It's been a long fight, or flight, or...
Years ago I had a bonfire, I released 20 years of cartoons making jokes about my arse, trade magazine headlines about my boobs, and party invitations depicting me as a fat porn star.
Yes, I was horrendously bullied in my career. But I never ran.
Now, I know staying meant they thought I was there to fight.
I was trying to open the door.
It was really hard being a nasty woman before it was cool to be a feminist.
And a war zone for a creative leader with tits.
I was a good art director, but my real skill was conceptual thinking and I knew very early on if I wanted a satisfying career I would have to become a creative director.
That put a target on my head.
To the talented men and boys I worked with, it was friendly competition, but to the greedy bosses, the politicians, and the creative directors who couldn’t write an ad if their lives depended on it, it meant I had to be destroyed.
The first round of this war ended with my creative director looming over me poking me in the chest seething, "Fucking hairy-legged fucking feminists, if women want to play hardball, men will play even harder".
A week later, I was handcuffed to a gurney saying, “But I’m wearing Zampatti, one simply can’t be committed in Zampatti, darling.”
When you're not there to fight it only takes one punch to knock you out.
But I'm a badass and you can't keep me down for long.
Three weeks later I was back to normal picking up a very large severance cheque.
Two years later I was picking up practically every award on the planet.
One night I came home to my beautiful loft apartment (bought with the handsome severance cheque) and plonked an armful of awards down on my kitchen bench top and thought, “Is that it?”
For years I saw the boys win tonnes of awards and be rewarded with adulation, astronomical pay rises, and constant calls from headhunters.
I got criticised for what I wore and how much I weighed, I was given a new office (a broom cupboard), my award-winning account was given to the junior team and I got a 2.5% pay rise (in line with inflation).
My copywriter, Jane Caro and I were taken to lunch by the leading headhunter in town – but only to be told the boys had got together and decided there would NEVER be a female creative director in Sydney, and we should just give up.
For the first time ever, I ran.
I ran towards my own agency and a family.
I ran towards weekly yoga classes for my mainly female staff and annual school photos where we played dress ups with professional hair and make-up. I ran towards creating James Squire beer and making Maserati’s cool again.
I won a lot of awards.
They were far more satisfying.
And now I giggle at all the #MeToo and #TimesUp kerfuffle and think of all those bosses, politicians, and untalented creative directors either fighting in vain or running for the hills.
I imagine them sweating, wondering if I'll name and shame.
If only they’d tended and befriended…