My life as a ‘Female fill in the blank.’
Being called a ‘female fill in the blank’ is like having a giant metaphorical asterisk float next to your physical body. The footnote says, “Hey! I do stuff! But please note my handicap: having a vagina.”
I’ve become well accustomed to the pre-curser and the innuendo it leaves hanging in the air; I should not be compared to my male counterparts, because period/baby/boobs/500 years of misogyny.
And it’s sad. Because the ‘female fill in the blank’ had good intentions. It was trying to celebrate and champion women. It was trying to even the playing field, to acknowledge our successes, triumphs and bravery in a world where we are not always given the encouragement and support we need. However I worry the ‘female fill in the blank’ is only widening the gap, with men on one side and women on the other of an ever increasing gulf, which will hereby be known as the fissure in which the 23% difference in our pay must have fallen down.
Note: I very much believe in gender fluidity and I know that the above statement is an oversimplification of the ways in we each identify our gender, but please roll with me for arguments sake otherwise we’ll end up on a hexagonal shaped gulf that will confuse everyone.
Back to it: I am asked questions about my gender in relation to my work several times a week. But “How does it feel to be a male entrepreneur?” is a question I have never heard asked of anyone. I doubt I ever will. Unless I ask someone. Which I’ll do tomorrow. And why? Because there is an unconscious bias surrounding the very thought: you don’t need to ask them because clearly, they got ‘dis.
What’s it like to be a ‘woman in business’? Well, I spend approximately 15% of my time answering that question and the other 85% trying to get shit done. Got it?
Are we surprised that I got here? That I haven’t screwed it up yet? That I haven’t given up yet? Are they looking for me to dispel the wisdoms of which I — vagina and all — am uniquely qualified to tell?
When the same people ask me to tell them about other ‘female entrepreneurs’ I get the distinct sense they think we all meet up after midnight when our heads split in half and a man pops out.
Mine, of course, is wearing a yellow suit and his name is Barry.
I think about my future-daughter, and her daughters, and their daughters. I want them to be happy, to do what they love and to work their butts off, if they feel like it. I want them to appreciate people around them and help others. I want them to be accepting of different interests and ideologies, but most importantly I want them to not have to answer questions about what it is like to be a “female fill in the blank” because they will simply be a “fill in the blank”, no asterisk, no precursor.