Anne Omland is a leadership and career development expert. As a VP of a Fortune 500 company she uses her insider knowledge to help ambitious women define their leadership style and use it to create meaningful success.
So Kim Kardashian’s ass didn’t break the internet. Great because I have work to do, tweets to tweet, instagrams to like and I guess, work to do. To me, the pictures aren’t bothersome; her butt made her famous (well, that and a sex tape). What’s bothersome is the reaction of other women to her choice. How can she do that? She’s a mother! To that I ask: What bearing does her motherhood have on her right to sexualize herself?
We’re entitled to our opinions, absolutely, but when we get into public forums and shame each other, we perpetuate the cat-fight stereotype which sets our gender back. Instead we ought to accept that we’re entitled to make lifestyle choices that feel right to us and we should honor those in others and ourselves.
For me the issue isn’t her ass, it’s the selectivity of feminism.
Let’s switch gears for a minute. My ability to rise in the ranks of a male-dominated industry was heavily influenced by my freedom and ability to say yes. With no kids and therefore no “valid” excuse to say no, I created a reputation of reliability and stability. And opportunities would come my way when other people would say no and I could step up. So I’d swoop in, kill it and step up another rung. No problem.
Except when that reputation backfires.
I once heard my peer, another VP, say to our boss, why can’t Anne fly to California tomorrow? She doesn’t have anything to worry about at home. Really?! This was a friend of mine and I remember being shocked that she, too, judged me for being childless. What I had at home wasn’t kids but it didn’t make it less important to me or my time. Truth be told, I judged her too when she skipped out early…we were both guilty.
At what point did we start to see each other as the enemy? At what point did we begin using each others’ priorities (or seemingly lack thereof) against each other?
This isn’t about leadership, commitment or ability. Working mothers, those without kids and SAHMs are all committed to something and have their own leadership responsibilities. What we need to work on is acceptance.
We make it harder on each other with passive judgments about what others of us can or can’t do. “She can stay late to finish up this project, she doesn’t have kids.” “She can’t be counted on- one of her kids is always sick.” “She can volunteer at the kids’ school, it’s not like she has a job.” How many times have you thought one or more of those things? I’m guilty of it.
We sabotage our genders’ advancement when we compare and criticize. (tweet this!)
If you’re a feminist and support gender equality, you can’t be selective about it. (It’s not easy: right there I wanted to write- “and I don’t see how you can be a woman and not be” – but that would be a judgment on your choice…this is hard!).
We have to accept, even if we don’t like, the choice every woman has to create her life her own way. This individualized ideal of what it means to “do it right” is holding us back. And our attempt to “do it all” has upped the ante on what’s expected.
When we focus on the negative and what we should be doing, we’re drawing attention to our weaknesses.
Working mothers, quit projecting your stress and lack of time onto your non-mother counterparts. Just because they don’t have kids doesn’t mean they don’t have priorities to protect.
Working non-mothers, enough with the resentment for the women who cut out early to get to their kid’s soccer game; responsibilities don’t equal a lack of commitment.
And stay at home moms, it’s not necessary to defend yourself the moment careers come up in conversation. A salary isn’t the definition of value and your time and energy is beyond valuable.
The truth is, we’re each making the best choices for our individual circumstances. Women are amazing creatures: empathetic, intuitive, creative and powerful.
We don’t need to darken our collective light with quick judgments and baseless concerns.
The point is, if we want to advance our gender and the stereotypes that hold us back, we have to start by looking in the mirror. What assumptions do we make about other women? What judgments do we make about those in different roles, families, etc.? What comments and passing glances do we give off without even realizing it?
The only change we can demand and thereby make starts with us.
A cultural shift is necessary but it’s not for “someone else” to make- it has to start with ourselves.
(If you notice that you’ve been less-than accepting or a bit judgmental, who cares? I have too. Let’s not use that as an excuse not to change.)
Remember, we’re in this together. I love the analogy that we’re like redwood trees. Unlike other trees, redwoods have no tap root and can’t stand alone. Not ever. They exist in clusters, or groves. The strength of the tree is not itself but in the way it’s roots intertwine with others. Basically, with roots that intertwined, there’s no way a tree could fall down because it’s held up by the strength of the trees around it.
So be a redwood. Those looking for an excuse not to work hard are never meant to rise in the ranks, kids or not. Those who want to advance will make it happen with the support of the men and women around them. And the women at home give strength to a generation of future redwoods who learn from their example.
Let’s not waste our time and energy on comparison or judgment. Let Kim K’s ass do it’s thing. Let’s instead see how expansive we can grow our grove until we’re all as tall and as strong as we hope to be.
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