Your Feminism, My Feminism, All Feminism.

I’ve heard a lot of women, young and old, utter the words,

“I’m not a feminist.”

That statement, particularly from women, always leaves me a little flabbergasted. I find myself wondering how a woman could claim she’s not a feminist; How a woman could claim she doesn’t care about equal rights for herself and her fellow women?

My quick answer? I think the word feminism comes with so much baggage. People assume that to be a feminist you must align with a certain political party; you must own a pink stocking cap and drive a Subaru with a #nastywoman bumper sticker. The world thinks if you’re a feminist – you’re an angry, bra-burning man-hater. The word “feminism” has been taken hostage and being used against us; It’s being used as a weapon to scare women (and men) away from the fight for gender equality. It’s become a tool to divide and deter us.

We have to change the narrative around feminism. We have to attach the word feminism with the fight for gender equality again. But we also have to stop condemning the work for gender equality that women (and men) are doing that maybe doesn’t align with our own version of feminism.

Here’s what I mean…

My version of feminism means working with men to help them see and understand the everyday, unconscious biases that women face in the workplace. I help them identify opportunities to correct those biases or create better systems to ensure that the bias is less likely to interfere in workplace decisions like hiring, promotion, performance evaluation, succession planning, leadership, training opportunities (you get the idea). I see men as our partners in the fight for gender equality. I believe that most men come from a place of good intention, but are generally unaware of what women encounter every day. Some feminists, however, view men as intentional actors in the suppression of women and fight diligently to overcome male dominance.

My version of feminism understands that the idea of gender equality is complex and that there is loads of intersectionality that impacts the common goal of equal rights for women. I work every day to understand the unique challenges that women of color face. I read regularly to understand how we can make the fight for gender equality include individuals who don’t identify on the gender binary. Some feminists, believe the simpler we make it, the easier it will be to overcome. They’re less concerned with the complexity and intersectionality and more concerned with more women (and any women) in leadership in our country.

My version of feminism is helping women advance in leadership. Yet, there are hundreds of ways to be a feminist and hundreds of ways to fight for it: Perhaps your version of feminism is fighting to build a consent culture and address sexual violence. Maybe it’s being a stay at home mom and raising your son to respect women as equals and teaching your daughter self-confidence and that she can be anything she wants to be. Maybe it’s working to address human trafficking. Perhaps it’s attending a march or protesting in the streets. It might even been running for a political office.

Our condemnation and/or criticism of other versions of feminism doesn’t unify our power. It divides it. We have to start embracing the work that we’re all doing as positive movement forward. When we fight each other, we only reinforce negative messages about feminism and women.

We have to support, encourage, and embrace all the individuals working to move gender equality forward. 6+3=9. But so does 4+5 and 8+1. The outcome is all the same, how we get there is irrelevant.

Your feminism may not be my feminism – and how we approach creating gender equality looks different for each of us. In the end, equality is the goal – let’s all work to get there.

until we break more glass…

What Going Vegan Taught Me About Work-Life Balance

I’ve been a vegetarian before. I don’t eat that much cheese and after a couple rounds of Whole30, I can’t look at eggs the same way ever again. Heart disease, A-Fib, high cholesterol run on both sides of my family. Couple all that with the overwhelming sense of impending doom related to climate change (eliminating animal products from your diet reduces your carbon footprint), I had plenty of reasons to consider going vegan. One day, I just pulled the trigger and went vegan, cold tofurkey.

Fast forward two weeks and I felt incredible. I thought I’d be hangry, bloated from carbs, and craving a filet. I wasn’t. I had more energy, my skin was clearer, and my pants fit better. I didn’t crave cheese or meat or butter or eggs. I actually enjoyed pizza without cheese. I was amazed at how little I missed it. I was astounded at how great I felt.

By this point, you’re probably thinking what in the world does this actually have to do with work-life balance? Here’s what:

We don’t realize how shitty something makes us feel until we stop doing it.

I probably have a sensitivity to dairy and I don’t really like meat. Yet I didn’t realize these things, until I stopped doing them. That’s probably the case for a lot of things in our lives. They don’t give us joy, we don’t really like doing them, they make us feel downright shitty – yet we don’t realize how crappy we feel because we’re too desensitized to the discomfort and pain. We’re so used to the hustle, the stress, and the feeling of never enough time, we don’t realize how bad it really is.

As women, we’re constantly faced with guilt of never doing enough, never being enough, that we find ourselves saying “yes” to way too much. We say yes to making snack bags that look like butterflies for soccer practice, when it would be easier to bring an economy sized carton of goldfish and a pre-assembled fruit tray from Costco. We say yes to meeting a friend for a drink who’s having a rough time, when we really want to be horizontal in our bed recharging from a hard week at 8 p.m. We say “yes” to way to much stuff – stuff that doesn’t even fill our bucket.

We don’t even realize how crappy we feel.

That is until we decide to stop doing certain things. Until we decide to start saying “no” a little bit more.

I want you to find better balance. I want you to feel good. I want you to start saying “no”. I started saying “no” more and it was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t just start saying “no” to blts and nachos, though. I started saying “no” to the things I didn’t want in my life anymore – things I knew were making me feel pretty shitty.

I think there’s a lot we say “yes” to when we really want to say, “no.” I think there’s a lot of things we do – and we don’t need to do. The reality is that I started saying “no” more about a year ago. I said “no” to the constant work travel and “yes” to traveling – on my terms. I said “no” to other commitments during the tiny window of time I get to see my kids each night. I said “no” to working late and missing important life events.

I said “no” to the life I was living. I started saying “yes” to build the life that I wanted.

I started saying “yes” to being present and showing up for my family and friends. I said “yes” investing in my female friendships and “yes” giving my time to causes I care about. I said “yes” to building a career I was passionate about. I said “yes” to beans transformed into chicken nuggets and “cheese” made from cashews.

Was I afraid? Heck yes. I was afraid I’d miss the travel. I was afraid I’d lose ground professionally. I was afraid I’d lose my identity. I was afraid I was making a terrible mistake (the vegan thing, too). The reality is that I feel more myself than I ever have before. I didn’t realize how shitty I felt, until I started saying “no” to the things I didn’t want to do and “yes” to the things I felt myself missing out on.

I’m not trying to boast. I’m definitely not perfect and boasting is not at all my style. I tell you this because I tried something that worked for me. I tried saying “no” to some things – and it worked pretty well. Was it hard? Hell. Yes. Being vegan is hard. Saying “no” to friends, my boss, clients, is WAY harder.

Was it worth it? Hell “YES”.

The question now is, “what will you start saying ‘no’ to?”

Until we break more glass…

Stop Fighting the Patriarchy.

Okay, take a deep breath before you start raging in the comments section and hear me out…

I’m not suggesting we stop fighting for equality. I’m also not suggesting that the patriarchy is a good thing. What I am suggesting is that we don’t get anywhere only fighting it.

Listen, the patriarchy might be older than Jesus. A system that is culturally ingrained in our society for over 250 years isn’t going to change over night. Systems of oppression take a really long time to dismantle – and it’s likely we’ll see only minimal to moderate progress in our lifetimes. Does that mean we stop fighting? Heck no.

Down with the patriarchy!

We have to continue to fight to undo the systems that allow men to advance at faster and greater rates than women. We have to continue to call out gender bias that exists in our daily lives. We have fight for equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunities for women – at every opportunity we are given.

But that is not the only way, we as women, will advance and make progress towards equality. If we sit around and wait for the systems to change – we’ll never get anywhere.

We have to learn to navigate within the system that currently exists; we have to learn – and teach each other – how to navigate in and around the patriarchy, too.

Here’s what I mean:

It would be nice if, like men, women were tapped frequently for leadership opportunities. However, men have a competitive advantage in the workplace. From being evaluated more frequently on “potential” instead of achievement to having more time with executive leadership in casual settings like drinks or golf, men are more likely than their female counterparts to be “tapped” for leadership by male leaders. That’s just the reality of the workplace today.

Sadly, it is more likely that an under-qualified male with “potential” will be chosen for leadership over an over-qualified female with a mountain of experience and achievement.

Now, we can fight to be invited to drinks and golf more often by executive leaders and we can keep racking up the achievements, doing extra work to prove our worth, and sit around waiting to be tapped – or – we can take ownership for our own career advancement. We can track our successes and contributions to the business objectives. We can find mentors, look for advocates, and secure sponsors in our advancement. We can learn how to communicate with our male peers and advocate for ourselves.

We can learn how to navigate within the patriarchy. We can learn to game the system.

"The enemy of femisim isn't men, it's the patriarchy.  And patriarchy is not just men - it's a system.  Woman can support the system of patriarchy just as men can support the fight for gender equality."

- Justine Musk

We know it can be done, the women who are in leadership in Fortune 500 companies and our government are proof that we can advance in a system that is set up against us.

The question now is, “How?” How do we get more women in the upper levels of leadership in more places?

That’s exactly what I am here to do. That is exactly what this blog is for. This is my life’s passion and mission – to teach women how we overcome every day obstacles to our success. To teach you, talk about, and share how we navigate around and in the patriarchy. To work together to fight against and dismantle the systems of oppression. To fight for equality by helping every. single. one. of you advance to your next goal – and break every. single. one. of the glass ceilings we encounter.

Stay tuned for the good stuff. Don’t forget to subscribe for regular updates.

Until we break more glass…