My Women's March
"I can not be more clear, our silence on these issues and the values that drive us to engage in them, hand victories to them that they would not otherwise have... ultimately the playbook on the other side is an undemocratic, if not anti-democratic one... when we actually see this for what it is, which is a craven grab to maintain power for a minority, that we start to get the exponential benefits of merging all of these movements... into a singular voice that exhibits change... all of our rights are on the line together... at the end of the day I believe, as long as our democracy holds, that the majority will prevail." ~ Ilyse Hogue, via The Daily
October is National Women's Small Business Month. Concurrently, today there wil be nationwide Women's Marches occurring to “send an unmistakable message about the fierce opposition to Trump and his agenda, including his attempt to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.” [*Update on the St. Paul March: Late last night it was CANCELLED ~ more details here. I feel even stronger now that it was important I wrote this post as My Women's March!]
If you pay attention here, you should know I do not frequently outright talk about politics, but when it starts to really get personal, like it is now, I need to speak up. I am starting to believe that my desire to mobilize on behalf of myself and women like me, just may be my 'pandemic moment' and has accelerated a road I had slowly been driving on already since starting äventyr. I just started putting my pedal on the gas, and I don't see myself letting up. So here goes....
I need to tell you ~ I do NOT like Trump or his republican chums who have sold out their morals, and the people they should be representing, for an agenda that does not represent the majority of us. These old white men, and they are mostly old white men, are selling out women’s independence, our climate, and the economic security and dignity of millions of people. And women-led small businesses like mine, are hurting. More importantly, I believe this is a crucial moment for women in this country.
I grew up learning that being respectful of the opinions and beliefs of others, regardless of if they were my opinions or beliefs, was fundamental. If you hold beliefs I do not, I respect that ~ I just ask that you do the same to me. And THIS, this...is what is not happening in my country right now, and has not happened for a long time.
And, I have long believed that a woman has the right to choose what she does with her body, not the government, and especially not a bunch of old white guys rushing unethically against their own precedent to set an agenda that millions of people disagree with.
Therefore, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to reflect on what this moment, and this March, means to me as a woman-led small business, and most importantly ~ as a woman...
First about The Women's March
I strongly believe that the marches going on around the country today, particularly in Washington D.C., are necessary, important, and needed. Women need to be visible to this country, IN this country. Women need to be seen and heard. That’s why I feel it is important I use my woman-led business as a platform to stand up for what I believe in. I will get into further explanation on why I feel this way below ~ but to summarize: Women’s Rights and Equality are at the core of who I am.
But sadly, I am not marching today because my government has not taken a world-wide pandemic seriously and as the pandemic re-surges around the world, and my Covid-cautiousness continues, it would be difficult for me to feel good about participating in a large event, no matter how safe everyone plans to be outside.
It absolutely breaks my heart that because of the pandemic I am choosing not to participate in The Women’s March in St. Paul. So this post is ‘My Women's March’. If you will be at a Women's March in person ~ I thank you.
My ‘social media’ growing up was Sesame Street and Mister Rogers, these shows taught me that a strong and supportive community was diverse (full of all kinds of people, and puppets) contributing to their community ~ all as important individuals, women and men, as equals. I learned that the world went beyond my small town and that it was full of good people who practiced listening, patience, empathy, tolerance and understanding.
And then there was the Mighty Isis and Wonder Woman, two of my favorite shows with strong female leading characters who were in control, and in charge, and oh yeah ~ beautiful, but sometimes nerdy. These women helped the good people win ~ because... you need a woman hero at your side!
At the same time, my mother was the last ‘stay-at-home Mom’ generation and the feminist movement was marching on around me ~ I know I benefited from both, but it is hard to deny there wasn’t a conflicting message on ‘the place of women’ going on around me. “You can have it all!” Really?...
As I moved through my education, I was lucky to have strong female teachers and mentors who taught me about being independent, inquisitive and how to excel. But even with their support, there was an undercurrent in society that made me insecure/self-conscious about being a successful smart educated woman. I graduated Salutatorian of my high school, and eventually attended graduate school ~ never quite believing I had earned it or that it would make a difference in my future success.
In 2017, I left my career/job. I have talked about this time of my life previously, but to summarize 45 years as a woman in America, more than two decades of those as a professional working woman… I felt like I had been working for a long time and was slowly getting nowhere in the definition of traditional business “success”, and I definitely didn’t have it all ~ whatever that was.
I guess I am one of the lucky ones, I was able to walk away. Many women can’t. But I have definitely struggled with not feeling ‘lucky’ (I wrote more about that here). Maybe in today’s climate where women are ‘dropping out’ due to the pandemic, my position on ‘staying home’ can be more widely understood; with kids or without. I wrote about that here ~ and it is worth a read.
I do not make it a practice normally to talk about religion, or politics publicly. But since the country I live in has become more and more lopsided and is deciding things for me based on so-called religiously guided decision making in politics,….here goes. This week I FaceTimed with my Mom in Arizona asking her questions in regard to this essay. Something interesting happened when my mother spoke about her experience as part of the Lutheran Church. Again those values I hold so dear: above all being respectful of the opinions and beliefs of others, came up. Because of her religion, my mother instilled in me these important values that people acting in the name of religion seem to have completely forgotten.
Today in the country I live in, in which I was taught there is a “Separation of Church and State”, I am witnessing religion being used unacceptably as a political tool, instead of a force of good. This affects my future; I find it deeply unconscionable. And most importantly religion is being used as a weapon that will affect the future of all women and girls for decades to come, while also alienating all of the diverse people who make up this country. This immoral behavior completely goes against my beliefs, and definitely does not make me feel like I live in a free country (heck, I can’t even leave right now if I wanted to ~ what kind of freedom is that?!).
Suffice it to say, I am deeply disappointed at how the few in positions of power are dialing back the progress made for the majority ~ and for women. For me. For this urgent and disrespectful reason, I wish today I was marching.
For me äventyr IS personal. I am a woman leading a small business in a climate that ignores the importance and value of women. I know personally how powerful and impactful women are in business, and for my business. Women, especially women my age and older, have an immense buying power and are huge contributors to not only my small business, but the United States economy!
For this reason, and the basis of my upbringing, I must speak up. I must address what is going on politically in this country because it directly affects me, my customers, my peers, and my friends.
Separating my business from my beliefs as the world becomes more and more divisive is inconceivable. I will continue to use my voice to speak up for what I believe is important, and I will never apologize.
In the end, from where I stand today, I take my upbringing, my world viewpoints, my work experience ~ and I use them to inform äventyr. This may be a bicycle bag company, but it really is so much more. In reflection, I guess I am trying to bring forward those values I learned growing up and set an example for the world I want to see.
Although I may not be marching today; I am eternally grateful for all the women who marched before me, who are marching on my behalf today, and will march in the future. I hope post pandemic I do have a chance to march with all of you (but under better circumstances than our current political climate). I have realized that giving up isn’t an option, and neither is being silent.
And in this time in my life of being a small woman-led business, I am extremely thankful to all of the amazing and strong women I have met who ‘get’ my struggles in all the ways ~ these women have meant SO much to me; they make all of this worth it.
Now go VOTE!
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