Feminism continues to have a bad image problem. It is not surprising in light of allegations about the management of the ‘feminist’ company, Thinkx.
Let’s square one thing away right off the bat: I don’t define myself as a feminist. If my daughters grow up and earn certain levels of achievement and status in the real world, you won’t find me chanting “Girl Power!” from the rooftops. You will find me in the kitchen saying to my husband, “Thank goodness we forced and dragged them into that college degree.” Oh yeah, they are going. I don’t care if they desperately want to grow up to be a musician, a clown, or a mermaid, their fannies are earning a degree first dammit. It is non negotiable. What they do with that degree will be up to them. Will they grow up to be future CEOs of massive money-making corporations? Perhaps. Will they tuck that $50,000 paper away, and stay home and raise a family? Maybe. Will they choose to work in public service fields like their father and I did? Who knows. The point here is that we value education in our home nearly as much as we value being a kind and fair human being. We are raising our girls to see themselves as valued, intelligent, not entitled and free-ranging.
So I am not a feminist. Yes I believe a gender pay gap in American culture and business exists. You can read my ranty little diddy on that here. Do I think women should rise above all men, and hold all power in the name of feminism? Lord, no. That’s just as stupid as saying that men should do the same. There is a PERSON for every job. Lately I find myself in the minority concerning feminism though. Feminism is all the rage right now, and because I have four daughters and tend to be a bit outspoken and opinionated, I should hypothetically be leading the pussy hats right now. With Trump taking office, the American women have recovered their political voices and are making themselves heard. Good for them. They should be heard, we all should be heard, but not because we are of one gender. In light of recent events I find myself wondering if some are taking the idea of feminism a bit to far; far from reality, and far from its roots. What once stood for equality, now looks like a publicity stunt and a creepy, mildly uncomfortable circus act.
Take for example the co-founder of Thinx, Miki Agrawal. Here is a woman that on the surface looks like the poster child for feminism. She has devoted her life and career to de-stigmatizing menstruation. Thinkx had some lofty feminist-based goals ranging from revolutionizing how women approach their “time of the month”, to providing an entire continent with sanitary products. For a hot minute they were looking like a mighty (trendy) female force to be reckoned with.
Cue smoke and mirrors.
You know what they say, if it’s too good to be true, then duh! It is too good to be true! A recent lawsuit filed against the co-founder of period panties basically paints the picture of Thinx being anti-feminist in every sense of the word. The suing party, Thinx former head of PR, accuses the company of exploiting its female workers with low pay, noting only two employees have successfully negotiated higher paying contracts…and they were men! She goes on to claim that the Thinkx Corporation, mainly comprised of twenty-year-olds, refers to employees in that age range as “children”, and the few thirty-year-olds as “nannies.” Well that isn’t offensive at all now, is it?
That isn’t even the most disturbing part though. The Thinkx CEO is accused of some very “unprofessional” mannerisms. Ms. Agrawal is accused of discussing employee body parts in a sexual manner, changing clothes in front of employees, holding a phone conference while on the toilet, and video chatting in meetings while nude in bed. That isn’t feminism! That is sexual harassment at worst and plain old bad business at best: dangerous business at that. Can you imagine if a man did that! Oh my stars, his head would be on a platter! Now we have a powerful female engaging in questionable behaviors, and we are supposed to praise it and call it feminism. Nope. If my girls ever use that college degree and mass amounts of creativity and drive to run a major corporation, only to engage in such jackass behaviors as listed above you, better believe I would be marching though those office doors to smack her twenty-five-year-old backside.
This lawsuit isn’t an isolated circumstance though, and that is the real issue at hand. This is starting to look like a real trend: bad business ethics hiding behind feminist curtains. Nasty Gal founder, Sophia Amorusa, recently came under scrutiny for firing four pregnant women and one man over paternity leave. Guess what? Miss #Girlboss herself now has a bankrupt business (albeit for all sorts of reasons). You see, you can’t hide from bad business principles. You can’t call them something trendy and pretend like you stand for something bigger than yourself.
At the heart of it all it this: feminism is not about being outrageous and taboo. It’s about equality. If you build a business based on feminism, you better make sure that is what you are actually practicing.
If you want to be the next Girl Boss, you have to be the Boss first.