A Look At The Advertising Women of New York's Advertising Career Conference
by Jessica L I have never considered myself a feminist. Feminism’s presentation usually frustrates me, with women crying out about unfair treatment and in the process turning themselves into the victim. That’s actually why, at the Advertising Women of New York’s Advertising Career Conference, I decided to go to the In Her Shoes: A Discussion About Women’s Challenges and Successes in the Workplace panel, which was hosted by Feminist Wednesday. I expected the women to feed me some “I can have it all if I just work really hard” fluff. A part of me, however, was begging them to prove me wrong.
They really did. I was thrilled to be in their presence and learn how they deal with the gender biases that do, indeed, exist. (A part of me was shocked that they do still exist.) I got from them not one word of complaint, but instead was inspired by their solid, quiet defiance as they worked their butts off day in and day out to make their dreams happen. I listened to their statistics and their simple ways of ensuring they do not get pushed aside. I listened as one recounted previous work culture with blatant harassment and almost preferred it to today’s gender biases that are both sneaky and insidious.
And then I left. I was happy I had gone, I had enjoyed myself, I had learned a lot, and they had provided useful tips. I was grateful and I was glad to have stepped outside my comfort zone because I found value in what they had said. But mostly, I just left.
It wasn’t until the next day as I recounted my AWNY adventures to my fiancé that I felt the spark in me. I found myself using the phrase “our male counterparts” and was fired up to tell about how I, too, can fight those gender biases I am sure to face. I was excited. I realized that I had taken something from these women I had never before seen in “feminism.” I learned how to take control of the atmosphere and provide my contributions without tearing others down. I was thrilled to be joining them.
And that’s when I said it, “You know, maybe I am a feminist.” And then my fiancé made a joke about how I can’t be because he’s too busy keeping me oppressed, which was allowed to actually be funny because he and I share equal, albeit different roles in our relationship. We went about our day, and the next day, and the week after. I told my sisters and my mother and my friends the tips I’d learned from these strong women. The world is better having them in it and I hope to inspire others in a similar fashion. I am a feminist because I always was one, because I chose to go to college and pursue a career in which I will face struggles based solely on my gender. I seek now to embrace the title. I seek to embody that solid, quiet defiance that bolsters success and refuses to be swept under the rug.