Recently, Carly Fiorina, an American politician and former business executive and current chair of the nonprofit Good360, released a video on sexism in the work place through Buzzfeed. The video was designed to bring awareness to the fact that there was still sexism in the workplace in the United States in 2015. The premise of the video involved switching the roles of men and women to highlight the ridiculous nature of some of the questions men ask women at work. While I applaud Fiorina for trying, the entire video seemed extremely disingenuous and frankly failed to address the questions that really matter in our society; the questions that indicate sexism continues to exist in the workplace.
The first question that Fiorina, playing the role of a man, asks is, “How do you walk in those shoes?” It is a very valid question that men ask, and many women do wear shoes that are extremely uncomfortable and make it difficult to walk, she begins her argument from a superficial viewpoint. While the whole video switches the role of men and women, the point would have been clearer and more accessible if it simply depicted a man saying something like, “Isn’t that a bit unprofessional? Sheesh, this isn’t a strip club,” when speaking to a woman wearing a nice skirt just above the knee while he wears a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. The length of a female’s clothing is frequently discussed as being too short and therefore unprofessional. Even if the clothing is appropriate to wear, the women are constantly hassled about what they are wearing and it has nothing to do with the comfort of the clothing.
Additionally, Fiorina claims that men will take their female colleagues’ ideas and pass it off as their own by just saying it in a meeting. Men really do have a tendency to speak more loudly than women. Rather than having a woman say the same thing a man said, she could have made the point by having the woman give the man a look, then repeating the idea. The video’s attempt to use role-reversal as a mirror for men to consider how they treat women and women to consider how they are treated by men in the workplace was largely ineffective.
Fiorina claims that women are defined by family and that the question of balancing the work-life balance is a constant question that will come up in the workplace. This is as if men have the same problem and that they are actually interested. The opposite is true. Many women are demonized because they work many hours. People assume that long work hours definitely means neglecting a family, while many women – often by choice – do not even have families to neglect. For whatever reason, Fiorina seemed extremely disingenuous the entire time and did not seem the slightest bit interested in the subject matter.
Despite the various questions Fiorina asks, she never address the issue of the enormous wage gap in this video, which is one of the most important reasons why sexism in the workplace needs to be eliminated. For example, a report by the American Association of University Women, women generally make about 78% of what men make on average in the United States. But in Michigan, that state I call home, women make 75% of what men make. They point to a systematic problem that consistently puts women down. While women should be respected by all of their colleagues in their places of work, without addressing the wage gap issue, we will never be able to really stop sexism in the workplace. These numbers indicate that even if everyone decides to stop talking to us as if each of us lives and breaths to raise children barefoot, until we change this, my work is literally only valued 75% as much as a man.
If she is attempting to use this video to get the feminists’ votes, I’d have to say that it definitely did not sway me.
Check out the video here: