gender

glamour, the president and feminism for the 21st century

click through for source

click through for source

As I was deciding what to post today, I came across and article written by our President for Glamour Magazine. As I read it, tears hit my eyes and a swell of pride hit my chest. This is my President. He gets it. So rather than give you my commentary, I decided to just insert his words. Thank you Mr. President and Thank you Glamour Magazine.

You can read it below or online at Glamour Magazine where the article originated. Glamour Exclusive: President Barack Obama Says, "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like."

"There are a lot of tough aspects to being President. But there are some perks too. Meeting extraordinary people across the country. Holding an office where you get to make a difference in the life of our nation. Air Force One.

But perhaps the greatest unexpected gift of this job has been living above the store. For many years my life was consumed by long commutes­—from my home in Chicago to Springfield, Illinois, as a state senator, and then to Washington, D.C., as a United States senator. It’s often meant I had to work even harder to be the kind of husband and father I want to be.

But for the past seven and a half years, that commute has been reduced to 45 seconds—the time it takes to walk from my living room to the Oval Office. As a result, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time watching my daughters grow up into smart, funny, kind, wonderful young women.

That isn’t always easy, either—watching them prepare to leave the nest. But one thing that makes me optimistic for them is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist.

In my lifetime we’ve gone from a job market that basically confined women to a handful of often poorly paid positions to a moment when women not only make up roughly half the workforce but are leading in every sector, from sports to space, from Hollywood to the Supreme Court. I’ve witnessed how women have won the freedom to make your own choices about how you’ll live your lives—about your bodies, your educations, your careers, your finances. Gone are the days when you needed a husband to get a credit card. In fact, more women than ever, married or single, are financially independent.

So we shouldn’t downplay how far we’ve come. That would do a disservice to all those who spent their lives fighting for justice. At the same time, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to improve the prospects of women and girls here and around the world. And while I’ll keep working on good policies—from equal pay for equal work to protecting reproductive rights—there are some changes that have nothing to do with passing new laws.

In fact, the most important change may be the toughest of all—and that’s changing ourselves.

This is something I spoke about at length in June at the first-ever White House Summit on the United State of Women. As far as we’ve come, all too often we are still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave. One of my heroines is Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American to run for a major party’s presidential nomination. She once said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’ ” We know that these stereotypes affect how girls see themselves starting at a very young age, making them feel that if they don’t look or act a certain way, they are somehow less worthy. In fact, gender stereotypes affect all of us, regardless of our gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Now, the most important people in my life have always been women. I was raised by a single mom, who spent much of her career working to empower women in developing countries. I watched as my grandmother, who helped raise me, worked her way up at a bank only to hit a glass ceiling. I’ve seen how Michelle has balanced the demands of a busy career and raising a family. Like many working mothers, she worried about the expectations and judgments of how she should handle the trade-offs, knowing that few people would question my choices. And the reality was that when our girls were young, I was often away from home serving in the state legislature, while also juggling my teaching responsibilities as a law professor. I can look back now and see that, while I helped out, it was usually on my schedule and on my terms. The burden disproportionately and unfairly fell on Michelle.

So I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty aware of the unique challenges women face—it’s what has shaped my own feminism. But I also have to admit that when you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society. You see the subtle and not-so-subtle social cues transmitted through culture. You feel the enormous pressure girls are under to look and behave and even think a certain way.

life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.

And those same stereotypes affected my own consciousness as a young man. Growing up without a dad, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was, how the world perceived me, and what kind of man I wanted to be. It’s easy to absorb all kinds of messages from society about masculinity and come to believe that there’s a right way and a wrong way to be a man. But as I got older, I realized that my ideas about being a tough guy or cool guy just weren’t me. They were a manifestation of my youth and insecurity. Life became a lot easier when I simply started being myself.

So we need to break through these limitations. We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.

We need to keep changing the attitude that permits the routine harassment of women, whether they’re walking down the street or daring to go online. We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women.

We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, and penalizes working mothers. We need to keep changing the attitude that values being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace—unless you’re a woman. Then you’re being too bossy, and suddenly the very qualities you thought were necessary for success end up holding you back.

We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color. Michelle has often spoken about this. Even after achieving success in her own right, she still held doubts; she had to worry about whether she looked the right way or was acting the right way—whether she was being too assertive or too “angry.”

As a parent, helping your kids to rise above these constraints is a constant learning process. Michelle and I have raised our daughters to speak up when they see a double standard or feel unfairly judged based on their gender or race—or when they notice that happening to someone else. It’s important for them to see role models out in the world who climb to the highest levels of whatever field they choose. And yes, it’s important that their dad is a feminist, because now that’s what they expect of all men.

It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too.

It is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too. And as spouses and partners and boyfriends, we need to work hard and be deliberate about creating truly equal relationships.

The good news is that everywhere I go across the country, and around the world, I see people pushing back against dated assumptions about gender roles. From the young men who’ve joined our It’s On Us campaign to end campus sexual assault, to the young women who became the first female Army Rangers in our nation’s history, your generation refuses to be bound by old ways of thinking. And you’re helping all of us understand that forcing people to adhere to outmoded, rigid notions of identity isn’t good for anybody—men, women, gay, straight, transgender, or otherwise. These stereotypes limit our ability to simply be ourselves.

This fall we enter a historic election. Two hundred and forty years after our nation’s founding, and almost a century after women finally won the right to vote, for the first time ever, a woman is a major political party’s presidential nominee. No matter your political views, this is a historic moment for America. And it’s just one more example of how far women have come on the long journey toward equality.

I want all of our daughters and sons to see that this, too is their inheritance. I want them to know that it's never just about the Benjamin's; i'ts about the Tubmans too. And I want them to help do their part the ensure that America is a place where every single child can make of her life what she will.. 

That's what twenty-first century feminism is about, the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free." 

boom. microphone drop.

What a great way to get inspired before the weekend. 

weight of a moment - why #imwithher matters

When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”
— Hillary Clinton

Last week, our nation experienced a historic moment. Much has been said about this moment, both positive and negative. Me being me, I would like to focus on the positive. The positive is simple.

96 years ago on August 18th the 19th amendment was ratified. This amendment gave women their unalienable right to vote in the United States of America.1

California delegates hold up signs as they cheer for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)   THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SOURCE:  http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-07-28/ap-explains-long-history-of-women-running-for-president

California delegates hold up signs as they cheer for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Thursday, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SOURCE: http://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-07-28/ap-explains-long-history-of-women-running-for-president

Less than 100 years ago, women like myself were unable to take a stand and vote in this, our progressive country that promises equality for all. Now, anyone who has a television, computer, phone or is just reading the good old fashioned newspaper knows that this country hasn’t exactly lived up to its “equality for all” promise. Those same media outlets I mentioned about will probably offer varying opinions on the validity of my statement and I am not here to start an argument or debate with any one.

I am here to say that many women have used their voice, intelligence and strength of character to get us to this moment. The excitement of the first women receiving the honor of being a major political party nominee for the office of the President of the United States is just that, exciting.

I realized the other day, however that the weight of this moment might not fully be understood by everyone because for some reason, the concept of representation isn't understood. 

representation matters

It matters because despite having faith, too often in a culture that has at your fingertips accessibility to just about everything, seeing is believing.

For much of the last two centuries, every sitting United States President has represented one basic group. Caucasian and privilege. While this does not automatically mean that they do not have the good of the people in mind as they enact laws and regulations for this country, it certainly does provide some distance from some of our countries most glaring problems and inconsistencies. 

When Barack Obama used the slogan "Yes We Can" as part of his platform for election, it resonated because it involved inclusion and an understanding of the plight of people beyond just the status quo.  Millions of citizens who had been denied the right to vote based on their race were able to not visualize change for themselves. They could see someone "just like them" rise to the highest office in this country. That means something. 

We have seen and heard it time and time again in the world of media, where people saw someone that looked like them and realized that there was possibility out there. So, why not in politics?

Well, that same concept was realized last week as Hillary Clinton accepted a major parties nomination to be their candidate for the United States of America. Young girls and women were able to see for the first time something amazing...

possibility

The possibility that change can indeed happen, even at the highest levels of bureaucracy.  This change is not without its challenges. Just look at the questions and media attention that surround this female candidate opposed to her male counterparts thought the entire run thus far. Look at the amount of free air time given to her opponent (understandably, this is for soundbites, just as much as gender bias). So much free air time in fact that her opponent, has needed to do little to know actual campaign ads, in contrast with record spending for Hillary to get her message out to the people.

But, as with any trailblazers, you get burned quite a bit setting a new path. With each ditch, burn and road block, you get up, you start again. Because of her, other women have this possibility. Because of women before Hillary, like Victoria WoodHull (1872), Gracie Allen (1940), Shirley Chisholm (1972), Linda Jenness (1972) and Jill Stein (2012) who all ran for president to varying degrees of success, Hillary saw the possibility. 

These images came from various sources on line and are not my own. For an article detailing the ladies who fought before this election, checkout this great article from    Time Magazine: 5 Other Women Who Ran For President  or checkout each of their names above to be redirected to some background info on each one of them

These images came from various sources on line and are not my own. For an article detailing the ladies who fought before this election, checkout this great article from Time Magazine: 5 Other Women Who Ran For President or checkout each of their names above to be redirected to some background info on each one of them

These were not the only women to blaze a trail towards the most coveted office of the land. Here is a list of others who also ran for the office of President of the United States and put a crack or two into the ceiling. (SOURCE:)

cracks in the ceiling

Victoria Woodhull (1872)

Belva Lockwood (1884, 1888)

Laura Clay (1920) 

Gracie Allen (1940) 

Margaret Chase Smith (1964)

Charlene Mitchell (1968)

Shirley Chisholm (1972)

Linda Jenness (1972)

Patsy Takemoto Mink (1972)

Evelyn Reed (1972)

Ellen McCormack (1976, 1980)

Margaret Wright (1976)

Deidre Griswold (1980)

Sonia Johnson (1984)

Gabrielle Holmes (1984)

Isabelle Masters (1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004)

Patricia Schroeder (1988)

Lenora Fulani (1988, 1992)

Willa Kenoyer (1988)

Gloria E. LaRiva (1992)

Susan Block (1992)

Helen Halyard (1992)

Millie Howard (1992, 1996)

Monica Moorehead (1996, 2000)

Marsha Feinland (1996)

Mary Cal Hollis (1996)

Heather Anne Harder (`1996)

Elvena E. Lloyd-Deffie (1996)

Gerogina H. Doerschuck (1996)

Susan Gail Ducey (1996)

Ann Jennings (1996)

Diane Beall Templin (1996)

Joanne Jorgensen (1996)

Elizabeth Dole (2000)

Cathy Gordon Brown (2000)

Carol Moseley Braun (2004)

Hillary Rodham Clinton (2008, 2016)

Cynthia McKinney (2008)

Michelle Bachmann (2012)

Peta Lindsay (2012)

Jill Stein (2012)

Roseanne Barr (2012)

Carly Forinia (2016)


As I was researching items for this post and watching the Democratic National Convention I noticed an awesome hashtag #centenariansforclinton. It was awesome, because it was mainly being promoted by women over the age of 100. This mean that these women, born when it was illegal for them to vote can potential see the possibility of a woman in office before the end of their life. I dare anyone to tell these women that representation doesn't matter.

SOURCE: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/meet-jerry-emmett-arizonas-102-year-old-honorary-delegate-to-the-democratic-national-convention-8472872

SOURCE: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/meet-jerry-emmett-arizonas-102-year-old-honorary-delegate-to-the-democratic-national-convention-8472872

I surely didn’t plan to live past 100 years old,” she says. “When I did, and I saw all these things that were happening, it was like I had a shot in the arm.” She became even more enthusiastic about getting Democrats elected.
— Jerry Emmett, 102 year old Arizona Delegate
Ruline Steininger, 103 might have given my favorite quote (seen below)   I MAGE SOURCE: 

Ruline Steininger, 103 might have given my favorite quote (seen below) IMAGE SOURCE: 

After giving this problem much serious thought and consideration, I have come to the decision that I must live to do my part November 2016, I can die later!”
— Ruline Steininger, 103 years old

As for me, I am recognizing the moment and reflecting on the possibility. 

thank you for casting a vote for the kind of world you want...

I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to Wednesday's post: Bloomingdale's: another example of what is wrong with the profession of marketing". It was a difficult post for me to write because I struggled to be neutral. I am passionate about what I do and have a special place in my heart for marketing that is target to women because I understand what it means to capture the hearts and minds of the female consumer. There is power in supporting and lifting up women in today's culture like there has never been before. It is because of this that I fight for women every single day.

Your responses and readership to the post (my most successful post to date) let me know that there is outrage and concern out there. This concern doesn't just come from women but men as well. We want more from companies and brands and we will speak out about it and "vote with our wallets". It isn't about being a feminist or overly sensitive. It is about understanding the responsibility we hold when we broadcast a message to the world. You came in droves to read this post and whether that was out of curiosity, agreement or concern is irrelevant, you came, you read, you provided feedback both here and on social media and you shared. You may not realize this, but in doing that you helped support my purpose. This is no small thing to me. Thank you is not enough. 

If you see any marketing or advertising directed at women that you love and think lifts up women and girls, send them to  me. I would love to focus on the good stuff that is out there, and there IS good stuff out there. Let's talk about them and support their business...it's all about voting with our wallets.


bloomingdale's ad: another example of what is wrong with the profession of marketing

Actual Bloomingdale's ad from December 2015

Actual Bloomingdale's ad from December 2015

When I was a teenager, one of the pieces of advice I remember my mother giving me time and time again was to never accept a drink from a stranger and to make sure I kept my drink with me at all times. This was to avoid anyone being able to slip something in there and prevent all the dangers that could happen. I thought this was pretty good advice. Imagine my surprise when in December, there was an ad campaign for Bloomingdale's that promoted slipping something in someone's drink. In a holiday ad for the company, featuring a man and woman with the man "creepily" and " menacingly" looking at the woman in her holiday attire with the tagline "spike a friend's eggnog when they're not looking".

what?

Yes, I have expressed outrage over social media posts before and will probably do so again but I am so baffled by this one as a marketer. How is it possible that a room full of people saw this ad, the image, the copy and not ONE SINGLE person questioned whether or not it was a good idea?

how is this possible?

I have been in meetings with people to approve an ad and had multi hour meetings to discuss whether the wrinkle on a forehead or shadow on a cheek should be removed but this gets barely a secondary glance?
Now, there has been quite a lot of outrage in 2015 over a variety of different marketing campaigns or slogan t-shirts, red coffee cups that we could argue if "political correctness" has gone too far but this is not one of those instances. As with the family holiday card with women duct taped I posted about in December, how can anyone argue that this is a good or funny idea?

That's it? 

That's it? 

Bloomingdale's, in true "QUICK PR TACTIC" thinking released a statement on Twitter to apologize. First of all, you didn't hear "feedback", the public was not expressing concern over "sizing" or the colors you chose for your campaign. The public expressed OUTRAGE and DISGUST at the not so subtle advertising you CHOSE that promotes a culture of rape and abuse towards women.

BUT....well if you apologize then everything is better right? Where is the accountability Bloomingdale's? Yes, this ad was "inappropriate" or JUST PLAIN WRONG and IRRESPONSIBLE.  Poor taste? Isn't that sugar coating things just a bit? I mean let's really take a look at this ad and what it is conveying to women all over this country, who, by the way are the same people who have built your business by shopping in your stores...remember 80% of all purchases are influenced by women?

In the ad you see a lovely young woman who appears to be enjoying herself. You also see a man who does't actually seem to be enjoying himself at all. He is not engaging with the woman in any way, they do not look like friends at all. In fact he is "leering" at her. The image conveys no familial "best friend" relationship either, instead it looks like just about every "stalker" portrayed on Law & Order SVU each week, only he is handsome. OH WAIT, is that the deal? Because he is handsome, the woman should be more than okay with him "spiking her eggnog"? I mean what woman wouldn't want such a handsome man paying attention to her? If you cannot sense my anger and sarcasm here, let me assure you I am being sarcastic and I am quite angry.

I am going to put anger aside for a moment to try and understand this. As a marketer, your job is to appeal to consumers that have the potential to buy your products, shop at your stores and support your brand. I think we can all agree on that simplified definition. Bloomingdale's, like many high end department stores are known for appealing to affluent women. You can make that assumption simply by walking in to these stores and the mix of product by gender. These stores typically have a much higher ration of women's products than men's. This alone should have caused some raised eyebrows when the campaign went around the table. I mean, what women is going to look at this and think "great ad, I need to go shop now"?

But wait...in 2012 Bloomingdale's was actually going after the affluent male consumer "Bloomingdale’s elevates in-store presence via BMW, GQ pop-up shops." Hmm...okay, that is 3 years ago but it could still be part of their strategy and with that approach to a male consumer, maybe they are less concerned with how a female might read this ad? But...even so, nobody said anything in that marketing meeting to raise concern over how this ad might be received? There is mention in this article about what a "good marketer" should be concerned with. I wonder if that quote was meant to be sarcastic?

With so many amazing marketing people looking for jobs in today's economy it continues to shock me that the people who continually get hired know nothing about consumer habits and thought processes. It amazes me that people still don't raise their hand when something is glaringly wrong. I realize that our profession isn't curing cancer but we still have a moral obligation to the people we market to. Yes, at the end of the day you could simplify the concept of marketing into the idea that it is JUST about selling a product or a brand but did this ad EVEN do that? Here in lies the struggle I have with our profession. We have to make numbers but we also have to be able to sleep at night knowing that we put something into the world that doesn't destroy it. 

Campaigns, words and imagery like this may get your name in the paper but do very little else. If you truly want to focus on the numbers and business growth then you have to think long term. How does something like this keep you in the game long term? It doesn't. It alienates your consumers old and new. 

25% or by someone women know in an intimate way while 5% are committed by a relative -    RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network

25% or by someone women know in an intimate way while 5% are committed by a relative - RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network

Bloomingdale's, thank you for your apology but it does little to comfort me and the many woman in this country who are faced with the very real scenario of violence, rape and sexual assault in our lives every single day. The cause of this fear isn't just "strangers" and bad guys, it is the people we know, it is the people in our community. It isn't a funny joke or over-exaggeration, it is a real part of what we experience as women. The promotion, mocking and suggestion of anything that perpetuates this is not only offensive and disgusting but it is an irresponsible marketing and business practices that you should be ashamed of.

Don't apologize to us on Twitter and think that it is enough. Make a commitment to do something more. Show some accountability for your actions and the actions of your team. Make your marketing and executive team get educated on not just spreadsheets and numbers but of consumer segments, psychology, sociology and gender. Make a commitment to be responsible to your customers.

"the power and blessing of being a woman"

Excerpt from Regina King's Emmy speech (video below)

Excerpt from Regina King's Emmy speech (video below)

In a shock to everyone I know, I missed the Emmy's this year. It is a shock because I am actually known for my Award Show parties. Sadly, this meant that I had to watch clips afterwards, What really makes this sad is the fact that it really felt like the Year of the Woman (again), at least from social media and traditional media following the event.

Obviously everyone has been talking about the speech made by Viola Davis which and for good reason, it was beautiful, poignant and thought provoking. It aligned so clearly with not just the issues of women of color on television and movies but the entire culture of race continue as a global community to perpetuate. Between the increasing racial tensions in our country with regard to law enforcement to the Syrian Refugee Crisis we remain a world where hate spreads.

If you were to ask most people if they are filled with hate or are prejudiced against other people, they will say no. Nobody admits to being hateful. They make excuses for what they do based on a variety of experiences, religion, history etc. Think about it, most people will admonish the atrocities of World War II and the concentration camps or the Civil Rights Movement yet so many are standing by and watching as the refugees are hit with fire hoses and dogs or another video of a black American being beaten or killed by an officer of the law. 

So what does all of this have to do with the title of this post?

The other speech that impacted me but got less coverage was that of Regina King. Her speech was not necessarily out of the ordinary for an acceptance speech except for her seemingly very sincere shock at having won. There was one section/line though that stopped me.


It is a small but powerful sentence that I haven't been able to get my mind off of it since. It seems that we hear and see in the media a lot of the negatives and burdens of being a woman but rarely see the "power and blessing" being extolled. It is why I think this phrase needs more attention.

I study, speak and educate on women and it took me a minute to determine if I had ever expressed the power and blessing I feel being a woman. My stomach dropped as I realized that I don't honor that enough. Women are the most powerful force in the globe. Many will argue with me I am sure but let's really think about here.

  • 1st and foremost we are the caretakers of the world. Without women, our children wouldn't become healthy and contributing adults to society. Women literally are raising the future.

  • We are responsible for 80% of all purchases

    • advertiser's want our money

  • We have a seat at the table - in some cases at the head of the table

  • We are big in numbers and we are good at organizing around a cause

  • we have more women in high places

  • the power to influence - in my mind, women are the most influential people and yet in the past have never received credit for this 

  • We are educated 

    • 70% of all high school valedictorians are women

    • 62% of all associates degrees

    • 57% of all bachelors degrees

    • 63% of masters degrees

    • 53% doctoral degrees

now that is power...


So that is the power of being a woman, let's talk about the blessings.

It's a blessing because we have a voice and using that voice is changing the world in big ways. I feel blessed to call myself a woman when I see all of the amazing things women are doing. I feel blessed to be/have:

  • We are blessed enough to live in a time where we can get educated and fight for a career, a family and more and there is power in all of that

  • lots of conversations around women and girls now

  • to have a voice

  • empathetic to others

  • to be a caretaker

  • to be able to like sports and wear nail polish at the same time

I totally burnt the cookies. It is probably good for everyone that I am not a cook.

I totally burnt the cookies. It is probably good for everyone that I am not a cook.

  • that women in my generation earn more than our mother's and grandmother's on average and get to spend that money the way we want and still are selfless enough take care of everyone around us

  •  I don't have to wear heels to cook in ( I actually don't have to cook) but I can

  • I can do anything I want but I don't have to do anything I don't want to do


Some of the girls from Marymount School for Girls after our discussion on Purpose, Passion & Drive

Some of the girls from Marymount School for Girls after our discussion on Purpose, Passion & Drive

The real blessing in my life is that I get to help other girls and women by sharing my experiences

There is power and blessings in being whoever we are and it is imperative that we dig in to realize what it means to us so that we can celebrate and express gratitude for who and what we are. Once we realize our own blessings we can be more empathetic to others and open up opportunities for people who don't have them; whether it is welcoming refugees into our country and caring for them, volunteering our time to help others or opening up roles for women of color and other individuals in our art. You may say these have nothing to do with each other but the do. The art that these women do open our eyes to the experiences of others.


Quick tip, be sure to look up the show Regina won her Emmy for, American Crime. It was an amazing look inside ALL sides of a single situation and the struggles we still see around race and gender in this country.