Sunday, 24 November 2013

It's a Man's World.....

There’s the old adage, that when a male comic takes to the Stage, the audience sits back and relaxes, but when a female one appears, there’s an element of ‘ok, show us what you’ve got’. That’s not the case with all female comics by any means, and I hope that in time, it won’t be the case for any, but it’s an uphill struggle. 

A female friend of mine recently said she just thought men were funnier than women, and it made me want to cry and scream at the same time. When probed, she said her female friends often had her in stitches, but she just meant there were lots more male comics on the telly. Now, I’ve written before on the life of a comic being generally more suited to men than women, so I won’t harp on about it. But I fundamentally don’t think men are funnier than women. I believe that the majority of my generation were still brought up thinking that men like beauty in women, and women like humour in men. A generalisation I know. And we’re not all like that. Some prize money in men, and the ability to cook in women.... you get my gist. But I think we’re somehow pre-disposed, and that alas includes many women, to just think men are funnier. And we have to work hard to dispel that myth.

But it got me thinking. It’s that element of trust, or relaxation, that you sense when the audience are presented with a male comic rather than a female one (I’m obviously not talking about the lauded ladies of comedy, who have a steadfast following). And it strikes me that that element of trust, or rather, that inequality of trust, based on gender, is omni present. I fear I’m guilty in some respects. If we get a female bus driver in rush-hour, I inwardly groan a little. Because, 9 times out of 10, the journey takes a tad longer. Because the female bus driver is just a bit nicer about allowing more people on the bus, and giving right of way to more cars. Whereas the guys just plough on through. I know. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking Bugger, I’m totally not a feminist. BUT I THINK I AM ;-) I guess I’m just being honest about stereotypes, or just alas, giving weight to some that should be dead and buried by now.

So, the trust thing. I think it’s huge in the workplace. I see guys going in and asking their boss for more money, or for another member of staff because their team is overworked. And often the men get what they ask for. And the women don’t always get so lucky. So why is that? Is that because women ask in a different way? In a ‘well, it would really help us if we could have some extra support, but I’m sure I can manage without if there isn’t any budget’ way? I’m guessing, obvs. But given that women tend to try and accommodate more so than men, I think there’s probably an element of the way we ask for things, that is predicated on not having the same sense of entitlement. So, it could be the way we ask. Or maybe it’s back to the trust. Is it that man’s world of where the guy goes in and asks his boss for something, and the guy trusts the other guy, whereas the female team member has to prove it, has to be on the floor, sunken by a heap of deadlines, before the boss will say ok?

I know what you’re thinking. What about female bosses? And I’ve had a few. From my experience, the men still often get what they ask for from a female boss, more than the women do. Because, women know women. We know each other wiles. There’s many a married woman dying to offer you her pearl of wisdom which, for each woman is the same: get him to think it was his idea. Women have to be wily. They have to connive. They have to flirt sometimes. They go via the back door. Not in that way you, you dirty mind, you J So if a woman is trying to get something out of a female boss, she might employ any number of tactics, but she might already be busted because her boss knows them all. But when the boss is male, that’s when the female arsenal comes out to play. Because it has to. Because that is the only way to milk the cow.

I don ‘t agree with it. It frustrates me hugely. Many years ago my female boss told me I was clashing with a male colleague because I was forgetting he was a man. That if he came and presented me with a problem and asked for my help,  I wasn’t meant to offer him a solution, even though one was blindingly obvious, because he was a guy and he had to work it out himself. Apparently I was to guide him to finding a solution without him realising. And I was like WTF? I don’ t have time for that. Do you have time for that? It worked for her, but I’m not convinced I agree, or that that’s the way all female bosses manage their male staff. If they do, it’s highly depressing. Maybe successful, but still, highly depressing.

So, where do we go from here? Well, a very funny lady called Deborah Frances-White, runs a workshop called ‘How to be Charismatic in a Man’s world’ – teaching women how to use their feminine charms to get what they want, and how to do so in an empowered way . So, we have that option – to continue to use the full spectrum of female wiles and ways to get the right answer or action. Or we become a little more staunch about it. We go in a little more ballsy. We don’t ask for things but follow it up with a ‘I can manage’. We be more male about it. Maybe we be a little more selfish. Though alas we’ll always hit that other problem of a forthright male being considered strong and decisive, and the forthright female being thought of as the ball-breaker. But maybe we have to go through that to come out on the other side in a few generations time, smelling of roses. Because as we all know, all women smell of roses... of sugar, and spice and all things nice. Don’t we??

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Nicknames and Multi-tasking

I’ve been called many different things  in my lifetime. It’s par for the course with a surname like Goggin. The amount of post that used to come through at work addressed to Miss Doggin became embarrassing (ah the joy when I discovered the NATO phonetic alphabet could be used by mere mortals in real life, not just on The Bill). Or Miss Goggins. “Like Postman Pat without the s” I used to say. Which, with hindsight, sounded like I was just a little too desperate for them to get it right. And let’s be fair, if they weren’t of a certain age, they’d just think I was slightly mental.  I’m not sure why everyone always likes whacking on an ‘s’ at the end, but there we go. Goggins has become a nickname of sorts. And there were and still are, many others: 

Jim Jam. Goglet – sounds a little too like a piglet admittedly, but I take it as a term of endearment. Goggles – a gift from friends when my boyfriend at the time, suddenly and mysteriously lost all power of aim, and got me in the eye, rather than on my boobs. Ah those heady days of young love and misplaced semen. 
I could go on...

But I thought I’d heard them all. Until I got together with my chap. Who is called Mark, but whom I call Bob. And he calls me Gog. But we don’t just have one. We have lots. In Paris, we spotted a stop called Bobigny. So when in France, he becomes Bobigny and I, Goginy. In Italy, we came Bobbalino and Goggalino. We’ve recently become Goggabubba and Bobbabubba, and I’m sure there will be more to come.

I find nicknames interesting, because they grow out of nothing almost, and yet, they become part of you, and they represent different parts of you. BUT, and it is a big but, they don’t cross all spheres. I am unlikely to call him Bobbalino in a moment of anger, or at the moment of climax. I think we would both burst out laughing. It’s as if nicknames form part of a personal little dialogue that takes place 90% of the time, but doesn’t quite cross the border into the highly emotional states. So why is that? Is that because we step out of ourselves when we’re highly emotive so the nickname feels too personal, too real, or because we step into ourselves so much that at that subconscious moment of choice, that the nickname feels too puerile?

And why is that some nicknames can transcend more barriers that others? I’ve called him Bob when I’ve been annoyed, but never in the throes of passion. I think there’s a wider discussion which I hope to explore more in the coming months, to do with all those different facets of ourselves that we utilise or drop at a moment’s notice. How we sweep from role to another without a thought, and if we as women, do that more easily than men? And if we do, how are men affected by that? By the woman who tells them to clean the dishes one moment, and emerges from the bedroom in a negligee five minutes later. Because to me, to us (if I may be so bold as to group all women together!), it’s seamless, natural, part of who we are – multi-tasking goddesses, no?? J And for men, I just don’t think it’s the same, and I sometimes think you can see the wash of confusion as the man tries to interpret the shift in gears that has just taken place before his very own eyes. Sexist as ever, I know. But, to be continued......