Feminist to Follow: Shannon from Awash With Wonder

Few bloggers these days have me latched onto their every word the way Shannon Butler does.

And when I asked the blogger behind Awash With Wonder to tell me why blogging about feminism is important to her, I should’ve known she’d respond with a blog post-length essay worthy of publication on a site that actually reimburses its contributors.

How lucky I am to have her thoughts for free.

For that reason, I’m keeping my introduction to this month’s installment of Feminist to Follow short and will let Shannon’s words show why she’s a feminist and blogger you should know. Read on…

Feminist to Follow: Shannon from Awash With Wonder

Blogging about feminism is important to me because I care about women and our role in the world.

In a recent interview with Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham is quoted as saying, “I just think feminism is my work. Everything I do, I do because I was told that as a woman, my voice deserves to heard, my rights are to be respected, and my job was to make that possible for others.”

I see feminism as my work, too.

I did not grow up wanting to be a movie star or a doctor or an astronaut. I had no clear goals. The only thing I’ve always known and that has become truer as the years passed is this: I love to be a woman and I love other women.

Even with all the bullshit women face, I have never wished I wasn’t one. I see it as a privilege to be able to befriend smart, funny, interesting women and get to experience that divine miracle that is supportive female friendship.

But do I wish there wasn’t so much bullshit? Yeah, I do – especially because there is so much of it.

Recently, a lot of women have publically asserted that they do not like catcalling. The response has not been what a rational person might think it would be. Imagine a world where people say, “We do not like this thing you’re doing; it makes us feel threatened and harassed” and the response is, “Well you should like it, it’s a compliment, stop being so ungrateful”?

Affordable birth control is still being fought for in 2014 in America. Just let that sink in. This in a country where maternity leave is either nonexistent or an absolute joke.

The response to a woman saying she was raped – which only a tiny percentage of rape victims report – is often not, “Are you okay?” but, “How much were you drinking?” or “How short was your skirt?”

Think about how many people you know who have a female boss or how many stories you hear about men having to fight to get paid the same amount as women who have the same qualifications and do the same job as them. I’ll wait.

That’s just a small percentage of the problems women face in America. Let’s talk global.

Malala Yousafzai was shot for daring to be a girl and wanting an education.

The 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram have reportedly been “married off” to their kidnappers. Those girls are under thirteen and are facing a lifetime of imprisonment and sexual assault.

Reading about girl babies globally who get abandoned, aborted or denied medical care by their parents because girls aren’t valuable in their societies is numbing. The authors of Half The Sky, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, report: “More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century.”

The number of people currently sold into sexual slavery and forced labor is hard to pinpoint – trust that it’s more than you think – but everyone fighting to save those people agree that woman and girls account for more than 90% of them. I can go on.

In her book, Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay wrote, “It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.”

There is so much to be concerned about. It’s hard not to believe that fighting for gender equality is too difficult, that it would be easier to just give up and accept that the world is dominated by patriarchal societies and we just have to deal with the misogyny and oppression that comes with it.

But part of being human is to hope for a better world and to believe that you may play a role in making it so. Fighting for gender equality is one of the most important things we can do to make the world a better place – not just for women but also for men.

Former chief economist of The World Bank, Lawrence Summers, believes “investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world’” and the United Nations Development Program found that “woman’s empowerment helps raise economic productivity…and increases the chances of education for the next generation.”

Giving women the chance to excel – a freedom they have been denied for centuries – will change the world. That’s why I write about issues that affect women and the way feminism has helped to give me hope.

I am not naïve enough to believe that just because I identify as female that I’m going to like every woman or support every decision she makes. But that’s not what feminism asks of me. Feminism simply asks that I fight for every woman to live a life where she is not oppressed or disadvantaged or allowed to die because of her gender. It is not too much to ask. It is the bare minimum, actually.

 

If you want to read more of Shannon’s thoughtful, eloquent writing on feminism, you’ll enjoy these:

Let’s talk about rape culture
Does your partner need to be a feminist?
Why representation matters

Thanks so much for sharing your words, Shannon. Be sure to check out other Feminists to Follow here.

Who are some of your favorite feminist bloggers?

Feminist to Follow: Augusta Gail

The blog world could use more feminists like Augusta Gail.

The self-described grrl power princess is a Southerner who moved to Hollywood to pursue her writerly dreams, and Augusta’s blog of the same name is where she talks honestly and openly about her experiences of embracing herself through feminism. That’s why she’s this month’s featured Feminist to Follow.

Feminist to Follow: Augusta Gail

photo by Aurora Lady
 

Why do we need more bloggers like Augusta? She’s not afraid to get personal, and she’s not afraid to talk about the taboo. She curses and she’s open about her flaws, yet she can drive a point home and will make you love yourself more in the process. I admire her spitfire spirit, and I think you will, too.

Here’s Augusta in her own words:

“I wasn’t always a very good feminist; in fact, I spent much of my high school and college years completely disregarding the idea of feminism. It wasn’t until my life – and my self-esteem – hit rock bottom that I truly discovered, and embraced, feminism.

As a writer, I immediately realized that I wanted to combine my love for writing with my love of grrrl power, and create a place where girls (and guys) could find inspiration, reassurance, and share their stories. Writing about feminism is important to me because I want women to know that they’re so much more than a stereotype, or a dress size, or something to be stared at. It’s important because, every day, a teenage girl makes herself miserable trying to look a certain way and appeal to certain people. I want to encourage girls to embrace self-love and self-confidence. It’s important because, every night, women walk across parking lots with their keys clenched between their fingers, expecting to have to protect themselves.

I want to help create a world where there is no rape or violence against women – a world where yes means yes and consent is given the utmost of importance. I write about feminism in the hopes that people will join the fight for women’s rights and equality. I write about feminism because it truly changed my life, and I’m so incredibly proud to be a feminist!”

Some must-read posts from Augusta Gail:

The Story of My Selfie – On reclaiming confidence and self-love with selfies.
Feminism is SexyCan you wear sexy clothes and still be a feminist? (Yes. Here’s why.)
The Magic of Menstruation“If the thought of lady bits bleeding freaks you out, well then, you should probably keep reading.  Because, let’s be honest, you need to get over it.” ‘Nuff said.

 

Make sure you check out Augusta’s blog for every more great posts. (And if you missed the first installment of Feminist to Follow, meet Kate from Clear the Way here.) 

Who are some of your favorite feminist bloggers?

Feminist to Follow: Kate from Clear the Way

Contrary to what comment threads on any website might indicate, there are a lot of thoughtful, intelligent and well-meaning folks on the interwebs.

Such folks give me hope that we’re not doomed to a future of violence, misogyny and overall mayhem. (And it’s tough not to feel that way when reading the news these days.) That’s why I’d like to take some time to highlight the people who are spreading good on the web by fostering important discussions and inspiring new ways of thinking.

Enter the “Feminist to Follow” series, in which I introduce you to awesome people writing about feminism.

Every month, you’ll meet a new blogger who touches on the topic in engaging and meaningful ways. And I’d like to kick off the series with the lovely Kate of Clear the Way.

Kate of Clear the Way

I only discovered Clear the Way somewhat recently, but I’m already a huge fan.

Earlier this year, Kate launched the series Feminist Fridays to open up a regular dialogue about all things feminism. And “dialogue” really is the appropriate word to describe the series, as it’s filled with words and interviews with other bloggers about their experiences. I love how the series manages to encompass everything from sexism and the patriarchy to art and music. The series is as diverse and entertaining as the rest of Kate’s blog, which also touches on fashion, decor, vegan recipes and writing.

What I love most about Clear the Way is that it has everything I love in a lifestyle blog—style, food, thoughts on blogging—but it goes beyond the basic requirements of that genre and ties in feminism in a way that makes it accessible and relatable.

Here’s Kate in her own words:

“Blogging about feminism is important because your blog should be an extension of yourself, and if you are passionate about feminism you should share it. Opening up about feminism on my blog through my Feminist Fridays series has been amazing for me and my blog because it has allowed me to talk about the things that are really important to me and connect with others who have similar passions.”

Some must-read posts from Clear the Way:

How Do You Deal: Disapproval  – in which Kate and several other ladies discuss criticism of their feminist views from others
Fem Fridays: Be Bright – a message of inspiration and support for those inevitable dark days
Everyday Feminism – a series in which guest contributors write about how they live out feminism every day

Today, I added my own thoughts to Kate’s Everyday Feminism series, and you can check it out on her blog here.

For those not already a fan of Clear the Way, make sure you check out Kate’s blog. What other feminist bloggers do you love to follow?

On isolation, authenticity & failure with One Woman Shop’s Cristina Roman

We hear a lot of words like “authenticity” and “failure” thrown around when talking about careers and businesses.

But these words are often used in big-picture terms, as though someone just starting out in her career should know what we mean when we use them. Today’s Q&A is part two of a career mini-series (see part one from last week here) that focuses on words in the context of careers and really getting specific about them.

I’m chatting with One Woman Shop founder Cristina Roman, whose community for creative solopreneurs addresses one word in particular: isolation. See what Cristina has to say below.

self-employment

Briefly tell us your story and how you came to become so laser-focused on what you wanted to pursue for a career.

I think my friends and family would crack up if they heard someone call me “laser-focused”! I’ve always struggled with being pulled in a ton of different directions. Luckily, there’s a name for this kind of person, which I really identify with: multipassionate. It’s for those of us who love to dabble in various projects, always have our fingers in many pies, and love to learn just about everything.

That being said, I have found the common thread in my various projects and interests relatively recently: working with young women to find and thrive in careers and businesses that they love. Even more specifically, I now work almost exclusively with women who are starting or running their own solo businesses.

I do this through running One Woman Shop, a resource hub and community for female solopreneurs and freelancers, and offering business and career coaching and consulting, e-courses, and seminars through CMR Strategies in the areas of digital marketing, productivity, and personal branding.

And of the best parts of running my own business is that I can incorporate in any new interests I have willy nilly. That’s how my Unique Hobbies blog series and my Cultivating Happiness email series both came about, for example.

One thing your business touches on is something many people don’t talk about in entrepreneurship—loneliness and isolation. How does self-employment lend itself to those things and how can entrepreneurs combat them?

I would say that’s the number-one complaint of solo business owners and is how our tagline “going it alone doesn’t have to be lonely” came about. Entrepreneurs often start out working alone, either by choice or by necessity, and this can lead to a feeling of isolation, especially if friends and family don’t share the same passion for discussing the ins and outs of email marketing, the pros and cons of different legal designations, and the best strategies for finding a virtual assistant!

It can be tough working from home alone day in and day out, often going to a coffee shop doesn’t have quite the same feel as being in an office, and coworking spaces (shared office spaces for freelancers and entrepreneurs) can be expensive.

My advice for combatting this feeling of isolation: Meet other solo business owners in your area through Meetup, Twitter (try using FollowerWonk to search by area), and other local events; plan work dates and coffee dates to get out of the house; collaborate with other solopreneurs on projects and events, and set up periodic phone calls with people who motivate and inspire you (some of my most productive days have come after early morning phone calls that lit me up!).

We place a high value on authenticity in business these days, but that can seem like a double-edged sword for anyone just starting out who doesn’t want to offend potential clients or employers. How can any entrepreneur or corporate ladder climber walk that fine line while keeping her personality intact?

I think it comes down to making a decision: if there is a part of you that has the potential to offend or alienate someone – like your dirty jokes, your strong religious beliefs, or your political affiliation – and you choose to bring that into your business or the workplace, you need to own all of the possible repercussions. That could include not getting hired by a certain client or a company you want to work for.

Some people have made very successful careers for themselves by being 100% their “not suitable for work” selves – like Ash of the Middle Finger Project. This works for them, but it doesn’t mean you need to be the same way. It’s not inauthentic to have slightly different versions of yourself in your everyday life and your work life, as long as you don’t feel weird about it.

One Woman Shop

People talk a lot about failure as a positive thing. But what do you think they mean by that? Is there good failure and bad failure, and how can we use both to our advantage?

Failure sure is having its heyday, huh? It’s a complicated discussion because failure is all about perspective. For example, a $10,000 product launch could be an utter flop for one business owner, while it’s a gold mine for another. It’s also a matter of attitude – what one person considers failure, another may consider a learning experience. Basically, I think it’s all subjective!

The idea behind thinking of failure as a positive thing is that if you are putting out there over and over, you’re bound to fail sometimes. If you’re not failing occasionally, it probably means you didn’t really put yourself out there. In my opinion, it’s not absolutely necessary to fail, but it’s important to not be afraid to fail. And when you do fail, it’s crucial to learn from your mistakes.

At the risk of sounding too cheesy, we can use every failure to our advantage by learning from it. For example, I offered paid membership on One Woman Shop from the very beginning and exactly one person became a member in the first six months – pretty big failure, right? I learned that I needed to have a solid base of active individuals, prove that I provide valuable content, and poll my audience about what they were looking for in a paid membership site. Now that we’ve done those things, we’re relaunching our paid membership component!

How can someone just starting out build a community (online and in the real world) that will give her not only the audience, but the relationships necessary for upward growth?

Great question – we’re actually launching a coaching program around this idea! I think the first step is to cultivate resourcefulness and the ability to see the opportunities around you. Once you realize that opportunities to connect are everywhere, things get rolling pretty quickly. Another important piece is to make building a strong community around you a priority, not just something that falls to the wayside.

I firmly believe that community building is not a one-size-fits-all thing; for example, some people love online networking, while others thrive on making in-person connections. Some people build community through blogging, while others have find Instagram to be more suited to them. It’s all about finding your fit while still being willing to experiment.

Hands-down, my #1 recommendation is to get incredibly comfortable with direct outreach, whether it’s to ask people to join your email list, be a guest on your podcast, let you speak to their organization, or partner with you on a collaboration.

At One Woman Shop, we’ve been putting a lot of effort into high-impact activities, such as guest posting on sites like Design*Sponge, setting up a pop-up on the site, doing direct outreach to women we think would be a good fit for the community, and partnering with solo business owners on things like our 28 Tips for Growing Your Community freebie.

 

Thanks, Cristina!

Enjoy what she had to say or have any thoughts of your own? Let us know in the comments. And if this series hasn’t touched on something you’d like to see covered, let me know that, too!

Slow the eff down

Sound familiar? A lot of us feel like we’re moving at a hundred miles a minute but not accomplishing nearly enough. That’s why Claire is here to tell us how sprinting from one task to the next is killing your productivity and making you feel like crap. (Luckily, there’s a solution.) Listen up!

slow the eff down

As I type this, I am trying to move at 100 miles a minute, in about 20 different directions.

This is not a joke. Since beginning this post, I have:

  • Eaten an after-dinner snack (okay, several after-dinner snacks)
  • Done laundry
  • Answered emails
  • Made tea
  • Scrolled through Instagram roughly 47 times

Honestly, though? None of these tasks were done well, and just as importantly, none of them have made me feel the way I want to feel.

For all of the time I’ve spent trying to keep myself busy, clean and satiated this evening, I’ve accomplished embarrassingly little.

How many of your days look exactly like this?

If you, like me, spend your precious time struggling to complete what really counts toward accomplishing your Big Life Goals, it may be time to:

Slow down. Take a breath. Look more closely at whose agenda you’re following.

When I say “whose agenda,” here, I’m not implying that you’re taking orders from another person; what I actually mean is that you’re allowing a noisy little voice in your head to run the show.

Because believe it or not, we’re all catering to two agendas: our own, and our egos’.

Our own agendas are full of inspiring, life-changing plans, like:

  • Create a work of art that truly moves someone
  • Treat my body with the love and respect it deserves, so that it looks and feels awesome
  • Build a career that’s challenging, fulfilling and makes a difference in the world

Our egos’ agendas are full of self-centered, instant-gratification plans, like:

  • Binge-watch Orange Is the New Black
  • Get some Very Important Email Answering done
  • Take a nap

Neither of these agendas are inherently good or bad; they both simply revolve around a core of desired feelings. The major difference, however, is that our agendas are rooted in bravery and the embracing of challenge, while our egos’ agendas are rooted in comfort and the avoidance of pain.

Creating a work of art—or, in this case, a blog post worth reading—will ultimately bring me satisfaction, pride, and the joy of collaboration with a writer I deeply admire (hi, Cassie!). First, however, it has brought feelings of fear that what I write will be crap, and frustration at the fact that the words aren’t materializing as easily as I’d like.

Only by slowing the fuck down, feeling those scary emotions and moving through them do I have any chance of accomplishing my goal tonight.

Instead, however, I’ve chosen to run from them for the past three hours. And my ego has happily stepped in to help me.

This irritating little ego still wanted to feel proud and productive, but it didn’t want to deal with the tough stuff. So it picked easier options. How about the laundry? it said. Oh, and look, you have new Facebook notifications. Those are probably important. You should check them off the list!

And so I did. And now I have clean underwear and know that three people “liked” a photo I posted yesterday.

But have I really accomplished anything? Have I connected with anyone? Did it matter?

Um, resounding NOPE up in here.

To experience the deep fulfillment and feelings of helpfulness that spring from creating something worthwhile, I’ve first had to:

  • Admit to myself that yes, I’m scared, and yes, I’m frustrated.
  • Actually FEEL those feelings for a minute. Hang around with them. Let them wear themselves out.
  • Put my fingers on the keyboard and do the damn work.

By sloooooowing doooooown and accepting those emotions you’re so used to running from—those flutterings of dread before a workout, the overwhelm of launching a new product, the nervousness that no one will connect with your art—you’ll actually be able to get more done, and you’ll be better at what you’re doing.

Keep trying to numb those feelings, and your ego will gleefully help you overeat, put that new product on hold indefinitely, send lots of tweets, texts and snapchats, then settle in for a nap.

And you. will. be. stuck.

The next time you’re feeling busybusybusy but aren’t actually getting anything done, stop for a second. Put down the phone/laptop/cookie.

Ask yourself: How do I feel right now? And how do I want to feel?

If “how do I feel?” results in a negative answer—afraid, frustrated, hurt, angry—don’t rush to block it out. Let it wash over you. Try to live inside it for a second; what does it feel like, physically? Is your stomach clenched? Are your knuckles white? Do you need a few seconds to punch your pillow, or to cry it out? Do what it takes to get comfortable with that emotion—once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to move through it in peace.

Once that’s finished, you can focus on the good stuff: if you want to feel accomplished, you’re smart enough to know that a nap won’t provide that result. If you want to feel healthy and vibrant, the package of Oreos does not hold the answer.

You know what needs to happen to move closer to your dream life. Rushing from one activity to the next in an effort to avoid discomfort is not it. 

I’d love to know, though—what is?

What plans from your agenda are you going to tackle today, and what plans from your ego’s are you going to happily kiss goodbye?

 

 

Claire Suellentrop

Claire Suellentrop wants to live in a world where her friends pursue their bucket list dreams with reckless abandon, where they give their all to doing what they love, and where their health and well-being aren’t compromised in the process. As the health coach behind Eat Well. Party Hard., she’s passionate about creating opportunities for people to grow and thrive, and fuels her own crazy life with a plant-based diet, black coffee and whiskey. Her ebook, Killer Confidence: Anywhere + At Any Weight is available (for free!) right here.