Emma Blaney, Founding Member and Founder of Productive Property People, writes about her new found identity as a feminist and the book that changed her mind. Authored by Emma Blaney.
For the longest time if someone asked me if I was a feminist my answer was always no. Not because I was lying but because I genuinely didn’t identify as a feminist. I believe my go to line was always ‘I am not a feminist, I believe in equality’. In my mind feminism stood for the subjugation of men and the elimination of gender altogether. Well I like men, I like being a woman and I don’t want to be a queen bee* so where did that leave me?
Whilst pondering this thought about a month ago I found myself in my happy place (the book shop) and I looked up and in front of me was this book ‘Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett’. Firstly, it made me smile as the cover stated ‘21% more expensive for men’ but it also made me think, do I want to burn my bra at the next industry event in protest for the gender pay gap? Or wear a dress made of meat to highlight the inequality of women in management throughout the property sector? Well no, let’s not be crazy, but you get my gist.
Needless to say, I bought the book and I was addicted. From the minute I started reading my ignorance about feminism was clear. Feminism is about equality! It is about acknowledging social inequality based on gender and putting a stop to it. Yes, radical feminism, well that’s a little more out there suggesting technological advances that will allow babies to be grown outside of a woman’s body to abolish gender issues, but feminism in its Oxford Dictionary sense is “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes” and that, well that is what I am talking about!
Not only did this book open my eyes to true meaning of feminism it was easy to read, very informative and provides wealth of practical tips about how to recognise sexism, even in its most subtle form. Also, and really importantly, is how we, as women, contribute to the on-going sexism. How our actions, our language and our behaviours all contribute to the continued inequality, and gives some sage advice about how we can change for the better. I think one of my favourite chapters was ‘WWJD- What Would Josh Do?; Carry Yourself with the Confidence of Mediocre White Man’. This is not a chapter of man beating just recognising some simple things that we as women do that men do not. For instance, “A woman will apply to an open job listing if and only if she meets all- that is, 100 freaking percent- of the requirements listed for that job. But a man? He’ll apply when he meets just 60 percent.” Crazy right!
So, as I sit here in my second favourite place (the tea shop) writing this piece I am proud to call myself a feminist and I have Jessica Bennett to thank for that. I no longer pretzel myself on the tube, or put my successes down to luck, I own what I am and what I do and I recognise my inhibiting behaviours. This is a book I would greatly recommend to all of you, even if feminism isn’t your thing as it wasn’t mine. Our industry still boasts a huge divide in gender, just last week I went to a networking breakfast of 70 people, 4 women! Are we going to change that? Who knows. All I do know is we need to support, encourage and inspire each other to succeed because, as the saying goes, behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back!
*See previous article ‘Doyennes Discuss… Why Doyenne?’