Last week my husband, who is a man, wrote (rather prophetically as it turned out) about the difference between men and women and how those differences should be celebrated.
It was prophetic because the very same day I went to a women only networking group in order to promote my business, gain referrals and hopefully win some more clients… all pretty standard stuff for millions of us in Enterprise Britain.
To my great disappointment what I actually got was a fair dose of outraged rhetoric and a hefty helping of feminism.
The opening address by, I have to say, a very distinguished looking lady, should have been enough to make me realise that this group wasn’t for me… here’s just a sample of it:
‘…And men look down their noses at women in business. We are very much second class citizens and we are not taken seriously, so we must fight! We don’t need men and they will rue the day that they ever crossed our path in business. Very soon there will be no…’
And so on. Throughout her speech I saw much nodding of heads out of the corner of my eye and was fairly surprised that most of the audience seemed to be lapping it up.
At this point another lady pipes up:
‘…You are so right! You know I was at another networking meeting (one where men are allowed) and a man asked me to quote for doing some work for him. And then he laughed and asked if I could quote for sex, too…’
Shock and outrage swelled and the roof nearly blew off the room. Oh, the effrontery!
Of course, the lady had told the man what she thought of his suggestion and, no doubt lost his order, too.
(By the way, I was listening to the lady recounting her story (again) to another group and it turns out that this happened 15 years ago.)
Now, I’m not saying that what he did was right… far from it, but, come on… be strong about it.
If it was me I would have internally shouted at him for being such an idiot, but I would have actually said to him: ‘Sure, I’ll quote for it, but you won’t be able to afford it!’ At least I’d have got one over on him.
Anyway, the meeting progressed and the group leader explained some of the things the network does… one of which was to have 50/50 meetings, which allow men (no doubt to try and integrate them back into society by making them sit at the back). At one such meeting they had the Chief Exec of Tescos speaking (also a man, I believe), which is a massive coup and about the only interesting thing said at the whole meeting.
Finally, the group (says the distinguished lady) also arranges for women only holidays, so they can get away from their men folk. I don’t know about you, but I married my husband because I actually enjoy his company, not because I want to spend as much time apart as possible.
You see, it seems to me that, far from decreasing the prejudice gap, these women only groups increase it. But perhaps that’s what they want to do?