Can You Be a Feminist at Work?
Welcome to part fifteen of Your Moment of Ambition a 20-part series brought to you by KoMedia Inc, and written by staff writer Kylie Adair. This series dives into the daily realities for women entrepreneurs and can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9 am via our newsletter.
“I do recall a somebody, I don’t remember who it was, saying ‘I don’t think you should talk about feminism on the site,’” she says. “I just kind of smiled and said ok, but was thinking, ‘I will talk about whatever I want.’”
Because the idea of not talking about feminism was completely counter to what Jezebel does. It’s a women’s magazine for women who hate women’s magazines, a haven for those of us who are unabashedly addicted to pop culture but can’t turn off our feminist brains long enough to read another article about how some celebrity woman hasn’t restored her pre-baby body fast enough.
So, while working for Gawker in 2007 and noticing that its female readers wanted more than the media market could offer them at the time, Anna founded Jezebel as a Gawker blog.
Since then, Jezebel has taken off and the world of popular feminist media has diversified, from feminist pop culture criticism like Jezebel and Bitch to Vice’s new women’s vertical, Broadly — to Dream, Girl director Erin Bagwell’s first venture, Feminist Wednesday, which profiles inspiring feminists every Wednesday.
“I really think these outlets bring to life the experiences we share as women, as feminists. They allow for communities to be formed, women to support other women, men to engage in feminism, and for women to know they’re not alone,” says Alicia Napierkowski, Editor in Chief of Feminist Wednesday.
“These are places we can all meet up and share our stories, thoughts, and opinions. They’re safe houses and encouragers of self-expression, inspiration, and change. The things we think are so taboo are actually not at all, and that’s something we all need: rapport, and support.”
It’s hard to know what came first: the steady increase in popularity and accessibility of feminist media or the mass public embracing of the term feminist — perhaps the most famous example of which being Beyonce’s own neon statement.
But with feminism’s shift into the mainstream has come what some call the rise of ‘corporate feminism’ — and the argument that feminism and capitalism are inherently incompatible.
And to be fair, some recent developments haven’t exactly disproved this theory. For instance, when Apple and Facebook recently announced they would pay for female employees’ eggs to be frozen so they could focus on their careers for longer, feminists questioned what kind of message this sent to women in the corporate world — namely that having a family and climbing the corporate ladder aren’t compatible, and, perhaps most heartbreakingly, that companies see women only in terms of their productivity and not as whole people who deserve to have lives outside of work.
And while it’s true that traditional ways of doing business can often exclude women who are systemically disadvantaged — women of colour, LGBTQ women, women with disabilities — more and more women-led companies are changing this narrative.
In fact, we already know that companies with women on boards tend to equal better corporate social responsibility, but another welcome effect of their presence is diversified hiring.
Take Intel for example — earlier this year, the company announced a $300 million investment in diversity, with new training and recruiting initiatives to to add more women and people of colour to the team.
And the woman behind the shift? Intel President, Renee James, who holds the highest-ranked position of any woman in the company’s history.
So while traditionally, the corporate world has often disenfranchised women and minorities, it’s safe to say that the introduction of corporate feminism has begun to shake up this norm. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a start.
And no matter what your feminism looks like, how you choose to express it, it’s hard to deny that the movement has transformed so many women’s lives.
“It’s mind-blowing to reflect on my experiences and realize that I, one person, have been so incredibly influenced by where feminism has taken me, to Feminist Wednesday and Dream, Girl,” says Alivia, “and that when Dream, Girl is released, it will be multiplied by millions and change the lives of that many other girls who have been searching for the encouragement to fulfill their dreams.”
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