Mar 8, 2021
Our Founder Sarah Swain shares an unpopular opinion on the role we play as women in achieving equality. Sarah also makes a massive announcement about her own role as the leader of The Great Canadian Woman™ Community. If there's one things she wants you to get from this episode, it's to lay down your swords with one another, spend more time connecting, less time correcting and do whatever you can to believe in yourselves and one another so fiercely, that no power of any kind can stand in your way.
Happy international women’s day, my name is Sarah Swain and I am The founder of the great Canadian woman community and media group.
And this years theme for international women’s day is #choosetochallenge and this episode is going to take an unexpected turn real quick because on this international women’s day, I am choosing to challenge women.
I’ll preface this episode by helping you understand why I’m airing it. And why today, on International Women’s Day. On March 8th, 2017, I sent an email to a distribution list full of men in my organization. The distribution list happened to be men, because they held the positions to enact change in the area I was seeking to enact change. Human Resources and operations.
And so in this email, I informed these men they had failed to recognize international women's day on my place of work, citing global statistics, information and raised my hand to be part of the solutio. And - My call out was met with defense, concerns I was going to go to the media, the company’s social media director also jumped in to his teams defence on their Instagram post of the importance of women taking their vitamins, followed by my own boss congratulating me on such a highly articulate email, followed by asking if my husband helped me write it. I was certain, I was living in the twilight zone.
And I also want to preface this message by saying, in case this episode leads you to any confusion on where I stand because this about to be a curve ball. The patriarchy is real. Sexism is real. The gender pay gap is real. It’s all disturbingly real. And it’s so deeply rooted that none of the men responding to my call to action, realized their responses were rooted in it.
They assumed i was fighting for myself as I had discussed the gender gap in pay, citing some statistics. But Sarah, you already make more than most of your counterparts? Yeah, I was totally aware of that. I negotiated my salary like a boss, because I knew I was a top performer and I knew I was worth it and I knew how to articulate myself in that meeting with my VP - a 60ish year old white dude, the most despised and accused demographic on the planet. . He gave me the $30k increase in salary I asked for when I took on a new position. Because I believed in myself and what I brought to that table. I asked for that raise. When 60% of women wouldn’t have. And I’ll come back to this point.
I wasn’t fighting for me, I was fighting for women who needed it to be made more obvious that professional opportunities and career succession support were available to them, too.
But - They didn’t get it. What a mess. I can remember being so frustrated I felt like my head was going to pop off my shoulders. The ignorance astounded me.
And so I concluded at that time, I was trying to fix the problem from the wrong angle. It was’t JUST the company that needed to throw up a banner to celebrate women, or put more effort into making opportunities and support more readily available and obvious. It was also up to women who needed to deepen their confidence, self efficacy, self worth, self trust and sense of conviction for what they know they can bring to the table.
The fact that some women don’t know they can ask for a raise or go after a promotion that feels out of reach is a systemic corporate issues that's undeniably rooted in patriarchy.
However, the fact that women DO know they can ask for a raise or go after a promotion that feels out of reach and they WANT to, but 60 % of them don’t...YES the roots of not having confidence as a woman are in the residual effect of patriarchy. AND it’s a conscious choice that woman has made to continue to give her power way. That’s a woman’s choice. That’s a woman’s responsibility to address.
Long story short, I knew my efforts and energy would be better spent helping women establish a greater sense of belief in themselves so they would actually realize that by empowering themselves, they could go seize their hearts desires, the pay they deserved and the opportunities they thought they had to wait to be given . And so not long after the debacle of International Women’ Day in my place of work 4 years ago, I quit my career with no backup plan and started trusting myself to build something to do just that.
What I could have never predicted about spending the next 4 years in the world of women’s empowerment, was to bare witness to the divisive, competitive and sometimes ruthless behaviour of women towards women while men continued on to rule the world care free, get paid more, get funded more, have more power, start more companies and quite literally do whatever else they felt like doing without second thought. While sooo many women continued to be cruel to themselves and unto other.
to harp on other women over their bodies, too thin. You’re unhealthy. Too fat. You’re unhealthy. Too muscular. You’re too manly. Too healthy, you’re not fun enough.
To fighting and condemning women over the use of quotes on their instagram feeds.
To fighting over the juicy (no pun intended) lyrics of Cardi B’s WAP while not batting an eyelash to Magic Mike or the lyrics of Ludacris.
To the better way to mother your kids.
To which political ideology is morally superior.
To what clothes are appropriate vs inappropriate, side parts, middle parts, mom jeans or skinny jeans.
To locks down, vaccines and healthcare.
right down to being shocked and horrified over the treatment of Britney Spears while they get caught up on the latest celebrity gossip from the very blogs and magazines that fund the paparazzi that nearly killed her, and successfully killed Princess Diana.
We are like crabs in a bucket. And the bucket is the patriarchy. You’re fighting the wrong people. And neglecting to empower yourself in the process.
Imagine if we all just stopped. Paused. Breathed. Cantered. Took responsibility for the innate power we all possess. Worked on ourselves relentlessly to heal our traumas, to undo the conditioning we grew up with, challenged our beliefs and perspectives on the world, questioned the narratives thatwe are firehosed with from all sides of every issue and thought for ourselves. Believed in ourselves enough to create magic in our own lives. Trusted ourselves enough to take risks. Believed we were bold enough to actually make waves. Move mountains and blaze trails. Imagine.
Imagine how much faster we would achieve equality. If we accepted that alongside the patriarchal powers that be, we too accept responsibility for where we’re holding ourselves and each other back as women. That We too accept responsibility for the unnecessary and added level of difficulty, whether intentional or unintentional we place on other women, as women.
Imagine. A world where women actually supported women. Listened to one another without prejudice and righteousness. Respected one another’s observations.
Imagine. A world where every woman felt safe to speak her truth.
Imagine. A world where the #womensupportingwomen was actually something every woman embodied.
Yeah. We have patriarchy problems. We have sexism problems. We have misogynistic problems. We have gender pay gap issues. We have countries who mutilate women’s genitalia.
Yet here we are.
Women Condemning women for not wanting to say chestfeeding instead of breastfeeding and labelling her a transphobic when she really just wants to be true to her own identity.
Women Condemning women for wearing masks. Condemning women for not wearing masks. Condemning women for blindly trusting a vaccine. Condemning women for questioning a vaccine.
We’ve lost our way. And we need to come the fuck home. First to ourselves. And then to one another.
We’re not thinking, y’all. We’re in fight or fight mode. We’re not separating ourselves from the massive avalanche of a highly controlled narrative of selected video clips, curated speeches and fear driven media angles.
We’re not separating ourselves from the trending hashtags calling on cancelling a woman for her political observations .
We’re not separating ourselves from the vicious headlines that cause women question another woman’s ability to parent her children because someone snapped a photo of her with running , eye make up, no bra and a cigarette in her hand.
We’re not separating ourselves from celebrity gossip on who has allegedly said or done what to do, and performative Hollywood activism as multi million contracts are dangled over their heads for proper social behaviour and brand protection.
We’re not separating ourselves from political leaders and their inspiring podium speeches as they reek havoc on women behind closed parliamentary doors, using them to get ahead in the polls with women, black, indigenous and coloured voters. Jody Wilson Raybould. Jane Philpott. Celina Caesar Chevannes. Look them up. Because the media’s not going to paint the picture for you.
We’re. Not. Thinking. We are spending more time condemning and correcting each other as women than we are connecting with and supporting one another as we are. As women. .
We’re reacting to the world. And we’re letting the world run us.
We’re claiming one woman’s truth is more important, right or moral than another woman’s truth.
We’re claiming one woman’s worldview is right while another woman’s is wrong. Even though there is not a single person in the world that can share the exact same world view as you in totality because you’re the only person who has lived your life, experienced your experiences and consumed the information you’ve chosen to consume.
We’ve gone from giving ourselves time to process information and discern between what makes sense and what doesn’t - to rolling down a hill like a snowball, collecting each other along the way until we crash at the bottom wondering how the fuck we got back down here again.
And you may be thinking, Sarah, wow, you must have a different community than mine because I don’t see what you see. I don’t follow people like that on my social media.
And you may not. In fact you’ve probably created an echo chamber of your own thoughts so you can feel comfortable. And I get that too. It’s the easier thing to do for sure. But just because you haven’t zoomed out of your own space to see what’s happening on a greater scale, doesn’t mean the picture and bigger problem isn’t alive and well.
I follow it all. The stuff I agree with. The people I agree with. The stuff and people I don’t. I observe. I watch. I listen. I learn. From all angles. From all sides. And I watch women get torn to shreds, shamed and ridiculed by other women from all sides and all angles. Simply because they don’t agree. Or because they’re appalled another woman doesn’t see things the way she does. Or because they’re not saying anything. Or because they’re saying the wrong thing. Or because they’re saying the right thing in the wrong way.
Sasha Exeter and Jessica Mulroney. We accepted the nearly lethal damage to one woman so another woman could make her point in the name of social justice. We accepted that. As women. We called it accountability. We accepted the near total destruction of a woman’s life, her career and her reputation because she didn’t understand her privilege.
We are divided. And if we ever hope to make true global strides in the advancement of women we need to get our shit together and start respecting one another as women again. We are too polarized.
This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to navigate as the leader of a women’s community oriented business. Knowing, that if you were to all come into the same room and talk about big and important things, that many of you would tear each other to shreds, while others would feel to terrified to speak. If this is what’s expected of me as a woman. As a community leader. I want no part of it.
I will not fight the patriarchy, sexism, or any other form of discrimination by hating, shaming, ridiculing, silencing, oppressing or cancelling another woman. This isn’t my privilege speaking. This isn’t my fragility showing. This isn’t my confusion around cancel culture and accountability. This is simply me. This is my courage and confidence as a woman to make my own observations and think my own thoughts and choose how to proceed despite a tidal wave of mainstream & social media trying to do my thinking for me.
I will not fight hate, with hate.
I will not fight ridicule with ridicule.
I will not fight oppression with oppression.
I will not fight sexism with sexism.
I will not celebrate international women’s day by making our men feel less than.
And most importantly, I will not fight ignorance with ignorance.
I am here to learn, forever.
I am here to support equality for all people, forever.
But not like this.
Not without social ostracism of women.
Not by creating a society that makes women with certain beliefs or world views too afraid to speak up.
Not with moral Intimidation to get women to speak how a group of other women want her to speak.
Not with moral superiority of one woman over another.
I will always fight FOR. I will not fight against.
We need more Love. Unconditional love. Unconditional support. Forgiveness. Compassion. Conversation. Understanding. Respect.
Between women. As women.
We do not rise collectively as women if this is the path we continue to walk. And so I choose to challenge us as women on international women’s day. For us ALL to look in ur backyards. In our minds. In our hearts. On where we all need to do better.
The fact that I felt afraid to speak my truth, on my own podcast, literally titled SHE SPEAKS nearly broke my heart as I came to the realization that it’s nearly impossible to lead community in 2021. The fact that with each part of this episode I felt my ego shutter as if to suggest I’m not allowed to say it. Or that by speaking up I’m going to cause myself or my business harm. Or that by sharing my observations I’m going to become a target.
And so I choose to step down as a women’s community leader until the day comes where we can all respectfully share space with one another. The Great Canadian Woman brand and platform will still be here. I will still be here, it will just take on a slightly different model as we open our borders, extend our hands out to our men and create the most powerful Canadian Woman owned empowered media group and publishing house. And you may very well still feel a sense of community here, and we really hope that you do. I really hope that you do. I just choose to not take on the title of community and community leader in 2021 because of the unfair pressure, discomfort and breach in personal integrity that comes with it.
And if I am condemned for this, just know I would rather stand alone and true to myself and trust in my ability to think and take action as a woman, the\an to surround myself with women who’s love and support is conditional based on my way of thinking, believing, being, speaking and behaving.
I’ll close by saying, we all have one shot at this life. For some, that will end by the time this podcast is over. For others, maybe we have another year. Maybe another 20 or if we’re super lucky, even another 80. We will never know when our times comes. It’s my genuine hearts desire for all women to use this short, short time earth side to recognize the power, fire and undeniable ability we innately possess, and leverage it to create the life, profession and personal freedom that we all deserve and spend less time on that which robs us of our ability, energy and belief to make it happen. We create change. By being the change. Not hating on others for what their version of change looks like. You have the power to make it so. And when you do that for yourself as a woman, you pave the way for another. And this is how we make the future better for generations of women to come.
Less time correcting.
More time connecting.
Thank you for listening.