Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 8, 2014
I recently read an article on a blog called Under 30 CEO titled 8 Ways to Be Remarkable that I thought was pretty good. And yet, in my own way I felt I was intruding when, after the first post this was the first sentence: “You are a Wonder Woman!”
I saw the post via a retweet by another lady named Susan Clark, and it’s her that I responded to by saying “Not bad but only women? I don’t want to be Wonder Woman 🙂” I said that because, well, I don’t want to be Wonder Woman. I’m not even sure I want to be Superman (okay, I do want to be Superman lol), but that’s not the point.
What I’ve been thinking about lately is how there are so many blogs and organizations these days that are geared towards specific groups that, for all intents and purposes, could be geared towards everyone. The “women’s club” blogs and groups are the fastest growing and probably the strongest groups out there, and many of them are set up to help women feel empowered.
Frankly, I don’t have a problem with that, and I don’t have a problem with minority or other select groups that want to do the same. Association within a group that people feel comfortable with can be quite beneficial at times, although that’s never worked well for me.
In my past, I’ve belonged to only one “black” group. We met the first Friday of every month for a year, and it’s initial goal was to find ways to help black businesses connect and help to raise awareness in black children that they could be something other than, well, folks who ended up doing bad things in black neighborhoods. It was a nice goal, but within 5 months that goal was gone and, with nothing left to really focus on except becoming another group where it seemed like everyone wanted connections to generate business rather than try to help others, it just kind of faded away; sad…
My real lament with many of the blogs, clubs, and presentations geared towards women is that many of them present great information that men could learn something from as well. There’s someone I know locally who puts on a lot of presentations geared towards women, and she was always inviting me to them. I told her one day that I appreciated the invitation, but everything in her marketing was geared towards women specifically and I’d feel like I was intruding because when it says “women”, it should only be women, even if the message was for everyone.
She said that learning was learning and that if I thought I could benefit that I should show up. That didn’t work for me, as it reminded me of when I first got to college and someone mentioned something about a fraternity and that even though they didn’t have any minority members I could come anyway and maybe they’d invite me to participate. That wasn’t happening because I hated the concept of fraternities, but I’d also already had experiences that told me not to foist myself into places where I didn’t think (okay, I knew) I wouldn’t have been invited to begin with; why cause discomfort on someone else right?
Then again, I know someone else who was a member of my consulting group who was also a strong supporter of local women’s groups. She came to our group because she said she felt that women couldn’t really compete in business without learning some of the same things men learned. Unfortunately she spent a lot of time when she would offer her opinions in our meetings trying to get us to act more like how she felt women’s groups worked; that was a recipe for failure, and it led to her being dropped as a member later on.
Maybe I’m seeing things wrong, which is why I’m putting my thoughts out here. I don’t have a problem with “mommy blogs” talking about motherhood to other mothers. I don’t have a problem with female lead blogs trying to empower women to greater things. It’s not even necessarily a problem for me that what seems like a true business blog that could be for all then decides that it’s only for women, or at least caters to only women.
The problem is that I feel excluded, like I shouldn’t be there at all, and maybe it fosters old memories of going with a friend to an event like the Irish Fest and having everyone looking and wondering why I was there, kind of pushing themselves away from me or, every once in a while having someone come up and say “What part of Ireland are you from?” and laughing hysterically, as if they were the only one to come up with that joke. Maybe it’s why someone like Brian Gardner would write something like An Open Letter to Every Man Who Reads a Woman’s Blog, which I also found interesting when I first read it a couple of months ago.
Am I being sensitive because of parts of my past? Am I justified? For that matter am I alone? What do you ladies think? Have I ever made anyone feel uncomfortable in commenting on any article on that blog because of their gender, or not written global content where almost anyone can like or dislike it without that being a consideration? Or do some people see it like my short lived Black Web Friday series, where I tried to help some black blogs and websites get some recognition from the public because it seemed no one knew black people existed on the web?
I just ask the questions; I’d really like to know your thoughts.