A new book out this week professes to guide women on how to win in the business world of men. It was featured in a Mail on Sunday splash last weekend, and even allowing for the likelihood of the Mail missing some of the points in it, the book seems to me to suggest that the “formula” for corporate Woman success in the office is to be in denial of their feminine virtues. The Slog offers a contrary view.
Sue Unerman, chief strategic officer of the UK’s largest media agency, MediaCom, and Kathryn Jacob, CEO of cinema advertising company Pearl & Dean, have co-written a book about succeeding in business. It’s aimed at women. But there is something wrong with it: it seems to be aimed at women who think the only answer is to capitulate in the corporate arena, and act like men in drag.
You can somehow see this coming at the point where they write, ‘The fact is that you can be ambitious without it turning you into a version of yourself that you don’t like.’
The rest of the adulatory piece then describes how to do exactly that:
‘Traditional cultural stereotypes dictate that men are allowed to get noisily angry at work, whereas women are meant to be submissive or tolerant.So you need a reserve of feral behaviour to call upon when you require it.’
‘Think like a man
….If you want a promotion, ask for it…..Hewlett-Packard ran an investigation into why more women weren’t in top management positions.It found that ‘women working at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 per cent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 per cent of the job requirements. Ask for the job you want.’
‘Lie and lie again
…Jasmine is executive assistant to a CEO and has never fibbed much in her life. But her career was slipping into a downward spiral as she came across one of the unwritten rules of her office: it is not OK to stay at home if your child has a temperature.
She felt as though she was constantly apologising for having to leave early to cater for their needs. Now, she just fibs.No one will question you.’
‘Build your brand….How would your colleagues describe you? Is that a formula for success? Would you promote that woman? People like brands….Take a step outside yourself and see what the best brand you can build for yourself might be. Then make sure everything you do or say (or wear) at work aligns with it.
Identify with it, work out what it means, then go out of your way to become known for it.’
So, continuing to be the person you like is behaving like a pine marten, thinking like a dick-obsessed bloke, lying in job applications, lying about taking a sickie, and becoming somebody – or more like it, something – you aren’t by being a brand.
And you like this person? My God, you have a serious self-loathing problem.
Now I understand that what the pressures of children – and all the dumbassed, unbalanced male corporate judgementalism about that is like. I used to get it when I said things like, “I’ll be late back from lunch because my younger daughter Jo’s headmistress just rang to say Jo glued the English teacher to her chair”. (That’s a true story by the way).
And OK, I know it was easier for me…..being a bloke, and the Deputy Chairman.
But is that what the Women’s equality struggle was for…pulling the same mendacious shit men do? Capitulating to a twisted corporate world largely created by thick gits with frontal lobe syndrome?
In 1945, women got tarred and feathered in France for collaborating like that. And they bloody deserved it.
When Women’s Lib first came into my life (during the second year at Uni in 1968) I was immediately for it. Having been socialised into thinking it was my job to die young of a heart attack from the stress of feeding, educating and clothing the output of a baby machine at home, the Women’s movement struck me as the best idea I’d ever heard.
Over the years however, however, my view changed on a number of levels:
* By the early 1970s, I was heartily sick of apologising for being the owner of a penis
* Working in the Creative Research Unit at a major advertising agency, I very quickly cottoned on to what the women I was working for brought to the party: less of the pissing contest, more of the balanced compromise
* By 1980, I was physically sick of being told Women ‘wanted it all’. First of all, I’d heard 938 versions of what ‘it’ was; and second, I resented the assumption that as a man I had it all. Increasingly it seemed to me, I felt guilty if I was with my family, and guilty if I was in the office prepping a pitch on a Sunday. What kind of ‘all’ was that?
* Come the 1990s, I’d gone beyond sick and become aggressively anti all the pc syntax bollocks that women’s opinion leaders demanded I adopt. I had to pretend senior female colleagues were actually the seating. I had to write letters to Mzzzz this or that. I had to remain silent while female staff swanned about the office corridors dressed in outfits clearly cut to accentuate every aspect of a sexuality their ideology was keen to deny. When one woman told me I had “a cute butt”, I had to smile and ignore the ludicrous double standards of ‘Laddism’. When conducting focus groups about shopping, I had to feign
I no longer think women in our society have been liberated. To be frank, if they had, we wouldn’t still be getting infantile Renault commercials observing that “I seen yer baby, shakin’ that ass”. All the faux correct politesse of pc has, to my mind, not changed a single synapse in the brains of blokes whose trail is easy to follow given the knuckle marks they leave in the carpet.
But those males who quickly accepted the obvious misogynist bias of the employment and divorce laws of 1960s have been the ones, paradoxically, required to don sackcloth and ashes while trotting out feminist mantras like so many Stepford wives. I have heard so much hypocritical, utterly false feminist drivel emerging from the mealy-mouths of men I know to be serial sex-cheats over the last thirty years, on occasions it has led me to outbursts of crude satire I later regretted….but by God, they made me feel better at the time.
I think that, as a culture, there are two things we need to accept in the context of contemporary feminism:
1. Not all – in fact, nowhere near all – women want to have a career, and be forced to balance office needs with those of their children. There is in my view no more important task an adult of either gender performs than the attempt to produce children with an enquiring personality and few if any anti-social dimensions to their personality. One very bad effect of radical feminism has been to demean that parental role.
2. The greatest thing women can bring to the Boardroom table is their innate ability to listen not yell, explain not demand, and exploit their lack of testosterone to arrive at a solution rather than a confrontation. The idea that behaving like quasi okkers is the only route to success for female employees is best summarised as being risibly bonkers. A less charitable conclusion might be that it is simply behaving in a way of which men still in short trousers approve: being like them.