AKA why I love Jo Brand
It’s likely you’ve seen this clip of Have I Got News For You but it’s always worth resharing:
Jo is of course on the dot.
She is regularly the only female member of these panels. I’m acutely aware as we’re Belov’d and I are going through a QI thing at the moment.
Regular, continual ‘small’ sexist harassment wears you down. I should know. I’ve worked in male-dominated workplaces and had this. More often than not it was dismissed as ‘banter’.
It comes in all shapes and sizes. I remember being told that because I don’t want kids I’m “not a real woman then”. That I shouldn’t be making choices like that “until you’re married”. That somehow my entire gender, neigh my entire life, is based off of what a man wants.
The last day before I left a job, I saw my female co-workers get uncomfortable as a loud discussion of “fisting- it’s well funny, right?” was getting louder and louder. When I stood up and pointed out how foul it was- I was told to “relax, it’s only banter”. Yeah.
Then, of course, comes from our customers. That they’d rather talk to a man about technical things. Sometimes it’s implied “can you ask your colleague, I’m sure he’d know” if they don’t like the answer. Or for them to come out bluntly, “so you’ll be putting me through to a man once you’ve connected to my PC?”.
One of my favourites was a man that refused to take my call, for not just being a woman but a British woman. How is that supposed to make me feel? That he didn’t trust me to run through some technical troubleshooting basics let alone something more complex. After reassuring his secretary, he really didn’t want to talk to me, that I would have a male of his nationality call them I hung up.
The piece de resistance- the man who literally said: “you’re a woman, what do you know about computers?”. In the end my then manager had to call up, point out that I was correct and requested a formal apology on behalf.
These are just the highlight reels. These are just my highlight reels. Combine the experiences that women in male-dominated professions together and you’ll be astonished. Whether it’s the ‘banter’ designed to remind us of how rape is regarded in our culture, to the comments that are aimed at diminishing our self-worth.
Respecting women for people equals, and in some respects, betters is difficult for men. Although there is an ongoing debate on who to attribute it to, this really does explain it all:
When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression
Men, especially those in power, are so used to just doing as they please. Power, after all, comes in many forms. Whether it’s having the loudest voice and laugh in the room, or the man with the political sway to destroy careers- the power is held by men.
So when you, as a woman, dare to turn round and so “No, that’s not right or fair”. You’re branded as petty or childish. “A bit of banter doesn’t hurt anyone!”, sadly it does, especially over time.
To play us out, another YouTube video, Gatekeep by Jessie Reyez.