Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took a road trip to Mayo. From Cork, it’s quite the spin so we had plenty of time to chat.
The conversation somehow landed on feminism and we spoke about everything from abortion legislation to Ariana Grande’s new song, Thank u, next and what kind of message it conveys.
During the drive, we talked about the six female bosses in the FTSE 100 and after chatting about why it might be that there are so few, my boyfriend said something that really made me think:
“Why does everything have to be a competition? The nature of a competition means someone has to lose and why does that have to be the case?”
It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me and a reminder to have a little perspective. There’s no denying that there are some phenomenal businesswomen out there, such as Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, Susan Wojcickia, a Google SVP and Arianna Huffington, co-founder of online magazine, Huffington Post, but success means different things to different people.
Careers are not the only barometer of success and women have already proven that we are well capable of achieving pretty much anything we set our minds to, so maybe it’s time to relax the “us versus them” mentality some feminists have because it’s a senseless position to hold.
We recently went to see Jordan Peterson, a former lecturer in the University of Toronto and a clinical psychologist, speak in the Olympia Theatre. He gives public lectures which have become very popular, albeit more so with men.
Dr Peterson is often perceived as anti-women, largely due to sensationalist clickbait headlines. While I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, I really don’t believe he is in any way misogynistic and I think he makes some good points.
In one of his lectures, Peterson spoke about women in high paying jobs. He talks about the fact that the data on women’s academic potential is very clear – girls in secondary schools and in universities typically outperform their male counterparts. He stresses that women are more than capable to work in high pressure, high paying jobs but asks people to consider, “what’s your life like?” He says that the answer is simple, “you work all the time, eighty hours a week.”
“You can say all you want that women have a difficult time with that because it’s a male dominant patriarchy, any female lawyer who hits thirty and is a partner that has any sense at all knows that’s complete bloody rubbish. It’s market-determined right to the core. What happens to the women when they’re in their thirties? They all leave the high-end law firms. Why? Because who in their right mind would want to live like that?”
Peterson attests that the type of people who work in these high flying jobs are extremely conscientious and often disagreeable and that it’s a very specific personality type that will thrive in those high-pressure environments. It is even more difficult for women to do so if they chose to also become mothers.
Equal opportunity is one of the most important things we can have in a society and in Ireland, I believe we are lucky enough to mostly have that. Women certainly can obtain powerful positions if they want to.
Our chat on Saturday served to remind me that the definition of feminism is equality. There’s no need for anyone to lose.