BUSINESS/FINANCE, GENDER POLITICS

Why you should cut “just” out of your emails

pomegranite logo jpeg.JPGBy Liz Fletcher of Pomegranite

Have you noticed how often you use the word “just” in a professional context, particularly emails? I’ve been thinking about why I use it so much in tricky situations and if it’s something that women use more than men.

I often find myself using it when I feel like I’m being annoying to a client (while I’m trying to do my job), for example, “I just wanted to check in with you about…” or “I’m just following up on…”. It makes the sentence feel like a smaller inconvenience, like what I’m really saying is “I’m sliding this tiny little thing it into your stack of to-dos but it’s not a big deal” while batting my eyelashes.

Using “just” helps to make me feel like I’m less of a nuisance. But I’m doing my job, so why should I want to feel like this? While it might seem like “just” smooths the path for requests, it also makes us appear small; it diminishes respect for our work and ourselves. Why shouldn’t we take up as much space in someone’s to-do list as anything else?

Compare the same phrases without “just”: “I’d like to check in with you about…” and “I’m following up on…”. Do you hear how much more clear and direct the requests are? It’s as if you’ve sat up straight while asking. That’s what a professional relationship should be.

Ellen Leanse, a former Google executive wrote a 2015 LinkedIn blog about the word “just”, when she noticed women (including herself) using it way more than men, and how she tackled it in her office. She began to notice that “just” wasn’t about being polite,

“it was a subtle message of subordination, of deference. Sometimes it was self-effacing. Sometimes even duplicitous. As I started really listening, I realized that striking it from a phrase almost always clarified and strengthened the message.”

Try this experiment, which we also did in our team. Search or read through your emails for the next couple of days and count the number of times “just” appears. Notice why you used it and how it changes the tone when you remove it. We were astounded by how often we use it and have committed to clarity and confidence by removing it.

IMG_8110Liz Fletcher is the co-owner of Pomegranite, a boutique online presence consultancy which she set up with her business partner Sarah Gurney, in 2013. The pair met studying English literature together at Rhodes University and grew the business through developing thoughtful storytelling on digital platforms.

The Pomegranite offices in Cape Town and Joburg service clients which are predominantly in the SME, NGO and education sectors.

Liz gets a kick out of bringing the magic out in her team and developing systems and plans that help the business run smoothly.

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EVENTS, GENDER POLITICS, LAW

Event: Developing Court Models in South Africa

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The Centre for Law and Society (UCT) in partnership with the Rape Survivors’ Justice Campaign takes great pleasure in inviting you to the panel on Developing Relevant Models for Specialised Sexual Offences Courts in South Africa.
The event will be presented under the CLS Hub, which aims to offer supportive spaces for engaged debates around critical socio-legal issues, and regularly hosts events, targeted at students, activists, academics and legal practitioners, that engage with critical issues in law and society.
The panelists will be Lisa Vetten (WITS City Institute), Aisling Heath (Gender Health and Justice Research Unit, UCT) and Karen Hollely (The Child Witness Institute). They will be presenting a summary of findings from their recent research on the sexual offences courts for an audience in which stakeholders from within the criminal justice system will be invited to play an active role when it comes to question time. The audience will also comprise Western Cape based NGO partners and activists as well as students and academics.
The event details are as follows:
Date: 26 April 2018
Time: 5:30 for 6:00 pm
Venue: Kramer Lecture Theatre 2, Level 2, Wilfred and Jules Kramer Law Building
Register for free and RSVP for catering at pbl-cls@uct.ac.za.
CURRENT AFFAIRS, GENDER POLITICS

Weekly feminist round up – 16 April 2018

Read

Kabelo Chabala writes that Mama Winnie was the epitome of a black African feminist here

What trigger warnings are and are not here

Molly Ringwald reflects on the Breakfast Club here

Does ‘Nice for What’ mark a new era for Drake? Find out here

Our Bodies, Ourselves is shelved, so what now? asks Jessica Valenti here

Junot Diaz writes about childhood trauma, the silence, and its impact on The New Yorker here

Tim Winton writes how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny here

Jen Thorpe, editor of Feminism Is, unpacks what it means to be feminist here

Jobs and Opportunities

Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) is looking for a consultant to conduct a mid-term review here

Mama Cash is looking for a short-term consultant here

Submit your essay for the Bodley Head prize here

Mothers to Mothers is looking for a research and strategic information manager here

Events

Come to the 5th Feminism Is book launch this Thursday in Cape Town. Details below

Feminism Is Cavendish Invite

Feel free to mail us with your opportunities, articles, events, ideas, books etc via feministssa@gmail.com

GENDER POLITICS, POLITICS

The Feminist Women’s Art Network Wants Your Opinion

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The Feminist Women’s Art Network would like to know your answers to these questions:

  1. What do you think of Bathabile Dlamini’s appointment as Minister of Women?
  2. What are your thoughts on the Women’s Ministry as a whole (before Dlamini even)?
  3. How do you think this is going to affect how women’s issues are dealt with? Do you see it being different?
  4. What message do you think the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa are giving Women in the country?
  5. What should we demand, how can we act to fix this?

Send your answers to them via Coordinator@1in9.org.za or ampstudio3@gmail.com

GENDER POLITICS

What would a world where women weren’t harassed look like?

By Jen Thorpe

This morning I finished reading Jessica Valenti’s Memoir Sex Object. The book is a collection of personal reflections on topics such as street harassment, abortion, drug use, sex, and child raising. Throughout, it explores the way that the world treats women, casting them as objects for men’s comment, pleasure, and enjoyment. It also explores the very powerful physical, psychological, and political effects this categorisation has. I found the book painful and difficult to read, not because of the writing but because of the content. Despite this difficulty, the book is important in that it raises important questions that we need to consider.

Valenti considers what it means for her to be raising a daughter in this world and the qualities that she would like her daughter to have. She wants her daughter to be brave, to still be the girl who wants the best part in the play when she’s older, and most of all she wants her not to have to endure the constant harassment, abuse, and assault that most women are exposed to on a daily basis. She wonders what it might be like if that was not the world that existed, and what women would believe about their own potential if we had the space to live our lives un-objectified.

It’s a powerful question that bears reflecting on in South Africa, where street harassment, domestic violence, sexual violence, abuse, and gender discrimination remain the norm. Sure, we have the laws that say it’s not allowed, and the Constitution says we all have the right to feel and be safe, but for most of us, those are just pieces of paper with good intentions.

Last year I spent three months out of the country on writing residencies. It was an amazing time, not least because I had uninterrupted time to write, and my meals were mostly cooked for me, which feels like #livingthedream. What I loved most about the residencies, that took place in two small towns, was my ability to walk alone, for long periods, on the road or in the wilderness, without being harassed. This simple pleasure, an hour long walk a day where I didn’t feel like I had to be afraid, where nobody said anything to me about how I looked or what I was doing alone, and where I could be in nature and consume the beauty of the natural world, was something that I treasured. It helped me sleep better. It helped me write better. It made me feel more human.

The first week back in South Africa after the first residency, I was sexually harassed by a man while walking down the street to visit some old work friends. When I ignored him, which is my instinctive reaction (sometimes my instinct is to keep walking with my middle finger in the air), he took the liberty of crossing the road in case it was a matter of his lewd suggestions being unheard rather than deliberately ignored. He wanted to make sure that I knew he was there, looking at me. It was only when a kind male stranger walked next to me and told him to go away that he stopped. But even this didn’t make me feel better – he didn’t stop because he realised it was vicious, destructive, or offensive to shout comments at me. He stopped because he believed I belonged to another man. I was still an object to him.

I’m at the age where I think about what it might mean to raise a little girl in this world and to be frank, it terrifies me. I wonder how I will tell her that she has the rights and power to do anything she puts her mind to, but simultaneously explain that she should also probably be hypervigilant when crossing the street at night or when choosing an intimate partner. I don’t know that this double-think double-living is psychologically tenable.

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where women could go on a walk every day for the sheer pleasure of it, and what women would be capable of doing if they were really free.