This week I was on a conference call set up by Maria Shriver - you know, Arnold's wife, and a Kennedy at heart? She invited bloggers and 30 of us called in. Now, I'm name-dropping on purpose because Maria has partnered with some key people (celebs and other 'well-known' names) to create what she calls A Woman's Nation, based on The Shriver Report.
So far, so good, right? Wrong.
I can see that Maria Shriver is attempting to do good. I can see that her over 400 page report (who is going to read ALL of that?) has content relevant to women and women's issues, including wages, home life, and the power women of a woman's purse. But, her website and her women's conference turns me off. Why? Because all I see are big names, powerful celebrities, a lot of promoting of Maria and her friends. These are not women reflective of ME!
Interestingly, Melanie Notkin was a bit unhappy with Maria's conference call and her work, also. For those who don't know Melanie she is the founder of Savvy Auntie - a powerful group of women who represent close to 50% of the female population in the U.S. These are women who are not *** shock *** Moms! (can I say that? aren't Moms all powerful? don't I write about them all the time? yikes...Melanie sure set me straight and I'm now setting you straight)
In Melanie's letter on her Savvy Auntie site, she takes Maria to task for focusing almost exclusively on the Moms and families that are inclusive of Moms and Dads. She says, "...when speaking of the nation's women and the economy, women without children who love, nurture and support the children in their lives should be part of the conversation. The women who have discretionary income and time that they spend on our economy should have a voice."
Well, who can argue with that? Not me. I know many PANKS, as Melanie calls them (Professional Aunts No Kids). I so agree that Melanie and I discussed this issue on the phone and I will share that with you next week. We had quite the conversation.
In the end, Maria Shriver did what the wowowow gals did - they tapped into celebrities, big names, famous people, women of influence in business - good women, all. But, not reflective of me. Not, dear reader, necessarily reflective of you.
There is no diversity in this movement; it lacks the very substance it promises to deliver. Ok, it may be chock full of stats and reports, and while it reflects the world we live in today, it does not help us solve anything.
Because beyond the report, Maria and her 'friends' are stuck in the box the U.S. likes to put women - a box that not only ignores PANKS but ignores me. I'm a Grandmother - divorced and living with my partner, Tom. I'm an entrepreneur. I'm a woman who lives in the real world, with you, all of my Lip-sticking readers. And, if Maria wants me to 'join' her movement (A woman's nation changes everything), she needs to include women like me on her panel, in her website, and especially on her homepage(s). At present, the "box" she lives in contains Moms with children of indeterminate age, and usually, a Dad... the predictable American Family.
Before I join, before I participate, I need to see you there, dear reader. I need to see women who are as diverse as the big outdoors. We are all different. We are all powerful in some way. We are not all Moms (let's define that - today, a "Mom" is a married woman with children, who is between the ages of 25-35, IMHO; she's the one the brands are pursuing like crazy!).
WE, the women of the U.S. I live in, are also PANKS and GrandMoms and gays with children. We're women of influence because we are out there helping our sisters be all that they want to be! We have come a long way - just on a different path than the celebs Maria culled for her movement. Our path is one that leads to creating leadership out of talent, not celebrity.
Let's tell Maria we'd like to be included in her movement, but she needs to invite some of us in to her inner circle - to give voice to the large number of women her report that her "woman's nation" ignores.
Here's my last word (until you get to listen to my podcast with Melanie): I do not want women who have never walked a day in my shoes to read stats and do research and then tell me how I feel and what my life is like. I am open to embracing the cause - it's a good one. But, when they clearly do not understand me, or many of my closest friends, I have trouble believing they can, or want to, help me.
My cynical nature says they want to be applauded for stepping up - and bringing their fancy friends with them.
p.s. to all the partners at a woman's nation: hey, niche blogs like mine and sites like Melanie's are also worth your attention - we can reach the real women who need and buy your products.