Why do women indulge “boys’ banter”?
Is "Boys' banter" becoming mainstream..... again?
There seems to be a never-ending stream of sexist commentary and boys' banter from every side. Did it ever go away or has it come back?
The media, politics, business, sport and even education are participate. The list is endless. Yes, from time to time there is a backlash and outcry with consequences imposed. We saw this with the restrictions and fines placed on the Polish MEP for a sexist rant only last month. Occasionally we might have a high-profile firing or resignation. But for the most part there is an underlying tolerance and indulgence of "locker room talk" or “boys' banter” not just amongst men, but women too, which is astonishing. And it needs to stop.
Never was this more apparent than the difference in response to the “Legs-it” issue this week. The Daily Mail, a right-wing U.K. rag focused on the legs of Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May, the two most powerful women in UK politics rather than their ideas. The headline ran “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!” following their recent summit. TV journalist Carole Malone on Sky TV said these ladies had "dressed to attract attention." They are female politicians of a certain age, in business attire.
You have to be kidding me.
Missed opportunity for a call to action
Theresa May’s response was sadly weak, suggesting it was all “a bit of fun”. It was Nicola Sturgeon who accused the Daily Mail of taking Britain back to the 1970s. When senior, powerful women turn a blind eye to overt sexism it paves the way for unacceptable behaviour to gain momentum and misses an opportunity for a call to action as role models to other women, particularly young ones. The author Sarah Vine, another high-profile woman, called on people “to get a life.” Really?
New high to hit a new low
Are we are reaching a new high to hit a new low, in our toleration of unacceptable behaviour, boys banter being just part of that. Or are we turning the clock back? President Trump has an appalling track record of misogynistic comments and sexist treatment of women, which seems to leave his female voters un-phased and even supportive . This is not the first time that May has deferred to inappropriate male behaviour as we saw with Trump grabbing her hand at the White House.Perhaps she believes if she ignores it, it will go away. Sadly I don’t think it will. It just makes it seem more OK and allows it to get more deeply ingrained.
Massive problem when that's all you say and see
Dion Johnson, Founder at Woman Leader Global, strategic ally & Master Coach to women in senior leadership, shares her profound insights:
For many women, me included, a compliment about my legs or dress or shade of lipstick is well received and even enjoyed, so I understand how the headline could be taken as a light-hearted meaningless comment by other women, but when it’s ALL you see think or care to comment on. [Tweet "But despite the context of womanly presence, it’s really not okay, it’s a massive problem"]
There is only one reason why women join in and perpetuate this; because they are ignorant to the far-reaching bias forming consequences being fortified here.... when the sight of a woman, no matter the context, automatically triggers thoughts of judgement and assessment about her sexuality, fashion sense, or body shape and size only, it’s saying that these metrics are what’s most important about being a woman. But they are NOT the most important things... and almost invariably not the case at work, (unless you are a prostitute or stripper that is) – sadly, behind the masks of professionalism, political correctness and social etiquette, too many men... and more importantly, far too many WOMEN still unconsciously believe they are.
Read: 7 steps towards a bias conscious culture
Dion believes we have to change this one challenge at a time.
"Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon had an amazing opportunity to challenge the lies about what it means to be a woman of Influence in the marketplace, they missed the chance to issue the call to action demanding that men, women, boys and girls everywhere come to the conscious realisation that is SO MUCH MORE to us as women in the marketplace than our body parts, body shape and dress sense. As senior leading women, especially those of us, like May and Sturgeon who have such global visibility, we must not ignore our responsibility to redefine, re-brand and innovate the feminine in the global marketplace, and change minds with a unified zero tolerance message. Of course that would call for us to grapple personally and collectively with what being a WOMAN leader actually means... but that’s a whole other article!"
Ignorant women perpetuate stereotypes
So whether it’s body shaming, intellectual put downs, demeaning comments about women in any way, women themselves have to stop their tacit support of “boys' banter.” It’s toxic and has a far wider impact and implication than these women believe, coming generally from their place of white, female privilege.
The women who indulge and tolerate this behaviour are just as guilty as the men in their lives, for contributing to embedding sexism more firmly into our cultures. If the Primeminister thinks it's "a bit of fun" then surely the Sales Director, Social Worker or Secretary will too? Just as we thought we were making headway.
Contact 3Plus to deal with unconscious bias in your organisation.
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
JUNE 16 TH 2020 - HOW TO MANAGE REMOTE TEAMS MORE INCLUSIVELY
Corporate Online Lockdown Learning Event - European Patent Office .
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
If every company had Chief Empathy Officers, we would finally be cracking away at gender coded expectations, instead of endorsing them.read more
Gender bias in networking has long existed, but with these 3 tips you can put an end to it and instead create a more inclusive space for everyone.read more
The minute your image pops up on someone screens people are looking for clues about your personality, your credibility and your competence. A strong online leadership presence is vital.read more