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The Invisibility Of Being Female

May 5, 2013

Sure – maybe an odd post for a guy to write, but I awoke this morning with a memory from years back when I did a course on TV and Video Production. At a production meeting I remember watching and listening to the exchange of ideas and the guys (7 including me) and girls (2) were expressing their ideas of where they saw the production going. Except – only the guys were heard. It was the weirdest thing, the girls would suggest an idea to a deafening silence, then minutes later a guy would suggest THE SAME idea to a resounding; ‘yeah cool, that’s a great idea!’ WTF??!!

THIS IS CALLED ‘FEMALE INVISIBILITY’

and it still goes on today.

I watched the girls’ reaction – they nodded at each other as if to say ‘yeah, that’s no surprise’ and then they both looked down. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut so after this happened three times I chipped in: ‘Sarah just suggested that a few minutes ago’. Guess what happened?

I TOO BECAME INVISIBLE

It was the strangest thing – I went from being heard, taking part in the conversation – to nothing. The guys appeared to not hear a word I had said. I was mad but also fascinated at just how STUPID these guys really were – truly stupid!

Some days later, I was chatting to the same two ladies when I brought the issue up: ‘That’s normal’. One of them said ‘It’s nothing new’ the other said. I was having none of that: ‘Well do you want me to bring it up at the next meeting?’ I asked. They both looked exhilarated: ‘Yes!’ they both said – so I did:

“At the last meeting I noticed that whenever Sarah and Jo suggested an idea, they were completely ignored, then one of you suggested the exact same idea moments later and it was well received” The guys genuinely looked confused apart from two – one of which looked guilty (my interpretation) and the other laughed out loud in the most patronising tone I could have punched him.

“Do you think the same?” The patronising guy asked the female colleagues.

“No” They both said.

I was fuming – confused – upset – but I got why they couldn’t speak up.

Afterwards I challenged them on letting me down (this is how I felt, however misguided) and they both confirmed that there was no point.

Were they right?

On the one hand I understand that sense of lethargy, pointlessness and sense of isolation – even when help does come – it seems that we have no energy left to respond to that help. But what about when we do have the energy???

What is the solution?

Is there a solution?

I would really like to know your thoughts….

Matt 🙂

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6 Comments
  1. It’s common in corporate circles, and I must admit, that having worked in traditionally male industries, it’s not worth the fight. I used to fight, when I was younger. But long term it doesn’t get you anywhere. It just brands you a “trouble maker”. Then you get nowhere until you change company.

    For clarification, I’m a mid 30s female who’s worked in mostly various kinds of insurance and finance.

    • Thank you for sharing that. Yes, the older I get the more I start to wonder ‘Is fighting really the answer?’ I think certainly it is important to voice our opinions, but then if that does not bring about change – to then drop it and create our own change maybe the better option.

      Keep on changing…

  2. Yes, this is common…still after all that suffrage. Well, I am one woman who doesn’t take it sitting down. And I am a “corporate trouble maker” as one gorilla once labeled me because I threaten everyone who belittles me with going to the corporation. I’ve even threatened involving news media. Of course, I am also one of those who knows how to dig up the dirt, so to speak…being the great investigator I am…many gorillas go limping off with their tails between their legs. Long ago, in my early work career, I was laid off from a supervisory position because of my religious beliefs, though I never talked about them at work. I even call all the right organizations. Women are held down because of their “it’s not worth it” attitude. I don’t understand why we can’t band together today like in the past. It’s a waste.

    • Well it’s never too late…. Changes are being made all the time on both small and huge scales. Keep at it and keep asking for support, at some point someone is bound to scream ‘I feel that way too!’ 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on One Starving Activist and commented:
    I could go on with opinion and example but instead will simply say yes, it happens far too often. However, had I been in their shoes one of two things would have happened. One: I would have spoken up in the meeting (causing more alienation perhaps) or two: I would have had Matt’s back. But I am an activist by nature, so there you have it.

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