Blog /14 Października 2016

Unequally on Equality

Let us imagine that we want to change something: a situation that is uncomfortable or unjust for the people involved. First, we complain, and only later do we outline a picture of an ideal situation together, and finally, we begin to work on achieving such conditions. Speaking about inequality is the first stage of a long-term emancipation process; a criticism of the current situation precedes a postulatory vision of the future, which is understandable. However, speaking about "gender inequality in the Polish marketing industry through the eyes of its representatives" invalidates any valuable initiative that such a title could have been conveying. After all, we, the representatives, also have a lot of to say on this matter.

New Marketing has undertaken an ambitious task: a questionnaire conducted among people from the industry, where they talk about gender in/equality in the world of broadly understood advertising. These statements refer to the published report on the SAR study "Women and men in the industry of marketing communication in Poland". The point is not to hunt signs of their linguistic ignorance and prove that the language we use creates a certain specific image of the world, but rather to indicate a more general diagnosis that emerges from the collected statements. This collective diagnosis declaimed in a chorus of female and male voices suggests that women are people, too, that their numbers are increasing on the labour market and in the industry, and that employers finally focus on competences rather than gender. People repeat slogans once heard somewhere from a distance with great emphasis and take them as their own: "gender is of no importance" (Tadeusz Żórawski), "business has no gender" (Anita Kijanka), "gender should remain in the background" (Anita Chabrowska-Karpińska). Of course, the disputants' tendency to generalise does not prevent them from praising individualism (we're talking about markets and profits, after all!), and even adding a pinch of sensitivity: everything should depend on a given person, individual predispositions and his/her (his more often than her) life situation. Indeed, gender is not reflected in any of these elements, it is not relevant for selection of roles and social and professional predispositions!

Instead of strictly linguistic analyses, it would be more significant to review the cause-and-effect relations building the logical structures of those statements. Above all, the situation is crawling with substantive errors: parity does not equal discrimination - the two notions originate from completely different orders (see my opinion in another debate), women were not the most unused economic potential in the world (see Silvia Federici's book), feminisation of the industry does not yet imply gender privileges. The report that – as reports do – is supposed to constitute an illustration of certain mechanisms sorting and driving social activities (after all, work is a social activity!) could be used as an auxiliary tool in the analysis of the reasons for such a state of affairs and in postulating introduction of solutions that could change it. However, the survey shows that schematic visions of the world, the results of which can be seen in the form of the reported numbers, are deeply ingrained in the formulas of argumentation and in the applied linguistic forms. For this reason, most presented statements do not constitute an analytic or critical commentary, but rather a verbal illustration reproducing the sad statistics. It seems that the industry doesn't understand what the basic notions mean, it is not aware that advertisement is not a space of activities stuck in an asocial vacuum, and that people working in this industry are not androgenic creatures from a sci-fi story (c'mon, even in Westworld artificially created humans are attributed specific gender, sexual orientation and social role!).

We can get surprised each time the female forms of words are used, which won the monopoly in the Polish language (pedagożka? zwyciężczyni?). But we can also at the same time support each other in our differences. What does it mean? In NoMonday, it means specifically that: pregnant women, who are employed while pregnant [sic!], work on a comfortable couch, women (in general) openly participate in #czarnyprotest - the black protest (because they want to, because they can), they are not the ones to ceremonially clean the coffee machine. They themselves also do not have a problem with baking a cake for the Boy's Day, because they don't bang their heads against any glass ceilings and don't struggle to cross any thresholds.

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Monika Glosowitz / account executive