Empowerment. Its a hefty word and one that we hear a lot these days. What does empowerment mean to you? With everything coming to light recently about just how much Women still have to put up with as far as harassment and general sexism and chauvinism is concerned, it is incredibly encouraging to see Women and Men standing up and letting their voices be heard in the fight against misogyny, sexism and sexual harassment. I’d like to think that Women are equal but our femininity is still called in to question when it comes to our abilities to do certain things.
Recently I found out that I was referred to as “too feminine” to do a certain aspect of what I do. It was a throw away remark made to someone else about me that got back to me and frankly, it pissed me off! As it would most Women. My Femininity does not define my ability to do something, whether or not I wear a full face of make-up and a dress does not define my ability to understand and converse about Current Affairs (something we often hear “oh just get back to talking about your make-up and clothes, you know nothing about Politics/ News” etc…). Whether I choose to wear dresses and heels or jeans and Chuck’s doesn’t define my abilities. I am not “too feminine” to do anything.
Oftentimes, sadly, any Woman who calls herself a Feminist is labeled as being some mouthy, Man-hating, bra-burning Spinster when it simply means we want equality between the Sexes. Why should that ever be a bad thing!?
A few years ago I went for an interview in a major coffee chain where I dressed smartly, I didn’t wear a suit like I usually would to a job interview, instead a wore smart jeans and a tailored blazer with a pair of smart heels. The Woman interviewing me looked me up and down and informed me that “I didn’t look like the kind of girl who would get down on my hands and knees and scrub the floor” I was so stunned that, as is often the case in these situations, I couldn’t think of what to say. What I should’ve said was this: “actually a few years ago while working in a Pub in England on Christmas Day morning I was up at work at 7am cleaning feces off the walls of a men’s toilet stall because the guy who had been in there last night couldn’t handle his beer and his arse exploded covering 3 walls of the stall in his excrement.” I didn’t say that because I forgot in my shock that I would be judged at an interview for dressing smartly. As it was (having seen another girl go in to that same coffee shop for an interview dressed like this) she was expecting someone to turn up for the interview in Lululemons and a sweater; not how I was ever told to dress for an interview when I was in career class! My point in this story is that my abilities to do a job and my work ethic was judged based on my dress code being polished and feminine. I looked too “Feminine”.
It’s time to stand up and call B.S. on Men (and Women) who judge your abilities based on your gender and your femininity. Your abilities are based on your ability to master something and nothing else should matter. There are enough seriously influential Women throughout History who could attest to this fact and while being called “too feminine” to be able to handle doing something may not be the worst injustice that a Woman may have to face in her lifetime or the worst injustice that has been faced in History so far; it is still a reminder that we do not yet live in a World where Women are considered equals, it is still a reminder of the draconian belief’s that the way you dress and the way you look defines your ability to be able to do something and therefore get paid as much as someone else to do that job.