From today no more
How often have I been silent when men have made disparaging remarks about women? Far too often. But is that the right strategy?
BY THE EDITOR // KARIN M. KLOSSEK
In poker, the poker face is a winning strategy. So far, I have used it when men have spoken disrespectfully about women in a professional context. This does not mean the objective consideration of a good or bad performance of a female employee or boss, but remarks like “What can you expect from a woman in this matter?” “It’s just blonde” “She probably only reacted that way because she had her period”.
No, these sentences were not uttered in the locker room of a fitness studio but in highly respectable meeting rooms and extremely prestigious offices.
So far, my reaction has been: poker face – ignore it and get back to the actual subject matter as quickly as possible. It made me uncomfortable and I wanted nothing to do with it. It was an attempt not to be seen as a “hysterical woman” but as “one of us”.
In retrospect, I realised, it was the wrong tactic. Silence is taken as consent. The poker face resembles defeat. Because one’s own reaction as a leader is observed and registered very closely by everyone else present.
Each time I did this, I made myself a bit smaller as a woman in the professional environment and I was not a good role model for other women who observe female leaders in particular very carefully on these occasions.
The hope that men who make such statements and who are often themselves involved with wonderful women and have daughters who are at the beginning of a hopeful career can’t have meant it that way is idealistic and deceptive.
I have resolved not to tolerate it any more. Not for me, but also for all other women whom I want to see judged on their performance and personality and not degraded by completely unobjective, disrespectful comments. As of today, I am no longer silent about it.