hui wen (avatar)
updated 4 months ago
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If you are a woman, please read this.

So based on conservative estimation, today should be the last day I am EP. πŸ™Š

(It has been a fun ride, thank you for all your love! ❀️)

I was thinking what should I write for my last post as the Chosen One (obviously still on a Harry Potter high 🀣)...

Share about the styled rooms Soirée Lab did at Colony? Share some #Azorias outfits so you have a better idea of our style? #HIMMH post? Write about my proposal (one of you asked about this-- nope, I haven't written about this before πŸ˜…)?

But then it hit me.

I need to share something that I have been thinking about a lot... Especially right now, when I can reach out to those of you whom I normally can't.

PS: I have to apologize in advance if this post may seem disjointed at parts, as I am still trying to recollect my thoughts for it. Bear with me. :)

********************************************************

I think it first started when I read about Sophia Amoruso's divorce about 1 year ago.

Sophia Amuroso is the founder of Nasty Gal, one of the fastest-growing online stores in the world at one point. A lot has changed at Nasty Gal since, but I believe her success is an inspiration to most fashion start-ups, including myself.

Her divorce came as a huge shock to myself, coz Sophia Amoruso seemed like she had everything in the world going for her.

Shortly after that, another successful female entrepreneur that I follow on on social media also announced her divorce.

I couldn't help but wonder (just call me Carrie Bradshaw πŸ€£πŸ’πŸ»)...

Can't women have a career AND love/ family at the same time?

Growing up, I was brought up to believe that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. This was probably one of the first times it really occurred to me that as a woman, it is not as easy as it seems...

****

I started thinking about this when a mini drama imploded on the internet-- I mentioned my thoughts here: @revelinme:150916. One of my dearest friends faced much hatred and bitterness-- because she was considered "more privileged".

Even when she bravely admitted her near-shave with depression earlier this year-- there were still judgements that she has no right to feel this way as "she has helpers".

Aah, judgement. From fellow women, no less.

****

Maybe it is when I read about the recent exposé in Silicon Valley-- about how women entrepreneurs faced harassment and sexism, to the extent that venture capitalists ask for sexual favors in exchange for a capital injection.

We are talking about extremely capable and bright women (it is fair to say that only the fittest will survive in Silicon Valley)-- the crème de la crème. And yet, men who are richer or more successful will still think of them as objects-- merely to toy with or to conquer.

****

Let's call her A.

A is a high performer at work, constantly closing in the most deals and surpassing targets. She is fiercely independent, not afraid to speak her mind, and can drink and cuss with the guys.

However, she was denied a promotion because of her behavior-- talking back to your peers, drinking, cussing are considered "un-ladylike". As such, her bosses felt that she acts inappropriately at work, despite her sterling track record.

Ironically, if A is a man, no one would bat an eyelid at her behavior. She would have been promoted in a jiffy based on her merits.

Gender stereotypes are real, guys.

****

I had a conversation with a girlfriend that really made me think....

She was going to have a baby soon, but she would need to return to work after her maternity leave ends. Being a stay-at-home mom is not an option, as they need dual-income to maintain their household.

Her BEST option was actually to send her baby to a full-time child care-- aka she only take her baby back for the weekends. This is hardly an ideal situation, but it was her best alternative.

It's really tough for a woman to choose her trade-offs...

****

Hubby just started his MBA recently; he was lucky enough to be accepted into one of the top programs in the world.

I am always interested in people's motivations and thought processes that guide their actions-- so we chatted a lot about the demographics of his class.

There are less than 30% of women in the program. Virtually ALL the Asian women in the program are single.

Food for thought?

****

I have learned so much about motherhood just by reading #dayremummies #dayremums entries. Am always so amazed and in awe with how much you all sacrifice-- irregardless whether you are a SAHM or a FTWM. So props to you all! 😊

I do have chats with girlfriends who ultimately choose to be a SAHM-- women who are highly intellectual; who could make significant contribution to her industry/ community; who could potentially be the movers and shakers of the world.

It is really noble to take a step back to care and nurture your family. But at the same time, I do feel sad that our community/ world lose a talent like this. πŸ˜”

I will be very frank that I am not here today to discuss women vs careers, but I AM interested to have this discussion:

For those of you who said that something's gonna give (aka a job/ career), would your mindset/ decision change if your workplace/ peers/ industry are more understanding towards your role as a mom? And if the right infrastructure (internal daycare, flexible hours, ability to work remotely etc.) is in place to support your role?

*********************************************************

Above is a non-exhaustive list of my observations... Recently, when I met @sweatlee, we talked about the modern woman's roles and woes; and she also introduced me to this article called "Why women still can't have it all"-- written by an accomplished politician in the States.

Trade-offs between relationship/ family, sexual harassment and being objectified by the opposite sex, gender stereotypes, gender inequality...

On top of all that...

And I am not just referring to the constant shaving and primping, the cat-calling, or the pressure to be a UK6.

It's also things like...

If we get married we want someone else to provide for us or we’re just playing house or we’ve decided our dreams aren’t worth pursuing. If we don’t get married, it’s because we aren’t attractive.

If we wear makeup we care what other people think. If we don’t wear makeup we’re apathetic spinsters who’ve given up on love.

If we cry, we’re emotional basket cases, at the mercy of our torrential hormones and if we don’t cry, we’re cold-hearted bitches incapable of feeling anything significant.

If we’re heavyset we’re lazy homebodies with zero self-esteem, self-determination and self-worth. If we’re thin we’re suffering from a hidden eating disorder.

If we like sports we’re trying to be “one of the guys” and if we don’t like sports we’re too feminine to be interesting.

If we’re on birth control we’re promiscuous whores who’ve been around a few blocks and are incapable of commitment. If we get knocked up we’re morons who, apparently, can’t take advantage of our society’s medical achievements.

If we have children we’re giving up on our personal ambitions and no longer care about our bodies and have decided to only live for our offspring. If we don’t have children we’re selfish narcissists who will later live a life of complete and utter regret while our thirteen cats wait for us to die.

If we had a natural birth we’re trying to prove something and if we had an epidural and/or C-section we’re weak women, afraid to trust our bodies.

If we are stay-at-home moms we’re lazy parasites, sucking the life out of our significant other’s bank account while eating entire bags of Doritos in a single sitting. If we decide to return to work, well, we shouldn’t have had a child in the first place.

If we breastfeed we’re drawing unnecessary attention to ourselves and if we bottle feed we’re selfish women who’ve been duped by society into thinking our bodies are nothing if not sexualized.

[above 10 points are paraphrased from a Huffington Post article coz they are so apt!!]

Anyone who has ever faced any of the aforementioned (cat-calling and shaving included), please raise your hands?

Phew, it is tough being a woman eh.

And judgement.

Women get so much of this...

And guess by who? Yep, women.

In the recent months since I have became interested in modern society's women's roles, it became stark to me that quite often, women's harshest critic/ nemesis is... women.

The "competitor" who made snide remarks at me upon discovering that I was venturing into event styling..

The mother groups who judge fellow mothers because of difference in methods of bringing up their babies...

The woman boss who chose to intimidate instead of mentoring her (female) juniors...

And even closer to "home"-- our Dayre-verse whereby various dramas were initiated by women ; judgement is passed on people's choices including how they spend their money, what they feed their kids, where they travel to, how they plan their wedding...

An example of how labels or judgments can be formed:

How many of you label me as an airhead because I wear nice clothes, am in the fashion industry, and carry designer bags?

Some do.

Just a run-through-- I was a top student all my life, almost became a doctor, then be a top performer in an international firm, before coming out to start my own business.

Hardly airhead material-- although I am not afraid to admit I have a bimbotic side, and I love bimbo Hui Wen too. My point is, humans are multi-faceted, and it is incredibly shallow to judge on what little you know or see.

Another case that is close to home-- my sister, Jing. This is the first time I (in fact, both of us) are speaking up on this. I have seen jibes made on Dayre about how she managed to accumulated a respectable amount of savings by swiping our dad's supplementary card (a joke that she made).

True, my dad did give us a supplementary card when we studied overseas; but it was meant as emergency funds since we would be miles and miles away from home. Furthermore, the card is capped (to quite a small amount wtf). So she still saved bulk of her savings on her own. But we didn't feel the need to clarify anything because hey, you do you, we do us.

In short, it really saddens me when I see incidents like this.

Someone commented below that women are the harshest critics of women because "what we criticize in others is what we criticize in ourselves"; we judge in other women what we ourselves have been criticize for.

This is an interesting viewpoint, and I think it could be true to a certain extent.

HOWEVER.

I don't think we should allow women to hide behind this poetic notion to be unkind. There ARE women who just judge other women based on surface observations and form unfair conclusions. They may even try to bring them down.

There are many reasons why such judgement may arise-- when they have opposing opinions, when they make different decisions, competitiveness (there are research to show that women is the more competitive gender as compared to men), or even "envy" or comparison bias as mentioned by @charlottewangwang in her recent post, which I thought may ring true for most of us, especially with the rise of social media.

Firstly, as cliched as it sounds, every human is different. Even from a scientific viewpoint-- as a general evolutionary rule, diversity is important to reduce too much competition for any one goal-- so we are MEANT to be different.

Secondly, humans are complex beings, we are formed by intricate intercrosses of our upbringing, education, experiences, culture etc.

I will give you an example, one that directly relates to this post.

In this post, I asked about the possibility of having a career and a family at the same time.

Many of you adamantly said it is not possible, or you would choose not to. And there are so many reasons for it-- a demanding career awaits you, being brought up by a stay-at-home mom yourself, a colicky/ difficult baby, a supportive/ insistent husband, difficulty of finding help, your own family is outstation...

And I will be frank to you all that personally, for myself I would want to have a family and still work. And there are many reasons for MY personal opinion:

My parents work full-time as we were growing up, and we were brought up with the care of a helper, under the supervision of my grandparents; and we turned out great kids. Also, I really value my (financial) independence-- I have seen many friends/ acquaintances of my parents go through situations of infidelity/ divorce and the woman was left helpless.

But don't you see it? My opinion/ decision was formed from a complex web of MY own learnings, observations, teachings from others and experiences.

Likewise, it is the same for you. I will respect your decision, and I hope you respect mine. No single opinion or decision is one dimensional, and I think it is really unfair for people to judge based on whatever surface information they see.

Diversity is to be be celebrated, and respected.

Women supporting women

Anyway, I am coming to one of the main points of this post...

It was necessary for me to illustrate some of the situations above, because I wanted you all to see that the challenges that the modern woman face is real, girls-- we are ALL in the same boat. So let's stop the judging, competing, bitching, backstabbing, and work together to uplift each other.

I have been lucky to be surrounded by inspiring, supportive women. However, there are two recent profound instances that I want to share with you all:

(1)

It was during car ride to Ipoh our #competitiveaunties staycation...

We were in the car chatting about our careers, and we touched on the subject of our blogs-- which for the most of us, provide a small side income.

What happened then was an earnest conversation to help each other improve our blogs-- sincere feedback and genuine suggestions on blog topics, positioning, self-image and branding...

Slowly we delved into deeper subjects on our individual careers and how we could improve further...

I remember lying down on my reclined leather seat and just watched the magic happen. The sincerity from each girl was... moving. This is one of the most superficial, competitive (female-dominated) industries (the "influencers", oh god, I hate this word)-- I have seen with my own eyes just how fake and manipulative some social media folks can be.

Yet here I was, witnessing with my own eyes-- each girl genuinely wants the other girl to do well and succeed.

It was beautiful to watch. And I thought to myself, if only every female alliance is like this, the world will have to watch out for some serious girl power!

(2)

I have been toying with the idea of venturing into event-styling for close to a year, but I just didn't have the guts to take the first step.

One day, our #competitiveaunties Whatsapp group started vibrating...

Audrey: Careen! How is your decorator for Tyler's birthday ah? Good ah?

Careen: Oh ok ah! Why ya?

Audrey: Oh, can I have the contact ah? My friend is having her wedding and is looking for a decorator.

(at this point I realized that the conversation has nothing to do with me, and I turned back to my work)

When I turned back to our chat moments later, this greeted me:

@careen actually shared my contact as the "very good decorator".

😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

Whilst this act may seem small to her-- but with the girls' encouragement, I eventually met up with the friend in question, and I scored our first event-styling job-- before Soirée Lab has even started.

Such a cliched saying, some may say.

But how can I say this is naive or cliched when I personally have been on the receiving end of this??

*******************************************************

In the last year or so, I have definitely seen myself being more conscious about supporting women.

It could be something as simple as dissecting a relocation/ career switch with a girlfriend-- literally analyzing every pro and con, for the hope that she gets the learning curve and salary adjustments that she deserve.

It was the researching and strategizing when a close friend contemplated to make a risky decision that could potentially make her lose everything she has built up carefully. I mean, I could think "it's her life", and let her be; but I took it one step further. I literally researched and sent her articles to substantiate the pros and cons. She subsequently made a decision that she is much happier for.

It is things like recommending @fourfeetnine to a start-up as my choice influencer during a short consulting stint. I literally put my hand over my heart and said, "you won't regret this". Or things like poring over logos and fonts with @careen when she was in the midst of setting up #TheWhiteAtelier.

It's not just showing support for women in my inner circle, I endeavored to extend my support outside of it as well. As much as possible, I try to engage passionate, bright women for #Azorias jobs-- photographers, make-up artist, designers, IT... I make strong recommendations to potential employers for women I believe in, or at least try to match both parties for a possible opportunity to work together.

How can women support women?

Like I mentioned earlier, we are literally in the same boat. As women, we ALL face the same set of challenges in the modern society. But I strongly believe that each of us can take little steps, even in our daily lives, and work together to uplift our position.

Here are some ways:

1) Related to what I mention above-- Don't slander women. Don't bitch, don't bash, don't judge, don't backstab, don't gossip. If you have to do it, do it in your "safe zone".

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

This is one of hubby's favorite mantra. πŸ˜… And whilst I think it is a bit harsh, it does keep me in check. I will admit, I like to indulge in gossip and mindless chatter once in awhile-- but I make sure that I only do it with my utmost inner circle. Ultimately it is just for me to air my grievances or to let loose with some harmless gossip, but I don't harp on it-- how people lead their lives is none of my business.

If you have an issue with someone in real life-- talk to them and handle it like an intelligent woman. If you have an issue with someone on social media-- please refer to the quote above.
πŸ‘†πŸ»Don't be a "small mind". πŸ˜… Focus on yourself-- on being the best version of yourself; focus on causes bigger than yourself-- I assure you this is much more fulfilling.

2) Don't say things that suggest women are inferior to men.

Like someone mentioned below, don't say things like "I prefer to work for men bosses", or "women bosses are bitches". 🀦🏻‍♀️ Or things like "women [insert occupation]" are not as good as men [insert occupation]l. 🀦🏻‍β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»‍β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»‍♀️

As I mentioned above, your opinion is formed based on YOUR experiences/ observations-- it is not the norm or rule. So please don't say sweeping statements like that, because it makes a fellow sister so much harder to rise in her career!!!

If women don't believe that women are capable, how can we ever achieve greatness?

3) Help to cultivate a culture of "Family first/ Family is important" at your work place.

I say culture because it is not enough to just have breastfeeding rooms or childcare service at the office-- ultimately the whole CULTURE of the workplace has to change.

"My kid is sick, I need to leave" shouldn't be said with a drooped head and in a whisper. Ideally everyone should be supportive of anyone prioritizing their family AND trusting that parents will still work to their best capability. And I refer to both men and women for this.

If you are a boss or someone at managerial level, help to implement this culture. Emphasize on team work and family values. Celebrate staff who prioritize family, don't shame them. Help to incorporate ways that allow people to work efficiently and flexibly-- video calls, remote working etc.

Even if you are a junior staff in office, you can do your part too to change the culture. For example, earnestly cover a colleague when she is away on maternity leave or has to take emergency leave for her kids. Don't say things like "Aiya, she disappear again la coz of her kids. Every time also like this...". Do it willingly and sincerely, because hey, you may be a working mom in the future and need the same understanding and help.

Likewise, it works both ways. I think working moms have to NOT abuse the system as well. If help and understanding is extended to you from your workplace, please make sure you still pull your weight at work. No half-hearted attempts or half-arsed work, because it makes employers weary of hiring moms.

Please girls, let's all work on this together-- single, married, with or without kids .

4) If you are a mom, or ever be a mom, raise sons that support and respect women.

Expose them to housework and chores, encourage them to empathize with others, stop attributing gender to behavior (e.g. "boys will be boys"), expose them to a variety of role models of both men and women, teach them healthy sexuality. Include your husband in this as well-- a husband who respects and supports his wife is the best role model. 😊

If you have a daughter... Be a supportive, encouraging mom. Don't body shame her, or compare her to other girls her age. My mom was guilty of this occasionally, and I know how much it hurts. So don't do this. Love her, encourage her, equip her with the wings to fly and chase her dreams.

5) Remember that you represent the whole womankind.

Have you ever seen an emotional woman going batshit crazy, and everyone goes "yerrr, don't mess with women. They are all crazy!". Or a full-fledged drama/ catfight happens, and people say "Women damn drama. Always in bitch fights!"

The truth is, how you act, reflects the entire women population. When you are shallow or have no substance, women are labeled as "bimbos". When you are petty or calculative, women are labeled as vindictive or ε©†ε¦ˆ. When you gossip incessantly, women are labeled as bitchy. Remember I said we are in the same boat? The words ring truer than ever.

Before you speak or act, think whether that really represents women in the right way?

Bitching/ gossiping (am so sorry I keep using this example, but women are definitely more guilty of this. Based on my observation, men rarely gossip; or at least men with a purpose don't) makes women look like small-minded people who are incapable of bigger tasks than themselves.

Being emotional at work is not a good idea. I have seen girls who cried at work after a chiding from superiors-- not ideal. Whether it is a display of temper or a bout of tears, it doesn't shed a positive light on you. If you are really upset about something, go to the toilet to calm yourself down. If employers view women as unstable, emotional team members, they will be hesitant to make them leaders.

Basically what I am suggesting here is an awareness of how you are presenting yourself to the world at large.

******************************************************

Above are just some examples of how women can support women, and is by no means a comprehensive list. I did however intentionally focus on ways that we can do so, right here right now, in our daily lives. 😊

I am just a simple girl who don't have the means to change policies or legislations, but I know we can all support a fellow girlfriend (and beyond!!) in our own little ways. 😊

To be honest, I am probably not as affected in the gender-related challenges I mentioned above-- I have a flexible job, I mainly deal with women in my work; and when I do deal with men I am usually the paymaster wtf (so I don't really get sexism or discrimination).

However, I still feel the need to talk about this subject coz I am doing it for my sisters who are in the professional/ corporate world and may face gender discrimination, for my girlfriends who desperately want to return to the workforce after a baby, for my daughter if I ever have one, and for you all-- all my fellow women whom inspire me so much.

Yes, women inspire me so much in the the way we handle our multiple roles in the modern society. We can be kicking ass at our jobs, and the next minute nurturers with our kids-- literally wiping a long string of drool, and then become a cheerleader for our spouse, playing a supporting role and easing his work burden, and then hugging a girlfriend and offering her consolation.

We do it with so much grace and love, and even when days seem tough or long, we always pull through. Women are tough as hell, and we really deserve more credit, don't you think?

And with that, I am going to end this post with a reminder to focus (and judge) a little less on our fellow sisters-- a little compassion and understanding goes a long way; and instead work on all our different roles as a woman, and do it to our best ability. And remember, when women support women, incredible things happen!!

Day 216

Friday, 4 Aug 2017

1650 81
christinengt (avatar)

christinengt It impossible. In sg working world, it is unspoken that when a mother takes maternity leave, promotion will be put on hold, in some companies for 2 years. There are many instances that working mothers lose out on overseas working trip, attachment, etc..

4 months ago

sherlynloo (avatar)

sherlynloo It's really not possible. Someone has to take a step back.

4 months ago

mystories27 (avatar)

mystories27 Hi Hui Wen I rarely comment but this is a topic close to my heart! Women can have it all but we also need to prioritise what is important to us! At some point it may be motherhood, at another career! It requires a good support system as well! Women are hardest with each other, we should change this and instead support one another! I recommend reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg if you haven't already! We can only try our hardest now and for our children's generation :)

4 months ago

mystories27 (avatar)

mystories27 Sorry for all the exclamation marks, like I mentioned this is a topic I am very passionate about :)

4 months ago

fivefeetfive (avatar)

fivefeetfive Not really possible, unless u have a very solid family support (inlaws, parents helping u to take care of kids), which u can rely on them 100%. If not, either one of you got to take a step back. Normally is the mum, unless wife earns more. Hardly we see father taking a step back lah.

4 months ago

ferreroroche (avatar)

ferreroroche All of us only have 24 hours a day so definitely there is opportunity cost in doing something. You cannot have it all.

4 months ago

experimenttheeast (avatar)

experimenttheeast Very topical. In Scandinavia where I worked, they have a lot of things worth considering. Not only maternity leave but paternity leave, so there is no stigma with men taking significant time off to be with their children. Personally, we find that it requires very close communication. Both parents can't be traveling at the same time, one job has to be more static. Where possible to outsource e.g. Cleaning, why not! We only have 24 hours in a day, and I would like to prioritize baby, my husband, family, friends while still doing work that motivates me. Realistically, once kids come into the picture, both sides would have to consider if the environment of their respective jobs can flex; or if it's better to switch to a role that allows for greater flexibility. What's interesting is the environment that we grew up in, if it's automatically assumed that the mother will take a back seat, you will likely skew towards that too. But if you grew up in an environment where you saw your father take a back seat too, then youd probably be more open to the prospect (as a male)

4 months ago

roseline (avatar)

roseline when i discussed a similar topic with my bf, he pointed out that women have to give in more because of biological reasons like the baby is more attached to the mother and the mother can do things beneficial for the baby unlike the father (e.g. breastfeed). I don't really know how to retaliate this point but i think women are just stereotyped to need to be the one who sacrifices more, not because of such 'biological' reasons but because of stereotypes and gender inequality.

4 months ago

twofronteeth (avatar)

twofronteeth Hi! I like how you go from the topic of your extremely gorgeous wedding which may seem a girly topic and then today to a more serious one, which I m excited to read more about! This topic has been really on my mind lately and I believe many many women's too. Kudos to you hui wen :)

4 months ago

yltan (avatar)

yltan I've always felt that working remotely should always be an option at any workplace! I think the world has evolved in such a way that working remotely is possible. I know that in future if I ever become a mother, I would love to work at home or anywhere else convenient if the need arises as long as there's Internet!

4 months ago

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