As we say goodbye to National Grilled Cheese Sandwich month and hello to National Sammich Month, I want to take the opportunity to tell you briefly about my personal relationship with grilled cheese sandwiches. You see, when I was a tiny, little girl…so tiny that the world was still a place of only beauty and wonder and no Bad Things, I believed that grilled cheese sandwiches were a special invention made just for ME.
Back in those days of yore, my dad (before he was a professional bass fisherman or a preacher or even a dad) was a pool shark. In Los Angeles, California, where he made his living in the pool halls as a young man, he was known as “Sixth Street Jerry.” In Long Beach, where he also played from time to time (and where he met my mom–in a pool hall), they called him “L.A. Jerry.” One of my earliest memories is going to the pool hall with my parents, where my dad would shoot pool (which I remember only vaguely) and my mom and I would sit in a booth with red seats and I would order a Girl Cheese Sandwich with fries (because that was the point of the whole expedition as far as I was concerned).
Of course, I had no idea why the waitress and all the adults made such a fuss over the whole thing. I just wanted my sandwich. And my French fries! But I imagine them now doing that thing grownups do where we know the kid’s about to do that cute thing they do, and they say, “Watch! Listen! Okay, Rosie, what do you want to eat?”
“GIRL CHEESE!” I’d holler, and they’d all “aww” and titter and pat me on the head.
And yes, I assumed that if my dad wanted a sandwich like mine, he’d have to ask for a Boy Cheese Sandwich, but he never did that I recall. Sixth Street Jerry was too busy bringing home the pork rinds, baby.
These days grilled cheese sammiches are still a favorite, and one of my comfort foods (along with mac & cheese), and I still pretty much always refer to them as Girl Cheese.
PS: I apologize for that terrifying image above. I really wanted to use an appetizing photo of a nice, melty grilled cheese to make your mouth water, but then I found ^that^, and come on, how could I resist? It would have been wrong–possibly immoral or even illegal–for me to not use that image in this article. So, to make up for it, here’s a photo of me just before I learned to say “Girl cheese sammich, please!” Love ya!
Yesterday Wil Wheaton told the Internet what he wanted for his birthday, which is today. In case you missed it:
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) July 28, 2012
This immediately made me do that “I coulda had a V8” thing because duh, why didn’t we think of that before? I guess there’s a time and a season for everything, and ladies and gentlemen, what better time for the very first Don’t Be a Dick Day to occur? It’s as if fate herself looked down and said “Rosie, it’s been an intense couple of days what with all the seriousness. I think we should lighten up a bit, but let’s not forget this week’s theme, shall we? I know just the guy to talk to.” And she sent @wilw a DM and he was like “Holy Shit, why didn’t I think of that before?” (I’m speculating, but it sounds strangely plausible, doesn’t it?)
Your friend Wil was also inspired to create this handy flow chart to help people not be dicks. It’s a work of GENIUS:
Of course, the idea is not a single day upon which to practice not being a dick. Rather, it’s a day to raise awareness of the very real issue that faces us today. That issue, in case you haven’t guessed by now, is Being a Dick, and it’s epidemic not only in the US but around the world. Don’t Be a Dick Day is a day to celebrate not being a dick if you’re not one, and to help people who are dicks to see the error of their ways. Also, to help other people who aren’t dicks who know people who are dicks to help the dicks they know. As a friend of mine said today:
Remember don’t just don’t be a dick on Don’t be a Dick Day, don’t be a dick on all the other days, too! Thanks, Wil Wheaton!
With that, I’d like to ask you to join me in song. Here’s how:
- Play the amazing MC Frontalot anthem (first to Wil and his four-word philosophy, now to the day we spread that philosophy far and wide) Your Friend Wil.
- Open the lyrics page.
- Come back when you’re finished. Ready? Go!
Awesome, right? Just what you needed to get all fired up for the rest of the day. Now go forth and spread the Good News. Tell all the dicks, “Hey Dicks! You don’t have to be dicks anymore! You can be cool like us!” Show them Wil’s new website, and sing the song with them. Print out the handy flow-chart so they can keep it next to them when they type words on the Internets or fold it up and stick it in their wallets when they go out into the world. Being a Dick is everyone’s problem. But you can help.
Happy Don’t Be a Dick Day, everyone. You know what to do. And what not to do.
As you probably know by now, yesterday we lost Dr. Sally Ride, a woman so many of us have looked up to for decades as a symbol of what a woman can accomplish in a man’s world. (That’s right, I said it: This is a Man’s World, and that’s why we still need feminism.) In the past 24 hours I’ve read so many heartbroken tributes from women for whom Sally was more than a role model; more than a hero. She was a turning point for girls whose passion for science had been discouraged and dampened by stereotypes.
Washington congressional candidate Darcy Burner said yesterday, “She made me want to be an astronaut.” And from my friend E: “A woman astronaut! That was transformative. This was when I believed that women had a chance. We could do what the guys did — let me rephrase. I knew we could do it, but that we would be allowed to do it.”
Sally made being the nation’s first woman in space look easy, though it was anything but. Everyone from NASA officials to the press wondered whether a woman could hack it. From her LA times obituary:
“There are,” Ride acknowledged, “people within NASA who need convincing.” She would have been much happier, I suspect, in the present day, when the presence of women in NASA is no big deal and every girl can dream of a career in science or technology or aerospace without being scoffed at and told, “Girls can’t do that.” But she had a big hand in making the extraordinary — a female astronaut — routine.
From her NYT obituary:
Speaking to reporters before the first shuttle flight, Dr. Ride — chosen in part because she was known for keeping her cool under stress — politely endured a barrage of questions focused on her sex: Would spaceflight affect her reproductive organs? Did she plan to have children? Would she wear a bra or makeup in space? Did she cry on the job? How would she deal with menstruation in space?
The CBS News reporter Diane Sawyer asked her to demonstrate a newly installed privacy curtain around the shuttle’s toilet. On “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson joked that the shuttle flight would be delayed because Dr. Ride had to find a purse to match her shoes.
At a NASA news conference, Dr. Ride said: “It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.”
Sally Ride made it her life’s mission to crush stereotypes relating not just to women, but to science. As Dr. Ride put it, “Girls tend to have a stereotype of engineers being 65-year-old guys who wear lab coats and pocket protectors and look like Einstein.” And she didn’t stop at being a great scientist and role model. After she left NASA, she founded Sally Ride Science, a company dedicated to creating programs to inspire and feed kids’ passion for science.
And now, in death, Dr. Sally Ride has come out as a lesbian who lived happily with her partner for 27 years, adding support for a cause which must have been dear to her in life, but which had to come second to her desire to show kids–especially girls–that science was cool. Her image as the USA’s first woman astronaut was an important tool in that regard. She didn’t lend her name to many things. Her sister Bear Ride says she was a private person, but also: “That wasn’t her battle of choice—the battle of choice was science education for kids.” It seems to me that she sacrificed certain freedoms (e.g., the freedom to publicly love whomever she loved) partly in order to protect her “brand”–not for profit, but to avoid letting prejudice become an obstacle to her efforts to help galvanize new generations of scientists. Then yesterday she was all: BAM! Take that, everybody. Yep, she was gay, and you still love her.
I think I might love her even more.
In our inaugural “Dear Rosie” article, we’re taking on the oh-so-controversial topic of gun control in the U.S. People keep saying that talking about gun control right now amounts to “politicizing” the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. I call BS. When something bad happens people talk about how they feel about it and the circumstances surrounding it, and about solving the societal problems that caused it, and the only time you’re going to hear that accusation is when the accused has said something the accuser doesn’t agree with politically. Guess what? Some things are political issues, and they’re also life issues, and we’re going to talk about them, and we’re not going to agree all the time. So, without further ado, here’s your first Dear Rosie:
Why are you “gun control” nuts trying to take away my guns? Don’t you know that the 2nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees my right to bear arms? If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns! Guns don’t kill people–people kill people! What if we need to rise up against the government? If I had been at [insert horrific gun-related tragedy here] I would have used my gun to stop it! Also, I like to hunt. You probably want to take that away too, don’t you? Why do you hate FREEDOM??
Fictional Paranoid Gun-Owner
It might surprise you to learn that, dirty tree-hugging hippy though I am, I don’t necessarily think guns should be illegal. I mean, first of all, we do have that 2nd amendment thing to contend with, and no matter now long we argue, we’re not going to agree on whether the founders wanted us to have AK-47s. Once when I was working on a mystery novel, I went to a gun range and fired a Walther PP just so I’d know what it felt like. It was fun! And when I was a kid, I went out in a field and fired a big gun that used this ammo and nearly knocked me on my ass. That was less fun. But I understand that shooting is a sport, and it’s part of the culture in some parts of the country, and that some people like to hunt for sport and even in order to feed their families. And guns are a huge part of U.S. history. I don’t believe it’s realistic to expect that guns will be outlawed in this country. I think this poster makes a pretty good case (excerpt below; full post at Reddit):
“You seem like a fair minded person. You don’t like guns. I don’t like alcohol. If you can tell me one argument for banning guns that does not apply equally to banning alcohol, I’ll throw all my guns in the river tonight. Otherwise, we’ll just have to both agree that it’s a matter of personal choice and let each other be.”
“Guns kill people.” Response: Alcohol kills more people.
“Yeah, but guns are used in crime.” Response: So is alcohol. Aside from the obvious drunk driving and addiction related crimes, what % of people who commit crime do you think drunk? Ask a cop how many domestic violence situations involve alcohol.
“But guns are used in terrible murders. Alcohol only causes accidents or health-related deaths.” Response: This is an even stronger argument for banning alcohol. If you banned guns, at least some of those murders would still get committed. If you banned alcohol, NONE of the alcohol related accidental deaths would happen. (i.e. the definition of an accident is that its unintended, unlike murder).
“They tried to ban booze and it didn’t work.” Response: Try to ban guns in the USA. You see what happens. No country with hundreds of millions of firearms in circulation and porous borders has ever successfully banned guns (or anything for that matter: see war on drugs.)
“But drinking is fun and a social activity.” Response: Let’s go shooting on Saturday. Empty a few mags from an AK-47 and then tell me it’s not fun.
You can dice words and split hairs all day long, but as far as I can tell, most of what he says is dead on. Personally, I don’t get why people need to own assault weapons, but if you buy that we might need to form a militia and kick-ass on the government, I guess we’ve got to be able to compete. Fine. Here’s my thing: I say “gun control,” Fictional Paranoid Gun-Owner, and you hear “gun pried from my cold-dead fingers after I tried to shoot you for trying to take my gun but apparently you got off the first shot so I’m dead.” And I know a lot of very rich folks want to make sure people buy guns, and so they help make certain people feel like they’re going to need guns (and that their right to have them is under imminent threat). They watched their profits rise in response to 9/11 and they made damned sure in 2008 the message got out that gun rights would be history if Barack Obama became president. And in 2011 when Jared Lee Loughner shot Gabrielle Giffords, the cries filled the air: Hurry! Get your guns before the lefties change the laws! And now it’s election time again, and another mentally ill person with a stockpile of weapons has ripped a community apart, and guess what? Investors are already salivating.
So, what do I mean when I say “gun control”? I mean that guys like Loughner and Holmes who are clearly not competent to use guns responsibly should not be able to do this without raising a flag and inviting some scrutiny:
Suspected Aurora Shooter Amassed Huge Arsenal Online With No Background Checks
From Huffington Post:
“Authorities say all of Holmes’ purchases were legal — and there is no official system to track whether people are stockpiling vast amounts of firepower.”
We make laws to regulate other dangerous items and substances. Like alcohol. And cars! Which, while they’re not designed to kill people, do it all the time in the hands of irresponsible and unlucky people. So we make laws and we put the irresponsible ones in jail and we make ads about how people shouldn’t drive drunk, but heaven forbid we should say that maybe, possibly, a person ought to have a full background check to purchase a gun and that there ought to be systems in place that throw up red flags when any one person seems to be “amassing an arsenal” (because that’s not worrisome for any reason at all). I mean, shouldn’t the FBI spend some time, you know, observing that person to see whether they might be planning to murder a bunch of people with all those guns? You can’t even stock up on Sudafed anymore without a SWAT team showing up at your house, but guns are apparently not as dangerous as cold medicine. Come on, FPGO, I’m not saying that everyone who owns more than one gun is going to become a mass murderer, but at the point where you have to use the words “arsenal” or “stockpile” maybe we should just have a look, huh? Evaluate their mental state, perhaps? Just a thought. Oh, and while you’re fantasizing about what you would have done if you’d been in that audience carrying your legally concealed weapon, you might want to have a gander at this very intelligent article by a guy who knows more than most people about combat situations.
FPGO, if you take nothing else away from my response to your fictional letter, take this: “Gun control” doesn’t mean we want to take away your guns. Sure, some people are dead-set against them, but as I said, they’re fighting what is very likely a losing battle. Some of us, on the other hand, just want to know that there are laws and checks and balances to protect the public, and that includes better gun laws as well as taking a serious look the availability (or lack thereof) of mental health services. We should all be in favor of making the world a safer place.
I’ll leave you with this quote, which sums it up poignantly for me:
“Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.”
Me too, Andy. Me too.
I just learned that National Sandwich Month exists! Yay! (I mean, of course it does, because sammiches. Duh.) It’s like providence or something because when I found out it exists I just assumed I’d already missed it this year. And I did, in fact, miss National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month which, according to Gone-ta-pott.com (Your Holiday Directory) is always in April. (Imagine anyone thinking otherwise.) July, however, is National Sandwich Generation Month, dedicated to people who provide care for both children and aged parents, which is nice, because that’s a lot of work. And National Sandwich Day isn’t until November! So, I didn’t miss those, which is great, but I haven’t told you the best thing of all which is that August is National Sandwich Month! Apparently, it’s always in August, but I never had reason to know that before now. I did, however, have reason to know about National Margarita Day and Cheese Weasel Day. I’ll let you make whatever judgements you will about that.
So, in honor of what we’ll refer to here at MMAS as National SAMMICH Month, I’ll be scouring the Internets for fascinating sandwich/sammich related stuff to tell you and show you. We’ll talk about the origins of the sandwich, and of the sammich, and of the title of this website. We’ll share our favorite sammich recipes! We’ll look at sandwich art (like the scary sammich monster above!)–because if you didn’t know sandwich art existed, you need to. It’s art. And sammiches. Duh.
Just ten days until August 1! Isn’t this exciting? I even added a countdown thingy just to the right, there. If you run across any sammich-related links I ought to know about ahead of time, please post them here. Ten days! I have work to do, people!
I love Katharine Hepburn so much. She was a feminist before most people knew the word existed. Did you know that she used to enter fancy Hollywood hotels by the back entrance because they didn’t want the proper folk to see her in pants? And she didn’t give a rat’s ass or any hoots or anything else. I’ve watched nearly all her movies (some more than once) and I think she was a great actress, but more importantly she was a great woman. She was raised (by a suffragette and a doctor who made it his life’s work to educate people about STDs–we’re talking the turn of the last century, folks) to be inquisitive and to speak her mind. She overcame tragedy (at 14 she found her older brother who’d hanged himself) and the resulting debilitating depression to become an award-winning actor who played some of the strongest, most complex female characters of her time. (Her performance in The Philadelphia Story as Tracy Lord, a spoiled socialite who awakens to the reality that she’s never going to be happy playing the role society has given her, is hilarious and heartbreaking.)
But as much as theater-goers loved to entertain the idea of women like Lord wearing pants and pushing the boundaries of ladylike behavior, her off-screen persona didn’t sit well with Hollywood and the slavering public. She was not your average starlet: smart and funny and strong, she didn’t like reporters or autograph hounds (famously telling one to “go sit on a tack”). And she was not one to be bullied. When the costume department took her pants in an apparent attempt to teach her a lesson, she walked around the studio in her underwear for the rest of the day. How kick ass is that? (Hint: Very!) And when a few of her movies flopped, they labeled her “box-office poison.” Did she quit? Did she roll over and die? Did she rail and flail against the unfairness of it all? No, she did not. I’ll tell you what she did. Actually, I’ll let Wikipedia tell you:
Hepburn masterminded her own comeback, buying out her contract with RKO Radio Pictures and acquiring the film rights to The Philadelphia Story, which she sold on the condition that she be the star. In the 1940s she was contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where her career focused on an alliance with Spencer Tracy. The screen-partnership spanned 25 years, and produced nine movies.
(Hepburn and Tracy were also a couple. He was married, but estranged from his wife. Kate put her career on hold to nurse him in the final years of his life. Read about it in Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir by Garson Kanin.)
And that, my friends, is how you do it Kate style. There’s so much more. Her film and theater career spanned six decades, and she lived 96 years. Here’s a photo of her from her Bryn Mawr days. That’s where she fell in love with acting, much to my everlasting joy. If this is your first introduction to the awesome that is Katharine Hepburn, congratulations. You’re in for a treat. Follow some links, watch some movies, and know this: it has never been easy to buck society’s stereotypes, and in a time when it was even less easy than it is now, she helped to pave the way for the rest of us by being an authentic woman in the face of pressure from all sides to act like a lady.
This piece is partly based on a comment I left over at Assorted Mundanities and also inspired by posts from dynamic (r)evolution and Martina Reisz-Newberry. Thanks to all of them for their thoughtful pieces on this topic.
When a friend bad-mouths herself, we jump to her defense, assuring her that she’s beautiful, that her ass doesn’t look too big in those jeans, that she shouldn’t beat herself up because she had a croissant for breakfast. We’re always quick tell our friends not to be so hard on themselves, but when it comes to our own failings, be they real or imagined, we cut ourselves no slack. This is especially true when it comes to body-hate. It’s just too easy to look in the mirror and hate what we see because we simply can’t live up to the standards global media has set for us. And yet we try, and we fail, and we look in the mirror, and we hate.
A recent study by Glamour magazine found that 97% of women who participated had at least one hateful thought about their bodies over the course of one day. That’s…let me do the math…yep, very nearly all of them. Another recent statistic showed that 3 of 4 teen girls felt depressed, guilty and shameful after three minutes with a fashion magazine. And many also learn body-hate from their mothers, who learned it from theirs.
Today I learned from dynamic (r)evolution that a website/magazine called SheLoves is promoting what they call a “synchroblog,” i.e., multiple bloggers writing on the same topic, which in this case, is a Love Letter to My Body. I think this is a lovely idea, and you’ll find two great examples in the links above. I also tripped over a post in which author Martina Reisz-Newberry has an unexpected talk with herself in the mirror and walks away with a new friend.
I’m all about the idea of self-love, but like many people, I’m not that good at it. However, this convergence of body love-hate bloggery today inspires me to jump on the bandwagon and, briefly, talk to myself a bit about how things have been and how I want them to be. So here goes:
You and I have been through some serious shit together, and you’ve suffered a lot of abuse, not least at my own hands. I started out taking pretty good care of you, but really you have to credit my mom for that. I didn’t appreciate the whole-grain bread, the sugar-free cereals, the no-soda/kool-aid/crap rule, but I know it gave you a better start than some people have. That’s probably why you held up like such a trooper for the past 40 years while I filled you with toxins, subjected you to decades of inactivity, and generally treated you like you weren’t the only thing standing between me and the sweet hereafter. And all the while I really never liked you. At times I hated you because you were me, and I wasn’t good enough. I said terrible things about you, and I used my anger at you and at me as an excuse to continue to treat you badly. And I’m here to tell you things are going to change. In fact, they already are.
This year I started a garden. That means I’m outside every day moving around in the sun and the air and the dirt and eating whole, live foods that go directly from the dirt to our belly. And when I look at you in the mirror, I see someone who is living the life she wants to live, and though sometimes I see things I want to change about you, I don’t hate the fact that you are what you are. You have changed and changed again and you will change and change some more and we’re in this together, so I’m going to strive to be ok with that.
There’s also the subject of the abuse others have perpetrated against you. This has resulted in a subtler hate that I’ve only recently come to realize has been seething within me. It’s less a mirror thing than just a constant gut belief that you are dirty, bad, toxic…maybe because you’re tainted, maybe just because you’re female. This is the hate I want most of all to overcome because I know it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. We are ok. I promise to keep that in mind when I think about you and try to turn that hate into love.
That was utterly off-the-cuff, because if I spend too much time thinking about stuff like this I won’t do it at all. I’ll close with the final part of my comment to Assorted Mundanities:
When you look in the mirror, try pretending you’re talking to a friend. Give her a pep talk. Tell her she’s ok. Because she really is.
Earlier this week the amazing Erin Kissane published “How to Kill a Troll,” an insightful essay that proposes a multi-pronged approach to dealing with Internet trolls. Her final and perhaps most important point is that love, or the “willingness to be human, vulnerable, and rational,” might be the only thing that can truly get through to people set on anonymously bullying and harassing others (particularly women). The article, and the subsequent discussion, is a tremendous resource for anyone seeking to understand trolls and misogyny on the Internet.
As I point out in the comments there, the problem with many hardcore trolls is that the whole thing is a game to them. They’re not out to change hearts and minds. They’re in it for the lulz and they really don’t care what buttons they have to press to get them. Are they misogynists? Many are. Many are stupid kids who don’t give a shit. If they weren’t online, they’d be out burning ants with a magnifying glass. But they’re learning from the big trolls that it’s fun to pick on women because we make a lot of noise which equals maximum entertainment. And it’s so easy! Your material’s already been written for you by all the misogynist trolls who came before. You can tell her to make you a sandwich, pick apart her appearance, accuse her of being a prude, a whore, or OMG A LESBIAN. If you’re hardcore, you can threaten to rape her, or wish cancer on her nether regions. You can describe all the ways you’d like to hurt her with foreign objects. Trolls–the worst of them–do all these things and more.
But to be a genuine troll requires anonymity. That means people who engage in some of these behaviors in public, with their name attached, and no expectation of privacy, cannot be rightly called trolls. But I’m going to go ahead and call them misogynists. And they’re so easy to catch. All you have to do is place the bait like The Huffington Post did today:
The comments are a mix of “Yes, it’s sexist! Duh!” and “Who the hell cares?” sprinkled with stuff like this (Note: All of these comments are public on Facebook and viewable by anyone who has “liked” the Huffington Post–the fact that they are public is the point):
And stupid shit like this:
And the winning entry before I got sick of reading:
From the guy who thought this contributed to the conversation:
The mayor of the town, much like these two commenters, doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. He thinks people are just “humorless.”
What do I think? I’m glad you asked. Yeah, it sounds sexist to me. But I’m not nearly as interested in those two parking spaces as I am in how many people are willing to flaunt their misogyny in public. Are they brave? If we compare them to the elusive-yet-ubiquitous troll, perhaps. Or maybe our friend the troll is just smarter than his counterparts showing their asses in public with their names attached. But I’ll tell you one thing: some of these people scare me way more than any socially impotent Smeagol hiding in his lair beneath mommy’s sewing room tapping out hate and rape threats (and believe me, they scare me enough that I keep this blog anonymous). Why? Because they seem to believe their misogynistic horseshit at a level so deep that they’re not even ashamed. To some of these folks, putting down women is socially acceptable and hilarious. And to others, it’s just not worth getting your panties in a twist over.
These attitudes serve to (further) normalize misogyny, and they help create this environment we have where if a woman speaks out and says “I don’t think this is right,” she can expect to be a) bullied and/or b) told she’s overreacting. And that’s at the very least. I think we can do better.
Let’s talk about how. Maybe love is the answer, but I don’t know what that looks like in action. I’m open to suggestions.
The following is a guest post from a friend (we’ll call him M) who contacted me the other day and asked whether I’d like to publish an anonymous rant about sexism in the workplace. I expected something of a slightly grayer shade (as my experiences have nearly always been), but this story strikes me as a straightforward illustration of the damaging attitudes some professional men maintain toward their female counterparts in 21st-century America (and the very reassuring fact that men like M exist as well and are fighting these battles alongside women).
Let me open by saying that I am a guy. I have been married for 11 years. I work in an industry (marketing) where males have traditionally dominated, but despite what you might see on Mad Men it has become one of the more egalitarian industries over the last couple of decades. Of my last five managers, three have been women. Even in my ten years in this industry, I’ve watched as women have taken c-level roles not just in consumer practices, but in technology and digital practice as well–traditionally the most male of the male camps in marketing and PR.
So it was quite a surprise when, after I asked a female client to please change how she communicates to myself and our team so that we can remain constructive (that’s a nice way of saying I asked her to stop being mean in her emails–what agencies call “pushing back on the client”), I received a frantic message from an executive VP in our agency who happened to be CC’d on the email. I prepared for the hand-slap that mid-senior-level agency people get when we do something that might potentially anger the client deities. What I got was far, far worse.
Anonymous, this guy told me, “You have to understand that this is how women communicate.”
In the words of my other anonymous pals from the internet: Lolwut?
It stunned me because statements like this are almost unheard-of in my industry, which has kept me insulated from the fact that this is still a very real phenomenon in the larger working world.
“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” is a bullshit book, and the belief that genders communicate in different ways is ultimately harmful to workplace equality (and relationship equality, and gender equality, and so on). Statements like the above seem born from that early-1990s crucible of pseudo-equality, but only serve to reinforce stereotypes–and ultimately provide excuses to reinforce gender inequality in the workplace.
To be clear, neither men nor women should give up their senses of identity, whether gender-based or otherwise, in the office. But equality in pay, treatment, and company roles and titles can never be achieved if we cannot move beyond statements like the above. It is limiting and degrading to the women, but it also illustrates the short-sightedness of the men: if this person believes women cannot communicate without being mean when under pressure, then there is a fundamental and underlying inequality in that person’s perception of the other gender.
I would say the same thing about any other sweeping generalization about human behavior: “that’s just how he communicates, he’s black.” “She’s just like that. She’s a Virgo.” “Yeah, that’s just how he talks to others, he’s a Mormon.” None of these are acceptable statements to make in the workplace (or frankly anywhere), and remove responsibility for socially unacceptable behavior as well as defining an atmosphere of underlying prejudice.
If we ever want to remove that glass ceiling once and for all, we (guys and gals alike) will need to excise statements like this from our consciousness. Men aren’t from Mars, we don’t go caving, women aren’t from Venus. These are excuses, not definitions. We’re people, plain and simple. Let’s treat each other as such.