As the old joke goes, three world leaders walk into a conference room and then some sexist shit goes down. At least that seems to be the punchline based on this video of Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Charles Michel, the former Belgian prime minister who is president of the European council, taking the two available chairs at a recent talk while Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission’s first female president looks on, seatless and eventually just says what all women are thinking: “Erm?”
As the dudes positioned themselves in throne-like chairs positioned so that news cameras could capture footage of them, very male and important, von der Leyen settled herself on a sofa like the secretary in a movie would do. A spokesperson for von der Leyen later correctly noted that the whole thing was definitely some bullshit:
“The protocol level of our president is exactly the same as that of the president of the European council. Our president is a member of the European council in her own right and normally when she goes to foreign countries she was treated in exactly the same way as the president of the European council,” going on to reiterate that next time, the president of the commission would like a goddamn chair. “The president expects that the institution that she represents to be treated with the required protocol and she has therefore asked her team to take all appropriate contacts in order to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future.”
Though the footage doesn’t show von der Leyen’s feet, I bet she’s wearing the kind toe-crushing, heel-pinching business heels that are, for some reason, required of women who need to be taken seriously by men for a living. Erm right back at you, from me and everyone else who has had to not only listen to men bloviate business words for a half-hour while standing and attempting to stifle a rage scream at the fact women are expected to give themselves perma-blisters in service of looking professional while the yapping men at the head of the conference table don’t even have to trim their ear hair. Erm, indeed.