First and foremost, I want to apologize for my lack of posting over the month of April. It has been a busy time for accounting firms as you can imagine, but my co-op term with Deloitte has come to an end, which means more spare time! (FYI, you still have time to do your taxes so go do them!)
Now that e31. has been around for over 8 months, my hope is that you, the readers, are starting to get a good grasp of what this brand truly stands for and everything it encompasses. If not, my goal at the end of this post is for all of us to be on the same page when it comes to the meaning and purpose behind this space.
Photos by Donna.
As more and more women are blogging here at e31., it has been exciting to see the platform grow and reach more and more people. In the beginning, I genuinely thought my family and friends would be the only ones following along (out of obligation), but I’m extremely humbled and honoured to see that this is not the case.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve had several conversations about e31. with friends but also with absolute strangers which has been extremely neat. Of course I love talking about e31. and my hope is that my passion is evident throughout the conversations I have. However, I felt it was important to dedicate a post towards answering a question that I have been asked quite often and that is, “is e31. a feminist blog?”
Now before I answer this question, I want to share some personal background information. Believe it or not, the word “feminist” was an unknown word to me up until my second year of university. Now don’t get me wrong, I was aware of individuals who were advocates for women’s rights politically, economically, and socially as I am also an advocate for these rights. Rather, I wasn’t aware that there was a certain “label” or the terminology associated with the belief of gender equality.
In my second year at the University of Victoria, I signed up for an elective called “Women Studies” after a friend of mine recommended it for being a pretty easy course without a final. My mindset taking the course was “well I’m a woman, how hard can this course be?” Obviously I was going to nail it..
After going to the first few classes, I ended up dropping the course due to the intensity of it. While I quickly learned what the course content entailed and the term “feminist” quickly became a known word to me, I had no problem with that. However, my main motivator behind dropping the course was due to the other students I sat among and the fact that I did not want to associate myself individuals who I felt were far too emotional and radical in their beliefs.
Although I was only enrolled in the Women’s Studies course for a few classes, it appeared as though a lot of the class time was allocated for discussion. Now don’t get me wrong, open discussions can be a great thing where you can learn a lot from your classmates as you hear different perspectives. Unfortunately, from the very beginning, I realized that these individuals (females and some males surprisingly) were not necessarily there to have a respectful open discussion about gender equality and that it quickly turned into a male bashing session. I could not relate to their statements nor did I want to be seen as someone who supported it. For myself, I have an awesome dad and two brothers and not to mention other key male figures in my life that I know respect women to the fullest and it drove me nuts to hear the male gender be generalized and talked about one as a whole in a negative way.
My choice to not stay and speak up for all the men in my life was not a decision based off of fear or intimidation as anyone who knows me knows that I have no problem speaking my mind. However, I realized that these people spoke from places of hurt and that unfortunately for them, might have had a few negative experiences that involved a man or group of men and it wasn’t my place to tell them that they had no right to feel the way the did.
As I am getting older, I am learning that people believe what they believe and it is very difficult to convince them to see otherwise. Also, I’ve learned it is not necessary the right approach going into a discussion with the end goal of trying to convince someone to believe your beliefs.
I don’t think we have to avoid having conversations about controversial topics as I’ve been able to have some awesome ones in the past. What has made these conversations so powerful and in all honesty, enjoyable, is that there was a mutual respect for both side’s perspectives and beliefs. This allows both individuals to simply share what they believe and at best, hopefully help the other side to see where one is coming from. As soon as I realize that the other person is not willing to hear what I have to say, but rather block it out and try to enforce their opinion on me, I immediately shut down and end the conversation respectfully. I’ve learned that it is a waste of both individual’s time and it usually does not result in doing either party good in the long run- which is unfortunate.
Up until that experience with that class, if you asked me gender-equality-related questions such as “do you want equal wages for women?” or “do you believe women should have the same rights as men?” I would say “absolutely!” as I’m not sure what female would say “no”. However, if you asked me if I was a feminist, I would probably say “no” as I did not want to be identified along with individuals in that class. Also, in complete honesty, I thought it would hinder my chances of getting a boyfriend as a lot of guys would see it as a turn off. I know my reasons were pretty shallow, but that’s the truth. I did not like the “F” word and I refused to describe myself as one.
Fast forward two years from then and this is now my standpoint from the girl who started e31.:
If wanting to empower women to pursue their career goals, help dress them with confidence to look the part and feel the part, and shed light on the existing gender gaps in the workforce defines myself as a feminist and e31. as a feminist blog, then so be it. I’ve accepted that that’s what it is and I won’t deny it. However, the reason why I don’t describe e31. as being a feminist blog right away is that I find that as soon as people hear that word, they immediately become narrow minded and assume it stands for all of the negative connotations that are associated with feminist movements and individuals who have chosen to be radical about it. The same goes for not wanting to classify e31. as being just a fashion blog- I don’t want people to see it as a space that encourages materialism.
My goal with e31. is for it to be a tasteful blog about empowering women and not one that is about bashing males. I will not tolerate it and for anyone who guest blogs for e31., I make sure that there is no trace of male discrimination in their post.
So why just focusing on women? The reason being, is that as a young woman in business, I have seen and experienced the gender inequalities, especially in a male dominated corporate world. At the end of the day, I want e31. to be relatable and as I am a woman who is trying to establish herself in the 21st century where there is still a gap (although smaller) in gender equality, I know I can best relate to, well, women. I’m not saying that prejudices/discrimination against men in and outside of the work force do not exist or anything to that effect. Once again, it is just something I cannot relate and speak from experience.
I was talking to my friend Will who asked me if what I was doing with e31. was in the feminist realm of things and after explaining my heart and motivation for it, he had a lot of respect for it as he mentioned, “many feminist movements are so aggressively attacking for their equality that I think sometimes the point of what they’re doing is missed, but I do like what you’re doing.”
Please hear me when I say that not all feminists are radical or overtly aggressive in their belief system and that I know my classroom setting was not a valid representative of the entire feminist population. I love what individuals such as Sheryl Sandberg, Emma Watson, Beyonce, etc. are doing for the feminist movement and that is, showing that being a feminist does not have to equate to “man hating”.
At the end of the day, I would love if people defined e31. as a space that is all about encouragement and empowerment and a feel-good blog that they can come relate and learn from the women apart of it. Not to mention, gain some fashion education and inspiration as a side bonus.
One of my all time favourite quote by Matthew Arnold is:
“If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known.”
One of my life goals is to familiarize the world with such this force and I hope you will join me! (:
I know today’s post was quite lengthy and if you made it all the way through, I appreciate it tremendously. I hope I was able to communicate my heart and motivation for e31. clearly but if you still have any questions or concerns with e31., feel free to email me at email@example.com. I won’t promise I’ll agree with you but I will at least try to see it from your perspective or if anything clarify my positioning. Lastly, I want to encourage you to have meaningful conversations surrounding feminism that can gain a person’s respect verses shying away from the subject as a result of the intense feminist beliefs that a few individuals may hold.
Until next time, work hard and be nice to people!