I just wanted to drop you a friendly line to let you know that I’m angry. In case you hadn’t noticed.
I’m not just my usual friendly VH-levels-of-ranty angry.
I’m lie-awake-for-hours-on-a-Sunday-night angry.
I’m why-don’t-people-care-how-upset-I-am-about-this angry.
I am ANGRY.
I’ll explain why.
I keep talking to people about this, and they just don’t seem to get it. They’re just not as angry as me.
I get that we’re not surprised. I am absolutely not surprised. I’m resigned to the fact that this is the norm. But I feel like the reasons that I’m not surprised, are not the same reasons that you’re not surprised.
If you read the stories about The Presidents Club and you are not immediately sickened and enraged, you need to ask yourself why you’re so… ok?... with that behaviour. Stop for a moment and think. Ask yourself why you’re not more angry about this. Stop looking at me like I’m the weirdo. Like my aneurism is an overreaction.
If you read the stories about The Presidents Club and you eyerolled at the girls who “knew what they were getting in to,” at the writing abilities of the journalist, the motivations of the media for running the story or the validity and integrity of the testimonies of the victims as they pour in, then you need to ask yourself, “why am I so concerned with these trivial details rather than furious that the investigative journalism had to take place in the first place?”
If you read the stories and your response is “they have women-only dinners” you need to ask yourself...
No. Hang on.
ARE YOU SERIOUS?
There are women-only dinners, and the agenda at a women-only dinner looks like this:
1. How to stop things like The Presidents Club being seen as the norm.
Now I’m the one eyerolling.
If there hadn’t been perpetual Presidents Club acceptance for the last few millenia there would be no need for women-only dinners.
As an aside I’d like to go on the record and say that I wholly disagree with women-only dinners. Not because I care about offending the chaps who feel like they’re being excluded, not because I give a shit about the fact that we should be acting with more calmness, openness and equality, or for the guys who proclaim to be feminists, but only when they can mansplain to me what feminism should look like (“be nicer to me when you’re freaking out about your £20,000 pay disparity! Jesus! Calm down!”) BUT because if the agenda item is “make life more equal” I want the bloody men there in the room to pick up the f*cking action items. I want them there to take some responsibility for bringing about the change. I want them there to see it at the coal face. So they can stop eyerolling at me and start doing something useful. And if your attitude is that of “ask me nicely or I’m not playing” then I don’t want to play with you. I don’t have time to convince you to be in my side. I’ve written you off. Stop being such a snowflake. Equality isn’t going to come about with pleases and thank yous and cups of tea. Or on terms that suit you. It’s going to come about if we stand up and fight for it. If we call it when we see it. If we identify the big problems as well as the subtle ones that are being perpetuated by too many “that’s just the way it is” nay-sayers. If my team is too abrasive for you to join, then get out of the way and let me do it myself. But do me a favour, before you write me off as completely crazy, please stop for a minute and ask yourself what you find so abrasive about the truths I’m telling…
And we’re back.
If you read the stories comparing it to the episode from The Handmaid’s Tale and you don’t feel a cold shudder of fear slither over your body, you need to ask yourself why you’re not more petrified about that almost-reality. Why it doesn’t keep you awake at night. How do you watch that and think it’s entirely fiction. It’s not. It’s happening, in the Square Mile. Right now. To your wives, sisters, daughters, mothers, colleagues.
If you bring to the table the argument “it’s just like any normal stag do / rugby dinner / night out with the boys...” or you smugly pronounce “HA! WOMEN HIRE BUTLERS IN THE BUFF! HA!” you are clearly missing the point. We’re not talking about a bunch of #ladsladslads having #topbants at Secrets under the arches. That’s another argument. I’ll have it with you another time. You’ll actually be surprised at my stance. The Presidents Club is full of people making very important decisions in places that affect me. Two very real, immediate examples: i) Government and ii) the sector in which I work. Behind closed doors, with NDAs and confiscated phones, those men are indulging in misogynistic behaviour and being very very very ok with disgusting and deplorable anti-feminist activity. And THEN they go back to their high profile, powerful jobs and pretend to be all about equality. “Yes, we’ll consider how to improve the numbers of senior women in partnership” Will you? WILL YOU!?
You’ll pay lip service in your annual reports, in your shareholder meetings, at your Town Halls and then you’ll go carry on being a filthy misogynist. At your men-only clubs. Where you keep on voting to keep women out. At your men-only dinners. Where you tell yourself it’s totally normal to exclude 50% of the population. At your men-only board meetings, followed by men-only drinks where you ask women (paid to be there out of your men-only membership fees) to take their knickers off and dance on a table…
If you for ONE TINY SECOND raised an eyebrow at the “kind of girls” taking those hostess jobs you need to think about the words “victim shaming” very very carefully. I was on the books at a promotions agency. I wore skimpy outfits. I was paid really good money to pour over priced shots for almost exclusively male groups. I was treated in a way that would make your blood run cold. But my turning up to work that day shouldn’t be taken as my being complicit in that treatment.
If you read that story and your feelings are anything other than being sickened, furious and demanding of change, then you need to ask yourself why.
If you listen to my anger and you think I’m overreacting, if you think I’m being histrionic, if you roll your eyes and wish
you need to ask yourself why.
As I always say, if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re probably part of the problem.
Your silence is your complicity.
And no, I’m not on my period.
Here's a picture of me as a shot girl. Remember kids - clothes do not define consent...