Nikon and the men unwilling to call out sexism

You may have seen one of the latest sexism debates hit the news. Same old excuses, same old men looking for justification before they express any outrage.

The story

Nikon released their new D850 camera and wanted 32 people from across Asia, Middle East and Africa to go on a road trip taking pictures with it. So they approached professional photographers to find the best talent available. The result?

All 32 were men.

Outrage ensued and in their defence Nikon said

“Unfortunately, the female photographers we had invited for this meet were unable to attend”

During the backlash many people pointed out their enormous error. Women are yet again ignored. Companies refuse to showcase women. Refuse to market to women. Refuse to include women in any meaningful way and their excuses are laughable.

Like those all-male panels excuses abound

  • “The women we asked couldn’t come” – How many did you ask? Did you make it easy for them to come?
  • “We couldn’t find any women who were qualified” – Are you setting your parameters so high women are unlikely to have been able to attain them in this male dominated field?
  • “We don’t know any women in this field” – How hard did you try to find any?

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The aftermath

As a woman, and the chair of a women’s amateur photography group I expressed my dissatisfaction on social media. Perhaps more annoying than Nikon’s rejection of women was men’s refusal to condemn.

They wanted proof that all reasonable excuses had been explored before they’d speak up against it.

“It’s an Asian company, they’re less progressive there”

“There are just fewer female professional photographers”

“But the women they asked couldn’t go”

Stop faffing about trying to deny there’s a problem and get on with calling a spade a spade.

I say to men

Understand that we weren’t angry because we don’t like men. We’re angry because it seems very much like Nikon hates women. We’re not looking to oust men from every job they have. We want equal promotion and job opportunities for women.

So if someone points out something sexist don’t seek ways to defend the act before being willing to condemn it. Whatever the intention, the outcome was sexist and offensive. It should be condemned by men as well as women.

Imagine if the tables were turned and 32 women had been chosen. Would you seek to defend their motivations before pointing out the outcome was wrong?

Which would win in a fight – road rage vs benevolent sexism

I was coming home after a weekend at Greenbelt Festival this summer bank holiday. A weekend of camping and nectar for the soul.

Festival campingI pulled into the car hire forecourt then waited while a slightly irate man snapped at the guy behind the desk.

After returning the keys and sorting the paperwork I waited for my taxi to arrive. Just a few minutes later it pulled into the forecourt and the driver gave me a big grin and a wave.

A car behind him beeped the horn. The driver was waving for the taxi to pull forwards out of the way. It was the Angry Guy from the queue earlier.

“That selfish guy needs to calm down” I thought

Angry Guy is shouting and waving and my taxi driver takes a moment but eventually pulls forwards to let him past.

I get in the taxi, exchange pleasantries with the driver and we pull out to the traffic lights. My mind is on how much small talk I’ll have to make on the short journey to the station.

angry manAs we’re waiting for the light I see Angry Guy is still yelling. Suddenly he gets out of his car and comes running across the road towards us.

He launches into a tirade against the taxi driver. Screaming and swearing every obscenity he can think of. His face is red with seething anger that he hadn’t been able to pull into the forecourt a minute earlier.

What is wrong with this guy!

My driver tells him;

“Watch your language, there’s a lady in the car”

~Benevolent sexism~

Angry Guy shouldn’t shut up because I’m a woman and my sensitive womanly ears will be forever damaged by his words. He should shut up because he’s being a dick.

His behaviour is not ok because it’s wrong. Not because of any lesser, more delicate humans who might be in earshot.

Angry Guy’s response?

“I don’t care, you f*&^ing b*%$ard think you own the road you should be f*&^ing ashamed…”

After a few scary minutes of escalating shouting and pleading for my delicate ears the lights changed and we drove off.

What on earth just happened!

The taxi driver and I agreed that Angry Guy had some issues if he gets that incensed about something so small. My driver wondered what he’s like with his wife and family if he’d talk like that in front of me.

I too wondered about his wife and family. But because he was an explosive ball of rage in general, not because he wasn’t able to contain himself in front of a woman he didn’t know.

Scared woman
Was it ok to stay silent?

And I considered my own actions. Is that the right time and place to call out benevolent sexism? Probably not given the escalating threat of physical violence. But I still feel bad for not saying something.

So in that round road rage won. But maybe one day neither benevolent sexism nor road rage will need to clash.

Never play the damsel in distress – for all women’s sake

Nobody likes the security lines at the airport. Patting your pockets to make sure you remembered to put everything in the tray. Did you put your lip balm in the plastic bag? Will they want your shoes?

When you’re in another country it’s even more nerve-wracking as the security staff yell instructions in another language.

I was in just this situation recently, coming home from a solo travel adventure. I heard a conversation between two girls behind me. Let’s call them Louise and Clara.

Louise “Did you put your perfume in the plastic bag?”

Clara “No I had too much make up in there. I’ve just left it out”

Louise “Just pretend you didn’t know”

Clara “If they catch me I’ll just cry and they’ll let me through. You can just get away with anything if you cry, they don’t know what to do”

This made me so angry.

Firstly, why are they above the rules when everyone else is doing their best to follow them. Trying to understand instructions in a foreign language.

Secondly, you’re doing all women massive damage. By turning on the tears and purposely playing a weak victim.

It’s hard enough getting people to take us seriously. We’re ignored in business meetings, we’re objectified and belittled constantly. We’re seen as weak, emotional and infantile. And when we complain about it we’re seen as whinging victims.

And these girls want to use that to their personal advantage.

Strong women don't play the victim

Women need to pull together. To exercise strength and dignity. Unless you’re in real actual danger turning on the waterworks is completely inexcusable.

Men already think women use tears to manipulate situations to their advantage. I’ve heard it said of many women around the office.

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If you use the fact that you’re a woman to get out of doing something you are not just manipulating the people around you. You’re taking advantage of other women who are genuinely struggling. And you’re damaging yourself by being lazy and contriving.

Getting people to do something for you is not a privilege that comes with being female. Instead have some integrity. Suck it up and do things you don’t want to do sometimes.

So to Louise and Clara, and anyone tempted to play the victim – Stop crying wolf. Because when women really do need help we’re not getting it.