Amplify‘s tagline so far has been ‘because remarkable women aren’t a supply problem’. So does this mean it’s a demand problem?
Hidden in our mindsets which shape our language are the ways that we’ve constructed manhood and womanhood. That women aren’t ‘demanded’ (asked, encouraged, told from a young age, etc) to run for the highest political offices around the world is a threat to all of us.
It’s a threat because, with the rise of the #MeToo reckoning, we’ve also seen the rise of the anti-#MeToo movement – the one that’s always been there, persistently telling women to just ‘stop being so hysterical, just calm down’. With the President of the United States openly mocking the #MeToo movement, it can feel at times that equity is a long ways away.
There are places in this world where women aren’t even considered people – where they are told from birth that they don’t have thoughts unless a man tells them what to think. This is argued as biology, when we’ve shown that in fact, it’s not a biological fact at all. It’s a story. It seems like the battle for the last bit of this decade will be the battle of facts and truths vs. fake news and propaganda. And it’s important to note that facts, truths, fake news and propaganda all come to us via stories. It’s just a matter of determining which stories we want to buy into.
Look at Malala and what she’s been able to accomplish – from a Nobel peace prize, to significant influence around the world – and who has always stood behind her, telling her that she was just as capable as any man? Her father. Because he knows stories HAVE to change – he started by changing his daughters story about what was possible, even when the world around her told her that she didn’t matter. Our stories, institutions, and organizations – and the people in them and running them – matter a great deal.
Hollywood has been working to change the conversation on this, and while I like the occasional celebrity gossip, I’ve never followed Hollywood so closely until this past fall.
At Cannes this year, 82 women staged a protest representing each of the 82 female directors who’ve been in competition in Cannes’s 71-year history—compared to the 1,688 men (that’s less than 5%). I’m not quite sure how we can say equity NOT a demand problem. Are there really no women directors out there? Hard to believe. So, it seems as though in many arenas, supply has not been the issue. And if it’s not a supply problem, then perhaps demand might be the source of the issue.
Equity is a demand problem in the sense that women’s accomplishments can be invisible – because of where the balance of power sits. (And I don’t think this is only true re gender – we’re seeing the same type of thing playing out right now in the US in regard to race)
The Harvey Weinsteins / Bill Cosbys / Jian Ghomeshis of the world were able to get away with what they did for years ‘because that’s the way it’s always been’. This is shocking and yet, not shocking all at the same time. Shocking because it’s now visible after years and year and years of abuse. Not shocking because we all let it happen because it part of the stories we told ourselves about how the world works.
It’s only been 100 years in Canada that women have been able to vote – aka, be considered people under the law. And relatedly – own property, control their finances, and most importantly, control their bodies (still not fully resolved). Our institutions, organizations and the people who run them matter a great deal. Changing our stories is MONUMENTAL and, I think, the hardest part.