A couple of years ago, my colleagues and I were watching BBC News 24 during our lunch break. There was a report about the Chilean miners trapped underground for several weeks. Finally rescued, the men were telling the interviewer about the bond of solidarity that had developed among them. A bond as strong as brotherhood.
One of my female colleagues sniggered. “If it had been women trapped together like that,” she said, “they’d have scratched one-another’s eyes out.”
All the women at the table laughed and nodded. The men stared, eyes wide. “Why?” one of them finally asked.
We did not bother explaining it to them.
Speak up, Ladies. I would be very interested in hearing your comments about this, to see if a pattern emerges, and if experiences vary from country to country.
What kind of female boss have you had? One who views you as a competitor? One who demands to be kept informed of every detail of every stage of your progress with your task – or one who is simply interested in the result, but how you get there is up to you? One to whom you are nervous submitting too good a piece of work? One who will clearly take offence if your dodge questions about your personal life? One who will correct you in front of a roomful of people? One you look up to as a mentor? Who is supportive, laid back and eager for you to get ahead in the profession? One who feels genuine pride and joy when she tells you that you have surpassed her?
If you are single, how often do you see those female friends who are married/paired up? Is that during normal socialising hours (i.e. evenings and weekends) or during off-peak times (i.e. Monday to Friday before 7 p.m.)?
Those of you who see your attached friend evenings or weekends, is her husband/partner generally present, or does he happen to be out/away? Does your friend call to invite you over for dinner, saying, “[Man] is working late/away. Why don’t you come ‘round for a girly night in?”
Do you find that your married/attached female friend reserves evenings and weekends for socialising with other married/attached friends (complete with respective husbands/partners)? If you drop a hint that you would quite like to join in, does she quickly say, “I’d invite you but you’d be bored – we’ll all be couples.”
Or does she make a point of inviting you and adding an extra man to her guest list?
Do you feel an unspoken rule that you are expected to confine your ‘phone calls to your married/attached friends either to office hours or that narrow post-work – pre-dinner gap?
You are at a party, engaged in enjoyable conversation with a man. Does a female figure slink over, out of nowhere, insinuate her hand into the crook of the man’s arm (or slide it around his waist) and dart you a “just so you’re clear whose territory this is” look?
You are sitting in a restaurant, in company of men and women, chatting. An alluring woman, charged with sexuality and self-confidence, walks in. Everyone falls silent and stares. Once she has disappeared from view, what comments do the men make? And how do the women respond? Do they say “Go, girl!” or draw parallels between her and females of the canine species?
You have just embarked on a passionate affair with a gorgeous-looking, intelligent, impeccably-mannered, generous, entertaining, wealthy man who is madly in love with you. How do your female friends react?
I just wondered.
This piece is dedicated to all the generous, supportive women who enrich my life. In the manner of Gianni Schicchi’s apology at the end of the opera, I hope they will forgive me – and giggle.
* Don’t get too smug and comfortable, Gentlemen.