At the First Friday Book Synopsis, we have presented a number of books over the past few years dealing with feminism. All of these are available for purchase at 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
One of our Creative Communication Network part-time consultants, Carmen Coreas, recently weighed in with her views about feminism, citing information from some of the books we have presented. In this blog post, she discusses what feminism means to her, and how in her opinion, the definition of feminism has evolved. She finishes by revealing whether she considers herself to be a feminist. If you have read these books, attended our synopses, or listened our recordings, you can see how closely her remarks resemble your own.
What Feminism Means to Me
Many women are tired of discussing the feminist movement. Many have just given up, moved on, and accepted society and the business world as they are. They are no longer interested in trying to enact real change in the workplace, at home, in non-profit organizations, and other venues.
I believe in the words that Sallie Krawcheck wrote recently in her best-seller entitled Own It: The Power of Women at Work (New York: Crown Books, 2017). The point of her book was not about excluding men, but rather, including women. Her stance is well aligned with the best-seller, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (New York: Knopf, 2013) by Sheryl Sandberg.
To me, feminism is not defeating men for the good of women. I define feminism clearly and concisely as standing up for who we are and what we do. Women can do that in ways that are not at the expense of men.
This is so different from what other authorities claim. One journalist, Jessica Bennett, is a flaming feminist. Her book, Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace (New York: Harper, 2016) is described as “part manual, part manifesto – an illustrated, practical, no-bullshit guide to battling sexism at work” (source: www.feministfightclub.com). The entire book is a men-basher.
Conversely, Sallie Krawcheck believes in the power of women. “We women are different. And therein lie our greatest strength and competitive advantage in the modern workplace…We need more women acting more like women. And this goes not just for female CEO’s or women in top senior leadership positions, but for all women. That’s because the power of diversity is…wait for it..,diversity” (p. 9).
This quote resonates well with me. I define feminism as being ourselves. We are women. We are good. We need to let everyone know that we deserve a voice. But, this is not a fixed pie. We can stand up for ourselves, and do everything we need, without fighting men in the process. Our gains are not men’s losses.
Evolvement of the Feminist Definition
In its earliest days, feminism was a power play. Women participated in braless public rallies. Women would attend professional seminars to learn how to survive in a man’s business world. They would learn how to dress like a man, participate in meetings like men, how to challenge and speak with men interpersonally, and even not to drink water before a meeting with men, so that they would not have to excuse themselves to use the rest room. At that time, you could not be a woman, because to survive, you had to act (and even look) like a man.
The early attitudes were to fight men. Remember the great push in the late 1980’s for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The Reverend Jesse Jackson, in his 1988 Democratic National Convention speech in which he accepted the nomination, rallied the crowd by exclaiming, “women cannot buy bread cheaper, women cannot buy milk cheaper,” and stated that they deserve to be paid the same as men. At that time, women made about 68 cents on the dollar to a man doing the same job. Today, there is still a disparity, even though women’s pay is now about 86 cents for every dollar a man makes. The difference for minority women is even greater.
Ronald Reagan was not popular with women by failing to support the ERA. His point was that in the wrong hands, equal rights will damage women. He said that unscrupulous people would use the ERA to also push equal responsibility. For example, he was concerned that women would be required to lift materials of great weight on a job, equal to men who had to do the same.
Not everyone was on board with the man vs. woman dual. One of the famous opponents to feminism was Phyllis Schafly. She was a strictly constitutional based attorney, as well as a famous conservative activist. Schafly was highly conservative, both socially and politically, and she opposed abortion. She is considered one of the major forces behind the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
This train of thought of fighting men has not gone away. Read this 2016 quote from Jessica Bennett’s Feminist Fight Club: “We need weapons of our own, then – an arsenal of them. We must be armed with data to prove the problem exists and tactics to chip away at it from the outside and the inside. We need skills, hacks, tricks, tools, battle tactics to fight for ourselves while also advocating for change within the system. But! This is not a solo task. We need other women by our side. So let ‘s start by linking arms” (p. xxvii).
Myself as Feminist
I do consider myself as a feminist. I do not see myself solely in house slippers, cooking breakfast for my family, getting my kids ready for school, and spending my day doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, then, cooking dinner, putting the kids to bed, making love to my husband, and then starting the process over the next day.
I do want to be married and have a family. I want to be a good wife and mother. But, I have other goals as well. I cannot define myself by what I am to others. I must define myself as who I am.
I am proud to be a woman. I am of Latina origin. I am aware that I am in a low percentage of women in my culture with the ambitions that I have. I am working hard to get my Bachelor’s degree from college, and then, go to law school. I know that I will represent women who are not as fortunate as I will be. I will have female clients who have been beaten, victimized, molested, and in many other ways, taken advantage of. But, I will also have male clients who have their own backgrounds and histories. I must represent them both.
It is my goal to stand up for myself, but not because I can do anything better than a man. My preference is to be strong-willed, but work with men, not against them. Therefore, my definition of feminism is inclusive, not exclusive.
You can reply below to let me know what you think about this subject. Thank you for reading my comments.
Here’s some evidence that at least some people are listening to Sheryl Sandberg and Sallie Krawcheck, who have both written best-selling books calling for the inclusion of women, and not the exclusion of men in organizations.
In the March 7 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Joann Lublin and Sarah Krouse report that State Street Corporation will actively push for including women on boards (p. B6).
The article states that the companies will not have a quota to meet, but rather, must provide credible evidence that they attempted to improve diversity among their Directors. Firm that do not do so will vote against the heads of committees that nominate board members re-elected.
The article also provides documentation that collates with data provided by Krawcheck in her book, Own It, by showing that U.S. companies with at least three female directors financially outperformed those with no board women.
You may be aware that I presented Sallie Krawcheck‘s best-seller, Own It, last week at our monthly event, the First Friday Book Synopsis, at the Park City Club in Dallas. If you missed it, you can buy the handout and live recording at www.15minutebusinessbooks.com.
The book’s premise was that we should not be concerned about excluding men, but rather, including women. It is a book that will rival Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
Randy Mayeux sent me this link, which is an article, and an interview, in which Krawcheck explains that progress in gender diversity in Wall Street firms has come to a slow crawl. This is the link that you will be interested in:
I found the book provocative, and as is true for many women-in-business books, we have done a lot of talking about the problems that professional women have faced, and we have very few of the problems solved. Maybe this book will help.
A new blockbuster book for women in business rocketed all the way to # 3 in the Wall Street Journal business best-selling list (January 28-29, p. C-10). It may well undercut the popularity of the famous Lean-In best-seller by Sheryl Sandberg.
The book is called Own It: The Power of Women at Work (Crown Books, 2017). authored by Sallie Krawcheck. The book is a certain future selection for us at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.
Released for sale only on January 17, the book has also found its way into the top 100 of three of the book categories on Amazon.com. She was recently featured in an issue of Fast Company magazine. You can read the feature story about her at this link:
What is this one about? Here is how it is summarized on Amazon.com:
” [This is] a new kind of career playbook for a new era of feminism, offering women a new set of rules for professional success: one that plays to their strengths and builds on the power they already have.
“Weren’t women supposed to have “arrived”? Perhaps with the nation’s first female President, equal pay on the horizon, true diversity in the workplace to come thereafter? Or, at least the end of “fat-shaming” and “locker room talk”?
“Well, we aren’t quite there yet. But does that mean that progress for women in business has come to a screeching halt? It’s true that the old rules didn’t get us as far as we hoped. But we can go the distance, and we can close the gaps that still exist. We just need a new way.
“In fact, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future, says former Wall Street powerhouse-turned-entrepreneur Sallie Krawcheck. That’s because the business world is changing fast –driven largely by technology – and it’s changing in ways that give us more power and opportunities than ever…and even more than we yet realize.
“Success for professional women will no longer be about trying to compete at the men’s version of the game, she says. And it will no longer be about contorting ourselves to men’s expectations of how powerful people behave. Instead, it’s about embracing and investing in our innate strengths as women – and bringing them proudly and unapologetically, to work.
“When we do, she says, we gain the power to advance in our careers in more natural ways. We gain the power to initiate courageous conversations in the workplace. We gain the power to forge non-traditional career paths; to leave companies that don’t respect our worth, and instead, go start our own. And we gain the power to invest our economic muscle in making our lives, and the world, better.
“Here Krawcheck draws on her experiences at the highest levels of business, both as one of the few women at the top rungs of the biggest boy’s club in the world, and as an entrepreneur, to show women how to seize this seismic shift in power to take their careers to the next level.
“This change is real, and it’s coming fast. It’s time to own it.”
Follow our website to see the exact month that we will present this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. My feeling is that many working women will find this to be a fresh approach to what seems like to have become a perpetual issue.
Finally, who is Sallie Krawcheck? She may be one of the best-kept secrets in business. This is her biography, as published by the newsroom of Bank of America.com.
“Sallie L. Krawcheck is the former president of Global Wealth & Investment Management for Bank of America, one of the largest wealth management businesses in the world with more than 20,000 financial advisors across the entire wealth spectrum and $2 trillion in total client assets. Global Wealth & Investment Management provides comprehensive wealth management to affluent, mass affluent, high net worth and ultra high net worth clients, individual and institutional retirement plans, philanthropic management and asset management.
“Before joining Bank of America, Krawcheck was the chief executive officer and chairman for Citi Global Wealth Management, responsible for the Citi Private Bank, Citi Smith Barney and Citi Investment Research. During her time as CEO, she was also a member of Citi’s senior leadership committee and executive committee.
“Krawcheck joined Citi in October 2002 as chairman and chief executive officer of Smith Barney, where she oversaw the global management of the Smith Barney and Citi Investment Research businesses. In 2004, Sallie was appointed chief financial officer and head of Strategy for Citigroup Inc. Prior to joining Citi, Krawcheck was chairman and chief executive officer of Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, where she became one of the most influential voices for research quality and integrity.
“For six straight years, from 2002 to 2007, Fortune recognized Krawcheck as one of the “Most Powerful Women” in business. Forbes magazine, in 2006, listed her as #6 in the rank of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.” She was also the recipient of CNBC’s “Business Leader of the Future Award” in 2007. In 2002, she was recognized as one of Time magazine’s “Global Business Influentials” and, in 2003, Fortune magazine named her the “Most Influential Person Under the Age of 40.”
“A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Krawcheck attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the Morehead Scholarship and graduated in 1987 with academic honors and a Bachelor of Arts. In 1992, she received a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University.
“An active participant in the affairs of her alma maters, Krawcheck has endowed her former secondary school, The Porter Gaud School, with the Krawcheck Scholarship, a needs-based scholarship awarding full tuition to students of exceptional aptitude. She is a member of the board of directors of Dell Inc., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Foundations, Inc., and Carnegie Hall; the board of overseers of Columbia Business School; and the board of trustees for The Economic Club of New York.”
As always, we are interested in where this book lands on the New York Times business best-selling list. It is my guess that it will appear and stay on that list for quite some time.
A smashing business-best seller on feminism has crashed the Wall Street Journal, debuting on its list at # 3 in the September 24-25 edition (p. C10).
Jessica Bennett’s work, Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace (Harper), was distributed on September 13, 2016. At this writing, it is # 1 in three business books sub-categories on Amazon.com.
Who is Jessica Bennett? She is a columnist and feature writer for Time and for the New York Times. Her specialties with the paper include gender issues culture, and language. Bennett is also involved with special projects for LeanIn.org, which is Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s nonprofit organization. Her major responsibility there is an initiative to change the depiction of women in stock photography. She earned a B.S. from Boston University. The New York Press Club honored her for outstanding web coverage and named her the city’s best young journalist. This is her first book.
Here is a summary of the book, from Amazon.com:
“Part manual, part manifesto, Feminist Fight Club is a hilarious yet incisive guide to navigating subtle sexism at work, providing real-life career advice and humorous reinforcement for a new generation of professional women.
“It was a fight club—but without the fighting and without the men. Every month, the women would huddle in a friend’s apartment to share sexist job frustrations and trade tips for how best to tackle them. Once upon a time, you might have called them a consciousness-raising group. But the problems of today’s working world are more subtle, less pronounced, harder to identify—and harder to prove—than those of their foremothers. These women weren’t just there to vent. They needed battle tactics. And so the fight club was born.
“Hard-hitting and entertaining, Feminist Fight Club blends personal stories with research, statistics, and no-bullsh*t expert advice. Bennett offers a new vocabulary for the sexist workplace archetypes women encounter everyday—such as the Manterrupter who talks over female colleagues in meetings or the Himitator who appropriates their ideas—and provides practical hacks for navigating other gender landmines in today’s working world. With original illustrations, Feminist Mad Libs, a Negotiation Cheat Sheet, and fascinating historical research, Feminist Fight Club tackles both the external (sexist) and internal (self-sabotaging) behaviors that plague women in the workplace—as well as the system that perpetuates them.”
Given its status, this book is a certain upcoming selection for the First Friday Book Synopsis. Check our web site – click HERE – for the exact month that we will present it.
A new book about gender has created controversy, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. How would you like to know that women are the superior gender, and that we actually don’t need men at all?
I don’t think that’s what Sheryl Sandberg had in mind when she wrote Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Knopf, 2013). That’s a best-seller by the Facebook COO that I am familiar with, having read and presented a synopsis of that book at a Creative Communication Network (CCN) client site. Note: I can no longer do that under contractual agreement with Randy Mayeux, who presented it at the First Friday Book Synopsis and other CCN sites. and who has exclusive presentation privileges for the book. Regardless, there’s no way that Sandberg wanted women to eliminate men – but rather, to figure out how to co-exist with them, and how to get their “fair share.”
That’s not what Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy (Norton, 2015) by Dr. Melvin Konner says. His book provides evidence that men are more likely to commit crimes, die in accidents, and incite violence. To your great surprise, he also points out that men cannot reproduce without women. But, did you know that there is evidence that females can reproduce without males? You’ll have to get the book to learn how. (Hint: it’s not by humans.)
And the critics on Amazon.com are not happy. One consumer review, after giving it one star out of a possible five, remarks: “Konner practically salivates when considering a future without men.” That is in spite of a glowing quoted editorial review which says, “Women After All describes what future historians will surely recognize as one of the momentous transformations in the human saga: the decline of men’s political dominance, and with it many deplorable practices and belief systems. Engagingly written and persuasively argued, it shows how an acknowledgment of human nature combined with a long view of history can advance the human condition.” (Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, & author of The Better Angels of Our Nature.)”
Dr. Konner is a professor of anthropology at Emory University. He is actually one of the rare “Doctor-Doctor’s,” holding both an M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard. He has written many books, perhaps the most famous of which was published in 2011, entitled The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind (Belknap Press). You can see a list of the titles and publication dates by clicking here.
From his own website, he describes why and what he does: “I apply science to human nature and experience, exploring the links between biology and behavior, medicine and society, nature and culture. Why do we do what we do, think what we think, feel what we feel? I find answers in anthropology, biology, medicine, evolution, the brain, childhood, history, and culture. I’ve often commented on medical ethics, health care reform, child care, and other issues, and I do that here too.” You can read some of his blogs on the site by clicking here.
This book contains great outrage at the historical indignities suffered by women. Sandberg may appreciate his call that treating women better will help men as well. But, it appears that there is not a great place at the table for men. And, the thesis that society will be better off without them may be difficult to swallow.
By the way, this is no best-seller. It is nowhere close to that on Amazon.com, and it does not appear on any list that I can find.
You can’t say the book is biased. It’s full of scientific data, trends analyses, and logical interpretations. It’s just that a book which exposes problems without giving much in terms of solutions is not going to appeal to very many readers.
You can expect to see more about this author and book very soon. It is an obvious choice for the “Good Morning America“s of the world, the Huffington Post, radio talk shows, and even some of the tabloids. If nothing else, Konner will make a lot of money and get famous.