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5 Ways To Encourage Female Entrepreneur Friends

Career

Truth: for a long time my family had absolutely no clue that I got paid (In actual money? No way!) for what I do for a living. In fact, I think that a lot of my family members still think that I live in a hole in a wall NYC apartment and am riding the system – even though I make more money than my husband who has a full time salaried job. I am a full time freelance writer and own a blog and left the corporate world back in 2013 to pursue those dreams after being laid off – for the second time.


Taking the plunge into being full time self-employed is hard emotionally and financially and is effing scary. Most people don’t really get what it’s like to start your own business and until it takes off and becomes a well-oiled machine (ahem, putting money in our pockets), the slightest comment can make or break our day.

So if you have a friend who is an entrepreneur and going for a rough time, here’s how to encourage them without pissing them off.

1. Don’t give advice unless we ask.

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Whenever we’re chatting and you offer advice for a problem that we’re having, I promise, it’s only going to frustrate us more. Just lend your ear.

Just be a sounding board and listen to our struggles, sometimes we just need a pair of ears to ramble on and on to. And most of the time, we need to figure out our answers all on our own.

2. Be there to listen, but don’t pretend to understand.

Listening is one of those most encouraging things for women because it lets us know that we are cared about and that you are honestly interested in what we are doing. But all of that can be quickly tarnished when you pretend to understand that you know our woes – especially if you haven’t actually walked a mile in our shoes. Just be a sounding board and listen to our struggles, sometimes we just need a pair of ears to ramble on and on to. And most of the time, we need to figure out our answers all on our own.

3. Let them know how proud you are of them.

It’s so amazing how far the statement “I’m proud of you” can really go. It is so powerful to hear those words from someone that you look up to in life, especially whenever you might be having a business setback. Take the time to let your entrepreneur friends know that all their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and how much you are in awe of that they accomplished. This will probably be just the inspiration they need to push onward.

4. Treat them to a pedicure.

Or treat them to any equivalent to a pedicure. I had an experience many moons ago whenever I was out with another female entrepreneur friend who was much more seasoned than I was and she wanted to stop and get pedicures together, spur of the moment. At that time, I barely had two pennies to rub together and knew my husband would kill me if I charged it. I told her my situation and she happily treated me to my pedicure that day. Why? She told me that she knew in a couple years from now I would be treating her when we were out together, and she was right.

5. Bail them out.

Whenever your entrepreneur friends fail, (and they will) bail them out. It doesn’t have to be financially bailing them out, sometimes just a visit with wine in hand will do. Bailing them out lets them know that you are on their side and championing them no matter what happens.

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.