Thu, 12 November 2015
Let's Get This Controversy Started
Today's guest reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked to come on our podcast to talk about social media. But after browsing through some of her content I came across an article she wrote on Medium called Let’s talk about Femtrepreneurshit that caught my attention. I was so fascinated by the topic that I asked her to talk about it instead.
And what is "Femtrepreneurshit"? According to today's guest Mojca Mars (you'll just have to listen for the pronunciation!), femtrepreneurship is a movement of women entrepreneurs and femtrepreneurshit is the ugly consequence. So let's get started offending some people, shall we?
What Is An Entrepreneur?
That's a question we couldn't answer in a hundred podcasts. Seems like everyone has a different idea of what it means, from being a business mogul who buys and sells multimillion dollar businesses to a guy working in his sweats at home.
And maybe it's all that, but Mojca has a simple definition and so do we. For Mojca, it means that she is just a person running a business, getting her own clients, doing her own thing, maybe not with all the fancy business plans and "corporate" pieces in place, but working for herself nonetheless.
For us it means picking up the cat puke. Because as entrepreneurs we get to have the fancy client dinners and produce the shiny new websites but we also clean the toilets and yes, pick up the cat puke. Basically, whatever it takes.
So What's Up With Femtrepreneurs?
Mojca defines femtrepreneurship less as a "women's power" type of movement and more of a spiritual movement and support group. It involves "female entrepreneur" conferences that spring up around – dare I say – "woo-woo" types of behavior (she gives an example of a daily routine that involves filling up a glass of water and making some affirmations while looking into it) and patting each other on the back for doing such a great job.
Ok, so what's wrong with a little woo-woo and back-patting? Mojca feels pretty strongly that these types of events not only exclude men (reverse sexism, hm?) but actual business conversation, too.
Instead of talking about strategy and ideas and money, it's one big female-power support group.
I have to admit, I agree with her point of view on these types of events. If I'm going to a business conference, I want it to be about business. And while there is nothing wrong with support groups, spirituality and even infusing these into your business, there is also actual business stuff that needs attention.
The problem arises when women isolate themselves by being "female entrepreneurs" and not simply "entrepreneurs." We don't need a qualifier. If we want to be considered as equal, as successful, as competent as men, then we need to stop imposing "other" status on ourselves.
Let the hate mail commence.
I Don't Need a Qualifier. Neither Do You.
We don't call men "male entrepreneurs" so why call ourselves "female entrepreneurs?" It's actually condescending. Here's what I hear when someone calls me (or you) a female entrepreneur: "Hey, you did a great job! For a woman."
(Also, if you tell me I didn't do a great job, I won't cry.)
Does sexism exist? Sure. But we women impose a lot of it on ourselves, by hosting "women only" (isolationist) events, by tacking adjectives onto our achievements and by behaving like something other than what we are – people.
Come on, I'm seriously ready for the hate mail.
"Men Are Great People."
That's what Mojca says, and come on, they are. Right?
I mean, some people are great people and some people are not so great people. Gender doesn't have to play a role.
The truth is that some men marginalize women. I have this problem repeatedly: I'll call a vendor and make a request to have something done.
Time goes by… nothing gets done.
I call again and ask for my thing to be done.
Time goes by… nothing gets done.
After a cycle of this I will eventually go to Ralph and say, "Please call this vendor and use the man voice so I can get this done."
And he does. And it does.
This isn't an exaggeration. This is "a thing." It's a really annoying thing.
But on the whole men are, actually, pretty great. I like them. I like their humor and conversations. I like the fact that I can talk about business and not my hair or whether my feelings were hurt by that mean tweet.
I don't want to go to an event that's segregated. I don't want to talk about "women things." I just want to talk about things, whatever they may be.
So my feeling is that if we put ourselves into the world the way we are, if we act like people engaging with people, we'll be a lot better off than being femtrepreneurs.
Why Does Femtrepreneurship Exist?
Well that would require an entire sociological study, but of course we have thoughts. Ralph thinks it may be a "rubber band" effect, a reaction to women being excluded and marginalized. What do you do when you're excluded? You start your own group where you can be included and appreciated. And that's necessary and useful because it can instigate change.
Mojca thinks it's a reaction to fear. Women are afraid to be criticized so they avoid situations where they might be criticized, even if it's constructive criticism. Instead, they retreat to women's support groups that don't address real issues in business.
I agree with both of them. There's no doubt that women have historically not had the same opportunities as men. And there's no doubt that everyone needs to silence the voice of the critic sometimes.
Somewhere beneath all the qualifiers, the reactions, over reactions and under reactions, is a balance of equality where we act and treat each other as people.
Do We Behave Like Women… Or Like We Think Women Should Behave?
Sometimes women temper their behavior because we think that's how we're "supposed" to act. We worry about how we'll be perceived by men. We want to be nice, we want to be liked, we want to be beautiful. So we put out these perfectly Photoshopped photos (no beer bellies for us!) and we sculpt our conversations to fit some perceived notion of what will make us likeable.
Of course, this is not an ailment reserved just for women. Men and women alike often find it challenging to "be themselves" online, hemmed in by their own ideas of what they think people expect of them. We conform to expectations of what a "professional" is or what a "woman/man" is or what a "social media expert" is.
In the end, aren't we just putting those limits on ourselves?
Mojca Will Punch You
Does Mojca try to be "nice?" Does she want to wrap everything in a nice bow for you? Oh hell no. She is not going to be nice just because she is a woman. She is just going to be herself.
If you start a conversation she is going to have it with you. If you say something opinionated she is going to have one right back. Get all up in her face and she will punch you.
She doesn't hold back from being herself. And she considers it one of the advantages of running her own business – she gets to be herself because nobody is tying her hands. She gets clients just the way she is.
Also, she wears a dinosaur onesie.
More Conversation, Please
The way to combat our problems with discrimination and sexism is not to create more problems for ourselves. Creating separate groups, bestowing special titles or statuses on ourselves is only creating a wider gap.
The solution is in talking about these issues and sharing our thoughts and fears. The solution will happen one person and one relationship at a time.
Your Action Item
From Mojca: Prepare five tweets that show your personality. A photo of you or something that reflects the real you – not the "you" that you think other people want to see. Then put them out there! (PS: this is your homework whether you're a man or a woman. Add the hash tag #wssup so we can applaud your you-ness!
And more! Mojca has prepared some goodies for you, including marketing worksheets, resources and a 50% discount on her new Facebook ads book. Link below!
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Direct download: 0159-femtrepreneurship-or-femtrepreneurshit-on-women-and-self-inflicted-sexism.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 12:00am EDT