I started this business seven years ago with a mission to empower other feminist entrepreneurs who wanted to make the world a better place. My purpose was to encourage women to invest in themselves, their talents, their passion—to nurture themselves and their own potential as much as they did their partners, their children, and their friends.
Purposefully Positioning as Feminist Entrepreneurs
I believed that by channeling their power, women were uniquely positioned to effect positive change on individual and global scales. Feminist self-actualization and empowerment in service of the community—through purposefully feminist entrepreneurship.
Seven years later, amid a global fucking pandemic caused by the hubris of an almost entirely male authoritarian government, I believe even more firmly that intersectional feminism (if anything) will save the world.
Fighting for Life in a World Ruled by Toxic Masculinity and Death
For literally thousands of years, women have adapted to, survived and sometimes even thrived in a world strangled by the grip of male fantasy. An unnecessary world of scarcity and war, constructed by men to give “honourable” purpose to raping, pillaging, enslaving, and killing. A world where wealth and power are built on the suffering of others. A world where mediocre men become unconscionably rich by destroying the earth and the people on it—and then, as Rose (DeWitt Bukater) Dawson so succinctly describes “retreat into a cloud of smoke and congratulate each other on being masters of the universe.”
When men go off to conquer, hoard and destroy, women are left to do the real work of living. Sustaining the workforce and the economy. Creating communities. Maintaining our homes. Raising our children. Taking care of our families and friends. Loving, feeding, healing, teaching, building, serving, and leading. We learned to do it with very little to call our own. And despite each and every thing the patriarchy has done to strip women of our power, and everything it has done to burden and distract us, we have risen. And we have seen some real change in ever-progressive cultural shifts. Because when women rise, we don’t rise just for ourselves, by ourselves. We rise to lift each other. We rise for each other. And for the earth, for the future, for life.
We are rising. But there is so much built to and invested in keeping us down.
Who Killed the World?
Our entire world has been taken hostage in order to create wealth for male billionaires. To prop up power-hungry politicians, capitalists and dictators. We’ve been told that not only do they deserve this wealth, but that this wealth only useful and valuable in their control. We’ve been told that they are the ones who drive the economy, who give us our jobs, our homes, our food, our clothes, our everything. We’ve been told that we need to sacrifice everything in order to be the most productive we possibly can be, to generate the most wealth possible for our employers.
And we’ve been told that redistributing that wealth would cause economic crises of untold proportions.
Now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, productivity is crashing, businesses and organizations are shutting down, institutions and infrastructures are crumbling, and people are dying. And yet billionaires are still billionaires.
Even if the world grinds to a complete halt for the predicted 18 months or more, billionaires will still be billionaires. And they will have done fuck all to save us—unless it serves them somehow, of course.
As we know, it is the larger working class that drives the economy. The world depends on us. The world depends on the average citizen, paying their rent, filling their cars up with gas, buying groceries. It depends on us buying too expensive shoes for our kids, and the latest iPhone, and avocado toast at hip, locally-owned cafes. It depends on our leisure time and ability to travel, to partake in hobbies, to create and enjoy music, art, and more.
We’ve never needed to work 40+ hours a week. We’ve never needed to be grateful for our employers for paying us the least amount possible for our labour, while profiting from it a thousand-fold. We’ve never needed to earn the right to live, to have safe dwellings, to have access to healthcare, to childcare, to leisure time. We need to reveal the massive level of harm these outrageous lies cause, and insist on social justice at all levels.
A Glimmer of Hope as the World Collapses
As late-stage capitalism, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, classism, and ableism keep grinding, humanity comes closer and closer to collapse. We see it in the failure of wealthy countries to provide for even their most vulnerable citizens, the destruction of the earth and lack of action on climate change, and the unbridled lust for power in many of our world leaders. We see it in the eradication and setback of progressive laws in countries around the world and an unsettling level of tolerance for the return of fascist, authoritarian, and totalitarian governance.
Today, citizens around the world are sitting at home, wondering how they’ll manage to survive the next two weeks, never mind months of a global shutdown. Even countries with robust social services are warning of impending doom, as the spread of a totally preventable pandemic threatens to crush us.
And yet, there have been glimmers of hope. Some corporations and companies have revised work-from-home policies and given their employees paid sick leave. Governments are putting together emergency stimulus packages and deferring taxes. Prisons are changing their jailing policies. Lenders and financial institutions are deferring some loan and mortgage payments. Communities and individuals are banding together and trying to provide for those who are the most at-risk during times like these. Unprecedented times.
How Feminist Entrepreneurs Can Help
But it’s still not enough. We need to push harder. As feminist entrepreneurs, we are positioned to empower ourselves, our fellow business owners, and citizens at large to not only survive this crisis, but use it to change the world. Feminist entrepreneurs have already learned to make room for women and other marginalized people in our industries, establish fair labour value for ourselves and our employees, contribute to our communities, and be politically active—while raising our children, caring for our parents, and investing in ourselves.
People around the globe are being thrust directly into a world with which feminist entrepreneurs are already very familiar. People who have never worried about sick days or job security are scrambling after being laid off. Men who used to be able to escape to the office and the golf course, leaving their spouses to shoulder the brunt of housekeeping and childrearing, are coming face-to-face with the exhausting and all-consuming nature of care-taking. Advocates of private medicine will realize that there is no amount of money they can pay to access healthcare if the entire system is in shambles. Those who criticize “welfare states” will, if they’re lucky, be able to rely on socialist programs themselves. This pandemic will, and indeed has already begun to, shine a harsh and relentless light on the very deep cracks in our cultural structures.
And so now is the time for us to truly “lean in”, as billions of people around the world are learning just how precarious—and just how unnecessary—our way of living has been.
Policy Making Requires the Power of the People
As activists around the world push for real, sustainable change through policy-making and legislation, we will need the power of a radical shift in our mainstream cultural values. While continuing to operate our businesses within a feminist framework, supporting our communities, and being politically active through this crisis, feminist entrepreneurs can lead by example.
A suggested list of topics to discuss with our colleagues, peers, friends, and families:
- Universal, minimum income for ALL citizens
- Universal, comprehensive healthcare for ALL citizens, that is not dependent on employment or insurance
- Fully-funded childcare
- Reduction in work hours across all industries
- Mandatory paid sick leave and vacation time for ALL employees, across all industries
- Subsidies for companies and organizations that implement flex-time and work-from-home policies
- Free post-secondary education
- Total elimination of student debt
- Release of people convicted of minor and non-violent crimes
- Significant reduction in interest rates and fees allowed to be charged by financial institutions
- A complete overhaul of taxation structures to eliminate taxes for the working class, and instead tap into the virtually unlimited funds of giant corporations
As of a few hours ago, almost 350,000 people have been infected, 15,000 people have died, countries are in total lockdown, and the United Nations has asked for an immediate global ceasefire.
We’re standing in the centre of a global disaster. And in that disaster, there is an opportunity to move forward.
We cannot go back.