As a young woman working in the male-dominated media industry, I realise that sexism is rife.
Someone messaged me once via a social media channel their fantasy about shutting me up. It’s something they clearly spent a lot of time thinking about. Reading it, I should have probably felt something – fear, anger or even exhaustion. But, I just felt nothing. After all I assume he was railing against a feminist position on something I had said?
What does this kind of abuse mean for women like myself that work in a male dominated industry? Well, it’s like the zombie apocalypse all day every day. The protagonists imagining themselves as noble warriors and not angry misogynists, as they bang on the doors and windows, moaning about positive female discrimination.
Women in any industry are surviving this cultural war in different ways. I have a friend who used to have a high-profile role in a company. She told me the other day that she was scared to take her full leave entitlement because of the changes she’d face on her return to work.
Another friend says she affects her company like a magnet, gently pulling them toward greater inclusivity. Another has a corporate edict to not discuss women’s equality in her public role. Another was warned by her colleagues that discussing women in the work place was like discussing religion in the work place, and she decided to push back by standing up and speaking her truth.
The truth is, the sexist behaviour that really holds women back doesn’t come from the moustache-twirling cartoon villains of man-world. It’s the consistently over-sexualised advertising that surrounds us.
I was at a bar a few weeks ago having drinks with a well-known media journalist. “Do you think my career is going to be defined by gender?” I asked her, worriedly. She looked me dead in the eye and said: “I think it depends on if you can pivot. At some point, you need to use your upward mobility to move on to do new things.”
I’m taking that advice and pivoting. I’m sure the misogynist fringe of business will continue to make our lives hell in any way they can. They’ll continue to threaten me and other women, intimidate and bully us – but at a certain point, you just must get back to work. Besides, we women make networks. They make hierarchies. Who really has the power in the long term?