To make your place in business, you can play elbows the old-fashioned way, bump into each other often, start over… or read Myriam Cohen-Welgryn’s book, a feminist and joyful manifesto full of advice on how to flourish without crushing anyone. Selected pieces.
It is a hybrid book, between a graphic novel and a feminist feminist punch line that is funny and guilt-free, a practical manual and a masterful life lesson. And you’ll dare to step out of the frame! is above all an invigorating call to order, intended for working girls of all generations who want to make their professional life a beautiful and rich adventure, without atavistic renunciations or glass ceilings. Myriam Cohen-Welgryn composes a new score, questioning French grammar and its “law of gravity of the untimely masculine” as well as our collective gender unconscious woven of “ancestral prejudices” and other “abyssal apprehensions”. And basing its demonstration on two fundamental and non-negotiable principles: freedom “for women, to have unrestricted access to all functions”, and equity in the workplace “to re-establish an unjustifiable imbalance”. Below are six pieces of advice given in this book.
1 – Become aware of the law of gravity n° 1: the law of the untimely masculine
“When we learn English, we are unknowingly subjected to the law of gravity of the untimely masculine. This law, which is implicit and unwritten, conditions men and women to the idea that men are worth more than women. In particular, it corrupts the rules of grammar (gender agreement) as well as the gender of the names themselves. To thwart the gravitational effect of this law, one must become aware of its existence and then, because that is not enough, ostensibly and noisily refuse to apply the rules contaminated by it. This propagates awareness (oil stain propagation). Note that the cacophony that results from this subversion is often joyful”.
2 – Circumventing the crocodile theory
“When I first started working […] in my department, we recruited as many women as men. And then, as I progressed, I realized that women were disappearing around me. …] To describe this reality, you have to use the crocodile theory. A theory that took me an infinite amount of time to understand. The crocodile is a cold-blooded animal whose temperature does not regulate itself. To keep warm, it must find an environment where it is warm. In the wild, it takes up positions along sunny banks. In the city, he particularly selects companies where he is sure to find warmth. Once on the spot, he will REGISTER in all layers of chefitude! It seems hard to believe. But it’s totally proven! […] A company where women disappear in altitude is a company where it is not good to live.”
3 – Approving the quota law
“At the beginning, I had naively rebelled against this idea that I found hallucinating. …] It’s because I hadn’t yet understood that all these things that are said without saying them, in the course of a sentence in a children’s book, these stories of giraffes and crowned lions, of roses coming out of the mouths of girls and of male chords, left indelible marks. […] Now I know that the giraffe is a white goose that lets itself be devoured by the king of the jungle and that you have to put tiger in its software. Now I know that the brakes are as much in the heads of women as they are in the heads of men. Above all, I know that women also have to change. As much, if not more, as men. …] Quotas tell schoolteachers around the world that no, it’s not like that! It must not be. They tell our dear academics that respect for the neutrality of functions is not neutral. The rule of the generic masculine is an abusive rule, had it been supported by Claude Lévi-Strauss. It has been turning giraffes into white geese for more than four hundred years. And contrary to what our academics want to say about it, we cannot wait for usage to force the rule. Because the rule biases the use.”
4 – Choose your “he” well to find your “ikigai”.
“What could be more decisive than designating the person with whom to share one’s life in order to fulfill oneself in one’s work and blossom in life itself? An expression that says it all, in a few words. The one who will know, far from putting us in a cage, how to make us grow wings and, like a tuning fork, help us find our “the”. […] The Japanese have invented this extraordinary concept which is called ikigai and which seems to me to be a magnificent guide! A word suitcase composed of ikiru, which means “to live”, and kai, “the realization of what one hopes for” – one of the most beautiful words there is. Together, the two words mean “a reason to live”, or the idea of having found meaning in life.”
5 – Question the nomination window
“The biological clock creates an incompressible window. The average age of women at the birth of their first child in 2015 is 28.5 years. Births are then spread out over the next ten years (95% of births take place before women are 40). Professional expertise is acquired in the first fifteen years of employment, between the ages of 20 and 40. …] Appointments to senior management positions are most often made within a restricted age window, between the ages of 35 and 45. After the age of 45, everything happens as if, in companies, individuals were hit with an invisible and unofficial expiration date, a Deadline for Nomination (DLN). …] The natural window of opportunity for births cannot be negotiated. […] It is therefore necessary to question the nomination window!”
6 – Dare to be yourself or why I wear red glasses
“It was during an end-of-year interview, I must have had five or six years of experience. My manager told me that I was soon going to be eligible for line functions where I had to be “co-opted” by management to represent the company. He also added, after some prevarication, that my red glasses were a bit inappropriate: by their misplaced originality, they risked damaging my credibility. There was a “savoir-être” to be observed. He suggested that I choose a model that was a little less visible. I had to conform. Conform? It was a real questioning. Did I have to train myself? Not only did I not take off my red glasses, but I wore them with panache, assuming them. Claiming them, even. …] They became a visual signature that still characterizes me today. The symbol of what I was and wanted to continue to be. The symbol of a view of life that prides itself on being unprejudiced, iconoclastic and full of fantasy.”