What an amazing time to be a woman. After centuries of men establishing foundations of law, culture, ways of life and business, women’s voices have been silenced time and time again. Now, it feels like we’re rising to finally push through. During this twinkle in history, I enjoy unapologetically feeling, discussing and plowing through anything getting in the way of me being exactly who I am.
With everything happening nationally and internationally, we are raw and That Is Ok. Our "aggression" is our passion to do what’s right and call out injustice. It’s time we resist the fear, and use our feminine language and our voices in this moment while the world is open to hear it.
There’s great solidarity and connections being made at recent women events like the 3% Conference, but without actionable steps to champion yourself and others, we lack movement forward. Ladies, without weapons, we cannot go into battle. Here are three small things I’ve done to strengthen myself and our troops to press forward together, and all of which are inspired by recent events like R/GA’s Women Who Lead: Chicago discussion last week:
- Tip number one: Don’t fucking apologize (unless you really did something wrong). It’s not your fault that you’re sorry. We’ve been taught, trained and groomed to apologize when we think others are uncomfortable. Guess what? That’s not yours to hold. Try wearing a hair elastic or something on your wrist. Snap yourself (gently) when you apologize. Once the sorrys stop, you’ll hear yourself speaking with more authority.
- Tip number two: Support other women at work (and advocates of women). We have a support signal in our office called "lay it on the table." Here’s how it goes - In a meeting, if you need support (in what you’re saying or if you’re feeling mansplained, etc.), slap down the back of your hand on the table while you’re speaking. This will signal your need for immediate support to those who "know the code." It can be subtle or have a loud thud—up to you—and someone "safe" will stand by you, speak up in support of you or react to others as needed.
- Tip number three: Tone policing is the worst and it has to stop. This is when someone tries to detract from the validity of what you’re saying by attacking the tone (or emotion) in which you’re saying it. This action must always be called out. For example, I’ve worked with men during my career who often told me, "ok Julie, I get it, just relax." A good way to tell if you’re being tone policed is if you feel that weird, "I did something wrong," feeling in your gut, like when you were a kid getting reprimanded. It is NOT your fault. It’s them trying to regain authority in the conversation because they can’t handle the information you’re sharing. So, take a deep breath and say flat out "Do not tone police me. What I have to say is valid and I’m coming to you with a solution/for support/for help…" whatever it is. They’ll usually take pause and restart the conversation.
When you’re in any of these moments and don’t know what to do, remember, we are the majority- 50.8% of the U.S. Your voice matters and the braver you are, the braver we are. It will require all of us to swing the pendulum, and resist the fear.
Julie Benevides is a senior content producer within R/GA Chicago’s office. She has spent her career pushing for transformative ideas and championing female leadership within the workplace.