Home CommentaryEditorial Reflecting on being female and in charge

Reflecting on being female and in charge

by Michelle Gamage April 12, 2016

It’s been two years since I was told I was too pretty to be a journalist. The offhanded remark, likely idiotically intended to be a compliment, slipped out of a boy’s mouth during the Concordia associations and clubs tabling fair held outside of the Hall building on a sticky September afternoon.

Myself, the newly hired Production manager, and the Life editor at the time blinked at this boy, quickly calculating if leaping over the table and bashing his insensitive face into a bloody pulp would decrease our chances of attracting potential writers for signing up to work for The Concordian or not.

But we were well-trained by society to deal with these type of sexist remarks, so we straightened our smiles and dug our fingernails into our palms and let the boy amble off into the crowd of fresh-faced students.

Two years later and my mandate as Editor-in-chief at The Concordian is concluding with the school year, and while my skin has grown thicker these offhanded sexist remarks keep on rolling in. Dubbed “micro-aggressions,” these subtle but offensive remarks were originally coined for comments towards visible racial minorities but expanded to all minority or non-dominant groups.

And while I’ve never faced racism, comments such as, “alright thank you for your feedback, now can I talk to who is in charge here?” or, “well, you know, you like it and other women like it because you have that mothering instinct,” or, “wow, you have a really strong handshake,” or even, away from the office once, “I didn’t know you were sexy!”

Surprise! There was a woman in charge who was smart, multi-talented, sexy, non-baby-wanting, capable of running a team with men on it and who could even shake someone’s hand properly. Because you know what? Women can be all of those things at once and more. Hell, they can even want babies or have babies and still be all of those things and more.

But for all of our progress in society, and for all of the back-patting we do at The Concordian for having a female-majority staff with a very powerful feminist attitude—I am the fourth female Editor-in-chief in a row and Cristina Sanza has officially been hired to take over next year—for all of Trudeau’s “because it’s 2015” remarks, there is still a ton of misogyny and sexism out there. And it wasn’t until I stepped into a role of power and demanded people’s respect, time and attention that I realized—because I am a woman—people would resent me for that.

Because, being bossy isn’t sexually desirable right? And clearly, all women should only ever do what makes them sexually desirable.

So here’s one woman who ran a student newspaper for a year saying fuck that. I refuse to be apologetic if you do not like who, or how, I am. I refuse to say sorry if you thought I was too loud or too demanding or too bossy.

I was awesome. And I will now graduate and head out into the word to demand excellent jobs and rights and positions. I will not hesitate to ask questions and will not say “sorry” when I need to interrupt you.

If you think that because I am pretty I cannot be a journalist, or an Editor-in-chief, or an equal human being then your views are narrow, limiting, and everything wrong with this world. And I will never apologize for being who I am to you.

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