and move on, they’re never going to change their behavior”
- Awkwardly long hug or back rub
- “When I saw you I thought look how much weight you’ve lost and how sexy you look! You look way better than you did last year!”
- “You are dressed way better than last time I saw you”
- From an email “I’m coming to this event for the first time, what should I wear? I don’t want to stand out (meaning overdressed), but I also want to be taken seriously” BTW, women are asking this as the man next to us is wearing shorts, t-shirt and flip flops with a hat on his head to cover up his bedhead and still making new business contacts
- “I’ll trade you a massage for a drink after this event is over (insert wink, wink)”
- “You should take it as a compliment when those types of experiences happen to you”
- “How come a man is speaking about the woman’s perspective instead of a woman?”
- (While shaking finger in my face) “I’ll tell you what women need to know!”
- Shutter click, the sound I heard as the man walking past me with a camera around his neck starts taking photos of me while I’m too afraid to confront him and tell him to delete it
These are only the statements that I don’t start to blush about while typing them! Also, I recognize that some of these statements are trying to come from a place of good, they just didn’t think it all through before saying them. And some of the statements are from other women too, not just men.
I honestly believe that most people are good-hearted with well intentions, and they just don’t realize how women internalize statements or how women feel diminished when their opinions are not treated with respect.
I’ve talked in the past about calling out the bullshit. I know some think it’s easier for me to say that because I don’t have a job on the line or run the risk of being outcasted within the office when I have called actions out. I want you to know that I understand this, I also want you to feel empowered to take a stand against gender bias. Women and Men have to stand up and not tolerate this behavior anymore, call it out when you see it and say No More! One of our defense mechanisms when we face sexism is to laugh or shy away, even by not laughing or respectfully asking someone to not say or do things like that anymore around you is a way to show you’re not going to tolerate it.
There are many men who are allies when it comes to creating gender equality. Thank You!
I believe many of these men are those who don’t think gender equality is still a work in progress because they already don’t tolerate or feed into it. They are in relationships where their partner is looked at as an equal and they create workplace environments where everyone can reach their desired level of success. When the inequality isn’t part of your day-to-day life you don’t realize that it’s not that way everywhere (your blinders are on).
There are also many women who treat other women as lesser than them. Sometimes this is because of the culture that’s been created in the workplace before women entered it, sometimes it’s because they had to “play the game” to get where they are and think that’s what other women should have to do and sometimes it’s because they’re afraid to cause waves because even though they want to be supportive they are afraid what it’ll cost them.
We need to step up and realize that we’re all different, we all have our own history and challenges that we bring with us to the workplace and we all have to recognize and respect these differences whiles figuring out a way for all of us to work together.
I know this message is something that many of us are having Wine Date conversations about with our lady friends. My challenge for you is to put the wine glass down and make one intentional action towards moving us all one step closer to gender equality in the workplace and society.
Hope to see you around town!