Why do we bother with feminism at all?
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London - You know how it goes - you’re in a meeting, everyone’s very serious, there are lots of clipboards and notebooks.
A woman says a thing. Everyone listens, perfectly politely. Tumbleweed.
Then a man says a thing. Exactly the same thing, in fact, as the thing the woman said about five minutes ago. Only he says it in his man voice — and the room goes wild.
“That’s it!” they cry. “That’s the solution,” they say. “You are a genius, have a 10 million percent pay rise and a company car.”
The woman returns to her desk. “That’s strange,” she thinks to herself, “I’m sure that was my idea. Ah well. Must have just imagined it.”
I used to think this only happened to me. But the more women I speak to about this curious phenomenon, the more it becomes clear that I am not alone.
The fault, I have decided, lies not entirely with the men. After all, they’re just being men. It’s us. Especially my generation. We’re not like today’s egomaniacal young women. We don’t have the certainty of ignorance and the courage to believe our own hype.
We weren’t taught that each and every one of us is a special little snowflake, whose every utterance is just genius. Instead, it was made clear that if we really wanted to play with the boys, that was okay — but there would be no special pleading.
As a result, we learnt not to tread on too many male toes because, as every woman in the workplace knows, there’s nothing more dangerous than a man who’s just realised he’s been outdone by a female colleague.
We have to be good - but we can’t be too good, otherwise the boys get all territorial. So we’ll say something really clever, then panic.
We know that the best way of getting a male colleague — or, for that matter, a husband — to do something they’re reluctant about is to make them think it’s all their own idea.
Sometimes you have to wonder why we bother with feminism at all.