Working Girls

A bunch of links that will make sense when you get to the end of them:

My fabulous friend Jennifer’s fabulous new book, Sexy Feminism, is out, and you should buy it and give it to all the young men and women in your life (and get an extra copy for yourself).

My favorite part of that book is a chapter about “The Working-Woman Problem,” about the way our culture encourages women to view one another as competition for jobs and favors in the office.

I thought of that chapter when looking at this (click to embiggen):

Chart2.jpg.CROP.article920-large

Because we need to address this:

One audience member asked the group if women were doing enough to support other women. “I sort of push back a little bit on the ‘women don’t help other women’ thing,” Sklar responded. “Why isn’t there fretting about why men don’t help men in the workplace? Because I personally know a lot of dudes who have knifed a lot of dudes in the back without thinking twice about it.”

The Working Woman Problem chapter in Jennifer’s book made me think about my own feminist actions more than anything else (because I’ve been involved with Sexy Feminist for years now, I was familiar with most of the topics). I don’t have a lot of female mentors. I’ve worked in male-dominated industries and thus almost always had more male friends than female ones, but lately (having met some kickass chicks I’d like to network with) I’ve found myself wondering why I don’t have more women I go to when I don’t know what to do about something work-related.

Part of it’s my personality, part of it’s what I like and what I’m like, of course. But I think part of it, too, is that I’ve often fallen into the same trap the book cautions against, and that’s thinking about careers, especially white-collar office careers, as a game with only one winner — if another woman’s getting a promotion then there’s one less for me. I want to win, of course, but the rules need to change. If the game’s about who’s the boss’s favorite girl, the boss is still a fella, and that’s not okay if I want to be the boss.

It’s not even okay FOR the boss, really, because he’s missing out on a hell of a lot of talent if we’re all being taught to fight it out so that only one of us advances. The best experience I had working with a bunch of chicks was on a mostly female investigative news team a few years back. If just one of us had been hired instead of all four of us, the list of projects that wouldn’t have gotten done would be as long as my arm. Instead we had a great time kicking ass together, and while I’m sure there were jealousies on occasion (you don’t throw a bunch of Type A’s in a room together without some friction) we mostly managed to do our jobs without being hemmed in by fear of helping each other too much.

That’s where last quote and the graphic up there come in. Women have been in the working world since there WAS a working world, and yet conditions for women who are working are still not remotely friendly. Conditions for ANYBODY who is working are getting noticeably worse, as companies compete to see who can suck more and governments compete to see who can punch unions hardest in the neck. Things SUCK right now, and we can’t get around to fixing how they suck if we’re fighting the fucking mommy wars between stay-at-home and work-outside-the-home moms and then in the office arguing over how there’s a new pretty girl at the dance.

A.

2 thoughts on “Working Girls

  1. blue cheddar says:

    Seems to me the only book I read about work that was helpful was Working by Studs. Otherwise not running into useful stuff. Watching an episode of survivor might teach a person more.

  2. cgeye says:

    The Mommy Wars exist so there will never be the Daddy Wars — men fighting men, for better lives for their families. If women do all the worrying about this, publically, it stigmatizes men who speak up about their families’ home lives.
    In short, the rhetorical gender segregation is in itself a form of misogyny and homophobia. Q.E.D.

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