My ‘Issue’ With Female Empowerment Groups

Guest Blogger: ‘Sue Donym’ is the founder of a New York City based startup.

The issue I have with these modern “female empowerment” groups is that (to put it lightly) I question their branding choices. I am not a “Girl Boss” – I am simply a BOSS. Are there “Men Boss” groups or event worse – Boy Boss groups (#boyboss #likeaboyboss ?!?) First I am a grown a*s woman. Secondly, I don’t want to be singled out as if it’s some rare meteorite that hit the earth … is it that unusual to Boss it up simply because I am of the female species. I mean is there #LatinaBoss #AfricanAmericanBoss#LesbianBoss – we are simply BOSSES – it’s demeaning and ridiculous as we are not the weaker species that need lifting in this way. We are not rare zoo creatures that need those kinds of captions. Another one to single out is the popular group Boss Babe which is far worse and feels like it belongs up on the porn shelf with “Little Schoolgirl Boss does New York” and the such.

So these places like The Wing (of which I was a -pained- member for a year) really had me gagging on the incredibly cliche pastel pink that each room regurgitated as I had to tell my male client “I’m sorry We can’t meet at my co-working space which I pay for every month because men are simply not allowed – but didn’t the ubiquitous pink explosion everywhere already explain that to you?”)

I’d like to also add that I cringed every time I craved to go to a BUSINESS event there but instead had to choose between Astrology readings and singing Kumbaya around a crystal-laced fireplace – meanwhile my male friends are in co-ed co-working spaces where they learn practical tools for their startups like financial models, projections, measuring CAC, creating KPIs that work for their businesses, etc, etc… I have never NEVER seen one of those courses once at the pink palace (which by the way has landed millions on millions in funding, so I’m clearly alone in my thinking here…) then again I quit so perhaps they actually came to their senses and offer more pragmatic male strip club bonding-equivalents like ‘Macramé for the Modern Millennial’.

I want a seat at the table. I don’t want to exclude men, because I don’t feel empowered excluding people based on things you can’t control – i.e. the genitals you were born with.

Empowerment is claiming your rights within a society where we all live as one. Yes, you need to celebrate yourself and own it – but THIS is not THAT. How about an Annex or something where we can actually welcome those we connect with regardless of gender, and not have to pay for two offices to host two sets of people – it would be more helpful in that startup world especially where funds are limited – (and by the way thank you for the division based on the organs we were uncontrollably born with… instead of gathering communities where beliefs/morals/values etc., etc can separate – or in other words things you can control…)

I’m also very much over women who say their empowerment movement started with the “Aziz Ansari” story – which WAS A NON-STORY. A woman who had the choice (key word choice) to leave at any time and – let’s face it – only went out with him because he was the famous Aziz Ansari… and she calls him controlling when he ordered her wine? Girl, don’t drink it or order yourself another glass, pay for it yourself, or call yourself an Uber right then and there – don’t say the rapey behavior started from your glass of wine. I do not want that to be my female empowerment story and by the way, do they know nothing of our history? Not to mention I was really looking forward to his Netflix special 🙂

Moral of the story is – I am done organizing dinners for female entrepreneurs. I am simply organizing for those who have shared beliefs – despite gender, sexual preference, race, color, etc, etc… its time we unite communities and stop segregating them.

And yes, the VC world still gives 2% of their funding to female-owned businesses so I get it – And yes we now have Talibama and Georgia – but somehow I think our approach as women needs to be re-visited.


Editor’s Note: This is an important part of the many conversations we, as a society, must have on the topics of gender, equity, and power. The #MeToo movement was a major catalyst and denoted the next phase of this conversation on how our society is evolving. Though the arc of history is long and bends towards justice, it does not do so without help.

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