For those of you that know how my day went… This post will make good sense. For those of you that don’t- Google “Young and Laramore” and you can get caught up pretty quickly.
There are several things I don’t want to discuss this evening:
- I don’t want to rehash another rundown of this day.
- I don’t want to justify why, while something might be flattering, it can also reek of sexism.
- I’m not in the mood to argue over how women can be both smart and attractive- and that there is a time and a place for the acknowledgment of both.
- I don’t want to analyze the rhetoric used for men and women which is often different- across industries. Across societies. Period.
- I don’t want to hear any sort of anecdotal Mad Men style reference about women’s place in advertising. This is 2013. For Christ’s sake. Don’t.
Here’s what I would like to say- The thing that surprised me most about my afternoon was both the support and cattiness of women in this scenario.
When the article first went up, and a coworker (whom I love dearly) posted it on Facebook, the response was overwhelmingly “Wonder Women Unite.” In my head, a half a dozen women were strapping on their Amazonian Princess belts and slapping on some red lipstick to bring this dude doooowwwwn. Despite their different walks of life, different jobs, different viewpoints, these women had many things in common: politically involved, thoughtful, cuttingly funny, motivated.
Then as the story spread, what happened was so predictably awful, somewhere Tina Fey was taking notes for her Mean Girls sequel, “Women Are No Less Awful Than High School Girls.” On Jezebel, a decidedly feminist website, people were commenting how we women shouldn’t expect less because we’d chosen to go into advertising and mocking us for opting for the “looks” industry over the substance of something like sales (???). On Twitter, local people- women, fellow advertising industry professionals, were tweeting catty things like: “Honestly I’m underwhelmed. Is that the best we have?” “BREAKING: Three averagely pretty females gainfully employed in the Midwest.”
Hell. What happened to band of brothers- What happened to “ovaries before broveries?”
I then I chatted with a reporter today who asked if I felt I needed an apology from the article’s author, Steve Hall- if today was bad for women in our industry. No- I don’t care for an apology. This was silly. And men being sexist? What an anomaly. I’m shocked I tell you, SHOCKED. And could this one article in a minor publication be bad for our industry? Of course not- at least no more than any other incident, in any other industry. What it comes down to, is that women should be able to succeed in their careers without cringing- waiting for their talents to be marginalized.
But was I offended by the number of women who fed the fire? Who played the “but they aren’t really that pretty” game? Yes. Absolutely. Because while Hall’s writing opted for an easy quip, what these women did? It’s not just much worse for our industry but for our place in the workforce and really for our gender. It feeds into the stereotype of working women being catty and back stabbing and emotionally driven- in this case by jealousy or pettiness or stupidity. It succeeds in a level of harm that Hall couldn’t touch and that illicits a level of anger in me that Hall’s sexist post couldn’t have begun to make me feel.
Women deserve better- we deserve respect, we deserve equality and we deserve to be treated as people first and eye candy… well, when we damn well feel like it. And when we don’t issue that sort of respect for each other it only perpetuates the narrative of the cruel and irrational woman- and while, I can’t speak for our fair Indy Tweeters and the Jezebel Commenters, I believe we’re better than that.