Some people will email me that they don’t want to read my rant that misogyny and bullying women is repulsive. This will, remarkably, even include some women who would much prefer that I keep writing specifically about fashion and style. Well, you know what? Fashion and style mean a great deal to me. But, even more so, it is what’s inside that counts. This is why I write this post.
One of the ugliest actions a person can take is to disparage another human being. I don’t like it one bit. Current media has brought this subject front and forward from the highest levels of power in the United States. As Americans, we should be embarrassed by this. The world judges America’s standing on the basis of our actions and leadership.
As I’ve written about many times over the years in my blog, I was the subject of emotionally crippling bullying. Bullying is harmful to people’s self-esteem, and I don’t care how tough or hardened the victim has learned to become. Currently, I have an eighteen-year-old high school graduate as my summer intern. She is fortunate to not have faced such awful circumstances. However, she has confided that some of her fellow students placed a lot of judgement upon her.
As her mentor – teaching her about personal style, fashion, and above all else, self-worth – do I remain silent about this? Absolutely not! I’d much rather write about my experience about one of the most compelling exhibitions I’ve ever seen of Cristobal Balenciaga. But, that has to wait for another time. Misogyny and bullying women is repulsive and is not to be tolerated. Sometimes, fashion and style has to wait because the deeper issue is what really matters.
This is not about taking a political side. This is about taking a humanistic stance.
That the president of the United States of America makes statements demeaning women is shameful. It is repulsive that women close to this man will support and defend these actions. It is demoralizing that men in power, mostly of one political persuasion, refuse to speak out against the president’s behavior.
This is a matter of incivility at the highest level. Most professional colleagues, and the professional association of which I was a member, remain silent. Supposedly, civility is one of the cornerstones of the image consulting profession. This ought to be a teachable moment. Where is the leadership on combating misogyny and bullying, particularly among women?
One of the most rewarding experiences is showing women how to look like the full potential that they possess inside. I do the exact same thing for men. But, there’s a difference. Women feel “less than” in school, college, the workplace, and even at home. This is thanks to the treatment by men, other women, and even self-sabotage. You might think of me as a “white guy.” But, this is hardly complete, or true. I’m a gay Jewish man who’s taken a lifetime’s worth of physical, verbal, psychological, and emotional assault. And, despite the hardship, and the long odds, I’ve turned my whole life around. The surprising gift to come out of that turnaround is the empathy I bring to my personal and professional relationships.
Earlier this year, at the G20 summit, Ivanka Trump spoke out in response to her father’s position about women. “I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media…but I know from personal experience, and I think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women.”
I am one to parse words because I believe that words and their contexts are very important. Here, I take particular issue with the word “potential.”
Why do women simply not have the “equal potential” of men, or that men have the equal potential of women? Moreover, people who are gender non-conforming also have equal potential for success and greatness. As a male member of a nearly all-female professional organization, I faced this very thing about my potential. This firsthand experience provides insight into how women take similar positions about women as do many male political leaders. I felt held back by that attitude and eventually resigned as an association member. My business has never been better, by the way. However, I’m not about to resign my American citizenship. I love this country, and am arguing for the benefit of the equal potential of all of our citizens.
Ultimately, misogyny and bullying women is repulsive because it happens in the most passive of ways. We need to open our eyes and speak our minds. Being positive examples to those who are indifferent or who are in opposition to true equality, we can create change. There’s no good reason for men to hate on women. If I don’t say something about it publicly, I’m not doing my part. Helping women – and men, and gender non-conforming people – to look amazing is one thing. But, this inner work of walking into a scenario and feeling totally equal to anyone else is also crucial. It’s what’s inside that counts.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley technology entrepreneurs and executives discover their personal brands and design their personal styles. Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know “6 Secrets to Success in Silicon Valley.” Get details about Joseph’s proven program that transforms your life through personal brand and style development.