The Five Greatest Lessons Feminism Taught Me…

Women are the world’s most universally persecuted group of people.

We make less money, do more chores, and are objectified to oblivion in the $97 billion global porn industry.

But, hey, this isn’t a lecture on porn.  (I do have some loving but strong opinions here.)

Women are also interrupted more, lied to more in negotiations, and even looked down upon for the very things men are praised for (passion, assertiveness, and drive).

So here’s the skinny:

I’m choking on double standards and it’s my duty model a boss lady who slays life every day to my son. 

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan prophesied that women had a long road ahead of them in 1963 when the book was published.

Is there life after housework and peanut butter sandwiches with the kids?  Are just some of the musings in this seminal work.

Friedan surmises that women, like men, must find themselves in creative work in order to surpass the role of consumer.

She goes on to state that, “(i)n almost every professional field, in business and in the arts and sciences, women are still treated as second-class citizens. It would be a great service to tell girls who plan to work in society to expect this subtle, uncomfortable discrimination–tell them not to be quiet, and hope it will go away, but fight it. A girl should not expect special privileges because of her sex, but neither should she “adjust” to prejudice and discrimination.”

Naomi Wolf picks up where Betty (and the feminist movement) seemed to leave off by stating in The Beauty Myth that Victorian women were valued for their ovaries, and modern women are defined by their beauty.

The mere thought of how much less money I’ve made and how many thousands of hours I’ve spent doing laundry and dishes when I’d rather be painting or reading books makes me want to hurl.

I’m not going to change the minds of misogynistic men in my life.  But I can change my actions to make sure that I’m not a victim of that misogyny any longer.

So here are five ways I’m fighting to infiltrate the otherwise he-man woman-haters clubs in my own life.

1.  Convey Authority and Feel Your Greatness With A Simple Power Pose

Drawing from the Feminist Fight Club

Women are notorious for hunching over, making themselves small, and allowing others to dominate them in social situations.

Now go make some popcorn.

Okay, are you back?

Quickly watch this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy.

Cuddy reveals that women are more likely to cower and make themselves small in professional and academic situations.  This is indicative of the woman actually feeling powerless over their surroundings.

She establishes the commonly known fact that our non-verbals shape the way people think and feel about us.

But she takes it a step further by illustrating that our non-verbals shape the way we think and feel about ourselves.

In meetings, if you’re raising your hand or trying to get attention: raise it high.

Cuddy notes that two key hormones come into play when we use more powerful, less cowering body language.

Testosterone and cortisol.

Testosterone, associated as a male hormone but actually found in both sexes, is the power hormone.  Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone.

Assuming a power pose actually increases testosterone (even if you assume said position for a mere 2 minutes!).

And assuming a small, defenseless or self-conscious pose actually increases cortisol.

How many times do you place your head in your hands, slouch, or nervously fuss with your hair or body while seated in a meeting or facing a negotiation?

Your non-verbals don’t just command authority and make you more likely to get a job or a raise, but they actually signal to your body that you’re worthy of people’s respect and attention.

Weak non-verbals actually create a weaker, less successful life.

Saddle up, momma.  We’re about to go deep.

2.  Stop Saying Sorry

I’ve said quite a few words about (not) saying sorry as it’s my New Years Resolution in 2017.

Women are widely known for being overly apologetic.

Saying sorry can make you seem weaker, justify other people’s bad behavior, and even lower your self-esteem.

In the workplace, saying sorry too much actually causes other people to walk all over you or find you at fault more often than you are.

You aren’t being gracious.  You’re being run over the grate.

Instead of saying sorry, start saying “Thank You” more often.

Instead of encouraging people to look down on you, encourage their graciousness to reinforce good behavior.

If the men around you act like dogs, train them like the dogs they are.

Men don’t prance around the office slapping women’s asses anymore; but Jessica Bennet, author of The Feminist Fight club, refers to today’s unending and subtle sexism as “death by a thousand cuts”.

Above all, if you’re questioning whether your politeness or politics are on point; just ask yourself: what would a man do?

Well, ladies, you deserve to do the same.

3.  Sit At The Table

I’m the first one to take initiative and plan a party or start cooking a meal for a house full of people in my personal life.

But in a professional context, this lowers my power position.

If a woman volunteers to throw the parties, pick up the birthday cakes, wash the dishes, make the coffee, take the notes, and mother her coworkers, she gets regarded as the “help”, not the head honcho.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, once hosted a meeting for treasury secretary Tim Geithner at Facebook.  Fifteen executives from across Silicon Valley were invited to discuss the economy over breakfast at Facebook’s offices.  Sheryl invited everyone to grab a plate and take their seat.  The men made their plates and sat at the cozy conference room table.  The women, however, waited until all the men had helped themselves.  They then made their own plates and took seats chairs at the edges of the room.

Women are more likely to take notes or sit at the edge of the room.

They voluntarily forego their seat at the table by shrinking back in these contexts.

Rule #3 of the boss lady: sit at the table!

4.  Don’t Work Harder Than Men

 

Women are largely working harder than men while billing less hours and taking less credit.

I remember working in a financial planning firm after college, staying nightly for several hours later than my colleagues to finish what seemed like critical work only to have virtually no recognition for the efforts.

On the contrary, I looked like I couldn’t get the work done during the day.

Nobody is going to get a medal for humility in the workplace.

If you do extra work, take credit for it.

This doesn’t just happen in the workplace, but it happens in the home.

Women spend over two hours more per DAY than their husbands on household tasks including cooking, cleaning, and minor repairs.

When we become mothers, we assume grossly more responsibility than a “40 hour workweek” while our husbands get the credit for being the “breadwinner”.

I’m so proud of friends of mine who went back to work and allowed their husbands to stay home with the baby.

It’s definitely not the road I intended to travel, but more men stepping up as fathers as opposed to (sporadic) babysitters will help shift the current imbalance of women taking on too much and, consequently, burning out.

5.  Don’t Waste Precious Resources on Somebody Else’s Idea of Beauty…

In 1963 Betty Friedan noted that women had moved from the baby-making machines in society to the consumers.

Women are prodded, pricked and plumped to fulfill the fantasies of men’s plastic dreams from porn and magazine media; and we’re literally dying from it.

Every year millions of women spend their time, money, and relationship capital on becoming more beautiful and, in effect, subjugate themselves to the plastic fantasies of men.

Naomi Wolf states that “[t]he last thing the consumer index wants men and women to do is to figure out how to love one another: The $1.5 trillion retail-sales industry depends on sexual estrangement between men and women, and is fueled by sexual dissatisfaction. Ads do not sell sex–that would be counterproductive, if it meant that heterosexual women and men turned to one another and were gratified. What they sell is sexual discontent.”

As an empowered woman and mom, I’m committed to contentment with my womanhood, in all the wrinkly and poochy forms it has taken and will continue to take.

I’m committed to posing like a boss so that any hour I spend away from my son is spent in victory, not vanity.

I commit to sitting at the table and getting recognition for the work I do; whether it’s cost basis analyses or laundry.

I commit to reserving my apologies for when they’re truly, actually merited.

And about that boss lady who slays it every day…

I will model it for my son.

Now will you commit to modeling her for your children, too?

We’re in this together.

 

 

 

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