It was a great show and even greater mind-blowing bang afterwards, while I was trying to reconcile and digest the dynamics of this power couple. There were many different layers and hints and context suggestions, but the question that struck me most was a blend of feminist inserts by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the body language combined with BDSM- inspired outfits. By the way, if you did not know that – these famous statements from Flawless song are taken from this speech here.
How could she possibly be so blatantly parading her sexual being and saying things like:
We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls,
You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man.
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes.
By the way, it felt like the whole Stad de France, full of teenagers and students, uncomfortably froze during this monologue, not really knowing what to make of it. The awkwardness was palpable and meaningful, like, everyone knew it was something important, something they should have an opinion about.
Speaking of awkwardness –here is a book, I wish someone had given me 10 years ago. It just came out, written by former Amazonian, Anne Krook. Now What Do I Say?: Practical Workplace Advice for Younger Women is a very tactical, well structured no-nonsense set of advice for young professional women, when certain things happen to them:
- A colleagues asks you to order sandwiches for a meeting you aren’t attending when that is not a part of your job.
- In a meeting you are passed over by the leader, when you want to speak, and then the conversation moves on. Or the leader does not respond to your input.
- After the meeting a leader invites some people to go to lunch together, but not you. Or, there is a brainstorming session planned in your group, and you are not invited, though your peers are.
- A colleague walks by your cubicle and mumbles “bitch” loud enough for you to hear.
- Somebody says you are not so good, because you don’t have a degree in/experience in/attend a prominent school.
- A client says “who can I speak to about this?” (implying it cannot be you)
- A colleagues says “women/Chinese/Russians/ are usually good at that stuff, implicitly devaluing your efforts.
- A colleagues puts his feet up on your desk. Or greets you with a hug or pats you on the back and his hand stays on your back a little too long.
I can confirm, those things happen all the time, and are especially common when you are young and not shielded by your seniority and experience. Those situations usually require immediate reaction (or a deliberate decision not to react) and you might feel totally clueless, what is the right thing to do. The books is not very long, but it offers tons or practical advice and it end with 10 workplace testaments:
- Value collegiality. Be and be known as a good colleague.
- Help others. (But don’t do their job).
- Thank people who help you.
- Keep a work diary (to write down your projects and achievements).
- Find other colleagues whose judgement you trust. You need their feedback.
- Find a mentor.
- Cut yourself some slack when you aren’t perfect.
- Make yourself professionally ready for your next job.
- Join professional organizations.