Monday, September 19, 2005

WARNING: Bordering-on-feminist rant coming up. Take cover.

Something I have learnt to expect as a singer, is that there are certain times when people listen, and other times when they don't. I don't think I could be in a room with people playing live music and not listen, but that's just me so, whatever. At a corporate lunch, for example, people aren't there to listen to music, they're there to get drunk on free champagne and network. There's a tiny part of me that's like HELLO! OVER HERE! Standing singing for three hours without being glanced at once is pretty soul destroying but, yeah, I don't really mind. There's something quite fun about being able to flagrantly watch people for hours without being slapped with those infernal restraining orders.

Anyway. One of these such corporate lunches was just following the usual pattern of mundanity and back slapping. I was just, la la la, singing away. The theme of the lunch was 'purple', it seemed. There were purple bellinis, all the catering staff had purple sashes, the table decorations, glasses, bar lights, all of it. Purple, purple, purple. I was looking around, and noted that it was a very male dominated event. About a hundred people, five of whom were women. Oh, I thought, must be a very male industry, this one. Then I noticed that, as well as the five women in suits and business attire, there were four women in swinky swanky black dresses and REALLY nice shoes. They were all blonde, all very attractive, all in their late twenties, I reckoned. And they all had these purple sashes around their waists. Their dresses were all different, they all looked very richly dressed and, well, classy, I suppose would be the right word.

I watched them for a while, because I couldn't work out what their role was in the whole three hour lunch proceedings. Maybe meet and greet. But they weren't, really. Maybe waitresses. But they weren't doing that, and anyway, the waiters and waitresses all had black shirts and trousers and purple ties. I wondered and watched through Summertime, through Night and Day, through Misty. As canapés and bellinis finished, the crowd back slapped and guffawed their way over to the tables, and the purple sash brigade took seats at the head table. There was a purple sasher placed between each of the men at the table. So it went suit, blonde, suit, blonde, suit, blonde, suit, blonde, suit.

As lunch progressed I watched the flirty demeanor of the women, the hands placed on the arms, the laughing at jokes and the gracefully accepting of refills of wine. I stared in horror as I realised that these women were being paid as to provide amusement and distraction from the serious world of work. They had been hired for their looks, their ability to listen and appear interested in the stories they were told, to provide witty repartée. They had been told to dress in black dresses, and then been given colour-coded sashes to mark them out.

It made me want to smash things.

I didn't feel sorry for the women, they're probably earning good money taking advantage of a society in which it is acceptable to treat women as objects, to openly view them as ornaments and decorations. I was insulted on behalf of the men. Someone, somewhere, had clearly assumed that these men could not possibly have anything to talk about between themselves, that they would not enjoy themselves without the company of a pretty little lady to gaze at them and be delighted by their sheer maleness. Well. There were about one hundred men there. In theory ten of those men would've been gay. So they really should have provided one hunk in a tux (with a purple hanky, maybe), in the interests of fairness. And THEN there were the five or so women who were there on business. I don't know whether they noticed, or even cared. It was probably a woman who decided to draught in some models to entertain the men. This isn't a case of men oppressing women. This is a case of a society being so very flawed in this way (and I acknowledge it is one of many), and people blindly accepting it, and furthermore taking advantage of it, making money out of it. It's the way things are, people argue, why not benefit?

Because it's disgusting. Wrong. The point is that this is the twenty-first century and yet, in what is in theory one of the most advanced cities in the world, it is still acceptable to treat women like geishas. It makes me sick.

(breathes)

Alright, that's it, I'm finished. You can come out from behind your chair now.

Coming up: A tour of Whitton - London suburb - in pictures. Including the café - Triangle Dicks - and the pub where someone got knifed once.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Paul said...

Seconded. It's so wrong. Bleurgh.

3:17 pm

 
Blogger monkey typist said...

yep, agreeing here too.

but...triangle dicks!hee!

3:22 pm

 
Blogger Dancinfairy said...

Wow! I love your Monday posts they always seem to be very strong!

And I agree that really is sad.

3:40 pm

 
Anonymous Angela said...

Ick... men... women... all disgusting! But purple bellinis--now that's cool! I am sorry you had to witness such corporate idiocy though, that's sort of on par with my annoyance at the events coordinator at my old job who insisted on spending extra money at a golf tourney for Budweiser girls to come drive the beer carts. Because apparently we were not hot or vapid enough for the players. Barf.

5:07 pm

 
Anonymous Angela said...

Ick... men... women... all disgusting! But purple bellinis--now that's cool! I am sorry you had to witness such corporate idiocy though, that's sort of on par with my annoyance at the events coordinator at my old job who insisted on spending extra money at a golf tourney for Budweiser girls to come drive the beer carts. Because apparently we were not hot or vapid enough for the players to drive a cart. Barf.

5:08 pm

 
Anonymous Jenny said...

I would love to know what industry that was - there's no way that type of thing would fly with my USA, ultra conservative corporation.

5:55 pm

 
Blogger Adrian said...

Whilst I make no attempts to justify the action, I can almost understand it.

I did enginnering. 100guys/3 girls. Joined the techknolagy side of a big multi-national. 100guys/20 girls. 8 years later, 110guys/10 girls. So it's a very testorestorne based envinment. With lots of blokes. After a while it gets a bit much, so you try break the mold and induce some female presence in the envinment. There are obviosuly better ways of doing it, but I can see the fault they were trying to address.

It's a bit like why guys go to strip joints. Even though you know it's all false, and the girl is only being friendly to you because you are teh money, it's still a nice feeling to be chatted up by a beaughtiful girl. Even though you know it's all fake. Extend this to a bunch of guys, a bit shy, in a male filled envonment, and the fact intellectually you know it's all contrived, still falls short against the emotional value of have an attractive girl chat to you.

This doesn't make the corporate event you attended any more jusatfied, but I do undertsanding the thinking that lead to it. And their are plenty of work events that land up doing the same thing without being so blatent. For example an corporate even in a bar thats not fully closed off. You land up talking to a girl who's not part of your company and buying her drinks on the corporate tab. Quite often it's just the fact that you are buying expensive drinks that may be the reason the girl is chatting to you. It's not really all that different but happens far more than the even you described which these days could land who ever organised it the sack (in my firm anyway).

Like I said, not trying to justify anything, but trying to explain a bit the thinking that may have occur ed. Us men are that shallow. I make no apologies for that.

5:07 pm

 

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