In 2017, a Twitter thread had gone viral and made us all conscious of the blatant misogyny and gender-based discrimination all around. Especially about work-related situations.
Female employees, on average, face twice the prejudices as compared to their male counterparts. And no matter the position, a male will always continue to have an advantage over the female employees.
What Was The Tweet About?
In 2017, a man accidentally signed his emails with his female colleague’s name since they had a mutual inbox.
What shocked him was that almost all of the clients suddenly seemed difficult to converse with and extremely rigid. He was perplexed as to why his emails were being unanswered and his questions ignored.
All the while, they dared even to question the validity of his methods. They even tried telling him how to do his job in a not so polite manner.
As soon as the man switched back to signing with his name (that of a male’s), things went back to normal, like the ordeal he had to go through didn’t occur at all.
The Blatant Sexism!
More than not, this sexism goes unnoticed. Not because we don’t think it’s crucial, but simply because it has turned into an aspect so common that nothing unjust seems to be associated with this.
We choose to ignore, and that becomes our undoing. Since no one bothers to do anything about it, women try taking matters into their own hands.
But the patriarchal, and patrilineal society, submerged in generations of sexism, bigotry, and misogyny, turns the issue around in such a manner that taking action backfires.
Not that the problem lied in women, to begin with, but those who actively condescendingly treat women, and try to belittle and disregard their any and every action, give their all to push the blame around.
How do Women Fix These Issues?
Speaking on behalf of all the women, I’d like to be bold enough to claim that we simply want to work freely, without the shackles of discrimination and prejudices, without needing to look behind our backs every passing minute, without having to kneecap our way through what’s right.
Yes, kneecap. This term, in context to linguistics, refers to stating or putting forward one’s opinion in a manner that it’s perceived as “non-threatening”.
Women are the ones who fall prey to incorporating this coping mechanism into their social lives. To not offend or intimidate a male colleague and to hope that the inevitable backlash would be relatively less because they were “polite” is all that women are left wondering.
Some examples of kneecapped sentences are: “That kind of makes me uncomfortable.”, “I’m just trying to help you.”, “Maybe you should leave.”, “I think I already knew that.”, “I’m sorta feeling overwhelmed right now.”, etc.
Women have to walk on eggshells around their workspaces. Because their every sentence is perceived as a jibe, every decision, as not good enough.
But Are The Kneecaps Helpful?
No. Believe it or not, kneecapping does more damage than control. It makes the other person see you as an object of vulnerability and your way to seem “less bitchy” only undermines your authority.
Ladies! Ladies! Ladies! Stop kneecapping right now! Be confident in yourself and say what you’ve got to say without giving in to the need to apologize without having done anything wrong.
Now that we have settled upon not using kneecaps, another matter of grave concern is the use of qualifiers.
Own what you say! This motto will take you a long, long way. There’s no need to censor your words. Nor is there any need to cushion the blow.
If a male colleague’s ego is so fragile that your mere opinion shakes it, then go on, shake his entire being, by all means.
“I’m not an expert, but…”, or “Not to sound bossy, but….” is not the way to go. Why would you want to apologize for having an opinion?
No opinion is right or wrong, keep this in mind. All are valid. And you are entitled to speak out your mind freely. Yes, inclusive of civilities. But that’s about it. If and when you feel patronized, belittled, condemned, or unfairly treated, call them out.
Make them uncomfortable instead. Times have changed. Do not take these “norms” as they come.
Is Glass Ceiling Not Enough, That Kneecaps Are Also In The Picture?
The workplace is more of a battlefield than anything else. Women have to battle the prejudices, discriminations, constant belittling, extreme underestimation, maternity policies, and don’t even get me started on the wage gap.
The least we can do for ourselves is to stop apologizing for having opinions and say in matters that concern us or our jobs.
And a gentle reminder: Women who are assertive, confident, and self-aware are not always liked, rather passionately disliked, but it’s okay.
We don’t have to please these misogynists, we have to work for ourselves, by ourselves, to prove that we are worth much more than they can ever imagine.
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