Women who know their place

The Goggenheim
The Goggenheim

Acromity is the word used to describe the height different between a guy and his girlfriend. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, for instance, have negative acromity.

So explained Miss Grace Exley of The Goggenhiem on Friday night. Quite frankly, only a tall women would understand the need for such a word, and only a tall woman with unerring confidence would be able to express it. And it was this woman, with cohesive and unquestionable presence who perfectly rounded off my week of wonderful women who know their place.

Sitting at the table

I spent Thursday evening in the presence of around 30 confident and accomplished women with whom I could relate to not only professionally but personally as well. These women who sit atop the corporate ladder still laugh, occasionally watch trash on Netflix and talk about men and dating. Like me, they also struggle with the risk of disillusionment that the entrenched and immoveable male domination of the working world permanently poses to any woman with open eyes.

As I sipped my wine, and tentatively tasted my Bluebird creme brûlée I heard one particularly disheartening anecdote from a woman now working next to board level in a major banking group:

Around 20 years ago she had been sponsored by a bank to do her finance degree, and during her work placement had gone to the local pub where all the training-traders and budding-bankers hung out. She was, of course, the only woman in there.

A few months ago she returned to that same haunt, still a favourite of the local learners, and looking around she realised the was still the only woman in the entire establishment.

At once, she knew her place.

It's continuing to make sure everyone at the highest corporate level in her banking group, including herself, is permanently uncomfortable. If they're not then they're just hiring mini versions of themselves and the gender imbalance will never be redressed.

Closer to home

While my week actually contained quite a few women of exceptional self-location, I am choosing to highlight those that packed the most uplifting punch, which is why I am now moving on to my fabulous friend who had the happy honour of being my first official houseguest for the weekend.

A working woman, studying in her spare time for a Master's degree she is also married and working to renovate the house they bought and moved into three months ago. And despite all of these pressures, joys and responsibilities, she still knew her place.

It was taking the time to let her hair down, laugh and help her friend to unwind and relax. Which was, by the way, no mean feat following the series of exhausting emotional and practical roller coasters I seem to have had trouble escaping of late.

Strength, kindness and hilarity of unprecedented and unwavering levels. Outstanding.

Vol au vent!

And last but not least I return to the unexpectedly feminist Oxford Music Festival frivolity of Friday night. Early on the stage was Sue Smith of the The Mighty Redox, whose range and diversity of vocal explosions would have been marvellous enough, but added to that was her utterly uninhibited dancing and ageless enjoyment of the music.

The headliners, however, were the real treat: the aforementioned Goggenheim, who are fronted by perhaps the most overwhelmingly awesome woman I have ever seen. With total control over her voice, movements, stage and audience, Miss Grace Exley emulated the kind of confidence and assurance that is positively infectious.

She knew her place.

It was to perform with poise, precision and unadulterated personality. She did not overshadow her musically magical bandmates nor did she overpower our own sense of selves. She simply knew how to exist without interruption.

My place

It is thanks to this week of women that I have started to rediscover my own place. Self-assurance, kindness, an unadulterated sense of self and just the right pinch of down right un-ignorable presence put me in just the powerful, playful and empathetic place I want to be.