Everyday, Practical, Bold, Supremely Usable Feminism

Lex writing here, eager to share what emerged from our first #FeministsAtWork salon! Last night, 25 of us met up at Idealist (thank you Idealist for hosting us!) and ended up having a wide ranging conversation on everything from the roots of the concept of intersectionality (thank you Stacy-Marie Ishmael for naming and weaving this in!) to some really bad/blatantly sexist experiences at work to feminist practices we’re already using to support ourselves and support others at work and in the world.

We had two goals for the conversation:

a) to set a foundation for an ongoing conversation through #feministsatwork 

b) leave with something we can use and share

So, a reminder of the original prompt and then some notes on what emerged below. (Scroll to the end for information on next steps!)

The invitation: We’re asking that you bring an example of an action you’ve tried, a situation you’ve have faced, or an opportunity that you’ve have identified, to put feminist ideas into practice at work.

And here’s what we came up with below. A reminder: these practices below are not intended to be prescriptive! They are a community sourced list of things we are already doing that we are offering up. They are ready for experimenting/running with.

Practices:

  1. consider whether it’s necessary to apologize for your behavior in work situations (some of us tend to over-apologize for no reason)
  2. name sexism when/where it happens, name it for/mention it to a colleague if they don’t recognize it for what it is and are automatically questioning themselves instead
  3. use good meeting practices to make sure all voices get heard/people have a chance of speaking up
  4. use data to argue your case for change
  5. take what you can from a less than great/bad work situation (milk it for what it’s worth)
  6. resist the temptation to internalize work too much
  7. ask for more money
  8. celebrate fatherhood (re work/life balance, flex work schedules, gender)
  9. tell someone something they don’t know about sexism, feminism, change
  10. leave what doesn’t serve you
  11. don’t “over-give”
  12. don’t make it about “you vs. [someone else/blank]”, make it about “us vs. bad behaviors that don’t help”
  13. be the boss
  14. create a kind of glass wall protective barrier to protect yourself mentally/emotionally in sexist workplaces
  15. insert yourself into clusters of men and participate and/or purposefully shift the dynamic
  16. promote items in the org mythology that promote feminism
  17. find comfort and ideas in allies
  18. have friends and colleagues who can acknowledge when something sexist/unjust happens and tell you it is so
  19. “when someone else doesn’t recognize your work, you need to be responsible for making it recognizable”
  20. fund the changes you want to see

Situations:

  1. power imbalance due to age difference
  2. class difference, boss asserts position of class superiority, makes for unpleasant work situation
  3. most newspapers/mags still have ad-based funding models, and we know advertising is sexist, gender imbalanced, unjust – so where do we go from here?
  4. nonprofit organizational/biz model makes for un-feminist, really challenging workplaces – how do we tackle this?

Questions/Opportunities/Observations:

  1. “how do we teach each other about feminism, knowing we are all growing and imperfect?”
  2. “let’s fantasize about what a feminist workplace would be, what we WOULD do”
  3. what does it mean to be a man?
  4. how do we take care of ourselves in a sexist work environment?
  5. “sexism is not just about personalities, it’s about organizational norms and systems”
  6. “I think of respect as a kind of human right”
  7. men and women think differently sometimes
  8. talking about this stuff requires willingness to experience discomfort
  9. would be good to have conversation specifically focusing on challenges/opportunities in nonprofit context
  10. “don’t have the vocabulary around this”
  11. how do we take feminism beyond “the individual”, beyond a conversation about individual advancement in the workplace?

What’s next? It’s up to all of us to decide. CV wrote up a list of 12 ways to keep the conversation moving, that’s a great place to start. Please check it out and share your thoughts!

One thing we especially want to invite is for folks to take a look at the list above, pick a topic, and write a piece… Or you can always make a short video. If you don’t publish it elsewhere, we’ll get it up here on the blog. Email me if you need editing support lex@feministsatwork.com.

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