Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Who is questioning whom?
Last week over a glass of wine I was subtly (or not so subtly) insulted by a friend.
Do you ever worry that people will perceive you badly once they know you are a Feminist?
My response was “are you worried that I will perceive you differently having heard you saying that?”
She looked baffled, and quickly changed the topic.
I work in an industry where if we stop selling our products we no longer have jobs, and perception is everything.
We recently did a seminar on branding. Not just branding our industry, workplace and product but also ourselves.
It made me think about my own personal brand, how I dress, communicate and express myself with both my colleagues and staff that I am teaching.
Part of this is my identity and how much of that I give away.
Deliberately I don’t give much away at all. My friends at work know I am living with my male partner, that I am interested in musical theatre, that I love the beach, belong to a gym, write for a “women’s interest blog” and that I had a car accident in the past.
My colleagues I don’t socialise with know I have a partner, used to be a nurse in the OR and am based in *******. Further out from there and I hope all they know about me is my work ethic and education/professional history.
My beliefs have very little part in my workplace.
In the same way that when I was a nurse I had to give good, empathetic care to drink drivers and child molesters; in business I have to be pleasant to red neck assholes and over privileged men.
All of this is much easier if they don’t KNOW I think they are assholes.
Information is power, and the less people know, the more they will assume that you agree with them while you smile and nod, and the more they will tell you- therefore the more power you have.
So actually, yes, I do worry that people will judge me by the labels I give myself.
So I try not to use them.
For example I use partner, not boyfriend because it is none of their business what level my relationship is at, or who it is with.
I don’t discuss my politics and unless I am seriously pushed I don’t identify my beliefs.
I found it interesting that disclosing that she was concerned about the image of feminism revealed more about her than it did me.
I now assume she may not stand up for herself, that she may not put her career first, that she is perhaps not particularly interested in fostering mentoring in medicine and business for young women.
Not fair assumptions.
Certainly not positive.
It is interesting how much we give away just by questioning someone else’s identity.