“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult” Melinda Gates.
Keeping your voice.
I see more women find their voice and then lose it. They give up on it and choose an easier path – that of a wallflower or someone who doesn’t want to stir the pot, or change the status quo.
We live in a toxic environment where people can hide behind keyboards and try to destroy our character without even having the bravery to say it to our face.
I’m here to tell you that being a woman today is easier that it was and harder than it was.
A hundred years ago women were chastised if they showed their ankles in public.
Now when women show too much of their body they are chastised.
In regards to how we look, that has not changed for centuries. We are still judged first by how we look.
This wasn’t always the case. In ancient times women were revered. Statues of women – in all shapes and sizes. Their body was considered scared as women were the ones who brought new life. Look at Ancient Egypt and you’ll see their Gods were women, Isis, Anubis, Tefnut. In ancient India you had Vishnu and Shiva. Greco-Roman you have Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena, and Nike.
100 years ago women were pioneers in my field of filmmaking. Women who couldn’t even vote were making hundreds of films, running their own studio and creating new innovations that we still use today. It was a woman who made the first narrative film. It was a woman who was the first to experiment with sound. For 40 years women were equal to men in filmmaking in terms of quality, output, opportunity and payment. Now only 9% of the films that are released are made by women. Women, like myself are told that it’s too hard for a woman to succeed in filmmaking – they can’t handle the pressure, they can’t handle the money, they can’t make films that a mainstream audience will want to see.
My industry is not the only one that does this.
Even though there are more opportunities and more rights for women thanks to the suffragette movement of the 1840’s and 1920’s and the feminist movement of the 1970’s, there is still a glass ceiling. There is still gender discrimination.
- Women still get paid 77 cents to every $1.00 a man makes.
- 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat.
- 1 of 4 women college age women have an eating disorder
- Every 7 minutes a girl is bullied at school.
- There is only 18% of women in congress.
- 14% of women hold executive officer positions
- 16% of women hold board seats
- 21 of the Fortune 500 companies are women.
If any of these upsets you and causes you to ask why I urge you to learn more and be proactive in finding a solution.
But here is the good new because remember that double-edge coin of failure and success.
- Women are 51% of the population
- Women are 57% of the labor workforce
- Women are 57% of the college graduates
- 41% of women are the breadwinners
- 60% of women are active on social media
- When account for 85% of all consumer purchases from cars to healthcare
- Women account for $7 trillion dollars in consumer spending in the US
I have found that women have tremendous influence in everything from active consumers, earning money, seeking education, healthcare, raising amazing children and empowering other women. There is no doubt that we are all superhero’s awaiting a call to action. We are all Wonder Woman. We are all Rosie the Riveter “we can do it.”
I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s not easy. We’re going to have to work hard to find our voice and keep it. And trust me, it’s worth it.
Here are 10 steps to being (or realizing that you already are) a strong woman.
- Follow your bliss=finding your voice (Covered in Part 1)
- Don’t listen to dream killers (Covered in Part 1)
- Surround yourself with people with purpose (Covered in Part 1)
- Educate yourself – seek out ideas beyond party lines, across religions, regions and backgrounds. There is something you can learn from everyone. It’s out-of-the box thinking that will propel change.
- Embrace that you will not please everyone – There are people who won’t like you because you remind them of someone who has wronged them. This is not your problem – it is theirs. Example: Condelisa Rice, you might not like her political stance but the fact that there was an African American in a high power of our government is an inspiration to women and African American girls.
- Stand your ground – Rosa Park finally had enough in 1955. After witnessing and experience racism and working with the NAACP, she paid for her ticket, sat in the front row of the black’s only section of the bus when the white section filled up the bus driver asked her to move. She refused and was arrested. She was not the first to be arrested for this violation but her actions where the spark for the Civil Rights Movement.
- Know the difference between an emotional argument and a factional argument – Emotional argument is your opinion vs another opinion. There is NO winning. There is an exchange of passion and points of view. These conversations should be respected. Think of the saying “no matter how you slice it, there are always two sides.” If you’re having an emotional argument and your views are not being respected with comments such as “you’re wrong for feeling that way” or “nothing good will come from your way of thinking” end the conversation. A factual argument is better suited at schools, workplaces. They are a foundation on the facts and data given in the argument. Keeping emotion out of the argument keeps the conversation on an even keel and can reach a conclusion.
- How to deal with bullies – bullies crave attention and get it by countering anything. They get off topic quickly and drive to blows such as “She’s not very sexy so I don’t listen to her anyway.” Bullies don’t like facts. When it comes to cyber-bullying stand your ground once with facts and not an emotional response. “I thank you for your opinion however I disagree.” Then ignore. They will continue to write themselves into a hole and really you won’t have to say much other will see they are just being a bully. Also block, unfriend and report. If you’re being bullied at school or work, stand your ground. “You don’t talk to me like that.” then immediately tell your teacher or employer. Don’t wait for it to work itself out and generally it gets worse.
- Don’t expect other women to help you but expect to help other women – the queen bee syndrome of one woman at the top is dying. More than one woman can hold a management position. Collaboration is the way civilized society functions productivity. That means learning to work effectively with men and women.
- Make your partner a real partner– I’m stealing this one from Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In because it’s great. Find a partner that is a real partner and will share the parenting responsibilities, share the household duties, share financial responsibilities. Your common interests and even your goals will change through time but you’re willing to work together as a team, as partners is the foundation you need to succeed.