It's Time for Feminism Reform
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.
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.
Why Lasting Change Is Hard
Before we had any children, my wife and I lived in the heart of Dallas. One day, on our way back to our house, we were driving down Skillman Avenue when we were caught in a sudden torrential downpour.
The rain was coming down incredibly hard, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the storm drains were equipped to handle that much water. Instead, the road itself filled with water faster than we could have anticipated. Quickly, the water rose up the side of our car. Trying not to panic, we realized that we could not continue and would need to turn around and get to higher ground.
Water rising up the side of your car door is the kind of roadblock you might not expect to encounter, but when you do, it’s formidable. We couldn’t drive through it or even around it. We had to deal with it quickly or face serious consequences.
When we’re trying to implement change in our own lives, it’s important to identify and plan for common roadblocks to lasting change.
The first and, in my opinion, most important roadblock to lasting change is not addressing the real issue.
Let’s say you wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. You’re annoyed by feeling sick but your throat really hurts, so you get up and spray a little Chloraseptic in your mouth and drift off to sleep. When you wake up the next day, you still have a sore throat, so you pop in a cough drop and go about your day.
The change you’re making – using a numbing agent – might work if you’ve only got a cold, but if it’s strep throat, you’re not addressing the real problem. Only an antibiotic will cure what ails you, even if Chloraseptic will keep the pain at bay for a while.
Just like how more information is needed to diagnose your sore throat than one feeling, problems you encounter in your life or business require diagnostics, too. Figuring out the real problem – not just your most apparent needs – requires some introspection and a little bit of time.
Here are eight questions to ask when you need to discover the root cause, courtesy of MindTools.com:
- What do you see happening?
- What are the specific symptoms?
- What proof do you have that the problem exists?
- How long has the problem existed?
- What is the impact of the problem?
- What sequence of events leads to the problem?
- What conditions allow the problem to occur?
- What other problems surround the occurrence of the central problem?
Once you have your answers to these key questions, you can’t stop there. Your vantage point is skewed from your own perspective. You’re going to want to ask someone else to evaluate the problem at hand with the same questions and then compare your answers.
If you and all of the partners at your firm have similar answers, you’ll know you’re on the right track. If you wind up with wildly different ideas, I suggest seeking the advice of someone outside your organization. Fresh eyes can make all the difference in understanding a problem.
I often talk about being ‘too close’ to understand. You’ve probably heard the illustration about a group of people standing by an elephant with blindfolds on, trying to describe what they’re experiencing. Depending on what part of the elephant you’re next to, you’re going to have different observations.
But someone outside of that elephant’s cage can clearly identify the elephant.
The first key to making a lasting change is to make sure you’ve addressed the real problem and are looking for authentic change.
Next time, we’ll address the second major roadblock to creating last change.
- 1 of 991