Sneak Peek: From The Desk Of SWAAY Founder, Iman Oubou


Here's just a sample of the kind of content you could get as a subscriber to my weekly newsletter, From The Desk Of Iman. Each week, I'll be opening up about what's happening in my world, whether that's startup-life struggles, trending think pieces, or some real-talk on my own personal journey.

This edition of From The Desk Of Iman, was originally sent out on Sunday, March 1, 2020.

Let's talk about the big news of this week… the official conviction of rapist Harvey Weinstein. His conviction is a huge win for the #metoo movement, a huge win for survivors, and a huge win for women. This story has pushed a new narrative in the media where women are not only heard but believed. Despite all the ways that his defense has tried to undermine their stories… The Weinstein news, to me, is more about a shift of power — marking the beginning of a new era in fighting the patriarchy and shutting down the systemic oppression of women.

I used to have an acquaintance that I highly respected as both a Hollywood executive and a businessman. Prior to moving to NYC, he was involved with Harvey Weinstein's companies. After the big news broke in 2017, it really started some important conversations around workplace harassment and the high-level of exploitation happening in Hollywood. It's taken three years for his court case to play out, and we're still talking about it. These were conversations that needed to happen, for quite some time.

Naturally, when it all started, I felt the need to share my thoughts on it with media outlets reaching out. But when the aforementioned acquaintance of mine saw my commentary on a CBS piece, he immediately sent me a defensive text, stating that he hopes I am "happy getting coverage at the expense of someone else's misery." Of course, he was referring to Weinstein and his misery. The funny thing is, I wasn't even commenting on the Weinstein case. Rather, I was speaking about sexual harassment in general and how pervasive it is in business and the startup community.

I don't know Harvey Weinstein nor do I know all of his accusers, but I do know what it's like to constantly be put down and harassed by men in power. Most women, whether they're in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Corporate America, or anywhere for that matter, know what that feels like. And we're not going to tolerate it any longer. I will continue advocating for women who have been mistreated by men like Harvey Weinstein. I will continue listening to and sharing their stories, in the hopes that it will break down this system of abuse.

But, I also think it is time that we flip the script a bit. We can't have mainstream media only want to tell women's stories as they relate to powerful men! I want the media to know that women have more stories worth telling, too. Yes, this conviction is a win. But we cannot let this narrative become the only narrative. The media needs to stop co-opting women's stories only as they pertain to men in power. Women's stories are about so much more than surviving sexual harassment.

The media's gender gap in favor of men writers, editors, and managers shapes our culture's perspective. This article, in Ms. Magazine, sums it up perfectly, "The lack of women skews the content of the news, gives the impression that women don't count and makes it difficult for women to gain credibility with men. If we don't have credibility, it doesn't matter who we tell about sexual harassment and assault."

Reading that article and reflecting on the Weinstein case, reminded me of why I started SWAAY with the mission of giving women a space to own the conversation. Because women are more than just what powerful men have done to them. We have our own stories of triumph, glory, and disruption. And it's important we prioritize telling them.

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The Weekly SWAAY — My Way

3 Min Read

Help! Am I A Fraud?

The Armchair Psychologist has all the answers you need!

Help! I Might Get Fired!

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?

- Restless & Jobless

Dear Restless & Jobless,

I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.

This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."

Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!

- The Armchair Psychologist


Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.

- Guilt-Ridden

Dear Name,

I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."

Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.

- The Armchair Psychologist