Culture 23 March 2018
All my life, I thought I wanted to do one big thing. Kind of like Harper E. Lee: up until Go Set a Watchman, she was known for one big thing – To Kill a Mockingbird. One book. One bestseller. A perfect 1.00 batting average. There is something so tantalizing about one big thing: You get to dart into the national spotlight, do one perfect thing, then run away before you mess up that “perfect” performance, your spotless reputation. It’s the equivalent of a mic drop. Or how a stand-up comedian strives to leave on a high note.
When my invention of the Pussyhat took the world by storm – creating a Sea of Pink at the Women’s Marches, landing on the covers of Time magazine and The New Yorker, I thought that was my To Kill a Mockingbird, my One Big Thing.
I thought, maybe like you, that once I had a big success, I would be satisfied and everything I produced afterward would be easier. This was largely wrong. I found myself petrified to release my second project. But when the March for Our Lives was announced for March 24th, I was so moved by the bravery of these high school student activists, and I knew that it was time to launch my second craftivist project: The Evil Eye Glove. The four tips I share below are applicable whether you’re working on your first “freshman” project, your second “sophomore” project, or your 100th project and need some inspo.
1. Gather Your Friends
As I talk about in Chapter 1 of my book DIY Rules for a WTF World: How to Speak Up, Get Creative, and Change the World – everything changes. You are constantly shifting. Sometimes you will vibe big and powerful and sometimes you will be small and intimate and cozy, and sometimes, you will be in between- medium-sized, curious. Identify your friends who love you whether you are big or small. And seek them out.
At the time the Pussyhat spread like pink wildfire, my best friend MILCK sang her song “Quiet” and it went viral at the March. I was a lucky duck who had a fellow artist friend to talk to who was going through the same thing! We check in with each other all the time, and early on, she shared with me some advice she had gotten, which I will paraphrase here:
A man who has just succeeded at the peak of the mountain and a man who has just failed at the bottom of a ditch are in the same place – “What to do next?”
So whether you’re feeling on top of the world or feeling rock bottom, take solace in that you’re not alone. Seek out friends and let them remind you how valuable you are even without your accomplishments, whether it is One Big Thing or Several Pretty Good Things – it doesn’t matter, because your accomplishments are not you.
2. Separate Yourself from Your Reputation – Then Destroy It
Get to know the “you” that is not your accomplishments. If you don’t know what I mean, that means you’re really tied to your accomplishments. Gently unravel yourself from your accomplishments by taking “personal inventory.” Check out Chapter 15 in DIY Rules for a WTF World called “Find Yourself Fascinating: A Personal Inventory.” One of my favorite Personal Inventory exercises is the “Chick Lit Heroine Exercise” in which you fill in a Mad Libs-like form to get the synopsis of the thrilling adventure story that is you. You’ll find that what makes the storybook character of you interesting is not your accomplishments but your personality, your drive, your foibles, your quirks.
Once you get reacquainted with this fascinating REAL You, take a look at the Reputed You – the one with all the accomplishments, and know you get to play with it, you can mold the Reputed You however you want, for fun and you can always start again when you get bored. A woman’s right to choose goes far beyond just reproductive rights.
We have the right to choose how we look at ourselves, and how we want to play with our reputations. Our reputations are our playthings, we are not the playthings of our reputations.
Run from what's comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. -Rumi
Take a page out of Rumi’s book and Destroy Your Reputation.
3. Dance with the One Who Brung Ya
When I nurtured the Pussyhat into being, I followed my intuition, which led me to make surprising choices. The Pussyhat became a big success. My intuition was like my hot date who brought me (and the Pussyhat) to a grand ball! Why would I dance with someone else, like say, Patriarchal “Take the Hard Way” Rationality, when Hot Intuition was my date?
When it came time to launch my second craftivist project The Evil Eye Glove, the tug of Patriarchy “Take the Hard Way” Rationality was strong, and I almost gave in, but I’m so glad that it didn’t feel right, and I immediately understood that I needed to trust the intuition that brought me success in the first place.
Like the Pussyhat, the Evil Eye Glove was born of intuition – it came to me in a dream – a huge peaceful gathering of women with their hands raised – on each hand was a painted eye – it was a Sea of Eyes. Just as the Pussyhat created a sea of pink, the evil eye gloves create a sea of eyes.
After the Pussyhat debuted at the Women’s March, I put the step by step instructions on how to make the Evil Eye Glove into my book DIY Rules, ready to go. I was waiting for the right moment to launch the Evil Eye Glove into full craftivist action, and I got nervous and antsy. I chided myself for sitting on it, for being “lazy” but ultimately, I am so glad I waited because when the March for Our Lives was announced, my intuition knew it was time.
So wherever you are in your career, look back on the successes you’ve had and honor what brought you to those successes. And if intuition is a key ingredient to what brought you those successes, I suggest you keep dancing with it.
Look at the that “success ingredient list” and decide which ingredients you still want to use – perhaps you had a vendor who helped make you successful but your heart thuds to your stomach when you imagine working with them again – feel free to take that ingredient out! But also let yourself be inspired by the ingredients that worked and still excite you. For example, with the Evil Eye Glove, I worked again with Kat Coyle who made the pattern for the Pussyhat, and I worked with Aurora Lady who did all the drawings for the Pussyhat manifesto. Kat made a new pattern for the Evil Eye Glove, and Aurora Lady did gorgeous drawings in less than 24 hours. I also reached out to the people behind the Pussyhat success – the knitters and women’s rights supporters across the land who knitted up a storm! - and asked them to get behind my sophomore project if it was something they believed in. They responded hugely! Check out the hashtag #evileyeglove on Instagram to see what I mean – a huge diversity of gloves. You can also check out the map of evil eye glove makers across the world on my website – people are making them in Maine and in Morocco, Boise and Bangkok, it’s phenomenal! And you can join in by making a custom commitment on the website and then making some super easy evil eye gloves solo or with your besties.
4. Don’t Rank Your Children – Connect with Them
Your creations are like your children, and you’ll probably have many in your life. Just like with real kids, don’t set them against each other in competition. Can you imagine having 2 adorable young daughters, dressing them alike, and doing a “Who Wore It Better” Poll on Instagram? So hurtful! So why do you do that with your projects? Instead of comparing and ranking your children, connect with them, find what makes them tick, what they love, where they thrive. And nurture them.
Whenever I compared the Pussyhat and the Evil Eye Glove, I got really freaked out and totally unproductive. But when I loved each project like my children, I got SO excited for them. They are sisters and they love each other, but they’re also different beings with different life plans. And that’s exciting! The Pussyhat is the sassy welcoming older sister who blares her personality out wherever she goes and creates community – she loves a good party! The Evil Eye Glove is the younger sister who is wry and mysterious, and chooses when to show herself, she is super expressive because she is on the hands (all the gestures the evil eye glove can make! For example, put out your hand in a “stop” gesture and with a slight bend, your hand is then in a gesture of blessings) – she is flexible and her goal is to be watchful and protective (the evil eye is ancient symbol of protection).
Try anthropomorphizing your projects into human beings that are your children. Describe their personalities. What they’re good at, how they like to have a good time. You’ll find that you are proud of them, and want to brainstorm ways for each of your projects to have a good time, each in their own way! Listen to each project and see what they need; just like with children, a younger project might not thrive with the same treatment of an older project, listen and find out!
Now, instead of chasing after One Big Thing (and then feeling tied down preserving and memorializing it), I think of my life’s work as One Big Happy Growing Family. Try thinking of your projects the same way. And remember, you’re the head of this One Big Happy Growing Family, so be sure to be kind to yourself along the way, Mama needs nurturing too! Good luck!
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.