In an email discussion preparing for a fundraising event a few months ago, a colleague proposed using “attractive girls” to collect donations via Squares on smartphones from guests. It was not intended maliciously, just as a pragmatic strategy to get people to donate.
Blood boiled. Pulse in my forehead throbbed. Vision temporarily went black.
I prepared to launch into a cutting tirade.
And then stopped.
Whenever issues of women’s equality, objectification, or sexualization are brought up, I’ve often found that the person raising the issue, often a woman, becomes an uptight feminist bitch with a broomstick up her ass.
The world is imperfect. This is how things are. Get over it. Duh.
Click clank, click cank, click cank, delete, delete, delete, delete, clink cank, clink cank, delete, and on and on it went as I fought with myself to find a concise way to make my point. One that would resonate, but without coming off too harshly. It probably still sounded loftier than intended in spite of a badly attempted humorous reference to Liz Lemon.
Read, reread, reread again, prepare for possible backlash, reread, edit, reread, edit, reread, edit.
And then I waited impatiently for the backlash.
It was suggested that I save my thoughts for a women’s studies class as the real world was not an appropriate place for these discussions. Followed by a smiley face to lessen the blow. In the real world, people, both men and women, are inclined to handover their credit cards to “very attractive girls.”
But all this said, he does have a mother and sister whom he loves dearly.
The problem here is not the psychology of fundraising, but his belief that my objection to the commonplace strategy of objectifying women to market something was not appropriate for discussion in “real” life.
It is immensely frustrating to realize that instead of finding allies in male colleagues and friends, many of whom are forward thinking comrades in other life experiences, we instead find a dearth of initiative, or even desire, to overcome our daily complicity in reaffirming patriarchy. By no means is this true of all men, but it does seem to be true of many, including men whom I deeply respect. Women can be just as guilty at times.
Patriarchy is the way of the world; but, it is so because we cyclically reinforce it in our complicity, our desire to be effective in achieving other goals, our inability to be vocal, or our general apathy. Overcoming this, though, necessitates solidarity between both men and women (and everyone in between), and being brave enough to say something in our daily lives, possibly to people we care about, even when it won’t be taken well.