yI’m a feminist. Never had a problem saying that, even in the 90s when it was all about Nuts and you said that at peril of being laughed out of court or ignored.
But what does that mean in practice? You probably already have an idea of me as strident and opinionated and defensive just because I said that I was a feminist. But in reality, all feminism means is that you believe that men and women deserve to be treated equally – so if there are two people who are equally as intelligent, with the same responsibilities, achieving the same things they should be paid the same for example. Seems fair right? If it was two men then we would be astonished if they were, unfortunately that situation usually relates to a man and a woman and if one is paid less it will invariably be the woman.
For a while now I think that society has been sitting back, happy with the progress that has been achieved for women, trying to move away from the strident aggressive view of feminism back towards a softer and more malleable view of women. And let’s be clear, woman have been just as guilty of that as men. Here’s a quote that I believe sums it up…
My classmates and I believed that the feminists of the 1960s and 1970s had done the hard work of achieving equal opportunity for women. Now all we had to do was seize those opportunities. Sheryl Sandberg
But the tide is changing, there is more discussion, more questioning, more “Hang on a minute, we thought we were supposed to be in positions of power, earning equal money, something is going on….”
And there are women who actually are in positions of power saying “Hang on a minute, why was it so hard to get here and where are all the other women?” One such is Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook. Her contention is that one of the issues is that women habitually “lean out/away” instead of Leaning In or engaging with the difficult situations or challenging opportunities that the business world can throw at you. So she has written a book and started a community www.leanin.org. The idea is that women form small groups to support each other in the work environment to encourage each other to lean in. But more than that it is to understand the environment we are dealing with – innate prejudice from both women and men towards women, different work and negotiation styles, the expression of and the ability to take power and so much more.
I would urge you if you are woman to take a look but also if you are man. There is stuff here that is useful to us all. The New Feminism is about fairness as it always was but it’s about taking a deeper look at ourselves and understanding the more subtle issues underneath which are affecting the environment. And it’s inspirational. And fascinating.