feminism

The New F-Word

F-Word

By Becky Ejupi 

So, can we talk about the F-word?

No, not that F-word.

The new F-word that’s recently been deemed even more offensive than the 4-letter one: FEMINISM. 

If you haven’t heard, there’s a current movement, backed by men and women alike, from politicians to celebrities to not-so-famous housewives, who have declared war on feminism. Even well educated, professional women have bought into this new anti-feminist strategy hook, line and sinker.

When I first read about it, I was appalled, perplexed, and completely flummoxed. Then I learned about the warped definition of feminism these people were using, and I’ll tell you what, it’s just wrong. It fuels hate-mongering and willful misunderstanding, and doesn’t even bear repeating here for fear of perpetuating the cycle of negativity.

Plain and simple, here’s the real definition of feminism: Men and women should be treated equally. That’s it.  Nothing more.  It’s not rocket science. There’s no man-bashing secret code. There’s no desire on the part of feminist women to dominate the world, kidnap all the men, and stash them in a penile penal colony in Borneo. Simply put, men and women are not superior or inferior to each other, and are entitled to equal political, legal, sexual, educational, economic, social status and cultural treatment, which, by the way, still isn’t happening in our country. Not by a long shot. As a matter of fact, there isn’t a single country in the world that can boast that it has achieved complete gender equality.

This is such a basic human rights concept, that it seems ludicrous to me that we continue discussing its merit in 2014. So, as politically incorrect as it might be these days, let me just say that I consider myself a feminist.  That does not mean I hate nor do I want to suppress men in any way.  I adore men and support them.  I live with three whom I love to the moon and back.  I have a lot of male friends and acquaintances as well, and I think they’re all swell.

I merely support gender equality.

Do some women and even men call themselves feminists and bash men? Yep, and they’re wrong to do it. Do some men and women buy into sexist ideals, ads, and rules that negate women’s dignity and quest for equality? Yep, and they’re wrong to do so too. “Okay, so what can we all do to actively support this equality?” you might ask.

Well, for starters you can:

  • Use your voice. Speak out. Don’t sit back quietly, thereby condoning misogyny. If you remain quiet, it will never go away.
  • Don’t bash men.
  • Teach your children that girls are just as worthy, in every way, as boys, and vice versa.
  • Make sure your kids know that demeaning or disrespecting someone due to his or her gender, or for any reason, frankly, is wrong. (“Quit crying like a little girl.” “Buck up and be a man.”  “Hey, Doll, can you bring us our check when you get a chance?” Sound familiar?)
  • Encourage your daughters and sons to be the best they can be regardless of gender stereotypes. (Girls can and should become engineers if that’s where their interests lie, and boys can and should become elementary school teachers if that’s their calling.)

We’re all equal. Stop the hate. Live with love in your heart. And give every human being every right that you claim for yourself.

You can find Becky blogging over at Pondermom or on Facebook

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Why Women Do Business Better

Women-in-business

By Rachel Wagers

This is not an article on feminism, nor one fighting for equal pay - though I do support that, naturally. This article was originally going to be about how women carry and birth children, multitask and walk in stilettos; all of the things we hold over men’s heads, seemingly in opposition of their superior upper-body strength. But as I was fleshing out the ideas I had in my head for this article and doing research, I had a sudden, wait-a-minute moment.

It seems that while men may have laid down the framework for the glass ceiling, women have successfully soldered it in. As I poured over the scientific community’s research and read about real-life experiences of various people, I came to a quick and enlightening conclusion:

Women aren’t better at business. And we need to stop thinking we are. 

Researchers are just starting to dip their toes into this subject, and the results are even more surprising than you’d think. It turns out we might be holding ourselves back - not just by comparing ourselves to men. You read correctly. Women are holding women back. I have worked in a leadership position, rising up at a time when I was advised not to tell anyone my age, because it would be held against me - especially since I was a woman.  I was told I had to “work harder to prove myself,” and that it was a “sad truth” by my lovingly supportive boss. He believed in me, but assured me that, despite their trust in him as a leader, those under me would not see me in the same light.

Mainstream media abhors this kind of gender bias and many large companies are coming to the realisation that it’s still happening within their walls to an unacceptable extent. According to the EOWA 2010 Australian Census of Women in Leadership, women hold only 8.4% of Board Directorship positions and, as of 2010, over half of the ASX200 companies had no women board members - a number which has increased by 4.3% since 2004. 

How is this still a thing? Women are often, upon graduating, more qualified than their male counterparts - despite their tendency to undervalue and underestimate themselves and there have been movements spanning years for gender equality. Yet, the numbers are still staggeringly skewed. There is an underlying gender bias that goes against every notion we’ve been taught. 

Women don’t like having women bosses, are less likely to hire a female subordinate and generally discriminate against their own sex - even the staunchest of feminists. From academia to the corporate ladder, women across many fields have been found guilty of holding back their lady peers. 

When gender stereotypes - women being “helpful, gentle and nurturing" versus men as “assertive, confident and controlling” - are bent, and women are assertive or confident (see: bitchy) their female underlings don’t like it. Instead of seeing a confident woman in charge, perhaps they see someone who took their place. On the flip side, women on top are notably harsher to females beneath them. One study found that this could be as a deterrent “against threatening upward social comparisons.” As in, “Bitch, I worked for this, now step off.” This phenomenon is happening despite the same study finding that when female bosses gave positive feedback to female employees, the employees’ negative opinions of the “successful women” (i.e. bosses) in the study were lessened.

The most amazing trivia piece of all the studies? Believe it or not, the more jobs men held throughout their careers, the more they thought women make the best bosses.  Let that sink in for a moment.

Moral of the story?

If women supported other women in the workplace, be it top-down or bottom-up, we would all be better off. Not to mention it would raise GDP, facilitate the narrowing of the gender gap and let’s throw in equal pay rights - just for good measure. Remember the leadership position with the highly encouraging boss I mentioned? The sad truth? He was right. The saddest truth? I had the hardest time converting the women - both those above and below me. And quite frankly, it sucked.

As I was writing this piece, I emailed women in leadership to ask, “What is one way that you think women can further their positions in the business world?” The most poignant and summarizing response came from Jodie Fox, the co-founder of Shoes of Prey, a Sydney-based, custom shoe retailer: “The more women simply hold their ground and find conviction in their beliefs, talent and work - the more they can further their position.” That means not belittling the women working beneath you. That means supporting other women who make it to the top, and maybe even aspiring to be like them instead of whispering behind their backs.

That means being a strong, confident woman that is just as good at business as men.

You can find Rachel blogging here or on Instagram