Sex, Love and the Double Standard

Is there a double standard when it comes to women in the workplace? in the technology industry? What about sexual relationships, is there a double standard there? Put more directly: do you or those around you view and / or treat women differently than you would men in a similar situation. It may sound like a dated, 1980s feminism rant, but it’s more real than you think.

So, to take these questions head on, I joined a killer panel (sponsored by Love & Other Drugs FTW) last week that included:

  • Cindy Gallop (former head of BBH America and now the founder of IfWeRanTheWorld.com, a web platform that turns good intentions into concrete actions);
  • Host Rachel Sklar (Mediaite founding editor, Change the Ratio Founder, former HuffPo Media Editor);
  • Sarah Kunst (contributor, event manager and woman-about-town for nightlife and scene site, Guest of a Guest);
  • Brooke Moreland (co-founder and CEO of new hotshot startup Fashism);
  • Producer Emily Gannett (marathon athlete, producer, founder, mega connector); and
  • Leslie Bradshaw (President & COO of JESS3 — that’s me!) | I was also asked to share what it is like working with / for my S.O. (the Jesse in JESS3), first ever interview sharing on this topic if you are so inclined to watch it in full here.

As Rachel so eloquently remarks: “Each of these women brought a unique perspective to the topic, and we had a spirited and thoughtful discussion, some highlights of which are presented below. The full video from the session may be seen here. Cindy discusses the how the word ‘slut’ is ‘a condemnation and a point of aspiration and a point of pride,’ a clear negative on one hand but lately reclaimed by younger women, proudly.”

The following clips and contextual round up were provided by Rachel Sklar over on Mediaite.

Above, I share our own Alix McAlpine’s www.Sorry-Mom.com – tagline: “I Bang The Worst Dudes” Cindy finds the bright side – it’s a cautionary-tale dating advice site for men!

Cindy dates younger men, “casually and recreationally,” but has one main criteria: “they have to be a very nice person.”

Sarah thinks people should be able to “sleep with or not sleep with whomever they want” Also — forget about the stereotypes. “You can put all of these piece of being female together however you want.”

“No one tells men, ‘Oh, you have three kids and you run a company? How do you do it all?’” “And no one asks a 37 year old guy, ‘Are you nervous about when you’re gonna have kids?’ ‘Why aren’t you married?’” “You wear your uterus on your sleeve.”

Rachel talks about the “love” part of the equation — not “soft-focus LifetimeTV love” but the reality of like-minded professionals who meet at work or in the course of their work can spark. “Our workplace is our professional and personal playground – our work is our life and so we end up meeting people and working with them.” (Leslie is a co-founder with her boyfriend, the eponymous Jesse of Jess3.) Rachel asks Brooke if people treat her differently when they learn she is married. She says not really – or at least up until the ring is impossible not to notice. “When you’re married men still hit on you, but you have an out – which is good, in professional environments.” Also: “Having a visual symbol of your committed status helps.”

Sarah talks about how age and gender play into how she is perceived as a professional — though in the nightlife scene chronicled by Guest of a Guest young women are the norm, sometimes, she says, she is subject to more dismissive assumptions. Recalling an event to which she brought a man who was a boldfaced name in the tech scene, she recounts how an acquaintance assumed that she was his date. When Sarah pointed out that the invitation was in fact hers, the acquaintance snorted: “What do you do that you can bring him?”

Rachel asks Cindy: “How are women constrained by what they should and shouldn’t wear? And on the flip side, how are they enabled and liberated by that?” Cindy says that women often put those constraints on themselves: “It is actually the expression of personal style rather than suppression of t that can actually deliver desired business outcomes,” she says. “The way you dress and the way you look is a fundamental part of how you position your own brand.”

Is there a “right” and “appropriate” way to dress, for work and otherwise? Remember Cindy’s advice about self-expression – but remember, too, that how you present yourself becomes part of your brand – so know what you want that brand to be, and how you want it to be seen. Says Brooke: “I do have to watch what I wear. When I dress too sexy or too skin-baring – it does give the wrong signal that you don’t want to give and you want to be taken seriously. And you shouldn’t have to think about that stuff if you’re a woman, but you do…like, ‘I should be able to wear this but maybe it’s not the best thing for me.’” Adds Rachel: “You have to step out of the normative way that you would like things to be and recognize that, okay, there’s a way things are.” But all that said – here’s some key advice from the founder of Fashism: “Everyone should have a Power Bitch outfit.”

Can I sell ad space on my butt and still be taken seriously? This is not a rhetorical question – and the jury is still out. Ripped from the headlines!

Compiled by: Leslie Bradshaw | President & COO, JESS3



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