Why we need International Women’s Day
“Is it my turn with the handsaw?” “How about you sweep up the sawdust, love.” – Me, age 13, and school woodwork teacher.
“You should blow-dry your hair straight. There aren’t any journalists with curly hair.” – Uni tutor.
“How old are you?” “Twenty.” “You’re not gonna get pregnant and leave as soon as we hire you, are ya?” – Interview with prospective employer.
“Your resume is great and I have no doubt about your ability as a journalist, but I need to see what you look like.” – Another prospective employer.
“Sam, I’ve got a Christmas present for you…” – Former boss before handing me a sex toy. I was 21. He was 60+.
“What did you win the award for – best tits?” – Another former boss at a work awards night.
“You’ll fit right in over there, the men like big asses,” – Former male colleague farewelling me as I went on a trip to the US.
“You know what you’re missing? Red lipstick.” – Another male colleague at a work function.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” – First question from a male colleague as I sat at my desk to start a new job.
“We’re going to the stripsies, you can come if you want or we’ll drop you back at the hotel.” – Male colleagues at management training weekend.
“A move might be a good idea because this job isn’t very conducive to having a family.” – Another former boss.
“Hey bitch, your baby’s going to die.” – Protester at an event I was reporting on. I was 38 weeks pregnant.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Economic Empowerment. With that in mind, I thought I’d write down a few of the sexist comments I’ve endured throughout my relatively short career. (And I’m a Gen Y’er – imagine what it was like in the 1950s!)
I feel blessed to be where I am now, but the above quotes may give you an insight into the sometimes rocky road it took to get here.
There are many reasons we need International Women’s Day. My first thoughts on occasions such as this are with our sisters in the Third World and Middle East whose hardships make ours seem insignificant.
But we’re all fighting. And even your seemingly well-off female friends, neighbours and relatives will have stories of enduring seedy sexism. I guarantee it. Ask them.