Come on. Am I really writing this?
Over the weekend, I came across an article posted by BusinessNH Magazine that caught my eye – I was instantly captivated because they pegged exactly what women in business want to read about. As the largest business publication in New Hampshire, clearly they’ve got their A game on and know their audience.
Oh, wait – just kidding. The headline caught my eye out of sheer absurdity. To be more accurate, I froze as I read the title: What Not To Wear To Work This Summer. Then, the steam boiled up. You see, as a woman who has always been on the receiving end of gender-biased school dress codes and in the American workforce for more than 10 years, I knew exactly what this article would say before I even clicked on it.
It is 20-freakin-17, guys. Let’s be better than this.
The Say The F Word mission was born from the realization that sexism is still so very ingrained in the fabric of our society that many people (women included) don’t even notice it any more. Subtle and not-so-subtle bias is literally surrounding us, yet there are still men and women who honestly believe that feminists are fighting a battle that’s already been won. I’m here to scream: FALSE. When a large business publication publishes an article like this, based on an article from the largest staffing firm in the country, it is clear that actually, no: America has not become a gender-equal society.
With that in mind, I’m here to help! Let’s discuss how not to talk down to women this summer:
1. Stop Policing Women.
Women are perfectly capable of making their own decisions, without your input. Unless you are asked for an opinion, keep it to yourself. I truly do not care what you think about my haircut, my clothing, my parenting style, my choice to work, my choice not to work in corporate America, or anything else that doesn’t affect you directly. That’s the beauty of it: none of that affects you. You have no business making commentary on things that don’t affect you.
Think I’m crazy? On a daily basis, most women will run into a man attempting to police her: her outfit, her parenting style, her body, her healthcare choices, her tone of voice, her ambition, her career path. There are even words that are used exclusively to police women: aggressive, bossy, bitchy, slutty, crazy, emotional, dramatic, and more. None of those words are ever used to describe men – there is no male equivalent.
So, before you advise a woman, out of the kindness of your heart of course, ask yourself these questions: Does it affect you? Were you asked for an opinion? Will you literally die if you don’t share your opinion? Would you say it to a man? Have you ever heard it said to a man? If the answer is no to any of those questions, shut up. Respectfully.
2. Stop Mansplaining. Seriously.
Most women are also on the receiving end of a mansplaining on a daily basis, too. I’m so over it. Chances are, if a woman is speaking about something like she knows what she’s talking about, she probably knows what she’s talking about – again, if your opinion is not requested, shush. If you have no professional training, personal experience, or anything less than the woman speaking, shush.
This has a lot to do with the generalized idea that women are less intelligent, less educated and thus, need your help to truly understand the world. That’s just not true so cut it out.
Women do not need to be mansplained on how to dress for their office.
Men trying to mansplain how I should feel about sexual harassment and gender discrimination: pic.twitter.com/0qdeTSTLrs
— Melinda Byerley (@MJB_SF) July 2, 2017
— Amy Swanoski (@amy_swanoski) June 23, 2017
The othe day I had this guy mansplain my OWN TATTOO TO ME
— mariah (@femmpiree) June 23, 2017
3. Check Yourself.
What subtle biases do you hold? None? Check yourself.
If you hear of a woman being sexually assaulted, do you first question the victim? Was it her fault? What was she wearing? Is she being truthful? Was she being a tease? If you hear of a man being gunned down, do you ask these same questions about him? Check yourself.
Do you find a woman in charge to seem a bit aggressive? Is it her words or her tone? Is it the way she holds herself? Does she smile enough? If a man said the exact same words, would you find him to seem aggressive? Would you even notice his tone, his demeanor or his facial expression? Check yourself.
There is so much that happens in a day that furthers the gender equality divide. Do you notice it or are you so comfortable in it that you just go about your day? I used to smile and laugh when a coworker told me that I just had to bat my lashes to exceed a sales quota while he actually had to work hard. It took 5 years removed from that office to realize that, actually, I was damn good at my job and busted my ass. I can assure you that my eyelashes had nothing to do with it. My stomach turns as I realized that, whether he noticed or not, this guy confidently told me I wasn’t good at my job – in the presence of data that told a different story. Why is this ok?
4. Be Better Than This.
You can make a choice to make a change. It starts with calling out absurdity and continues with thinking more objectively. Then, you need to take action. Call out the bias – and stop publishing it. Stop further ingraining it into the realm of acceptability. It’s not ok; it’s insulting and infuriating.
As a business owner, I expect more from a business publication. As a woman, I expect more respect than the assumption that I’m dying to read What Not To Wear To Work This Summer. I’m insulted. That’s probably not the feeling you aspire to invoke in your readership – or your advertisers. Oh, snap. That’s right – this is a publication that I dropped a $2k ad into this month! Double whammy.
Please. Be better.