Given the way society treats women, it comes as no surprise that many of us women internalise oppression and has us buying into harmful stereotypes, judging and holding each other back. Recently in an email newsletter I shared my thoughts which got the community email replying, texting and WhatsApp messaging us with words of support.
I didn’t expect my unfiltered words to resonate with so many of our email subscribers or attract the response that it has. As a result, I’ve decided to republish the email here. I hope my story and words serve you well…
My direct, no-BS communication style sometimes rubs people up the wrong way, and in truth, it’s usually women that it rubs up the wrong way.
How do I know this? Because people gossip about what I’ve said and how I’ve said it and it gets around (tell it to me straight, I adore straight shooters and plus I can ‘handle’ it). It’s women who send me direct messages telling me how ‘brave’ I am for writing this or that, or how ‘ballsy’ I am for speaking out about some of the things I disagree with. It’s women who tell me that they wish they could be more direct but fear “pissing people off”. I even had one woman recently tell me I “get away with it” [sharing my views and opinions] because I am pretty.
I find this all rather interesting because you see, I believe what holds us back in positions of primary power (I read in the New York Times recently that among heads of state, only 7% are female) is the way we seem to hold women to higher standards and how we expect women to be nice and polite, to speak and behave cordially, to look and present themselves in a certain way before they are listened to, acknowledged, and even accepted. I’m certain some women look around and decide it’s all too hard, having to meet these expectations and struggling with their own personal ‘perfection’ complexes. When I reflect on this, it’s little wonder we women don’t hold more positions of primary power.
It’s ‘safe’ to talk beauty and fashion, food and travel. But publicly discuss topics outside of these, and watch how others behave (usually they don’t enter into the convo). Watch how few ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ you get on a well-articulated thought on social media that has nothing to do with the ‘safe’ subjects. It’s understandable that we turn to posting photos of ourselves and selfies over and over, looking happy, wearing a cool outfit, eating dinner or drinking champagne, looking sweet and posing somewhere. It’s ‘safe’ and it gets us ‘likes’. Popularity remember, is not the same as profound.
What I’d love to see more of though is women modelling behaviours and thought processes that are ‘real’. I long for the day when what I say is just what I say and it’s not ‘brave’ or ‘ballsy’ or whatever. I long for the day where women openly discuss rather than privately discuss. The number of ‘off the record’ convos I participate in is frustrating. I am privy to stuff that I wish more people knew about but then, no one wants to ‘go on the record’ because they don’t want to rock the boat. It’s so friggin’ frustrating!
And then we wonder why change and true equality is so slow to achieve.
So how do we help the future generation of women into STEM positions and positions of primary power? How do we achieve true equality?
Model the behaviour. Be the change. Encourage role models from a spectrum of industries and not the ‘safe’ industries of beauty and fashion. Stop picking apart the appearance, hairstyle, family choices, relationship status or whatever of another woman, female politician whatever. And call out others who do this. Speak out and keep doing so. Challenge the status quo, I mean really challenge it. Don’t allow the fear and the bullying of others or pressure to conform, stifle your truth.
Be the change you wish to see in the world. It’s why I will continue to amplify my voice and discuss the topics that matter. May my behaviour serve as encouragement and motivation for other women and men to do the same.
Peace, love and all that jazz,
Jen aka editor-in-chief xx
So I want to hear from you: What are your thoughts on this? What are your experiences? What do you want to see change and how do you think we can improve? Feel free to leave a comment, thoughts or share your own story below.