It’s inspiring to see more women fight back against sexual harassment and injustice. This growing movement has seen powerful men like Harvey Weinstein brought down and outed as the creeps they are.
This wave of female empowerment is spreading around the world, although , Hong Kong is still in denial. Despite a growing number of women achieving great success and entering the halls of power, very few have spoken up about any abuse or injustice they’ve personally faced. I guess there’s no sexism here. Not!
You can’t miss the insulting and misogynistic messages on billboards and advertisements. Forget the obvious beauty and cosmetic ads promoting impossibly thin images while offering women Orwellian slogans like “less is more” and “change for chance”. This is a city where prominent businessmen and government officials still happily judge beauty pageants, broadcast as big TV specials.
Pick up any tabloid for a peek at the paparazzi voyeur obsession with upskirt pictures exposing starlets and actresses. Hong Kong is still very chauvinistic. Every chance it gets, it will look down on women – especially when we’re in a blouse bending over.
It also costs more to be female. Our clothes are more expensive. The same salon that charges guys HK$300 for a cut will want HK$1,200 for our hairstyling. In the personal product aisle, anything with lavender fragrance is automatically 25 per cent more than the same product that is ocean breeze scented.
The law that gives rural New Territories male heirs the right to property but denies the same right to female offsprings is still on the books. Equality only applies at taxi queues where no one believes in “ladies first” even when there’s just two of you in line.
Some of the sexism is subtle. As a professional woman and hobby fashionista, I am always stylishly dressed. But at important business events, older males constantly assume that I amsomeone’s wife, a mistress, a secretary or the company’s PR officer. At business dinners, servers put the Caesar salad in front of me because they assume I can’t possibly want the rare rib-eye steak. At the end of the business meals I organise, I have to frantically wave and make sure they give me the bill.
Institutional bias even shows up at the mall. They still can’t figure out how to distribute bathroom space so there isn’t always a long queue at the women’s side while men never have to wait for relief.
I say no more suffering in silence, not just when men get a little touchy and hands-y at the work conference cocktail. We need to speak up at the mall, in the MTR, when they use 14 year-old models to encourage us to lose weight, and most of all, when we’re the best candidate for the job promotion. It’s “Time’s Up!” for pay equity. We don’t need your free drinks on Ladies’ Nights. We’d rather buy our own.
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