We live in a time where everyone has a platform. To me, it’s both a blessing and a curse. Social media has been overrun with #fakenews and propaganda. While I’m glad that people have an outlet that they may not have had in the past, what used to be used as social networking and sharing platforms, have quickly turned into personal online diaries. A place where people just spew their thoughts on literally everything! Topics in which they would NEVER even consider bringing up in person, face-to-face in front of a friend, colleague, acquaintance or stranger. It’s bizarre! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’m taking a social media break” over the last couple of years. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s sort of a “trend” in the world of self-care and I know why! The digital landscape out there can be exhausting…
I say all this to preface the topic that I’m writing about today. It’s one that’s been bothering me for quite some time but because it’s extremely controversial, I’ve sat on the idea of sharing it for months now. Being a somewhat public entity comes with great responsibility. And it’s not just my blog – it’s also my business and my clients. But after some very, very deep thought – I know that the people that support me and “follow” me and my journeys, will value this open discussion and my hope is that it’ll reach far beyond my current audience, because it’s important. Ok…here we go.
Let me start off by saying that as a woman, I fully and 100% support other women. Always. Forever. But, I don’t just support women, I support fellow business owners, dreamers, content creators and everything in between. But I feel like lately, specifically after the #MeToo Movement, as a business owner that’s also female – I’ve felt immense pressure to be proactive about publicly supporting other women and supporting other women-owned businesses. More publicly than I think I have in the past. Thing is, I’ve always supported other women-owned businesses, but never felt the need and pressure to promote it as much as I do now. Here’s the thing – while I’m totally on board with supporting women publicly – please don’t get me wrong – why is it that we have to segment women business owners? As far as I’m concerned, I’m a business owner. PERIOD. My gender has nothing to do with it! I’ve been bothered by situations like this in the past and have kept things to myself. As a publicist, who preaches to my clients about how important it is to make sure that whatever you stand for and whatever you share publicly is something that you feel very strongly about and something that should not be taken lightly (there’s no going back!) – I’m incredibly reserved when it comes to sharing my opinion about disruptive topics. But this one in particular is really starting to get under my skin. And here’s why.
We want to have men and women playing on the same field, making the same money, closing the gender gap – yet we continue to segment women away from men in almost everything and every topic that we talk about. Can someone please explain to me how segmenting women as a separate entity, will ultimately create more equality?
Now, I understand my thoughts and my opinions may bother some people, and some may disagree with me, and that’s OK! I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this, but what I do hope is that we can have an open, honest discussion (or debate!) about a topic that’s very important.
I’m not ignorant to the fact that there are people that have endured certain hardships and have had to overcome societal stigmas in the workplace in order to emerge into who they are today. I get it! I too have gone through my own trials and tribulations throughout my professional career. We all have our own paths. But generally speaking, I feel like we all need to get a little thicker skin. Topics that back in the day would go in one ear and out the next because frankly, there were worse things in the world, are now triggering people and offending people – unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! Please know, I am certainly not trying to take away from anyone’s personal story, struggles or journey that has led them to where they are, all I’m saying is…don’t let those things define you. Don’t make it your excuse, make it your story.
I am a business owner who happens to be female. So please, I’d rather not be referred to as a female business owner. Because really, what does that even matter at the end of the day? If we continue to solely focus on the gender, instead of the reality of the situation – then it just feels like we’re taking a little piece away from ourselves. Are we not? We need to stop pulling women away from men or putting the word women/female in front of everything that we do. By doing this, we’re just continuing to perpetuate the cycle that we’re trying to break!
An example of this: I attended a women’s conference a couple months ago in New York City and while I felt grateful to have had the opportunity to attend and to hear from some really great content creators, celebrities and activists that were all women – there was an underlying tone to the conference that really bothered me and it started almost immediately!
The moderators for the panel sessions would begin by asking questions to these women who are business owners and would say things such as, “Was there ever a time in your career that you felt like you weren’t being heard?” Ok. Great question! But then…there would be a pause and it would be followed up with “…because you are a woman?” And then a question like, “Has anyone in your life ever told you that you weren’t good enough and you felt it was because you were a woman?” WHAT. At this point…my blood was beginning to boil. Why do we feel the need to tag on “because you’re a woman?” to questions like these!?! I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that everyone in their lives at some point has been told that perhaps their idea may not be good enough, or they may have felt that fear of failure — but to have to follow it up with “because you’re a woman“ – was just completely and utterly disgusting to me. It’s almost as if they were trying to purposely create a narrative. Why do we continue to do this? Again, if the end goal is to create equality in the workplace and to lift each other up as HUMANS – then please someone explain to me how continuing to separate men and women in conversation is going to help that goal.
To make matters worse, it was very clear to the audience that some of these ladies clearly felt the way I did, because there was some tension at times. I felt as if there was a struggle between the interviewee deciding whether to lean in to the topic or to give the “PC “answer. The fact that they were being put in that position was so awkward and so unnecessary!
Given this experience — I was a little uneasy going into a recent event that I had committed to speaking at here in Raleigh; it was another women’s conference. But I’m so glad that that’s not at all how this conference went. The Women Empower X conference while yes, was focused on women — it was more focused on the message of women supporting other women and the community coming together to rally behind other small business owners. I didn’t get that “I am woman hear me roar” or “here are my struggles and it’s because I’m a woman”- vibe. It was simply – how can we as as a community support one another? And THAT is a message and a mission that I can get behind.
Again, I know that there may be people that will disagree with me and some may even unfollow me – which I really hope not – but if you took away anything from this post, please know that I am 100% supportive of other women, but more than that – I’m 150% in support of a human being that’s looking to live out their dreams and do something fulfilling with their life.
So I’m asking, the next time you’re in a room full of people that seem to be separating gender or conversation that seems to be pulling a part gender – just think about the overarching goal. Change the conversation. Shift the way that people are talking. The more that we can create a united front with one another – the quicker we’re going to be able to reach our end goal, which is equality in the workplace no matter your gender, your race, or your age.
Will you join me in the commitment to supporting one another – as strong, powerful, passionate human beings? I really hope so.