For the longest time imaginable I resisted being called a feminist. Euuu the filthy, loathsome F word. It brought to me images of
- angry PMS-ing moustached fat women who couldn’t find a tub of their favorite ice cream in the store
- bitter LGBT community members with shaved heads
- promiscuous women blindly following the West and asking Makran has nude beaches
The reality only dawned on me recently. When you are 38, 2 years ago is recent. Started to notice a pattern. Every time I tried to say something someone spoke over me. Raised a point, and it was swept away. Gave an opinion and was heard with pained patience. WTH was going on here, I asked myself. And then I started paying attention.
I realized just how hard women work and yet their achievements are put in the very patronizing “Special Women Edition” of magazines, or they are asked to speak on panels about “Women Entrepreneurs and their Challenges, “Women Empowerment and it’s Importance” while the real brains of the society, the MEN, got to talk about serious stuff like fintech, incubators, block chain and blah blah.
I consciously kept an eye out for these big events organized with the support of big organizations such as Jazz, IBM, Microsoft, the Americans and all had same bias. The male to female ration of speakers and panelists was 33:7 against women or 20:9. Recently, an event was announced on Tech that claimed to
****** is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire and connect Pakistani entrepreneurs who work on innovative and disruptive technologies to create the knowledge economy to drive Pakistan’s growth over the coming decade.
A platform for entrepreneurs who are at the core of the ‘Eco System Leadership’ to get them started in the Pakistani Startup scene. A startup usually faces a financial crunch in its early stages. To help them in their endeavor, this initiative will provide eligible startups with major ‘Eco System Feeders’ which have components providing certain free and discounted services to reduce their financial burden to allow a startup economy to succeed.
While claiming they are speaking of both genders, they announce their first SEVEN speakers who were all male. When questions were raised some really funny stuff came up. Exhibit XYZ below:
This gentleman tried to tell me how awfully underprivileged men were and asking for gender parity is promulgating double standards viz a viz the men.
This one lady has been raising a hue and cry over manels and tagging me and others sympathetic to the cause. Suddenly, she wants us not to judge because SHE has been asked to speak. Hurray!
Then in comes this lady who is supposedly managing the said conference’s social media strategy and having a real hard time finding women speakers. A group 3000+ women who are all associated with tech industry one way or the other offered to help if she shares the criteria. Criteria has yet to be shared.
And then my favorite part – where we get called “girls” and told to “have patience” because social media strategy demands they put up maximum number of male guests out there and then follow it with a few females. What on earth! LOL
Whatever the men say I don’t care so much. Yeah it makes me very very angry at the injustice but what gets me really shouting DRACARYS at the top of my typing voice is when the women get into cahoots with the men. And for what? A spot on the panel and some small assignment?
By far my most favorite discussion on the topic of manels was about the launch of a National project. The photographs shared on social media were just a handful of women sitting in a hall packed with men. Here are some excerpts from that. If you want, I can share the link to the conversation separately *evil grin*
Two men telling me how I am wrong and the photograph with 5 women and 100 men was lying. Also notice in first comment how it says the invites were limited to VCs of universities only? Next exhibit will show you a different story. And the second gentleman thinks inviting women is not the right strategy because “all events are not just for filling spaces with either gender“. He also was kind enough to discuss the issue ON THE DAY of the event with another lady. No, not before. Not while planning the guest list. But on the day.
See the about turn? “It wasn’t limited to VCs” while previous comment says invitations were “restricted to VCs”. Makes me wonder which one to believe.
While all the time the conversation really was about what steps have organizers taken to ensure maximum female participation. As I said below:
And you know what? Organizers started to ask! That’s all we want. Women don’t want to be fillers either but we need to realize the men have been at it for much longer and we are new. We may be few but we are there and if you try hard enough you will find us.
People are mad at me. They never expected a woman perhaps a decade or more younger than them to turn around and stop being nice and say it as it is. Have given people definition of MANSPLAINING. Told them why “feminism is not always cool” is such BS and given them great literature to read. Some have scoffed and said I was “angry”. You know what? I AM angry. Let me leave you with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s words: