A Collective Discussion on Feminism

Last night, I went to an event without really knowing what I was going to. I saw the listing, it said “International Women's Day Panel” and Michelle (The Batch Makr) and I figured we’d go. What resulted was an evening with some of the best discussions on modern day feminism I think I’ve ever had.

In honour of International Women's Day, Collective Arts Brewing hosted a panel discussion in collaboration with Hamilton HIVE featuring local women professionals /artists /activists /business owners /bad asses! Andrea Pohlmann of Hamilton HIVE moderated the discussion with Natalie Very B, Catherine OppedisanoSiobhan StewartRobin Lamarr & Jane Allison.

The best part of this night (other than the amazing panel discussion) was taking that discussion into the real world over chicken wings and beer. It was having really deep conversations with a friend about what feminism means to us, and how we can bring it practically into the world we exist in. And for us, it includes making sure we include men in our discussion.

Michelle pointed out the beautiful fact that she has now raised a man. Read that again: WE AS WOMEN, ARE RAISING THE NEXT GENERATION OF MEN. Feminism starts with you, in your home, with discussions with your family. It means raising men who feel just as empowered doing the dishes, staying home with their kids and maybe not being the “bread winner”. It means raising men who are strong, caring, nurturing and are just as happy supporting their partners dreams as they are in achieving theirs. Of course there are areas in society where there is still some “Toxic Masculinity” but I don’t think the cure for that is going so far the other way into “Toxic Femininity” and man bashing.

I have been ridiculously blessed in that I growing up I never felt that I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl. I have a Dad, a Step Dad, Brothers, and Friends who have ALWAYS encouraged me, driven me and made sure I knew there was no reason I couldn’t have whatever the heck I wanted to work for. As a woman, when I found that resistance I simply didn’t tolerate it and worked harder. I have never been a doormat, and while I have definitely tolerated some shady shit from people I loved, it wasn’t because of gender (plus, “Hi, I’m a human🙋‍♀️”).

This is my dad’s Facebook post on International Women’s Day:

Why should men care about International Women’s Day? Because my grandmother had to ask “permission” to keep her career after she married, and again when she had children. Because my mom remembers when women didn’t have adventures. Because my daughter works harder than I do, and deserves respect, and because my granddaughter can aim at anything she chooses. Rockstar, engineer, fire captain or stay home mom. Support the women in your life gentleman.”

When talking about feminism, we need to make sure we are including men in our discussions, because SO MANY OF THEM AGREE WITH US! So many of them want to support us in equality, they want us to succeed and some of them are just as willing to go to bat for our rights as we are! In business, we look at the logical ways to solve problems and be as productive as possible, and is it not more productive to allow the men in our lives who have that perceived “privilege” to help make our stories heard? I am so grateful for the men in my life who have encouraged me and fought for my rights when I couldn’t do it myself. When I was the pregnant girl in high school and needed my Daddy to fight for my ability to stay enrolled and to put a stop to the bullying. When I wanted to quit my job and raise my son, and then again when I wanted to quit my job and start my business, I had a man willing to support that.

I am raising a little man who watches his sister have adventures and tackle all kinds of things, who helps with the dishes and isn’t afraid to say when he has sad and needs a hug. I am raising a man who will grow up watching his mother pursue her passion for entrepreneurship, and see a world where women have every opportunity and supporting that is in the best interest of our whole community.

I am growing a community through the Small Business Owners of Southern Ontario that will NEVER be “women only” because removing the opinion of half the population is NOT in the best interest of entrepreneurs as a whole, and because I value the opinion of men in the same way that I value the opinion of women, to me that is equality. And when the men in our circles are just as excited to support our businesses, why on earth would we reject that?

SO THANK YOU TO THE WOMEN AND MEN WHO SUPPORT EQUALITY! Go out, have a discussion, get familiar with the actual issues and what you can do about them. Find your tribe, talk their ears off, make a plan and start raising that next generation of men, because we can only go up from here!