Don’t You Dare

After reading Rachel Andrew’s excellent post regarding “Women and the backchannel” I felt the need to respond. Rachel is always someone I have looked up to from a young age and her opinion is spot on.

Paul Boag has since released an excellent video regarding this, Criticise Work, Not People

Yesterday was the fabulous 200th Boagworld Podcast celebration, I think this is a huge achievement for Paul & Marcus and everyone who has been involved in the podcast in whatever capacity. I know a heck of a lot of work goes into each one and it’s all for the benefit of every single person in the industry, so hitting 200 episodes is something I applaud them for, the man hours of work must be astonishing.

I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of the 200th Boagworld Show and have known about my appearance since just after Christmas, I had no idea who else would be speaking or what we would be speaking on but just to be asked to be a part of their special celebration was an honor for me. I don’t want what I’m about to say to have any effect on the superb day that everyone put together, this should by no means take the shine off a fantastic 12 hours of broadcasting.

Boagworld 200th Show courtesy of Ryan TaylorPhoto courtesy of Ryan Taylor

Fast forward to yesterday, 12th February 2010 – my slot was at 3pm just after the fab Relly and between Andy Clarke. I made the decision after tuning in earlier in the day to turn the USteam Chat off completely while I was on air, the comments had been juvenile to say the least and were just uncalled for.

I was happy with my portion of the show, came off-air and was surprised to see so many Twitter @replies stating that many people had been disappointed with some of the comments of the members of the UStream chat room.

NB. My favourite light hearted comment was from Ben Bodien who DM’d just before I went live saying “The chatroom people are getting all excited, wear a conservative jumper or something”

Unbeknown to everyone, I had also sent out a message to my clients at the start of the day letting them know it was on and which speakers might be most useful for them to also tune into, Relly was one of those on that list and luckily I was straight after so they all stayed tuned in in order to see me as well, I also had many non-web friends watching. My friends obviously weren’t backwards in coming forward in telling me exactly what some people had said after I came off air.

Suffice to say, they weren’t impressed with some of the comments being thrown around the chat room and I almost felt like I had to justify my position in the industry to them. I always promised that the first comment to ever come out of someones mouth that I am where I am because of the “way I look” (their words not mine), that I would come down like a ton of bricks on that person.

I started my business at the age of 19, with £1000 that I had saved from my £100 a week job in acting at the time, that’s every single penny I could save from my £400/month job going into a little fund in order to buy a decent computer, desk, printer, stationery and basic chair from IKEA. Aside from not having money to go out and do things a normal 19 year old wanted to do, I was also working every hour god sent in order to build up to a sustainable income that would support me in what I wanted to do. I missed out on countless nights out with my friends, rarely saw my bed before 3am every night and forwent the normal trips to Topshop, nightclubs and restaurants in order to be a part of an industry I knew I would love.

I have never had anything handed to me on a plate, I come from a very working class family who have built up their business from scratch, my Grandfather passed on his business expertise to me and that’s where the fire in my belly comes from, not from the way I look and me thinking it’s a free pass to success.

I’m now 26, I’ve been a part of this industry for many years and to now have people think I am where I am because of the way I look, is frankly an insult. I work my socks off and the fact that is recognised by various people is a wonderful thing of which I’m always appreciative.

I can only assume if you were one of those making the comments yesterday, you have no idea of my background, my work ethics or indeed me as a person. So, don’t you dare say I am where I am because of the “way I look” as I’d love you to rewind, look that 19 year old girl in the eye who missed out on so much and tell her not to bother, as our industry is going to be a fickle, hard place for a woman to try and be a part of and that it’s you that’s going to make it hard. Quite frankly, I’ve always been a stubborn and determined so and so and I would have probably ignored you anyway, just like I did yesterday. The only reason I’m not ignoring it now is so that I can stomp it out before it happens again.

I realise on the flip side I also had a lot of support and people telling these commenters where to go so, thank you for that if you were indeed one of those.

We all need to pull together and stomp this kind of thing out of our industry, it’s not clever, it’s not nice and it’s just not productive. I’m not going on a big women’s rights campaign or anything like that but we do deserve to be here just as much as you fellas whether you like it or not AND whatever we look like without the need to justify it.