Feminism, women’s rights, the gender pay gap. Incredibly important issues. As a female, as a parent and as a reasonable member of society, they matter to me. And yet on a particular day this week, six different incidents made me question my own feelings on these emotive topics.
Picture the scene. You are happily making conversation with a female you don’t know particularly well. Passing the time of day, making small talk. Because you are both polite, reasonable people.
Then, when you are mid-sentence, another female walks up and interrupts to talk to the person you are with.
“I am going to interrupt…”
Yes, you are. But why? Because what you have to say is more important? Because you are more important? Because you were never taught manners? Or because your friend is talking to somebody else and you don’t like it?
Shortly afterwards, still in the same spot. Another female comes and stands directly in front of you with her back to you. Joining the conversation that you are no longer part of. You either stand within an inch of her back, move to try to join the conversation or walk away.
Later, you are running along the pavement towards two women from the ‘friendly’ local running club who have just finished their run. They see you, look you up and down and go out of their way to make sure you can’t get past on the (perfectly wide) pavement, forcing you onto the road.
The same day, three remarkably similar situations.
Standing alone in a crowd of people. A man walks up to you to pass the time of day. Because, you know, it can be pretty awkward when everybody knows each other and you are alone.
Another male goes out of his way to include you in a group situation. To save you from the humiliation of being the only one that nobody speaks to.
And on the same running route, two males from the same running club move over to run in single file so you can get past. Recognising a fellow runner and saying “hi” as they go by.
Who am I?
I am nobody. But I am somebody.
I will not pretend to be a delicate little flower, bothered by bitchy women. But I am somebody. I am not their friend, nor will I ever be. Because I choose my friends carefully, gravitating towards strong women who build each other up instead of making each other feel small.
I am not a large business owner. But I could be.
I will not pretend to be an employer, recruiting for a high-powered, well paid job. But I could be. And if I was, which of the people I encountered that day would I employ? The women, who would disrupt my workplace with bitchy arguments, rudeness and petty backstabbing? Or the men, who treated me like a human being?
Do women behave like this because we are discriminated against and treated badly? Or are we, in fact, our own worst enemy?