I'm With Jennifer Lawrence, F-That to Being 'Adorable' at Work

“All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Hollywood, the home of movies featuring 50-year-old men and 20-year-old women, is still living out a double-standard when it comes to gender, but the above statement from Jennifer Lawrence shows just how pervasive it is.

The actor wrote about the reaction she faced at work when she spoke her mind: shock seemed to pervade the set that she had an opinion and wasn’t afraid to express it strongly. How sad that you can be worth millions of dollars, lead one of the most successful movie franchises in history and have won an Oscar, and yet still you need to worry about sounding “adorable” when stating your viewpoint.

Yet if you’re a working woman, you’ve probably thought the very same thing. A performance review where your driven, ambitious, competitive boss tells you that you’re too “aggressive”, is a situation that happens far too often to women.

In fact, research has already shown that it’s much more likely to happen to women than it is to men. We expect women to be sweet, understanding and, most important, likeable. It’s this last word that is our undoing, that stops us saying what we mean or feel and, in J-Law’s case, ends up with some of us being paid millions of dollars less to do the same job as our male colleagues.

And yet, just as we know that women who mind their manners, think about how they word their emails and don’t speak their minds are being financially punished, we also know that their blunter, firmer and more direct sisters also miss out. Behaviour that would be seen as assertive or commanding in men is baulked at in women, and out comes that label - aggressive.

Like J-Law, I want to be liked and I want to be seen as being a team player who is good at her job, but I get frustrated with people who don’t work at the same pace as me, I can be bloody-minded when I really want something to happen, and I get annoyed when things aren’t done to the correct standard. They’re qualities that could be seen as difficult, stubborn and demanding – or efficient, goal-orientated and, well yes, demanding.

It depends on how you want to look at it, and when it comes to women it seems that the world isn’t ready to see us as anything other than sugar and spice and all things nice.

The rational part of my brain tells me that we should accept this and try to work within the system. We should understand that our actions are viewed differently to men’s and we should adapt them accordingly. We should play the game to get ahead and then, when we’re winning, we can change the rules.

The problem with this though, is that I’ve met women who’ve been playing the game for decades. Some are even at the top of the career ladder – and yet they’re still not free to be themselves, they still have to censor their words and pick their battles.

So I’m with J-Law who says “fuck that” to trying to be brilliant at business and also “adorable”. The workplace should be about being respected rather than liked, and demanding or not, we all deserve some respect.


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