The Price Women Pay

The Price Women Pay

Walking down a supermarket aisle recently, I found myself face to face with a ‘bank’ of daily newspapers. Every single one displayed an image of Teresa May’s face, contorted with emotion as she fought back tears while giving her resignation speech. If anyone wanted to be reassured that patriarchy is alive and well, they need have looked no further.

Although I am used to speaking in front of an audience, I often find myself surprised by tears welling up and desperately trying to keep my voice on an even keel when I am talking about something that matters alot to me. I often wish I could find a way of not being overcome by emotion when in public but I can’t. Most women experience this at some time or other and struggle to maintain a professional composure . Men too find themselves ambushed by tears at a wedding or funeral when they are talking about someone they love.

The response is generally one of sympathy, an understanding that the person is vulnerable at that moment. So what explains the viciousness that greeted Teresa May’s tears? When our previous female Prime Minister left Downing Street after being ousted by a Cabinet coup, she was caught in tears as she was driven from Downing Street. That image was shown constantly and still is.

With both May and Thatcher, it represents a different kind of coup for the press. It’s a cruel gesture of revenge: we got her! She who dared to stand up to her male colleagues, to ignore their authority, to defy their power…finally we get to show her as she really is, a silly weak woman who cannot control her emotions. What a triumph!

I did not agree with Teresa May’ policies any more than I did Margaret Thatcher’s but that’s not the point. Teresa May was, probably uniquely among her Conservative colleagues, motivated not by ego and personal ambition but by a genuine commitment to the people of this country.

Her mistake? Being born a woman and working in an overwhelmingly male institution. It’s the price women pay all over the world.

7 thoughts on “The Price Women Pay

  1. Hello, Anne I completely concur with what you have said here. I did your Assertion Training course in 1985/86 in Islington and have taught it – as well as doing other things – ever since. Having moved to a rural area and dealing with the necessity of doing more online, I notice that Assertion Skills are not valued or understood in the same way as they once were. I continue to promote the ethos of being assertive together with Deep Confidence-Building for Women. I still think these skills are vital for women to live authentically in the world in their own rhythm. I wonder what happened to all the women who did your courses and taught Assertion Skills–? It would be lovely to connect with others who understand the importance of this for women.

    1. Dear Shan

      Lovely to hear from you! I’m glad that my words resonated with you. With all the MeToo development, it’s easy to overestimate what has really been achieved at a deep psychological level. I’m pleased you are still continuing with your work. In answer to your question about the other Redwood women, I’m still in touch with several of them from different training years but have lost touch with others. I agree that it’s vital to offer skills to women – of all ages – because attitudes are SO slow to change.
      I’m not sure what to suggest in terms of connecting with other women – the Redwood network ceased to operate formally some years ago and now runs informally with many groups still meeting up in their own locality. I’ll give it some thought!

      Meanwhile, good to hear from you. Keep in touch,

  2. I intended to send you the bit of observation to thank you so much over again for all the great tactics you’ve contributed at this time. It was simply extremely open-handed with you to make without restraint what exactly some people could have distributed for an ebook in order to make some dough for themselves, chiefly seeing that you could have done it in case you desired. The inspiring ideas also served as the easy way to fully grasp that other people online have the same fervor just like my very own to see somewhat more when considering this matter. I believe there are a lot more enjoyable moments up front for those who examine your site.

  3. Hi Anne
    I happened to look at your website as I’m doing a talk today for International Women’s Day about my career and my influencers along the way. Your Assertion training at Sheffield Council back in the early 80s prompted me to take action and retrain to boost my career. I am now an executive coach and trainer and enjoy working particularly with women. I run a Stepping Up course similar to Springboard and a Find Your Voice presentation skills course – both targeted (though not exclusively) at women. I would love to meet up with other kindred spirits to share and collaborate.

    1. Hi There
      I am looking for online or in person groups that would offer space for women leaders to support each other.
      Any recommendations would be much appreciated. Anne, your words resonate so clearly with me that I expect other women leaders must want to talk through the challenges of being a woman in leadership in these challenging times.

  4. I couldn’t agree more Anne. I thought the same. I was in corporate life as a young female leader; being that women …blending in hoping no one would spot I was female.

    I woke up, but now I don’t earn as much…I haven’t yet found a way to bridge the divide.

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