Are we our own worst frenemies?

So I’m going to start this post with somewhat of a confession…

I am quite an irritable person.

If you know me, then there probably will have been a point in time (most likely several) where you will have irritated me. I’m sure I will have irritated you too…

Having said that although I get irritated rather easily I can honestly say I don’t think I get angry often. It’s very rare that I will actually want to give someone a telling off.

But my dear friends, I had one of those rare moments a couple of weeks ago. In fact the situation angered me so much that I felt compelled to write about it…

So for context I need to tell you about my job.

My job is to organise and host business networking events. I organise weekly events at which we have speakers who talk about business related topics. Sometimes I organise events specifically for female owned businesses.

In honour of International Women’s Day I organised one of these events (as you may have guessed). The event featured four female business owners who have achieved quite a bit of success in their respective industries. All of the business owners have different companies however two of them happen to work within the beauty industry and the other two, in the dating industry. So prior to the event I sent an email invite to female business owners who’ve registered to attend past women in business events of mine.

I received an email back from one of these women (from now on we will call her ‘the blunt emailer’) stating:

*Please note other than omitting the blunt emailers name I am quoting the email verbatim*

‘An event where the speakers topics are skincare and matchmaking are not of interest. Women who work in B2B companies / services would be of more interest’

So that was the email. No ‘Hi Sharniya…’ or even a formal ‘Dear Sharniya…’ No ‘Kind Regards’ or even a more simple ‘Regards’

Perhaps you will think I was being overly sensitive but I was stunned by the curtness of the email. Now you may argue that one of the major issues with modern communication is that as it’s usually text based one cannot infer tone of voice and therefore cannot categorically state that there was any negative intention on the part of the sender.

I will allow that.

However  I would argue back that omitting a greeting and sign off, however basic speaks volumes. Especially when emailing someone you do not know nor have ever emailed before.

Secondly let’s address the fact that having received the invite, the blunt emailer chose to rudely respond. In life we make choices. We choose what clothes to wear. We choose how to style our hair. We also CHOOSE whether we want to be polite or rude. I appreciate that maybe for her it’s important that if we’re holding women up as role models that they come from a variety of industries. However had the blunt emailer chosen to challenge me in a polite way I would have politely responded that as I host a number of events we often showcase a variety of women from various industries. However the way she chose to address the situation only had the effect of antagonising me.

Finally and most importantly to me, let’s address the fact that the blunt email implied that she thought less of the beauty and the dating industries and by extension women working within them. I think this was the part that affected me the most. Perhaps I am assigning intent that was not meant, so forgive me if you don’t agree with my interpretation but it exposes an undertone that I did not appreciate.

Did the blunt emailer feel these women deserved less respect because of their chosen fields? And what, may I ask is wrong with these industries? Is it because the perception is that they are traditionally female industries they don’t garner as much respect?

For me that they have started a business and managed to make successes of them should be cause enough for commendation and we shouldn’t be belittling them for not doing so in an industry that we deem to be more “worthy”.

The fact that the blunt emailer had previously registered to attend a female focused events says to me that either she wants and/or needs the support of other women or potentially wants to support others. But if her email intention was indeed as I surmised then it doesn’t appear that she’s very willing to give that support unless it is within her interests.

It made me think about the term frenemies and how one of the marks of the frenemy is to be “friends” but only when it suits. They are also known for making barbed remarks in an attempt to trivialise others. – Sound familiar?

This year marked 100 years since the first Women were given the right to vote in the UK, yet the war for gender equality is still being waged.

Gender equality, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviours, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender.

We often focus on how the previously thought of ‘dominant’ gender devalues and depreciates us but maybe it’s not as often that we look at how we treat and are treated by other women. Unfortunately sexism in society is so pervasive that we may not even ourselves recognise when we are using a patriarchal mindset to evaluate other women.

You may or may not know but today is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #PressForProgress.

I am of the humble opinion that progression starts with us. We progress by supporting each other, celebrating each other and valuing and respecting each others differences and each others choices regardless of how we choose to live our own lives.

Let’s stop being frenemies, and let’s be actual friends!

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