Melanie Veness: PCB CEO
The other day a work colleague was introducing me to the chief executive of a state owned entity at the start of a business engagement, and his introduction went something like this: “this is Melanie, she’s one of our prettiest local ladies”.
I was incensed! Whether it was intentional or not, he completely eroded my credibility with that one statement.
How is the good old boy that he is addressing going to take anything that I have to say seriously with an introduction like that?
It was passed off as a compliment, but I have to ask, would anyone introduce a male executive in that way? “Let me introduce you to Brian, he’s quite a good looking local boy”.
I think not, because it is condescending and demeaning.
Every fibre of my being revolted and I wanted to challenge him there and then, but getting prickly about it would have made me seem unreasonable, after all, he was trying to pay me a compliment – or was he?
It felt like standing my ground would have just reinforced the idea that women are emotional and shouldn’t be taken seriously. So there I was, frozen, poker face in place, but smarting, not quite sure what to do. The proverbial Catch 22 situation. So I decided to just let it go.
I have played the incident out over and over in mind since it happened, because I can’t help but feel that I let every hard working women and women’s rights activist down. I have wandered what I should have done differently. I know that I should have drawn that line.
Watching the recent protest by about a 100 women who stormed the red carpet at the premiere of the film “Suffragette”, saying that the fight for equality was not yet over, I have decided that, in future, I will object, on behalf of women everywhere. Not loudly or emotionally, but I will make my point.
As motivational speaker Tony Gaskins said: “you teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce”.
One of the protestors interviewed at the Suffragette premiere said that the protest was meant to re-ignite the feminist spirit, and I felt like yelling out “bravo!” when I saw the account of it on the news.
Women everywhere need to play their part, and, take courage from what American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said: “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely — and the right to be heard.”