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It’s the presidential political season here in the U.S. This is the time where politicians on both sides of the aisle start talking about how they can reform various aspects of government. True reform on any political issue is rarely the result, but sometimes we take a few small steps in the right direction. This is precisely what needs to happen with feminism.
We need reform!
I love my fellow sisters. I have used my career to date to try to empower women rather than to drag them down. In my mind this is the essence of what it means to be a feminist. Unfortunately, many of us have lost sight of how this feminism thing works. By definition, feminism is defined as: “the advocacy of women’s right’s on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” This notion of global “advocacy” is not only unattainable; but it is unreasonable.
The segments of the feminism party are many and varied. Like many things in government and even in life, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Truthfully, how do you satisfy all women without tripping over something completely unique to a sub-demographic? It is impossible.
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Started from the bottom now we’re here…
Here’s what I see. We have young women who see any act of chivalry by a man as an affront to their independence. We have a group of women that are anti-men everything and remain ready to spit fire at the sight of a man – whether he is supportive of women progressing or not. Finally, we have some women represented in leadership across Corporate America, Technology and the sciences – it isn’t the optimal number, but some of us have arrived. Yet, those select few who have reached these heights make it harder for other women to rise whether out of pure malice, jealousy or poor attempts at trying to mimic the hard-nosed leadership men exhibit almost innately. At the other end of the spectrum, we have some phenomenal women of all ages and backgrounds creating positive networks and movements at a grassroots level. Last but not least, we have women like me who are huge champions of women from all walks of life; but are reluctant to wear the feminism badge because the overall goal and message is lost on us. I’d like to think of the latter group as the Independents of Feminism. We’re unsure of where feminism is going and we don’t have any one in particular representing our interests.
No movement is effective unless there is an overarching vision for people to sink their teeth into. Take the workplace for instance, you can hire a gazillion workers to work for you, but if they don’t understand your expectations or vision for the company – their work is meaningless.
I have created a short plan of reform for feminism. It is one that I believe will both unite and provide clarity around what we want. Here are some suggestions:
- The issues are varied, but we have to own them collectively. What I experience as a Black woman is not the same as what as what a Latina or White woman experience. Don’t patronize me or belittle my experience and I will do the same for you. We need to take the time to understand all of the issues at hand. They all matter and have to be raised collectively.
- Every man walking this earth is not our enemy. There are some men that think we are doing fine for being women. Those guys are jerks and deserve our death stares. However, there are some men that had nothing to do with creating our plight and want to see us win. We can be “independent”, “boss babes”, “queens” and all of those monikers and not have to denigrate all men.
- Less talk, more uplifting. Some of you ladies are quick to claim being a feminist on social media and in social situations – yet you put other women down constantly. When was the last time you helped another woman out of the goodness of your heart? Have you mentored a young girl ever? More importantly, if your younger self met the present day “you” would she be proud? Talk is cheap. When I think back to the most treacherous bosses I have had in my career, they weren’t men – they were women. From the PTA to the workplace, we need to be uplifting one another not cutting each other down.
At a minimum, these are the things that we need to get straight before any of us proudly wear the feminism badge. I pray we can turn this around before either of my daughters becomes young women, because right now the feminism movement needs a lot of help.