What does it mean to be a feminist?

music-jay-z-beyonce-on-the-run-tour-poster

It was a great show and even greater mind-blowing bang afterwards, while I was trying to reconcile and digest the dynamics of this power couple. There were many different  layers and hints and context suggestions, but the question that struck me most was a blend of feminist inserts by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the body language combined with BDSM- inspired outfits. By the way, if you did not know that – these famous statements from Flawless song are taken from this speech here.

How could she possibly be so blatantly parading her sexual being and saying things like:

We teach girls to shrink themselves

To make themselves smaller

We say to girls,

You can have ambition

But not too much

You should aim to be successful

But not too successful

Otherwise you will threaten the man.

Because I am female

I am expected to aspire to marriage

But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage

And we don’t teach boys the same?

We raise girls to see each other as competitors

Not for jobs or for accomplishments

Which I think can be a good thing

But for the attention of men

We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings

In the way that boys are

Feminist: the person who believes in the social

Political, and economic equality of the sexes.

By the way, it felt like the whole Stad de France, full of teenagers and students, uncomfortably froze during this monologue, not really knowing what to make of it. The awkwardness was palpable and meaningful, like, everyone knew it was something important, something they should have an opinion about.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 22.35.00

Speaking of awkwardness –here is a book, I wish someone had given me 10 years ago. It just came out, written by former Amazonian, Anne Krook. Now What Do I Say?: Practical Workplace Advice for Younger Women is a very tactical, well structured no-nonsense set of advice for young  professional women, when certain things happen to them:

  • A colleagues asks you to order sandwiches for a meeting you aren’t attending when that is not a part of your job.
  • In a meeting you are passed over by the leader, when you want to speak, and then the conversation moves on. Or the leader does not respond to your input.
  • After the meeting a leader invites some people to go to lunch together, but not you. Or, there is a brainstorming session planned in your group, and you are not invited, though your peers are.
  • A colleague walks by your cubicle and mumbles “bitch” loud enough for you to hear.
  • Somebody says you are not so good, because you don’t have a degree in/experience in/attend a prominent school.
  • A client says “who can I speak to about this?” (implying it cannot be you)
  • A colleagues says “women/Chinese/Russians/ are usually good at that stuff, implicitly devaluing your efforts.
  • A colleagues puts his feet up on your desk. Or greets you with a hug or pats you on the back and his hand stays on your back a little too long.

I can confirm, those things happen all the time, and are especially common when you are young and not shielded by your seniority and experience. Those situations usually require immediate reaction (or a deliberate decision not to react) and you might feel totally clueless, what is the right thing to do. The books is not very long, but it offers tons or practical advice and it end with 10 workplace testaments:

  1. Value collegiality. Be and be known as a good colleague.
  2. Help others. (But don’t do their job).
  3. Thank people who help you.
  4. Keep a work diary (to write down your projects and achievements).
  5. Find other colleagues whose judgement you trust. You need their feedback.
  6. Find a mentor.
  7. Cut yourself some slack when you aren’t perfect.
  8. Read.
  9. Make yourself professionally ready for  your next job.
  10. Join professional organizations.

Must-read!

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12 Responses to What does it mean to be a feminist?

  1. Missy says:

    thanks for this inspiring post and good book recommendation!

  2. i says:

    >the dynamics of this power couple. There were many different layers and hints and context suggestions

    can you elaborate?

    >How could she possibly be so blatantly parading her sexual being and saying things like

    I guess she hits more target audience, more markets. Sex of course sells and here’s something for young women who will worship the ground she walks after those groundbreaking revelations abut femenism.

    • Yana says:

      During Drunk in love she looked very insecure and needy and he looked indifferent. Then the were moments when she looked full of herself and even phony, and he looked sorry for her. The whole show was a power play, like presidential debates in a way, full of arguments and statements. I looked and could not decide who was a leader or follower or who was driving or compromising . Like real partner relationships.

  3. Poli says:

    Do you follow tennis?

  4. Zizi says:

    “That word can be very extreme … But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman. … I do believe in equality and that we have a way to go and it’s something that’s pushed aside and something that we have been conditioned to accept. … But I’m happily married. I love my husband.”

    This is Beyonce’s quote from just a year ago. What a turnaround! I feel like all this feminism thing is just great PR move from her marketing team, considering she dances on a fricking stripper pole with her buttcheecks out in the same show and also telling other women, sorry bitches, to bow down.

    • Zizi says:

      ‘I need to find a catchy new word for feminism, right? Like Bootylicious.’

      Another one of her quotes. *facepalm*

      • Yana says:

        I see and totally agree, she often presents her body and her image as if she wants to seduce or she wants men approval or admiration, but at the same time she is very independent, cannot take it from her. That’s why I liked the show, all these questions were right in front of my eyes.

    • Yana says:

      I agree, there are so many themes around Beyonce and her image. What I see that the body and sexuality are very important to her, but at the same time she does not want it to be her identity, she does not want to be just the body. She wants to be loved and cherished and fragile, but she is not submissive and does not want to be controlled. Maybe this is how she is a feminist?

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