April 21, 2008

Ladies, What the Hell Is Up?

You know, I've been in this business of solo-web-practitioner for six years now, and a couple of decades on the agency and enterprise sides before that, and I've had my say about what's frustrating and wrong with the web 1.0 and 2.0 gender divide, and I've stood up and yelled foul when it was not in the best interest of my career to do so, and I've found myself in the middle of some of the biggest Internet dust-ups of all time, but I never thought I'd have to write a post asking what the hell is wrong with you?

Not all of the ladies; of course not.

I'm talking about the ones taking advantage of the other ones. And they are numerous.

I've already done the disinfecting; I'm well aware that I'm biting the hand that feeds me here. So let me continue.

Here goes the general, sweeping observation. You tell me if I'm wrong...

When men -- male CEOs or marketing heads or agency leads -- look for help on social media projects from women-owned businesses and/or consultants who happen to be women, they do not come looking to put us through sixteen hoops, a dozen or more what-SHOULD-HAVE-BEEN-billable hours, months of hemming and hawing, and eight attempts at trying it themselves only to come back and ask 'what do you think?' all before signing the statement of work.

They do not as a rule take the ideas you give them for free in the course of detailed proposal work and run off to implement them with a 'maybe later on we'll work together!' They generally do not expect, ask for, or anticipate freebies or unpaid time on our part simply because their project is the most super-coolest-omgzbbq that you have ever ever seen.

SO WHY THE HELL DO WOMEN expect these things of other women?

Why do women in these same roles -- women who know their female colleagues are trying to make a living -- ask something of them that they would never ask of a male consultant in the same business? The female CEO who expects free help from her sister consultants would not think of asking her brothers in business for those same freebies.

Why is that? Because she would get laughed at? Ignored? Turned away? Not taken seriously?

Really--tell me why?

Did I miss the secret handshake class?

Was I sick the day they taught that women in business should give away free to other women what they wouldn't to a man?

Is there a rule somewhere that says only the men I do business with understand that I need to get paid?

I'm telling you, I find it more infuriating and frustrating than ever in the techmeme world of gangs and bangs and winner take all, we can't depend on the women business owners who seek our services NOT to do us a disservice.