service: tell my jerkbrain that i can do this thing

Dear all who were raised whilst being told they weren’t as good as white men, here is an article that tells you nothing new.

The Confidence Gap

A review of personnel records found that women working at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements. At HP, and in study after study, the data confirm what we instinctively know. Underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in. Overqualified and overprepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confident only when they are perfect. Or practically perfect.

Australian ladies are in no way exempt from this terrible phenomenon, and although I’m struggling to find evidence, I suspect they are further constrained by the frustrating Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Photo: smiling quokka (Fin Popper/Creative Commons)
a quokka – secretly a killer (like all australians)

And non-ladies will also find this relevant; basically any member of any minority group who was told they weren’t as good as a conforming white man. Please ignore the USA tech industry biases in this article and apply its truths to your life as you see relevant. Note that what is considered self-confidence varies across cultures, traditions and upbringing, and can be exacerbated: when this article comments that assertive women are often considered bitches, it fails to note that black women (and men) in North America are considered uppity; that Asian women in Australia are considered dragons; that Aboriginal people are ignored as if they are not even there.

In light of this not new and completely unsurprising information about the role of misogyny in our established societal systems and jerkbrains, No Award and Penguin Productions are compelled to offer a new service: the I Can Burn It Down service.

Services provided in this program:

  • You ask: No Award, can I do this thing and crush this city to the ground? No Award replies: Indeed, you can do this thing, and lists you why so you can shut up your lying jerkbrain.
  • Positive reinforcement is aided by motivational sharks, an evil cat, and adorable penguins who will assess your abilities (all excellent) and experience (so great) and confirm for you that you can do this thing.
  • Reassessment of negative feedback from jerkface other parties, and confirmation that you can indeed burn it down.

This service was designed with Australians in mind, and please note that it is opt-in for all self identifying ladies, gender non-specifics, those who were forced to be ladies against their actual identity, and any others who were raised whilst being told they weren’t as good as gender-conforming white men and currently feel a need for this service.

The management recognises that sometimes it will not be available to provide this service, as all service operators are currently located in Melbourne, Australia. To that end, we also provide a handy toolbox below.

Techniques for those momentarily lacking the confidence to burn it down:

  • Armour yourself for battle. Stephanie likes to do this wearing wings and bright pink clothes, but this is not suitable for all world-destroying tasks.
  • Confirm it for yourself: Can I do 50% of this thing; if I were marked on my performance for this thing, would I earn a passing grade? If the answer is yes, then do the thing.
  • Is your jerk brain telling you no? Literally do the thing anyway.
  • Say this out loud: I contain multitudes. They will swarm out and subdue my enemies if I do not get my way.
  • Don’t take responsibility for things outside of your control. You are not a godling, despite your multitudes.
  • When someone tells you you can’t do the thing, put your feet firmly on the ground, cross your arms, and assert your dominance through an eyebrow raise.
  • Do not give ground.
  • On public transport, always establish your dominance, especially against those who consume more spaces than allotted. If you push back against their lavaballing, they will give way in surprise. Take advantage of this, and the endorphins of success it provides, to push harder. Hold onto this feeling when you disembark the tram.
  • Accept negative feedback, but only after running it through a trusted third party. You cannot have any of the best friends associated with No Award, but they are very good at their jobs and we recommend someone with similar skills.
  • ALWAYS ask someone society says is better than you to move their bag from the train seat. (Please don’t put your bag on the seat, anyone else, because I don’t want to have to consume you with my multitudes)
  • If you have something to say, say it.
  • Remember that your failures belong to society. Blame it accordingly.
  • Do not say sorry (except if you run over a cat. Then, maybe. MAYBE).
  • Always check the emails you write and remove excess apologies. Do not feel regret.
  • Do not run over a cat.
Creative Wombat - Common Wombat (Vombatus Ursinus) / https://www.flickr.com/photos/53368913@N05/6850727567/
wombat – definitely a killer

Leave a comment below to receive useful feedback from the No Award service. Others of the
No Award community are encouraged to aid this No Award service by also offering useful feedback. White cis men are allowed in the comments but will be gazed upon with non-yielding eyes.

 

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An Aside on Creating Safe Spaces

A few weeks ago I was the door bitch for A Night of Intrigue, a goth/alt/dark event. As you can imagine, explicit consent is a must in such an area, and hard to enforce. And much as it can be difficult to convey in a SFF convention space, it can be hard to remind everyone to be respectful and to ask permission and very importantly, especially in such a space, ‘nudity is not consent’ is critical.

I took on the role of gateway consent controller for the night, if I may call it that. We had signs up at the inner doorway (after paying and getting your tags and all the rest of it), and I gave the same spiel hundreds of times. We had a red tag for ‘PLEASE DO NOT TALK TO ME IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME,’ and a green tag for ‘hey, feel free to start a convo respectfully,’ or you could choose not to tag at all. And so many people were skeptical, why do you even need that? This is silly. Some people I had to explain it wasn’t a sex thing, but the traffic light was a good comparison. Some people made fun of people who were coming to a nightclub/social event and didn’t want to meet/hang with anyone new.

But there were a dozen or so people who ran towards that red armband and put it on so fast, and so obviously, so that their red stripe would be clear. And as Ju reminded me, when my voice was hoarse and it was after 1am and I was getting tired and frustrated at people rolling their eyes at me, every person who came through that door heard my spiel. So even if they thought the system was silly, they had all had the same thing personally delivered to them as they came to through the door: that we were looking for respect, and we expected it from everyone, and that we were gonna be enforcing that.

It’s not perfect; it’s hard to prevent bottleneck, and I felt at times that I was working against my own desire not to put anybody out. It’s not a system that works for everyone, but it’s a start, and I think having it personally delivered almost one on one helped.

(ps if you are interested, the next event is September 13 and you should totally come along)