The victim, the comforter, the strident feminist- or one of the guys. Who did you play at work today?
I’ve finally come to realize this simple fact: Sexism is not a quality of individuals, it is a quality of the society we live in. It exists in every cultural product, in every grouping, in every brain in our culture. I know, I know, that’s not what you want to hear. It’s not comforting.
Throughout My Big Red Bag’s work life we struggled with cultivating an ‘image’ of any sort. We wanted to be professional and competent and stay true to ourselves. But we often fell into the trap of either getting into a backslapping relationship with our colleagues as ‘one of the guys’ ; or soliciting patronising mentors by pretending to be more innocent than we were . There were also occasions when we dismissed other women workers as being “too feminine or soft” just so we could fit in better. We aren’t proud of this, but found ourselves repeating this behaviour time and again.
That’s why this wonderful read by Naomi Alderman felt uncomfortably true.
Naomi recounts how she ended up putting on one of these masks all the time when working in the gaming industry.
- The angry strident feminist who takes no shit- who scares organisations into giving her what she wants
- One of the guys- who fits in better because she is the prototypical ‘cool girl’
- Blinky-eyed-know-nothing- someone who self deprecatingly pretends to know less than she does.
Somehow it’s easier to bear me if I know less.
- The Victim- who puts up with lower pay and sexual harassment
I hate men coming to my defense. I hate having to tell these stories. I hate admitting that I was shaken and upset. I hate the look in people’s eyes when I tell them these stories. I hate being put into this position and I hate talking about it. This is the nature of masculine sexism: Vulnerability is wrong.
- The Comforter.
Every time we talk to working women, they tell us about the occasions they’ve been forced to change the essence of themselves just to fit in. But this article goes one step further and questions if part of the reason could be the hidden sexist in us. Do we pretend to be stronger (and therefore more masculine) just because we believe its a better fit? Do we negate our ‘feminine’ qualities in an effort to belong?
Have you ever had to put on a mask to fit in better at the workplace? Tell us those stories, we’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to read the entire article here. It’s worth your time (Promise!)
My Big Red Bag brings original content inspired by life’s joys and passions. Find food for thought every Sun-Thur in Your Daily Read, and stay tuned to our latest content by following us on Twitter and FB!