Let me eat cake

February 26, 2013

I can’t pretend to be surprised any more when surveys come out, like the BBC one the other day, showing minuscule numbers of women in so-called top jobs. True enough, the facts are stark, particularly when you see them in pie chart form – for the armed forces, the sliver of red showing women is like an anorexic’s portion on a very bad day. But maybe – and I’m shocked I even think this – the game is just not worth the candle.

It’s probably being in my 40s, and not working in an office any more, that makes me look back on certain points of my career with horror. When I started to work in newspapers, harassment was not even considered unusual. There were just some men you avoided getting into lifts with. I’m not saying it’s good, that we weren’t all shouting out our outrage. But it was clear that, if you did complain, you’d be regarded by the men as a loathsome snitch who’d never get promoted and by the women as a bit of a wimp. As more and more gold-lame or red-frocked skeletons fall out of cupboards, it’s clear that, way back then, the abuse of power was absolutely the norm. And has anything changed? The Lib Dem sex scandal (and who would have ever have thought those four words would be trotted out together again, after Paddy Pantsdown’s retirement) currently unrolling makes it clear that, only five years ago, abuse was going on just as usual. Powerful man feels he is irresistibly attractive to women, and proves it by having ‘octopus hands’. Yuck. Who would knowingly walk into an environment like that?

Perhaps women are doing the sensible thing, by staying away in droves. You might argue that, if more women were in powerful positions, there’d be less of this sweaty groping going on. But, you see, those few executive women have to sidle past the bottom-pinchers for years and years to reach any degree of success. No wonder they often decide they’d rather push their babies round the park instead. People complain a lot about the current vogue for housewifey crafts and cupcake baking. But isn’t there a point to that? If we can elevate the humble sponge cake to some sort of exalted status, maybe we can avoid all that nasty business in the stationery cupboard which, eventually, leads to a larger piece of the pie chart.

When pie is not so easy ....

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  • Addy February 26, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Well said. (I’ve twice tried to leave that comment and been told it is too short a comment and to try again!)

    • Dulwich Divorcee March 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Sorry, Addy – my blog has some very odd ways sometimes!

  • janerowena February 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Many years ago I watched a young pretty colleague sleep her way further up the ladder. Not only were the men decidedly unattractive, they were also, in the main, unpleasant. A new broom swept her and her then boss away, much to my relief. Women who use that route make it possible for the abuse to spread and to continue. She was the only one I came across, but the rest of us had to put up with various males thinking they were incredibly attractive, funny and sexy as a result of her flattery.

    • Dulwich Divorcee March 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Gosh, I think I worked with her too – or someone just like her. You’re right, the men she’d schmoozed were forever convinced they were irresistible. Yeuch.

  • Naomi Richards February 28, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Interesting blog Alice. I also cannot remember what it was like to work in an office but imagine the comments and cheekiness is worse even though the thought of a harassment case are far higher. It seems we are alot more relazxed about what we say in the workplace and there is less formality.

    • Dulwich Divorcee March 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Hmm, ‘banter’, I think they call it now – just another way of telling women they ‘can’t take a joke’ if they object to the odd grope or jibe. Grrr!