RACE RELATIONS

For the last week I have been recruiting a hard to fill role in HR, which was referred to me upon another colleague leaving. The role has been on the market for the last two months as the client believes the candidates that have been short-listed are “underqualified”.

Today I came across a top tier candidate with one of the best CV’s I had seen in a long time, having been employed by some of the best top tier firms globally.

Before sending her CV to the client, I asked my senior colleague who had worked with this client before what his thoughts were. He looked at the CV and said “She has a strong CV and she would be a great fit but you can’t send her over. They will see her name and reject her. No Indian’s, just Caucasian’s!”. I stood there in rage at the blatant racism that was unfolding in front of me, remembering how many times I had come across this issue as an IT recruiter in the last four months.

This incident reaffirms the message that no matter how hard people of colour work and no matter what level professional success we achieve, there is a large portion of this society that will never believe us to be just as good, if not better, than our white counterparts.

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NO, I WON’T COOK FOR YOU.

12191632_1649706971968993_6345538296769881739_nDear whoever wrote this meme,

Let me get something straight here:

My friends and I work over 10 hour days and I myself travel a hour to and from work to get home. That is 12 hours of my day accounted for already. Most days I don’t have the energy to go to the gym to look after my body, let alone get in the kitchen and cook.

Cooking, or any lifestyle chores, is not just a woman’s responsibility. The only reason such sexist notions exist is because in prior generations women were expected to be home-makers while men were bread-winners for the family. Now, to keep up with cost of living and societal changes more women are degree qualified, in the professional workforce, supporting their family and investing in building their own financial portfolio. This results in us having less time at home to focus on household duties and requires men to not only contribute to their half of the household duties, but to be held accountable for it too.

And if women are going to cook, you can bet they won’t be sharing their food with some entitled, lazy and privileged male who thinks women exist to be serving him everything on platter.

Not so sincerely,

N.F

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR LIFE?

They say the first 6 months of a new job are the most difficult, as such, the last three months of my new role have been an emotional roller-coaster. Working longer hours than usual, having to learn something completely new and adapting to a new working culture has been exhausting, mentally and physically. Along the way I felt like I was losing a sense of self, putting aside doing things I love in order to cope with work.

Today, as I sat down to write an article for an up and coming magazine, I realised that the only thing that brings me peace outside of my 8-6 weekly schedule is the perusal of my artistic and social passions.

So here I am at the start of my career learning an important lesson: That the only way to cultivate health and happiness when climbing the corporate ladder is to stay engaged with the things you do for life, rather than the things you do for work.

MY S*UTWALK SPEECH

Good afternoon everyone.

First and foremost, I would like to thank this year’s organisers for giving me the opportunity to speak today, it is an absolute honour to be apart of such an important global movement. I also want to thank each and everyone of you for being here to advocate for the rights of women to have ownership over their bodies and sexuality.

In speaking here today my aim is to start catalyst for change by highlighting the attitudes that a vast majority of society holds towards women and sexual violence. I hope through sharing some of my personal experiences and insights that I am able to cause a shift in those attitudes.

I grew up in a very religious and traditional household. At the age of 18 I was sneaking out of my house to go out because my parents didn’t think it was safe for girls to go out after 10 pm, nor did they think any respectable woman should. They’ve just recently installed cameras outside my house, so looks like I won’t be doing that anymore. At 20 I learnt the art of changing in the back of my car because I was never allowed to leave the house in anything provocative or revealing, which to my parents is anything that showed my figure or my legs. At 24 I was called each and every derogatory term used to describe women because I refused have an arranged marriage. And now at the ripe age of 26 I find myself having to constantly looking over my shoulders as I walk to my car late at night from the gym or work because as a woman I don’t feel safe.

While it may not seem like it on the surface, each of these incidents, or for a better word micro-aggressions and to some degree overt precision attacks, contribute to the endemic of rape culture.  It also sadly highlights the fact that as a society we have a long away to go in shifting the attitudes and beliefs we hold towards sexual violence against women.

Long before I knew I was a feminist I was catching up with a high school friend and she was telling me that she no longer drinks. Curiously, I asked her why. She proceeded to tell me that on a night out she got quite drunk, ended up at a friend’s apartment, found the guy she was crushing on at the time forcing himself on her and being horrified to stand up for herself.  She told her ‘friends’, they judged her.  I firmly believe it’s because of those reactions she received she told me “I was drunk and I put myself in that situation, it is my fault”.  Even more recently an associate of mine disclosed to me she was almost raped. On a date where things were getting hot and heavy physically, she asked her date to stop and pull the breaks. However, he kept going. After repeating “stop” several times and having him dismiss her request, she managed to push him off her. Distraught and upset, she confronted him about his actions, only to have him laugh the entire thing off.  As she told me this story I began to cry. I was devastated by the thought of not only another woman, but someone close to me, being violated in such a way. However, she was quite surprised by my reaction. She told me that other people she had mentioned this incident to had made comments like “What did you expect getting yourself in that situation?” and “It’s like taking a horse to a lake to drink water, but then not letting it”.

These responses to her experience are a part of the everyday cultural practices that excuse and tolerate sexual violence. By calling a woman a “slut” or saying that “girls allow themselves to be raped”, society not only further victimises women and their experience with rape and sexual assault, it also legitimises the entitlement and ownership men have to women and their bodies. Additionally, these myths about sexual violence being provoked by women permeate strongly within our society, operating to police female sexuality and creating barriers to women seeking reproductive healthcare.  It shames. It silences.  It attacks women. Such misogynistic attitudes, beliefs and language are used to socially control women. Even worse, they encourage the public to focus on the actions of women, while ignoring the roles of men and cultural ideology. This detracts from effectively preventing male violence and sexual assault.

In order to put an end to slut-shaming we require some big changes in culture and the value of women in society. It’ll be overwhelming and it exhausting, because it’s not our place to educate everyone about their sexist way’s right? But as feminists and women’s activists we need to challenge society’s ways of thinking, to promote attitudes which encourage better treatment of women, to identify situations of slut-shaming and to be aware of ourselves, the ideas we have and the language we use.

We have a long way to go but this is where it starts.

Start a conversation. 

Create a movement.

Lead the change.12041546_10153265422819492_1365523595_o 12041731_10153265423054492_1007842563_n 12059145_10153265422894492_390464671_o 12059154_10153265423204492_1484120628_o 12059537_10153265423014492_8548082_o 12064063_10153265422749492_337353251_n 12064366_10153265423109492_2111117914_n

RAPE CULTURE

Recently an associate of mine disclosed to me she was almost raped. In a situation where things were getting hot and heavy physically, she asked her date to stop and pull the breaks. However, he kept going.  After repeating “stop” several times and having him dismiss her request, she managed to push him off her. Distraught and upset, she confronted him about his actions, only to have him laugh the entire thing off.

As she told me this story I began to cry.  I was devastated by the thought of not only another woman, but someone close to me, being violated in such a way.  However, she was quite surprised by my reaction, telling me that other people she had mentioned this incident to had made comments like “What did you expect getting yourself in that situation?” and “It’s like taking a horse to a lake to drink water, but then not letting it”.

Those responses to her experience are a part of the everyday cultural practices that excuse and tolerate sexual violence. By subtly saying that “girls allow themselves to be raped”, society not only further victimises women and their experience with rape and sexual assault, it also legitimises the entitlement and ownership men have to women and their bodies.  And this is just one of the many forms of how gender oppression works.

TIME

Today on the train I met an elderly man who had a zest for life. Having some time on my hands before work, I asked him to join me for a coffee and share his wisdom with me. In that half-an-hour of conversation we realised that regardless of our generational differences, we both had a lot to teach one another. Upon leaving, he gave me his email to stay in touch and thanked me for buying him a coffee, telling me that he’ll never forget this act of kindness.

In a rushed and technologically driven world we forget about the immeasurable impact of giving someone our time; it truly is the most rewarding gift you can give to both yourself and some-else.

ASK THE QUESTION

Today I was very lucky to listen to cross-cultural consultant and Australian Muslim of the Year 2013, Tasneem Chopra, deliver a speech on how to drive social change within our communities. While I was inspired by her words, what I really wanted was to have a conversation with her, maybe even ask her to mentor me. So I (nervously) walked up to her, tapped her on her shoulder and introduced myself. I wanted to interview someone as empowering as her for my blog and while I was afraid of her saying no, in my boldness I asked anyway. Next thing I know, she hands me her business card and tells me that she should would love to be apart of my work.

If there is anything you want from life, personally or professionally, you have to ask for it. The worst thing that could happen is someone will tell you no, in which case you’ll dust yourself off, better your game plan for next time and try again.

Be brave, ask the question and put yourself out there for the sake of achieving whatever it is you want.

AMAA4 Chopra

Image: Tasneem Chopra