- November 21, 2014
- Posted by: Topher Morrison
- Category: Blog
UPDATE: It’s amazing how 4 years can change a person’s perspective on life. I’m creating an amendment to this post, as of December 31, 2018 but leaving the original writing as is, because I feel it will help add context, and hopefully show the evolution in my thinking.
Context, but not justification: When I wrote this original blog, I had just experienced discrimination because of my gender. A women-led organization refused to let me speak for their group and instead, asked a woman in my company to speak even though the material they wanted to hear was of my creation. This blog was my catharsis and way of dealing with roadblocks I’d faced as an advocate for women’s empowerment organizations, all the while being blocked several times in doing so, because of my gender. I feel those that experience discrimination should be given the opportunity to deal with their situation in a healthy and productive way. This blog reflects my catharsis, but does not reflect how I feel now. My evolution is the result of being open minded, willing to be wrong, and eager to apologize when I’ve made a mistake.
I firmly believe that inclusiveness will not happen when we operate from a place of exclusion, but because I’m in a position of privilege (being a white male), I’m in no position to critique how marginalized people navigate their oppression. And there’s no denying that women have been, and continue to be oppressed in our society. Was I discriminated against at the time of this blog? Yes. Does that even for a moment give me insight as to what it might be like to live a life of oppression? Hell no, nor does it give me the right to judge those who face this on a daily basis. I’ve gotten very clear: My occasional encounters of discrimination in no way compare to someone who experiences discrimination every single day. In fact, I realize now that I’ve never been truly discriminated against; there just isn’t a word that describes what someone of privilege experiences occasionally so we grab on to that word as if our struggle is somehow the same. It isn’t. As you read the blog below, there are parts that may make you cringe… they have the same effect on me now.
I’ve also added “[ ]” commentary after certain statements to clarify my points, or serve as a reminder that what you’ve just read no longer applies to my way of thinking.
I am a huge advocate of women in leadership. I’m even an honorary member of the Working Women of Tampa Bay (A woman’s group who does a lot of things VERY right). This is important to know before you read any further. I’m one of the men in America that believe women are amazing leaders and should be given access and equality to every opportunity that men have in business.
Every time I hear “We don’t book male speakers…” from a women’s empowerment group it saddens me to think how they are actually doing the opposite for their cause. It is wrong. It is sexist. And it needs to stop if they truly want to advance the cause that they so publicly state they want to advance.
A few months back I had the honor of speaking on a panel of women for the eWomen’s Network (another group that are doing things right). One of the themes or topics being discussed was the lack of access women have to leadership positions in Corporate America and a question given to our panel was, “How can women gain access to more of these opportunities?” My answer wasn’t politically correct, but it was 100% on the money. [Actually, it was 100% off the money.]
If women want more access to the opportunities that men have in Corporate America, then they have to start becoming more accessible to men. [I mean this in the context of allowing men to participate and support their cause for equality in their groups] Women’s groups that promote the notion of, “Created by women, for women…” DO NOT advance the cause for women anymore than a group “Created by African Americans, for African Americans” promotes equality for minorities in the workplace. [The only point I was making here was that, if we want inclusiveness in our culture, exclusiveness in any form isn’t helpful. But that point is irrelevant here and now I finally get it. I was focusing on why minority groups won’t let men participate in their organizations, instead of focusing on why the minority groups were formed in the first place. One group was formed under the hard hand of oppression and was needed for safety and support, the other was formed under the auspices of power and patriarchy – created for supremacy and hate. Had I realized this 4 years ago, I never would have written the following cringe-worthy paragraph that leaves me feeling ashamed for even writing it.]
Why is this so hard to believe? Does an organization that is “Created by white men, for white men” like the KKK help advance white supremacy? It does not. In fact, it just makes the people in their group feel more entitled, and makes all the people outside the group look at them as isolationists that don’t have any interest in learning how the other half lives. And in this case, most people look at them as extremists that have a very myopic view on life, and it breeds resentment and hatred.
The KKK is as ineffective at getting the world to think that whites are better than anyone else, just as much as women’s groups are ineffective in getting the male dominated corporate world to think that women are better leaders than men. If you were to replace the word “women” with “white men” in the marketing and advertising, and mission statements of most women’s groups they would be labeled as racists or sexist overnight. [To be clear, I’m not comparing women’s groups, or any minority groups to the KKK. The KKK is a despicable group that incites violence. My analogy was about the effectiveness of their message, and even now as I read it, I realize that it was so jumbled and confusing that it even boggles me.]
If women want to truly promote equality and have access to the same opportunities as men, then they shouldn’t be trying to organize groups of just women, and they sure as hell shouldn’t be refusing someone to speak for their events simply because they have a penis. It is the responsibility of the women in these groups to make sure that they invite men to attend their meetings. In fact, that should be the price of admission to these events! No man? No admittance. By this policy, then there would be an equal number of men & women AND they wouldn’t be ‘preaching to the choir’ they would be getting their messages into the minds of the people in Corporate America that can actually do something about it.
Agree? Disagree? Please share why. I’m open to a dialogue… because that’s how change is made. If I wanted everyone to agree with me then I would just write this blog and post in a group called, “Men Who Promote Female Leadership But Are Frustrated With Female Empowerment Groups.” [I still agree with this. I want a dialogue because it is a conversation worth having. I’m an advocate for equal rights and always will be.]