How Weinstein is Helping Professional Women…Weirdly

Picture above is from a media post on women alleging assault by Harvey Weinstein. If you click on the picture you can see the whole article.

If you are a professional woman you are probably already feeling the backlash to the Weinstein/General Sexual Harassment news coverage. (My post on it is here.) I had thought it would begin around now, but in fact, it’s happened even earlier than I thought. Well known personalities in the media lashing out at women for being weak, those of the ‘Why don’t they just give them a good old slap’ school of thought. Noticeably, most of the ‘women are weak’ brigade have succeeded under the old system. For them, a tiny minority, maybe a ‘good old slap’ worked.

Senior Women

I sometimes find similar attitudes, not too often, thankfully, when talking to senior women in organisations about offering support to female employees (admittedly by using one of my courses). They tend towards the line of, well, I made it without any help and so they can they, if they try hard enough. Invariably they are women that I would descibe as comfortable with more male traits of behaviour. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it explains why they got on, and why those who do not comfortably sit within that more macho style (including many men) do not. It’s not equality of opportunity because it suits one style.

The Irony of Weinstein

Back to that backlash. Probably you are getting a few “I’d better be careful, you’ll have me up for harassment‘ type of comments at work, accompanied by an I’m only joking laugh. Or maybe someone has been named and shamed that is a particular favourite of yours and you are beginning to feel a bit sorry for them. The news is horrible. It makes us all feel bad. Inevitably there will be some untrue claims made and they will get a disproportionate amount of attention. People will want to brush this under the carpet and move on as fast as they can. It is making everyone uncomfortable, including me. Because, it’s not about sex, it’s about power, about abuse, about women being seen as second class and it should make us feel uncomfortable. It is a huge irony that Weinstein’s appalling behaviour has created a tipping point. Finally, the cat is out of the bag. Women (it’s mainly women) have been subjected to this for too long.

Gender Inequality

There is a direct causal link between this type of bullying, aggressive behaviour and the static gender pay gap, why so few women are not in positions of authority, why MPs like Dawn Abbott  get so much vitriolic, hateful, violent on line abuse, why every flipping survey about why women don’t break the glass ceiling comes back to, in some form or another, the notion that women lack confidence.

Excuse me for shouting but…Of course we feel a lack of confidence if we live in a world where women are not valued! Not valued to the extent that for decades upon decades women could be pawed and assaulted in public and no one would shout out. Where, in my lifetime, police did not interfere in abuse cases between husband and wife because tacitly it was agreed a women was a man’s property. Where we still have to fight to get abuse of women taken seriously (witness recent reports of unconvicted women in police custody being given no sanitary products and bleeding all over their white paper suits. That’s abuse, too.) A world where, in the words of the wonderful Mary Beard, ‘We have not yet learned to hear authority in women’s voices’, where women are accused of talking too much at work (with women acknowledging this as true), when proper, pukka research shows men talk the most at work. When you discover that men are getting more pay than you for the same work and someone will tell you it’s because you didn’t ask. Despite the fact that research shows women do frequently ask but get turned down. It’s all connected. Because society does not yet value what women bring to the table. And I am only talking about the western world here…

Seize the Day

We have a moment here, a window of opportunity. Don’t let embarrassment, or fear of being seen as a whinger, or a mad feminist (I was born a ‘mad feminist and own that title gladly), or simply boredom with the coverage, stop you grabbing this with both hands. Don’t let the media dictate your response, because believe me they will get fed up with it soon and want to move on, or try a different angle and blame the women. Join with the men in your organisation, your world, who want to see an end to this. Don’t let the fact that all the men you know are great and not like this hold you back from Speaking Up, loudly. Support and help the women who need you. Turn the tide, and let’s make the world a much better place for everyone.

And finally, before I get accused as I so often am, of being a man hater, to paraphrase the highly talented Caitlin Moran,

“I love men. No man I care about is an abuser. I just hate the Patriarchy!”

My one day confidence boosting course for women, RenewYou, is being delivered by me in Bristol on November 28th. Details are here.

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Posted on October 31st, 2017 by

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