On Being a Female Entrepreneur in the Age of #MeToo
Every now and again my immune system and willpower fail me, and I catch a cold or the flu. With little energy to do anything else, I spent yesterday on the couch surfing social media. I should know better, but it’s a bit of an addiction for me. In between Hawaii being warned that they were in imminent danger of obliteration – NOT A DRILL – oh wait, just a silly human mistake, and all the gory details about the idiot in the White House, endless streams of misogyny filled my feeds. Still. Since pre-Face Book. Since the dawn of time. Guys have had a thing against gals, and they get all bent out of shape (or violent) when they are called on this age-old habit of making life hell for the female of the species. Another prominent actor cries “Witch hunt!” and we are supposed to apologize and go back to demurely accepting male “playful behaviour”. We are supposed to understand that our readiness to put a stop to an eternity of abuse is akin to accusing innocent women of being witches and burning them at the stake, and we should feel ashamed of ourselves for treating our men folk so badly.
With far too much time on my hands, this got me thinking about my role as a female entrepreneur in the age of #metoo. On a day when god knows how many women have died at the hands of their angered spouse, I am my own boss, running my own show. In a nation where our Indigenous women are systematically being murdered and the law has spent decades ignoring or denying it, I am a white woman of immense privilege (because enjoying human rights that should belong to everyone is actually a privilege when you realize how few women share this experience). In a world where entire countries treat their women as second-class citizens, I am an independent woman engaged in the business world that has traditionally belonged to men. I cannot take my position and freedoms for granted knowing that everywhere, every day, every hour, my sisters are enslaved, imprisoned, endangered, denied basic rights. Yet, I should be able to take my position for granted. It should be a given that all women are entitled to pursue whatever career they want. It should be a given that all women should be able to get through each day safely, happily, un-assaulted, unafraid, unrestricted. Not just me, but all women. And yet, I am keenly aware that living with these basic rights, let alone running a business, is definitely not an option for most women throughout the world.
White, middle-class, educated as I am, I have had a lifetime of dodging male-instigated danger, earning me my #metoo badge of the Survivors’ Club. These days as I grow grey, I’m not such a target for the lewd, inappropriate, groping advances as I was in my youth, but I still get to endure the never-ending phenomenon of mansplaining from those well-meaning gents who tell me what I know. Now, in my fifties, I am the mother a daughter who is away at University, and, so, instead of being in a constant state of fear for my own wellbeing, I worry for hers. When she takes an Uber to the airport to fly home for the holidays, even though I know she has taken all precautions to get there safely, my heart is firmly launched in my throat worrying that this will be the driver who just can’t/won’t resist her young beauty. When she does what all twenty year-old students do, and goes out on the town, I fear her drink will be spiked and she will be raped. I feel this need to share my mother’s concerns just in case anyone is truly wondering why we women are still harping on about misogyny a full three months since the first anti-abuse hashtags hit the news. Women living in danger has been a thing forever, and now, we are finally starting to challenge this way of living. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but, with our continued efforts, #timesup can be a reality.
I love my role as a female entrepreneur. I love having the independence and freedom to make decisions that I feel will benefit others. I love being able to provide employment and contribute to my community. I love the unfaltering respect and support my husband showers upon me. I feel lucky to be in this role, but my experiences should not be a case of good luck. As a human, male or female, I should be entitled to the independence, freedom, respect and support. Until all women have these rights, not just us lucky ones, though I'm no Oprah, I will use my position to do whatever I can to amplify #metoo and #timesup and do everything in my power to create a world free of misogyny. For my daughter. For all women. For humanity.