I talk a lot about speaking freely. It's time I spoke freely about why I don't march in the events surrounding the Women's Movement ... or any protest at all.
I wrote a post about Feminine Energy yesterday. Thanks to everyone who shared such kind comments and shared the post. Actually, it’s ironic to me that we were discussing this concept on the same day as another Women’s March around the world. Not to mention the Day Without a Woman event, where many women worldwide took a break from paid and unpaid labor.
I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t march, haven’t, and don’t plan to … not in this movement, at least.
Now, let me be clear: I actually really appreciate AND support the principles of the movement as laid out on its website. That is a spirit I can get behind! But on a day when we talked about feminine energy, what surprised me most about the women’s movement is how little feminine energy exudes from the protesters. It's the furthest thing from “women’s power” that I can possibly imagine.
Now, please don’t mistake me for saying that a feminine woman can’t show righteous anger, or express her opinion forcefully, or get out in the streets and speak her mind, or apply pressure to the powers that be. But I believe the way in which she does it makes all the difference for her effectiveness.
The women of the women’s movement I’ve seen recently (at least in the press) sound and act like a lot more like men. I know that comment will be taken to task. I’ll be asked to define what I think a woman is, why do I think women can’t act like men, etc. And that is not what I mean. What I’m talking about is the energy exuded is not the kind of energy that makes women powerful. It is patriarchal, and as suppressive as the energy it seeks to subvert. It will ultimately do more to harm the cause of women than help, even if legislative gains are made.
Danielle LaPorte wrote a post about this recently, although she did not mention the Movement specifically. I recommend you read it in full.
This type of action doesn’t seem like equality or freedom to me. In fact, it seems more like bondage to the idea that the only way we’ll ever get power is by playing the game men play. The women I'm seeing, in many instances, don’t exude power to me. They exude weakness. Not because they are not strong, capable, beautiful women (they absolutely are!), but because they are resorting to a violent message for getting their point across … and missing out on the powerful and unique gifts they possess as women to communicate and effect change in a totally different way.
Which might be why … most of the women I admire most in this whole affair aren’t marching at all.
They’re the women who have strong voices, but tend to use them in ways that don’t make headlines, because they’re building their own incomes and quickly turning around to teach the power-creating principles of money making straight to other women. These women may not get on the news tomorrow, but they’re embodying the power of the feminine energy I described in my post.
In the end, I believe they’ll effect just as much change as protesters. Maybe more.
Because if money talks to power ... then women of all races, nationalities, creeds and ways of life will be better served by making a heck of a lot more money on their own terms.
So how did I spend my day yesterday?
I spent it building my business and my relationships, both personal and professional. I was paid by several clients, and I immediately turned around and reinvested that money by re-upping my contract with another woman in business.
This woman provides excellent service, and I pay her a four-figure amount per month to work with me on a very limited basis. In other words ... the dollar-per-hour amount she makes each month is probably north of even most corporate hourly wages.
I like it that way. She's not the only woman I pay this way. Because the most important thing I can do with my economic power is give it straight back to other women.
Eventually I intend my business to channel wealth to a vast network of worthy women who sell their unique skills and gifts for a price that reflects their worth.
Dollars speak louder than anything else in the political game, or so I'm told. If that's true, I intend to make my dollars scream.
I may not have marched in the women’s march … but I’m paying a professional wage to other women businesses. And my goal is to hire as many such women as possible and pay them what they’d get paid in a corporate environment (in many cases more) for their expertise.
Some of you may be thinking right now, “Does she understand how much white privilege is reflected in these statements? SHE can do this, but so many other women can't.”
I do recognize my white privilege. Absolutely. And I understand that even though I recognize it, I do not see or understand the full extent of it.
But I also stubbornly believe that personal power is available to everyone … whether or not they currently know, accept and believe it.
If I can do anything with my white privilege at all I want it to be not to hold signs regularly, or sit back and bask in the (relative) ease with which I can change my financial situation, but to helping women and girls of all backgrounds truly discover their power and step into it, in ways that are immediately accessible to them in their own lives. That power takes many forms, but one of the most potent (for unlocking all the others) is financial.
When women do that, en masse, from every color, creed and background, the government won’t be able to look the other way for long.
Please note that I DO understand how important protest and public expression are to effecting change in legislation. What I’m saying is that we don’t have to wait for that legislative change to actually create the change the women’s movement wants. We have a choice about where to put our change-making energies. I choose to put mine somewhere else.
I didn’t always have this mindset.
A recently as early last year, many of you know my financial situation was tenuous due to life changes. Even though I was a "fully empowered professional woman," I had been dependent on my husband's earning power my whole adult life, even though I was too embarrassed to admit it. Then, we separated unexpectedly, and my financial safety net bottomed out.
Many people told me that I should become dependent on sources and help, not just from the government but from churches and community organizations. I do believe these sources have value. But I trusted and believed in a different way. I clung to the idea that I had power and agency over my life even when it seemed totally absurd.
That way was opened for me when there seemed to be no way. Miracles ensued, and what was perhaps the biggest miracle of all: I found a wellspring of personal power I didn't know I had. What I learned over the course of the journey from a mindset of lack to a mindset of abundance is multi-fold. And it forms the basis of how I choose to "march differently" than many other women I know.
My Women's March includes:
- Believing (and seeing in my life every day!) that I have to power to create as much money as I want, at any time, based on how I manage my mindset and my energy.
- Choosing never feel like a victim or feel powerless—even though I could—because I know that in any situation I have the ingenuity, the courage, and the spiritual conviction to find a way to turn it to my advantage.
- Never having to worry about a pay gap, because I ask for (and get paid) what I’m worth, for my passion, from independent clients, most of whom are other women.
- Paying other women the fair rate they’re asking for. Sometimes I ask them to raise their rates when I know they’re grossly underselling themselves.
- Committing that as of January 2017, 20% of my income will now go to reputable organizations that teach women how to support themselves, how to create businesses, and then create wealth ... around the world. (I’m having a phone call on Friday with the first organization I've selected to receive these donations, to clarify the setup process for my first quarter's installment.) Eventually, this will be 50%.
- Mentoring women of all ages to start their own businesses and create their own incomes that are fully independent of any man’s support.
NOTE: This last point is NOT because I don’t believe in sharing finances with a partner, but because a woman categorically needs to be as capable of creating a good an income as any man. No woman has to go to bed at night worried that if something happened to her partner (if she has one), that she and her children would starve.
I share the list above not to brag, but I want you to see that there are other ways of creating opportunity for women.
I realize this may seem to be primarily about financial opportunities, whereas the Women’s Movement focuses on a broad array, including reproductive issues and others. However, "Economic Solidarity" is a big theme of the movement. And if I’ve learned anything in my own life, it’s that my power to affect ALL areas of life, including health, family planning, religion, community activism and anything else, starts with owning my economic power.
These opportunities are available to ALL women. Many of them just don't know they have the power or how to access resources, or what process to use to better themselves. As women, it's our job to use our feminine energy to do what we do best: create community. Lift one another up. Create support networks for ourselves.
In other words, as my friend says, BE THE CHANGE we want to see, instead of just demanding it.
Actions, like dollars, speak so much louder than words.
What I do love absolutely love about the Women’s Movement is its recognition that most women, minorities and marginalized groups are NOT walking in this sense of power and freedom. The Movement seeks to raise that awareness, create change and help women advance. (At least, that is my understanding from their materials.) While this may not be the intention behind the movement, it is easy in this paradigm to get the idea that the only power we have is coercing politicians to rewrite laws.
I don’t want any woman of any color, creed or life experience to believe this for a second. Because when she does, she undercuts her OWN power to change her OWN life.
Again, this may not be the spirit of the movement …. but it’s an undercurrent of belief I hear in so many comments about the movement and the political situation.
Sisters, we are never powerless. Ever. Not if we know how to unlock our power.
I believe the answer is teaching women—and everyone who has experienced the kind of marginalization that women are fighting against—how to take up their power to change their OWN lives first. Legislation has to change. No question about it. But while we’re waiting for Congress to notice what we're saying, so much can already be done. Right now. Right here. Right in our communities.
THAT is where I want to put my energy. Every day of my life. From now until I die.
YES, I do understand that protest has historically been a key way that marginalized groups have advanced their rights, including in the original women's suffrage movement. But I would argue that very often, the protest has stemmed from a lack of economic power in those protesting. I want to get at that root of LACK and pull it right out.
Marching with a sign is one way to do that. But to me, it’s a way that focuses mostly on getting other people to change their opinions. Kind of an exhausting and losing game, in my experience, since the only person you can really control is yourself.
Why should I expend energy my precious energy trying to change other people's mindsets, when I can expend it on changing the one and only thing I can absolutely control: me, my choices, and my impact on other women?
Change starts with me, in me.
As I model that to the world, the world starts to change too. I have seen this time and time again. It’s amazing and magical and … it doesn’t require stopping traffic, shouting obscenities, or (at its most extreme) committing acts of vandalism to get my point across.
At the end of the day, all women want transformation, I believe. The Women’s Movement and other groups want this. We all do. This is a noble desire and one we should ALL strive for.
You want economic solidarity for all women?
There are different ways to do this, my friends.
Let's open up the conversation.