"Before women gained the right to vote in America many had never before considered their degraded status as anything but natural."
I read this in New York Times Bestseller, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant. “To degrade is to discredit and regard with contempt or disrespect. It is having a status that is reduced, lower in dignity and weak.”
This was like a shot of expresso on my early morning flight from Montreal to Atlanta. It was chapter one and already my mental wheels were turning. I had struggled for over a week to gather my thoughts for an international women’s day conference being held in Paris, France. Three women from three continents are coming together in a panel discussion to motivate women - The Americas, Europe and Australia. And, I represented The Americas.
I hardly felt ready to address a world audience. I still have more questions than answers when it comes to motivating and uniting women. But I continued to read Grant's ideas on the collective acceptance of social defaults. Perhaps this would offer me a fresh perspective to unscramble my thoughts.
There was time when our degraded status was natural! I get that. But certainly, we are past that time now! Aren’t we?!!
You know a degraded status is unnatural.
You know we need the power of the collective to make positive difference for all women. And, you know we can not accomplish gender inclusion if we don’t work together. But somehow we have engaged tools of exclusion against one another without knowing it.
And what are these tools?
Shame, Judgment and Criticism.
On popular reality television shows, they call it “Throwing Shade”.
“Throwing Shade” undermines our ability to unify, empower and inspire. We dispense Shame, Judgment and Criticism as naturally as we once accepted our inability to vote.
Women with the courage to parent without the support of a man are met with shaming. Elder women judge younger women under the tags of “that generation” or “girls these days”. Mothers who enjoy work that takes them away from their children are criticized the same as women who believe motherhood my not be the natural progression for them.
Shame, judgment and criticism used by women against women erodes the very collective we need to move entire communities forward.
Cast the tools of exclusion aside and together we can trample paths less chartered, cut down the weeds, and create a trail that is easier for the next woman to navigate.
Women are no longer degraded!
We will press for progress as the empowered collective we are.
Our call to action:
We can begin by replacing the urge to “throw shade” with acknowledgement and gratitude. Through gratitude and acknowledgment of every woman - no matter the differences, we can heal the stories of our past and overcome the struggles. In healing ourselves of outdated judgments, we overthrow the history that once made it natural to discredit and disrespect us!
Mothers, daughters, sisters, co-workers, and entrepreneurs...
We are the collective!
We are #pressforprogress!
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
- Gloria Steinem