“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald’s line has been turning in my mind like a sweaty, little penny. After all these years, does truth remain in what Daisy said about her daughter in the Great Gatsby?
No. Of course not, the entrepreneur in me would say.
But then, I read a post by Jane Copland entitled, Women As Entertainment in the SEO Industry and was bothered enough to start a conversation with her on Twitter. Jane is a speaker, but has had her share of remarks from men who think it’s perfectly okay to be aggressively forward and inappropriate with an attractive, young woman. Her post was written in 2011. She says her personal experiences are better today, however, she actually had a guy on a conference floor yell at her for her stances.
A few days after my conversation with Jane, I saw a news story about two men who were recently fired from their jobs for making sexually inappropriate comments at a tech conference. What seemed unusual was that the woman who called them out by tweeting their pictures to alert conference officials was fired, too. Wanting to know more I read Courtney Stanton’s post, A Woman Walks Into a Tech Conference, which highlights a slew of recent, inappropriate gender-related incidents. Stanton reviewed what happened and linked to Adria Richard’s conference story. While it appears that Richard might have crossed the line with how she reported the incident, placing her as the focus of the problem is off-base. Look it over and read the eye-opening comments below the articles.
And so Fitzgerald remains relevant. But, he doesn’t have to be.
I’m pulling out a soap box for a moment. Please listen up.
If you’re a woman- especially feeling alone in a sector like tech, stand strong for yourself and other women.
You can do it.
Don’t let the remarks of the random knucklehead diminish the respect due to good and decent men. The majority do what’s right or want to do what’s right. But, if something happens that’s illegal or against your company’s policy, call authorities.
Have the courage to look the guy who’s offended you in the eye and say, “I think you’re wrong here” and then seek the grace within yourself to forgive – if not for his sake then for yours.
If you’re a young man who hasn’t been taught that sexual, juvenile, or degrading jokes, comments, and gestures don’t belong in the work place or at conferences then as a piece of advice, from a Mom raising boys – stop.
Really. You need to stop.
Find a male counselor or mentor to help you process the issues and your feelings. You’re probably a good guy who’s lost his way, but the encouraging news is that you can change!
Channel your smart and witty thoughts into developing code, creating business solutions, and figuring out how to harness the intellectual and social talents of your female counterparts. Then, you’ll be a hero.
Sometimes mistakes are made – on both sides. Read Men vs. Women in the Workplace for a few insights into working with differences.
By the time you get a little older your perspective begins to change and you grow weary of gender tension. You have a few kids and you realize how beautiful and precious your girls and your boys are and how you wouldn’t want someone hurting either.
I can only imagine how Malala Yousufzai’s mother and father felt when their little girl was shot in the head by the Taliban for writing blog posts about how girls in Pakistan should be educated.
Her $3 million book deal was just signed to educate the world about the importance of being educated. Malala is not a beautiful, little fool.
Neither are you.