Apparently it’s International Women’s Day. Thanks Mr. President for expediting the inauguration of this very important and overdue acknowledgement of half the world.
But here’s why the effort will fail if it hasn’t already. The only people heralding women not just today but almost every day including the day of that impressive March on Washington are other women. My Facebook feed this morning is filled with inspirational quotes about women. My friends and acquaintances are all wearing red, going around high fiving each other for this great achievement towards women’s equality. But there’s something called buy-in and I’m afraid we as a class simply don’t have it. And it’s partially our own faults.
Sheryl Sandberg wrote a life changing book called Lean In that literally made me cry because finally there was a powerful successful woman coming forward to say “ya know what? It wasn’t easy”. I wasn’t alone in my daily struggles to thrive at all things life.
There was the important article in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter finally conceding that we can’t possibly have it all. And now another high profile book from Sallie Krawcheck telling us how we too can Own It. But isn’t this the problem? All these ground breaking tomes are directed amongst ourselves. Isn’t anyone ever going to address the men? Those in self-appointed “power”? The other half of the world?
I want to be part of the conversation. As a results driven individual, I also want to affect change. But I’m not sure my fellow women are proving effective with the way we’re going about it. Sending emails to large groups of female cohorts in the office with fabulous reading material to discuss or debate goes nowhere. Having women’s resource groups with special speakers and events only further segregates us. Suggesting we shouldn’t go to work for a day just sets us up for the inevitable “every day is women’s day” comment.
We need to get the men on board. All of them. And we must start with the powerful ones. We can’t be afraid to make them uncomfortable by telling them where they’re missing the mark. We need to make them aware, make them care- after all, many of them have daughters of their own. When I repeatedly suggest to my manager and his manager that they read Lean In to understand my struggles, they think I’m joking. Given the number of one liners in my workplace undermining the meaning and weight of today’s “holiday”, we need to redirect this conversation immediately and reach out for support from the other side.
Look on your Facebook feed. How many men recognized the gravity of International Women’s Day? How many men liked your post that shared the heartstrings-pulling statue of the little girl facing off with the scary Bull on Wall Street? Maybe my friends are all misogynists, but I am willing to bet the answer is close to none for many of you.
I AM that little girl standing in front of that bull. Every single day. We are going to have to get a little closer to the horns if we want to see results anytime soon. So stop high-fiving your girlfriends about how awesome we are, and start convincing the men around you to get on board. Stand up and speak out, but consider who we should be speaking to.