Like most working women, I’ve been sexually discriminated against.
It enrages me that women still face many more obstacles at work than their male colleagues. And it’s enraging to hear one of Australia’s top female political leaders, Isobel Redmond, advise young women to ignore it and it will ‘just disappear’.South Australian Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond. Photo via The Australian.
It won’t disappear – and we need some lionesses to rage about inequality in the workplace.
However, there is a part of me that understands where Ms Redmond is coming from.
I’m a feminist but my roar has been a mere whimper when I’ve been faced with situations where it has been easier, dare I say, safer, to ignore what was happening, because I was fearful of what speaking out would mean for my career prospects.
Early on, when I was a receptionist I remember male ‘stars’ handing me Playboy magazines – opened at the centrefold – and asking me to comment on the position and appearance of the model.
Now, I’d happily tell them where to go but it was my first job and I didn’t have the confidence or courage to say anything. I remember shrugging my shoulders and felt myself turning beetroot. These blokes would try to ask me out, question me about boyfriends.
This conversation was not okay.
These men were much older than me, far more senior and were abusing their position by forcing their inappropriate conversation onto me. I felt so uncomfortable but felt I couldn’t escape. I was trapped by my desk as they leaned over the top of it.
Thankfully, the mother hen who sat next to me, rescued me and quickly told the blokes to shove it.
I didn’t want to go back to work, anxious about what would happen next. It was a relief when I found another job.
A few years later, in yet another newsroom, I recall a boss rubbing against me in an editing suite.
I was too shocked to register what had happened. I managed to bolt out of there; lock myself in the toilets and have a little sob. Of course I didn’t make an official complaint. Even though I knew it was unacceptable behaviour I also knew that if I made a fuss it would mean saying farewell to working in that newsroom. When I was seriously considering leaving journalism and doing something different fate intervened and I got a chance to move to another role.
I’m no shrinking violet. I can cope with a lot of crap that comes my way. It’s okay if you’re in a position to hurl some of it back. And I’ve learnt to pick my battles.
One fight that I decided to wager during my tenure as a news presenter was over reading the major news story.
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