life, reflexion, relationships, women

Just u + ur hands tonight


Vanessa wrote a post a few days ago about the equality between the sexes and how we’re not quite there yet.  I invite you to read it. It has inspired me this post.

As I work in the financial world, where there’s still many more men than women, I’ve encountered some disastrous situations because I’m a woman.  I have the “misfortune” to be young and not too repelling, so each time I go to a conference/ interview/ meeting, you can be sure I won’t pass unperceived because I’m the only one of my kind in the assistance. Example in  a meeting with institutional investors in Brussels: only three women, including me. The two others were much older than me, in their fifty years old. As a result, I was offered drinks all the time. 

I was flabbergasted the first time I started this job about how immature men can be, even in the financial world. In a other meeting, I was – again- the only lady in the room, and I saw men litteraly fighting just to sit next to me. And the lucky winner had those little words towards me” I’m lucky today, I should play the lottery“. Nice.

When I first started, I didn’t know anyone in the little financial world of my country, not even my rival journalists.  I have been  in my company for only three weeks when they sent me to a conference with fund managers and pension fund managers. As I was heading to the dresser for a tea before the beginning of the conference, I felt a hand grabbing my arm. As I turned back and faced the person who did that, I heard this little sentence: “What’s a pretty girl like you doing in that boring conference? Are you lost?” . The guy, a pension fund manager, was standing at just a few inches from my face. And he kept on talking.  It was a very uncomfortable  situation.  I was searching a way to get myself out of it, when another guy came to my rescue. ” You must be the new journalist from our rival newspaper” he said. And he just invited me to sit next to him, while taking me away from the other guy. That day, I met one of the nicest journalists in my profession, and also a pathetic man I didn’t see again afterwards.

Another funny episode in my career: Barcelona. I was invited by a famous investment bank to a seminar in that beautiful city. There was a gala dinner organized for the occasion, and as I was preparing to sit at my place , a man came behind me and started to tell me how he liked my articles and that he only read my newspaper just for them.  He was quite handsome, though, but I replied to him very coldly. He didn’t insisted. Later in the evening, one of the PR of the company told me that the guy thought I was a tall blonde (which I’m not) . Visibly, he was fantasizing about me, but was disappointed when he saw me in real life. 

I’m pretty sure that if I was a guy, these situations would have never happened. I wouldn’t get winks all the time when I enter a room full of men.

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16 thoughts on “Just u + ur hands tonight

  1. It’s interesting. The same thing happens in IT-related industries, since there’s such a dearth of women in that field. One of my peers, a project manager, regularly finds her opinion regarded less favorably than mine. I get pissed about this, because she has MUCH more project management experience than I do. I try to point this out, but the other males in the office don’t even see what they’re doing.

    Another interesting aspect is the general social style of a woman versus a man. Generally speaking, men tend to establish territory and roles within the workplace using verbal jousting the way animals use ritual combat. We determine who the “big dog” is by seeing how they fare in verbal combat. Likewise, our offices (or cubes) are “marked” as our space, and create barriers (using the placement of the desk and chairs) to draw lines and imply strength.

    In contrast, women (generally) try to find ways to establish “common ground” with someone else. A woman’s workplace will typically be more inviting and comfortable, and be configured in a way to put people at ease instead of on the defensive. Likewise, a woman’s social interaction is more likely to not be combative or even playfully insulting. Where men might make jabs about another man’s penis size, women would hardly ever (especially in public) make some kind of physically derogatory remark about another woman unless they were truly angry.

    I wish I could give you some advice for how to deal with such low-lifes in the corporate arena. There’s no winning here, since you’ll be labeled a “bitch” or a “butch” if you act like “one of the boys” and hand out put-downs to your male counterparts, but if you don’t, you’ll be seen as weak. It just sucks, all the way around.

  2. TheFirm: Those situations happens in my professional life all the time, and I’ve learned to deal with it. Besides, being a young woman in this profession is quite an advantage too. Older men are much more nice with me and they tend to leak important informations when I’m interviewing them. That pisses off my male colleagues. And also, when I meet another woman in the financial world, usually, there’s a form of solidarity.

  3. I’m so glad my poorly written, inebriated rant managed to inspire…hah!

    I was talking about what happened with a friend yesterday and he said, “Well, you shouldn’t go to the pub anymore.” I was quite affronted by this suggestion and reminded him that if someone had treated him the way I have been treated by men in drinking establishments, he would go off his rocker. A tirade would spill from his mouth. He agreed that he would have that reaction. He also added that there is nothing I can do to change the behaviour of these men and I should either just deal with it, or not go to the pub at all.

    Unfortunately, he is right.

    Your experiences are those of women the world over. Unique to you, of course, but there wouldn’t be a grown female out there who wouldn’t have a similar tale (or 1,000) to tell. How sad.

    I guess we’ve made progress, just not quite enough. Give it a couple of generations…

    Then there are slightly more evolved males like TheFirm and TommyT who give us hope that everything will be ok. Hooray for them. 🙂

  4. Pingback: We Are Not Equal After All « A Mind of My Own

  5. Firm: Will you knock it off with all the bubble bursting? If I choose to have the conception of you being an evolved male, let me live in my little bubble. I like it here. It has a nice view. 😉

  6. Vanessa: thank you! And no, your post wasn’t poorly written. I know I’m not alone in my situation, especially because some professions like mine only started recently to open their doors widely to women. The change of mentalities are becoming more and more visible, but not enough yet.

    TheFirm: I share Vanessa’s view about you being an evolved male:)

  7. At the risk of sounding offended (and I’m not), how is “slightly more evolved male” different from “articulate black man”? I say this, half jokingly, because I’m fully aware of the singular-eyebrow tendencies of many examples of the human male.

    For many years, I looked at men and women, and presumed that women had more mature emotional responses. At this stage of my life, I’ve determined that this is not necessarily the case. Women are just willing to expose what they really think and feel, and men aren’t (at least not when women are around).

    It’s a Bad Idea(tm), but it sure keeps things interesting. 😉

  8. “how slightly evolved man is different from articulate black man” ? Gosh, I didn’t mean it that way, but it’s just because I haven’t got a dirty mind (well it depends…). 😉

    I don’t pretend that women have more mature emotional responses. I ‘ve seen so many women acting completely irrational because they were in love that I really doubt we’re more mature than men on that matter.

  9. It was me that said “slightly more evolved”…

    The answer to this is relative.

    A lot of it hinges on the fact that I have an innate tendency to understate. Really. I do it all the time. It doesn’t do me a lot of favours.

    I meant that you were more evolved than a lot of men I have had the misfortune to be patronised or unintentionally (?) degraded by.

    It’s a sticky one, isn’t it? I meant it as a compliment, just as the man who said to me, “You’re a crack! For a girl!”

    Oooh.

    Women are so used to being put down, that I think sometimes we don’t think about the potential hypocrisy. It happened on my blog the other day. I’m not sure if it was that blog (I think it was), but in the comments, a woman made a comment to the effect “women are better!”. A male took umbrage to that, and I don’t blame him one bit. It’s wrong.

    We’re all just people. Can’t we all just get along and respect each other?

    I know, it’s the unanswerable….

    I agree with you, modobs. Women are able to express themselves emotionally more freely than most men, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a mature emotional response….

    Some men are more evolved than others, when it comes to their attitudes towards women. This is true, without doubt.

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