This week we welcome guest blogger, Natalie Fitzgerald, who relays her recent experience winning a ‘best dressed’ award at an industry function…
As a feminist, I get questioned SOMEtimes about why I feel the need to discuss and fight for gender equality. As a feminist who is seemingly well known in a relatively small sector, I get asked ALL the time.
On the one hand, it is deeply, fundamentally simple: women deserve the same opportunities, pay and respect as men. In the work place and all aspects of life. On the other, the reasoning is complex as to why I, personally, have channeled my energy into wanting to proactively assist in achieving that equality, as opposed to perhaps channeling it into refugee rights, gay marriage rights or the plight of the homeless, all of which are human issues I feel as strongly about.
I can break it down into one simple sentence – ‘show us your boots, love’. A disembodied male voice in a crowd, shouted at me in jest and to a chorus of giggles. I even smiled from instinct. In and of itself, not meant to be insulting. And yet, when we think about it, it is. The sexual overtones, the objectification and the use of an ‘endearment’ that for centuries past is a form of dis-empowerment. One, no big deal comment. Lots of misogynist undertones. Of course it was no deliberate act of sexism. I am sure the owner of the voice is an intelligent, well-meaning man simply making a joke. And I did not spend the rest of the evening either crying into my wine glass or ranting about sexism. However. This. This is why we need feminism in 2016, even in strata.
At the very same event (which was, I am very happy to report, a FANTASTIC night and huge thank you to the organisers), another group of well-meaning males. Working for a large multi-national whose board boasts not a single woman, dressed to impress in superhero costumes of sorts. Capes proudly displaying company logos, spelling out their name. Very fun. And very bold…unless you were unfortunate enough to look down and realise they were also wearing, company logo printed bonds jocks. Over their jeans and stuffed. I am still not sure why we needed such a visual reminder of their ‘manhood’. Or perhaps they were proudly displaying their male centered culture?
These are small things. They are representative of bigger issues. Important issues. They tell us we have not achieved equality. They tell us we need to keep trying. Keep educating. Keep empowering. Keep learning and teaching.
Telling truths, I have learnt can make you very unpopular. This saddened me at first. Not now. Now I know making people feel a little uncomfortable is the first step to change.
Natalie Fitzgerald is a managing partner at Strata Sense and a member of the Women in Strata steering committee.