The ‘F’ Word

Posted October 1, 2013 by Katherine Toll in Women's Issues

This past Saturday, I attended an absolutely delightful event hosted by the popular Midwest Style Bloggers. A beautiful venue combined with great information and a ROCKSTAR swag bag made for a lovely morning. Later as I chatted with one of the hosts, she leaned toward me conspiratorially and commented,

You’re a muckraker….aren’t’ you? (Wink)

Why, yes. Yes, I am. Thank you for noticing. It’s a gift, really. 

Yep — I’m one of THOSE people. Typically, I love to  jazz up benign conversations by posing a thought-provoking question, or two that digs beneath the surface. 95% of the time, I’m simply bored, so I like to add a little pep to the chat, however life taught me some hard lessons about using my skills judiciously. The other 5% of the time I really believe the people (and the conversation) are up to the task. In other words, I don’t think I’m muckraking. I think I’m asking a topical question.

But, sometimes I’m wrong. I misjudge and I get tagged as the ‘troublemaker.’ This happened recently much to my profound surprise and disappointment.

The Scenario

I attended a recent women’s event that featured a panel discussion with three accomplished women, facilitated by an equally accomplished fourth woman. C Level. Major Roles. Major Corporations. Top-O-The-Heap. There was the obligatory question/ answer session after the conversation, so I got in line and asked what seemed like an appropriate question in a room full of 100+ women and girls.

The Question

Would you consider yourself a feminist? (The ‘F’ word.)

The Response

The room let out a low groan and I LITERALLY stepped back from the mike as a hush fell over the room. (Oh f*ck!, I thought to myself. I blew it.) I did not see that response coming.  It’s not like I asked them their combined weight, or the last time they had sex, for God’s Sake! I watched as three of the four women waffled with their answers. They artfully dodged the question and talked around it without ever saying YES. Now, I know these women fought long and hard to get to their levels. I know because my mom was 10 years ahead of them and I trail 15-20 years behind them. My mom’s employer told her she made the maximum ‘for a woman’ and I still need to remind hiring managers pregnancy is not a disability (true story).

The ‘F’ Word

When did feminism become a bad thing? And, more importantly, why? Can I not be a loving woman and a feminist? Or, a compassionate woman and a feminist? Or, a vulnerable woman and a feminist? Must I be known as an angry, militant, defensive, blah, blah, blah because I’m a feminist? Nope, only if I allow it.

The Moral of the story

Plenty of other women belted out their songs and blazed the trail for me. Fearless and brave with unmitigated gaul, they risked what some of us seem unwilling to now. The job is not done ladies. The Equal Rights Amendment is NOT part of our constitutional right (much to the popular notion that it is.)  I know it’s  hard sometimes. And, I know it challenges us to disrupt the status quo, but our daughters, nieces, and other young girls need us to stand tall. Remember: they will stand on our shoulders as we  now stand on the women before us.

Do great things for them now. 

About the Author

Katherine Toll

Katherine (Kathi) Toll possesses more than 20 years of management and consulting experience within the retail and beauty industry. Her industry experience combined with her special brand of irreverence fuels her mission to find the ‘must-have’ beauty products for Career Girls of all ages. She aspires to remind women the airbrushed perfection of the beauty industry must be tempered with a healthy dose of humor. Kathi holds a general management certification from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, along with an undergraduate degree from Northwestern’s School of Communications.