I have a family member who is a partner in a large firm. One night, during a holiday dinner he casually mentions that his firm created a special “non-equity partnership” position for peope who deserve to be partners, but for some reason aren’t able to put in the long hours. My interest was piqued and I began asking questions. He said the position is mainly for women with families and that they aren’t given equity in the firm because, as he put it, “they aren’t putting in as many hours as I am.” The firm boasts a whopping 20% female partners. This family member happens to be a single man with no kids. I kinda lost it on him. Sure, Christmas Eve might NOT have been the right venue, but this shit makes me angry. No. Livid.
A couple of weeks ago a friend on Facebook updated his status with a commentary on his venture into Crossfit. The gist of the post was that he was ashamed he couldn’t perform better than a woman. This man has two daughters.
This family member and this friend, by all intents and purposes, are well-educated, respected, productive individuals. They are nice guys who mean well and I like them both very much. And yet when it comes to the issue of gender equality, they have no clue. This is how far we have yet to go to educate our OWN nation on the skewed perceptions and inequities of men and women.
The majority of the rest of the world is worse off.
I fought my battle with goliath through the legal system over my gender and it was certainly my awakening to the realities of this issue. I can no longer stand idly by pretending these things aren’t real. More importantly, I want better for my children. I feel duty-bound to change these misperceptions however I can whether it be at the holiday dinner table, in a response on Facbeook, or here. These ideas are simply no longer acceptable in my world. They shouldn’t be acceptable in anyone’s world, and yet they are.
UN Women – and arm of the U.N. that focuses on women’s issues – created a powerful new ad campaign where they use the most widely used search engine, Google, to illustrate how prevalent sexism and misogyny are worldwide. Everyone knows that Google will automatically populate the most popular search terms when you start to type a phrase, and when you type certain terms about women… the results are no less than shocking.
When I first saw it, I thought maybe it was phony. I know a little about Google and I know they tailor some search results based on previous searches, geography, etc. But when I put the exact same phrases they used in the campaign into my own browser I literally put my hand over my mouth and gasped. THESE are real search results from MY computer. This is something I cannot unsee or unknow and you shouldn’t either. This is what the world thinks of me and my daughter. I used pictures of my daughter as a baby to mimic the original campaign and illustrate just how absurd this is.
And because I’m fair and also skeptical, I wanted to see the other side. I put the same phrases in for men. These are the real results.
Apparently the world thinks my daughter should not be a cop, a pastors, fight in combat or go to college but men should just avoid wearing shorts. Nice.
To all the people who think I’m a little too far down the feminist road; who think that just because I fought a harrowing legal battle for the right be treated fairly as a woman, that now everything looks like gender discrimination – I give you this challenge. Put these phrases into your Google search box now. Do not pretend this isn’t real.
The sad truth is, my rose-colored glasses were lifted and I’m no longer ignorant to the issue. And you shouldn’t be either. Particularly if you have children.
Realize that this is not something that only happens in developing countries with fundamentalist rulers… it’s here. I guarantee it’s in your family, around your dinner tables, in the off-handed comments and jokes of “throwing like a girl,” “crying like a girl,” or “if a girl can do it… ” This is where it persists and is allowed to fuel the world’s idea of what women are worth.
But there is a search phrase that applies to BOTH men and women. Apparently the world thinks its high time we both “grow up” and you know what? I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps peeking over those rose-colored glasses is a nice start.