gender bias

Year-end pettiness

While all y’all might be excited about Christmas/New Year’s/Festivus, nah. December 31 = financial year-end for the company. Aka, the suspension of all aspects of my life that are not work related. I haven’t started my Christmas shopping.

Case in point:

I left work “early” on Wednesday, at 6:30pm, to get my hair dyed and cut because #prioritiesyo. How can I possibly determine if we are missing any accruals or if margins are off if I have roots? Impossible.

15 minutes after I’d left, my emails stopped working on my phone. I tried to suck it up. I did breathing exercises. By the time I’d arrived at the hair salon, I was having cold sweats. I sipped on a glass of wine, telling myself that this was an excellent opportunity to work on appreciating the present moment, that taking a break would allow me to return to my workload refreshed and concentrated.

Yeah, no.

My scalp halfway covered in dye-goo, I had a nervous breakdown, insisted on getting the salon’s wifi code, booted up my laptop, and spent my hair appointment working from my hair salon chair.

The next morning, I arrived to the office to sort through the 50+ emails that had come in overnight. These included an email chain between a French coworker and somebody in one of our sister companies. In that chain, he makes reference to me “Vanilla, the Chief Accountant of XYZ Co.”

Now. My signature clearly states Accounting Manager. French Coworker has met me, multiple times. He has introduced me to people as the chief accountant of XYZ Co. I’ve bit my tongue, tried to talk myself out of this fixation on my title, reminding myself that such small details don’t matter, its probably just a language barrier/translation issue, it’s the quality of my work that dictates my brand & professional reputation. I can’t do it. I’ve worked too damn hard to get where I am. I negotiated this title just like I negotiated my salary. I firmly believe that in a business setting, titles matter: people respond differently depending on the rank of an individual. Sucks, but so it is. And don’t get me started on the whole gender thing and how THAT impacts perception. I’ve fought my way to where I am, I will continue to fight going forward, and I will NOT accept that any of my due is casually discounted as being a trivial detail.

That is why, Thursday morning, when everyone across our organization was mad scrambling to close out the year, I took the time to call French Coworker and gently remind him that my title is not Chief Accountant, it is Accounting Manager. Because why be a mature team player when you can be the Grinch of Year-End Pettiness? #oops

#imajoytoworkwith

#brash

#holidaycheer

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Paris, ville de l’amour & l’irritation extrême 

I just wanted to take pictures, y’all. Really.

I am in Paris for a 10-day work trip. (Check out what happened the last time I was left unsupervised in Paris.) Not complaining at all, but it remains I am not here to visit, I am here to put in 12+ hour days. When I leave my hotel in the morning, it is dark out. When I leave the office, it is darker. I gave myself an objective to try walk 30-60 mins every day, and find something worth taking as a picture. I’ve never really explored Paris at night, this trip would be my opportunity to see the usual landmarks in a different “light”.

Monday night, I met up with a former colleague of mine from my auditing days who has recently moved to Paris. I hadn’t seen him in two years. A delightful evening, bien arrosée, because we accountants = alcoholics and French wine is bae. By the time we said goodbye, it was 11pm. The resto was located in a safe part of town, approx 35 mins from my hotel – perfect opportunity to squeeze in my daily walk and pic quest. My walk brought me to the Louvre, which I needed to cross to get to the Seine bank, where I would need to walk for 15 mins, before crossing over the river.

As I stood on the street corner waiting for the light to change, a man approached me asking me if I was lost, because I looked confused. I answered him (in French) that I was debating if the open gate on our side of the Louvre would allow me to cross the entire courtyard, or whether the gate would be closed on the other end (on the river-side); I did not feel like walking about for nothing. He reassured me that the Louvre gates remained open all night, and that in fact he was walking in that direction himself, to reach the south bank. Perfect.

I really wanted to be in my bubble and enjoy the peaceful Parisian night – it is rare to find a moment where the city is quiet, almost sleeping. Chatty stranger watched me take pics of the Louvre, despite my hints that I did not want to delay him from joining his friends. This is the only pic I managed to squeeze in before Sir Annoyancealot ruined my mood.

Having crossed through the Louvre courtyard, I noticed the normally busy Seine bank was deserted. Great. I said goodbye to Sir Annoyancealot, who insisted on giving me a goodnight hug.

I did not want this hug. It was an impertinence, which he knew – he is French: they have the best manners in the world when they chose. That he was asking/insisting on a hug meant he was up to no good. I was faced with a dilemma: tell him to fuck-off and risk an escalation, or appease him. Boxing experience notwithstanding, I’ve been trained to handle a situation smoothly, just in case. Especially on a deserted street. Guy didn’t seem dangerous, more of a low-key creep trying his luck, looking to boost his male ego. Choosing safety over bravado, I let him hug me, but with arms flexed so that he couldn’t pull me close, and he would feel my strength. He attempted la bise, which he technically achieved, despite me successfully keeping him at arm’s distance.

You’d think he would be satisfied with that, no? No.

Sir Annoyancealot offered to walk with me a little more, even though I told him I wanted to be alone to enjoy the view. He continued talking to me, oblivious (or perhaps enjoying) that my conversation had gone from politely chatty to monosyllabic. I lied about where I was headed, and he insisted on re-saying goodbye, this time holding me firmly by either arm (payback for me having stiff-armed him: he had noticed my strength, and now it was my turn to notice his) with another bise. When his first kiss on the cheek landed on the corner of my mouth, I shoved him away such that he had to take 1-2 steps backwards.

He smiled at me, “Non, mais t’es tellement mignonne, j’ai envie de te croquer, tu sais.” Dropping all semblance of manners, I gave him my boxer look, “Tiens, mec, t’es vraiment mieux de ne pas t’essayer avec moi.” (“But you are so adorable, I just wanna eat you!” followed by “That’s nice, buddy, you better not try to.”) I walked away, and he didn’t follow me.


When I told that story to my colleagues yesterday, one dude shook his head and remarked that no French woman would have let herself be in such a scenario. That comment enraged me. It reminded me of the comment my Arab friend made, after I got lewdly propositioned in Beirut. It implies it is my fault, or perhaps that the women of my nationality aren’t as savvy as the locals. Wrong. I’ve been micro-aggressed in Canada too. This is what it means to be a woman; these are the kind of trade-offs I have to make every damn day, all the time: evaluating if I am willing to put up with possible unpleasant encounters in order to not deprive myself of a beautiful solitary nighttime walk. Evaluating if politeness will be a gateway to a dangerous situation. Evaluating the risk of escalation vs the need for appeasement. Evaluating just how far to react, if the guy is an actual dangerous person or just a creep. Having to be grateful that I have 8 years of fighting experience, because otherwise that would have been a much scarier experience.

I just wanted to take pictures, y’all. Really.


Last night, I left work “early” at 8:30pm so as to give myself plenty of time to walk the 1hr walk from l’Arc de Triomphe to my hotel near Notre-Dame. It wasn’t peaceful, bc 9pm is prime social time for Parisians, and les Champs-Elysées are always crowded, but it was nighttime and I did get my pics.

Behold, Paris at night.

The Dynamo trip: boxing gyms are my happy place

I packed my boxing gear on this trip. My friends were confused: I’m on vacation. I should enjoy myself. I should take advantage of what the city has to offer and do new things.

Exactly! I enjoy boxing and I have never trained at a boxing gym in Beirut before- what better way than to experience Beirut than by meeting the people there, and seeing how they train?

I asked the hotel concierge if he knew of any boxing/MMA gyms in a safe area of town that I could go to, alone. He recommended one that one of the employees of the hotel used to attend. Perfect! I asked for the name, address and directions.

Cultural difference #1: in Beirut, there are no street addresses. There are streets, and districts, but no street numbers and no postal codes.  For example:

img_1575-2

The national museum needs no address, bitches!

Very yummy place , if you can find it.

Very yummy place , if you can find it.

I got the district, the street and the name of the building (bonus!) of the boxing gym. I was also given the owner’s name and his number, and the schedule for the boxing classes.Yesterday evening was my first free evening to go train. My Uber driver knew the street and the district, but not the building, but hey! 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. Off I went. My driver brought me to an area of town that was poorer than what I had previously seen, and had very little English in its signage. It was dark at night. The trip was longer than I expected. I started to fret about where I was going, alone, female, with no man to translate and protect me (it took me all of 72 hours to master the helpless female mindset). Then, I got distracted by the haphazard parking on the streets:

Parking on small streets is like this, everywhere!

As we got closer to my destination, my driver stopped (in the middle of a street), rolled down the window and asked a passerby for directions.Cultural difference #2: it is a matter of pride, for Arabs, to give directions, even if they do not know the place you are seeking to access. They will not say, “sorry, I do not know it”, no! They will say, “it might be this place, in which case drive to the end of the street and then turn on the street that is in the other direction, OR, it might be this place that is near the restaurant. Yes yes, the restaurant.” (Translated Verbatim. Red flag. There are restaurants everywhere!!! Most generic description ever!!! Code red!)Miraculously, my uber driver found the street and the general area of the gym, by noticing a tiny tiny sign with the name of the gym and the owner on a street lamppost. We were in a residential area full of apartment buildings, no gym-like edifice in sight. I got out of the Uber, and did breathing exercises on the sidewalk, to convince myself I wouldn’t get raped and die, all for the sake of boxing. Then I searched for an entrance that looked like it belonged to a gym. I found it, tucked between two huge apartment blocks. Swallowing my anxiety, I walked in.

The facilities were unusual (it appeared to be a small bungalow, converted into a MMA gym). There was an ongoing Tae Kwon Do class in the largest room, and it was full of little munchkins running around doing cute kid version of fighting, while their parents looked on. I could hear the instructor, teaching in Arabic: he sounded stern and patient. Waiting patiently were a bunch of guys with wraps on. I started to relax at these familiar cues. I got ready for class.

Within 15 seconds I was at ease. In a group of about 20 students, 6 were female (30% vs 30-40% at my Mtl gym). There was none of the gender weirdness that I had noticed during my trip. At this gym, a everyone was a fighter: some just happened to be female. Like my Mtl gym, the owner/coach was friendly, strict and technical. Like my Mtl gym, his students were welcoming, hardworking, focussed and hilarious. Like my Mtl gym, I was a pool of sweat after training. No cultural shock here. A punch is a punch, regardless of the language used to describe it. MMA Academy Lebanon is a fine gym.

I should have known – boxing is awesome. Borders and cultures can’t negatively impact this sport. It brings together the coolest and funnest people. For the rest of my stay in Beirut, that gym will be my happy place.


Recap of all previous posts related to the Trip To See Dynamo Lawfully Wedded: Who’d Have Ever Guessed He’d Find A Woman Crazy Enough To Marry Him.

The Dynamite trip: Turkish culture clash

Day 1 of The Trip To See Dynamo Lawfully Wedded: Who’d Have Ever Guessed He’d Find A Woman Crazy Enough To Marry Him.

Our connecting flight was in Istanbul, with a 10-hour layover. We got ourselves temporary visas and exited the airport, for a day of sightseeing: our goal was to visit 2 key areas of the city – Taksim square and the Grand Bazaar & Blue Mosque.   

3 landmarks: Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar and KFC

 As we were taking the train into the city, a local citizen overheard our plans and told us of the suicide-bomber that had attacked Taksim square earlier that day. 

It’s a funny thing, reacting to bad news. My first impulse was to bust out my phone, and check the news for context, safety warnings, parameters to help me process this sad piece of information. Of course, I couldn’t do that, not without incurring crazy data roaming charges. I felt off-balance, unsure how to react when armed only with “suicide-bomber” and “near you, today”. I realized that usually, when I hear these violent sound-bites in the comfort of my home, I relativize it: oh, ONLY 5 were killed. Oh, only ONE bomber, not multiple attacks. Oh, not ISIS, not so bad then. It’s quite different processing bad news when in its proximity, with no access to information.  

We decided to skip Taksim square, but continue with our plan to visit the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque. Dangerous? Stupid? Maybe. Those are key areas in Istanbul, just as likely targets for a terrorist attack as Taksim square. Had the suicide-bomber been part of a team, with multiple attacks planned, those would have been areas of high risk. But what to do? React in fear? Or accept the notion that it is impossible to predict terror, and continue living life as best one can? We chose option #2, but our moods were somber.

As we travelled through the city, I noticed I was getting many odd looks from men. Some were hostile. Some were confused. Some were just unable to comprehend what they were seeing, turning to look at me over and over again. It took me a few minutes, but then I understood: women don’t have short hair in Istanbul. It’s not a thing. My hair cut made me an oddity.

I found this amusing until I walked past a group of 3 guys, selling their wares at a kiosk, and one of them pointed at me, turned to his friends and loudly asked them, “What is this?! Is this a woman???”

Le fuck off, bro. Cultural differences be damned, you are stuck in the Stone Age.

(Dynamo thought this was the highlight of his trip.)

We visited quickly the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and heard their echoing calls to prayer from the Blue Mosque’s courtyard. I found it oddly comforting to hear the age-old chants and watch people trickle into the mosque for their evening prayer, in stark contrast to the violent events of the day. A moment of serenity. 

The Blue Mosque

 And so ends my eventful first day. Flying out to Beirut soon, let’s see what unexpected events happen there!

P.S. The food! The food!!!!!  

Street food vendors include chestnuts, and grilled corn cobs, covered in butter and salt. That’s Dynamo, btw.

Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

The author is white woman, living in Toronto. I am a white, middle-class young woman, living in Montréal. I have lived through variations of all of these stories, except for the death threats (only because I am not a loud, prolific feminist writer. Yet.)

I view these stories as par for the course. Worse, I am grateful that this is BETTER than the States, where being female gets you shot (Planned Parenthood, anyone?). In our two countries, supposed bastions of democracy and equality, this is totally normal. Acceptable.

One of my friends, another white middle-class girl, has told me with a straight face that there aren’t prevalent gender issues in our society. She wasn’t being naive. She had honestly NEVER experienced anything like what I or Anne in her post below have experienced.

I was stunned at my friend’s innocence. Then I was kind of envious. Imagine a world where this shit isn’t the norm? I can’t.

The Belle Jar

1.

I am six. My babysitter’s son, who is five but a whole head taller than me, likes to show me his penis. He does it when his mother isn’t looking. One time when I tell him not to, he holds me down and puts penis on my arm. I bite his shoulder, hard. He starts crying, pulls up his pants and runs upstairs to tell his mother that I bit him. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about the penis part, so they all just think I bit him for no reason.

I get in trouble first at the babysitter’s house, then later at home.

The next time the babysitter’s son tries to show me his penis, I don’t fight back because I don’t want to get in trouble.

One day I tell the babysitter what her son does, she tells me that he’s just a little boy, he doesn’t know…

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As Featured on News Cult: Why I Support Planned Parenthood

Just because.

Just because I sometimes despair when listening to the dialogue coming out of America.

Just because I am so grateful I am Canadian and this kind of blog post wouldn’t be written by a Canadian living in Canada because WE DON’T NEED TO HAVE THIS DIALOGUE.

#StandWithPP

only bad chi

After the extremely maddening, unjust, horrific shooting that took place at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on Friday, I think now is an especially important time for me and others to show their support for Planned Parenthood. I’ve always supported it and always will, as long as it continues to be what it has been and is—a safe, accessible place for everyone, regardless of gender, to receive affordable and necessary healthcare. Regarding Friday’s shooter, I’ll just say this: why is it, that when the attacker is a Muslim, he’s an “evil, radical Islamic terrorist,” and when the subject of police force is black, he’s killed before he gets to exercise his right to due process, but when the shooter is white, he’s a “mentally deranged lone wolf,” brought into custody alive, and no one presumes to know his motives until he has his day in court? That is the most fucked up, backwards, infuriating…

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No, this conversation does not end well

Context: Included in the photos on my online profile is a blurry picture of me winning my second boxing fight. Below is a copy paste of a POF message correspondance between Online Dude (“OD”) and myself, over the course of a few hours. This is the first time Online Dude reached out to me.

 

OD: Oh wow. Have you ever punched any ex bfs? :p

Me: No history of domestic abuse

OD: Lol. U got a police report to prove it?

Me: Your due diligence is pretty thorough.

OD: It should be these days 😉

OD: Especially with the equation being reversed

Me: Yes, domestic abuse is so much more embarrassing when it’s the girl doing the abusing, right?

OD: Yes, especially when they will think it’s the guy who did the abusing 🙂

OD: I won’t be embarrassed though if I was abused by a gal, there r some tough women out there haha

Me: So either way, my rep is safe whether I hit you or not.

OD: Ya well I won’t say anything to anyone, i’ll take it n shut up lol.

Me: I’m relieved 

OD: You should be. But just to keep me motivated in that relationship theoretically ud let me land a few punches from time to time right?

Me: No.

OD: Awww so only u gets to hit 🙂

Me: I know you were trying to be funny, but I find this topic pretty vulgar and insensitive. Domestic abuse, violence, all of that, just isn’t funny, and asking me if I hit ppl, bc I am a boxer and a girl isn’t a good opener, it’s rude.

OD: Wow apologies, I got the sarcasm and just played along cause I thought if it bothered you you would have said it off the bat.

 

Now, I already know what many of you will say: I need to chillax; I shouldn’t be so picky or judgmental; online dating is awkward; the guy was trying to be funny, give him a break. But here is the thing: it isn’t funny. It is rude to approach a stranger, and ask them if they are in the habit of hitting people, EVEN IF IT IS DONE SARCASTICALLY. It is especially asinine to think common rules of politeness don’t apply because I am a girl.

 

But wait, you say! This has nothing to do with me being a girl!

 

Really? If I had a picture of me playing tennis, diving, figure skating, or any other more socially acceptable “female” sport, people would not periodically ask me if I hit people. “So, do you like to smash tennis balls into your ex’s faces?” or “I bet you twizzle the shit out of any assholes you’ve met, right?” sound like idiotic comments – because they are idiotic. I am aware that there would still be guys making inappropriate comments about my flexibility, and how that is a transferable skill into the bedroom, but unfortunately, those crude comments are just so common, I’m resigned to them.

 

Still not convinced? Let us “reverse the equation”, to use OD’s phrasing. Imagine a good looking dude with an online profile of him winning a fight, or training with a punching bag. Next, try imagine how many girls would start a conversation by asking him “So, have you ever punched any ex gfs? ;)” or my personal favorite “I guess I’ll be careful not to make you mad! :)” Slightly harder to picture, right? I struggle to imagine the guy reading such a message and feeling flattered – if he was, he fully deserves such a girl.

 

Let it be known that I have had similar remarks made to me by my own coworkers. Interestingly, only my male coworkers ever make such comments. No doubt out of friendliness, right? I’m not so sure. I have never heard a male coworker ask another male coworker whether or not he likes to do dirty checks to unsuspecting passerbys, just because he plays hockey. Or if he has a habit of dropping to the ground in exaggerated pain if he is a soccer player. Or if he tackles people for fun because he is a football player. The argument, oft expressed, that my violent sport makes it more justifiable for people to comment about violence doesn’t seem to explain why men playing violent sports are relatively immune to such ridiculous comments.

 

Similar interactions to the one above happen frequently in the online world: approximately 1 in every 4 guys that messages me says something to that effect. That ratio drops to 1 in every 6 guys that meet me socially in real life. Yes, it disappoints me every single time. No, this really isn’t the end of the world – it isn’t remotely as offensive as the guy who thought I disliked black dudes just because I didn’t say hi fast enough for him. Yes, I can see that the guys who are say these things aren’t intentionally trying to upset me, but are acting out of friendliness or interest which are both positive things. No, that doesn’t mean their words aren’t indicative of an unconscious bias, and no, I shouldn’t calm down about this. Bias, even when unintentional, is still a problem. It is definitely a problem in any guy I might date. I don’t want a man talking to my cousins, nieces, and unborn daughters that way. And I definitely don’t want him talking to me like that, and expecting me to laugh and find him cute.

 

#girlprivileges