It was International Women’s Day yesterday in Australia (8th March).
I’m a woman. When I was a teenager I recall taking a different route walking home to avoid having to pass the construction site and the wolf whistles and crude remarks of the tradesmen. I’ve had to work out what I was going to do if the fellow followed me home. I’ve had my bum slapped by a work colleague who thought that was okay (it wasn’t and I told him). I have friends who have endured sexual assault and/or domestic violence… etc etc etc. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory.
I’m glad to say things are beginning to change. Women are finally being recognized for work they have done instead of having it appropriated by a male colleague – or have it ignored completely. I watched the movie First Man recently. It’s about Neil Armstrong and the program to land him on the moon. I didn’t think it was a great movie (I wrote a review here) but I noticed in a one-second grab of the control room as Armstrong was finding his landing spot on the Sea of Tranquility one African-American lady. That was no doubt supposed to be Katherine Johnson, now 100 years old, who out-performed IBM’s very new computers to calculate all the maths needed for that epic mission. Her story was told – as well as that of two other African-American women who worked at NASA in those early days – in the wonderful film, Hidden Figures. That one I recommend unreservedly. I wrote a review of that, too.
I can’t write an article like this without a reference to the #metoo movement. And for what it’s worth, yes, #metoo. Just about every woman I know has encountered some sort of sexual harassment in their lives. It’s been around for a very long time. Hollywood’s ‘casting couch’ was where the movement started, with women finally objecting to being required to ‘perform’ to get a part. In fact, the casting couch was a joke when I was a teenager, it seemed to be part of the job description. I’m glad it is being addressed and people like Weinstein and Bill Cosby got what they deserved. But I recognise that there’s another side to it, with women coming out of the woodwork to make accusations against men. In some cases, we’ll never know the truth of it, so I’m pleased a few men are fighting back. It’s a bit like my post last week about deserving justice.
While I’m on the soapbox I do not agree with the idea of quotas in the workplace – for women or any other ‘disadvantaged’ minority. It should always be ‘the best person for the job’.
While things are getting better for women generally, the tendency for women to be kind of put in their place is still far too common. To illustrate, here are three examples I’ve encountered of how men don’t ‘get it’ which I’d like to share with you. Most of you will have heard the term ‘mansplaining’. For those of you who haven’t:
This fellow decided to tell women how many tampons they’d need for a year and how much they’d cost. I’ll leave you to spot the egregious errors. You might find some of the responses pretty funny, too. I sure did.
This one is also a laugh a minute.
And the third one is more related to my hobby as a writer. On the whole, we’re a pretty supportive lot. I’ve had a lot of help from fellow writers and I try to give back in kind. But sometimes things work out differently.
This is a small grab from a quite long blog post which you can read here.
“A few days ago a fellow author had written a post about authors being nasty to other authors in reviews. It was a pleasant discussion in which one writer – ‘Adrian Meredith’ wrote that he was struggling to get reviews and didn’t understand why he was not selling.
Kessily being a kind hearted lady, someone who helps when she can, went and downloaded the book on KU and had a read. To give him a sale and see if she could pinpoint an area he could improve and to leave him an honest review.
She came back with constructive feed back that I 100% agreed with.
Along the lines of issues with his formatting, the very short length of the book for the price and the fact that he had breached amazons 10% content rule and might get in trouble. In other words the extra filling in his book was more than 10% of the Bob story which the cover and blurb suggested the book was about. It was about 50% of the book which is a big no no. Amazon are very strict and would not only pull the book for page stuffing but permanently ban his account. Kessily did not want to see his account closed so pointed it out.
His response to Kessily. ‘F*CK OFF YOU C*NT’”
And things went downhill from there, with the ‘gentleman’ in question writing a short story in which he fantasised about a brutal sexual encounter with a woman called Kessily and then, when he’d had enough, had her beaten up by his male friends. This was all posted publicly on Twitter.
I don’t deny this fellow appears to have mental health issues. I also know plenty of women can be put in the ‘authors behaving badly’ box. But this fellow has immediately turned to a sexual offensive, something women don’t do. Would he have reacted in the same way if a man had offered the advice he was given about his original story?
It’s not a one-off, either. I belong to a group of writers and we kicked out one man who routinely reacted to any sort of criticism (along the lines of ‘we don’t allow that in this group’) with ‘F*CK OFF YOU C*NT’ or similar.
Please note I haven’t made a big thing about unsolicited dick pics. I’ve never received one myself – I’m probably too old – but I know women who’ve received such images from strangers. Basically, EWWWW. It’s another example of how guys get it so badly wrong.
So in case you don’t think International Women’s Day is worth much, maybe think again. For a laugh, here’s an amusing little video of a man living for a day as a woman. (It’s only a couple of minutes).
I couldn’t possibly finish off without a reference to the weather. You remember all those damaging winds smashing up the East Coast of Australia? Here’s what happened at our beach.
We have had a little bit of welcome rain but we’re hoping for more. At this time of year we start to drift into our dry season. Let’s hope it turns out as contrary as the wet season wasn’t.