Did Eva and I get your attention? Are you now wondering how, in this #MeToo #TimesUp world, you respond to an iconic lingerie advert without being pilloried, hung out to dry or Weinstein-ed?
Are you wondering why, on International Women's Day, I'm addressing a post to you? Or why I'm illustrating it with a 90's Czech supermodel?
Consider it a friendly invitation. And a cheap trick.
We need to talk. About women's rights, equality (in the workplace, in life, in general). About gender pay gaps, equal pay, sexual harassment, female-friendly workplaces, male privilege, mansplaining, boys' clubs, blue jobs, pink jobs, princesses, racing car drivers, male mental health, female empowerment, unconscious bias, power, fairness, opportunity.
You still there? Great. You scared? I bet.
That's the problem, isn't it? It's hard to join this conversation if you are in possession of a Y chromosome. Women seem angry, and received wisdom is to give an angry woman a wide berth. Maybe you've dallied around the edges of this conversation and directly experienced some angry woman-ing first hand. And here's our first hurdle. But fear not! I'm here to help you leap it without knee-capping yourself in the process....
Firstly, not all women are angry about this all the time. Even the ones you think are angry might actually be passionate, or frustrated, or dog-tired. Or even excited or energised. Problem is that those things in a woman often smell like anger. How will you know if you don't engage?
Secondly, and more importantly, even if you are encountering angry women, that's no excuse to excuse yourself from this conversation. I know it's a humorous meme, born of the small-boy v scary-mother trope, but let's call a fully-grown-man a fully-grown-man, shall we? You are big enough and ugly enough to wade into this one. You can do spiders, SAS reality TV shows and oil changes; you'll be fine with a bit of healthy debate about feminism•.
"I don't know what to say, Lorna!" That's OK, my friend, neither do we. This stuff is not straightforward. There will be mis-steps, circular routes, false prophets. This is OK. When we talk, we all learn. When we are all in the conversation, it's a better, richer, fairer conversation. I can't promise it will always be easy, or that we will always agree. But I do promise to listen to you if you promise the same in return. That means listening like George Michael - without prejudice. That means equal air time, challenging assumptions, putting yourself in our shoes, and accepting the fact that male privilege is a thing. Don't believe me? Consider the last time you were asked if you had a family in a meeting about getting work. For me, that would be yesterday...
"But this is not our battle, Lorna!", I hear you whimper. Oh, my good man, this is everyone's battle. For as long as women are being paid less, the burden of supporting families lies disproportionately with men. For as long as girls are avoiding careers in science for fear of not being feminine enough, boys are missing out on lives enriched by vocations in caring, creativity, nurturing. For as long as we use 'stop being a girl' as an insult, we implicitly tell every boy that just needs a cry, a hug, a sympathetic ear to 'man up'.
When we tell girls to wait to be rescued, we force boys to slay dragons they have no business fighting. Those things breathe fire. You're getting burned while we are trapped in this tower. The only way out alive is to scale this thing together.
You with me?