Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Barefoot in Church

 by Gary Adams, Santa Barbara, California

"In the midst of media blitzes such as the current one, I long for something real and human more than ever. The following story from the “Readers Write” section of The Sun Magazine, fit the bill for me yesterday. 

I was delighted to come across this poignant personal story from its pages on the experience of being at the receiving end of help. It offers important lessons for aid workers and do-gooders alike.

How often do we act as the local married couple in this story?"

IN FIFTH GRADE I WORE HIGH-TOP brogans [a heavy laced usually ankle-high work boot] to a two-room schoolhouse in the foothills of the High Sierra [California, U.S.A.]. My father worked on a dam-construction project and was gone during the week. As the eldest boy, I got up at 5 AM and milked the cow before school.

The brogans were my only shoes, and I didn’t always clean them well enough after the morning chores. When some of the other students complained about the odor of manure on them, my mother decided to purchase a pair of rubber boots that I would wear for my barnyard chores. Meanwhile the brogans were just about worn out, and there was not enough money for rubber boots and school shoes.

In the spring I began to go to school barefoot.

One a day a local married couple came to visit us on our farm and said they had heard I was going to school without shoes. They wanted to take me to church in the city, twenty miles away, and get me a pair of shoes. I submitted only after my older, sister, who was eleven, agreed to come along.

When the couple arrived on Sunday morning, I was disappointed that they hadn’t brought the shoes with them. They said I would get them when we got to church.

After we arrived at the church, I asked again about the shoes, because I thought it was a law that you had to wear shoes to church—especially a big, fancy one like this. The little church in our town was sparsely furnished with benches and a simple cross on the wall. The city church was decorated with huge curtains, stained glass, and gold statues. But the couple brought me inside barefoot.

After a half-hour of preaching and singing, the church had a sharing session, and the couple brought us before the congregation. The husband told everyone that I had been going to school barefoot and suggested taking up a collection for me. He pushed me out into the aisle, where I stood, shoeless, feeling ashamed, and fighting hard not to cry.

On the ride home I hid my face, and my sister put her hand on my head and just left it there the whole way back.

The couple returned to the farm only once. When I saw their car coming up the road next to the orange grove, I ran to the river and hid out until they had left.

Later, I went into the house, and in the middle of the kitchen table was a cheap pair of canvas sneakers, two sizes too large.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

'Because a Woman's Work is Never Done' Manifesto

Image from "Judge Not" exhibit - 2007

Because a woman's work is never done,

and is underpaid,

or unpaid,

or boring,

or repetitious,

and we're the first to get fired;

and what we look like is more important than what we do.

And if we get raped its our fault,

and if we get beaten, we must have provoked it;

and if we raise our voices, we're nagging bitches;

and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos,

and if we don't we're frigid;

and if we love women it's because we can't get a real man;

and if we ask our doctor too many questions, we're neurotic or pushy;

and if we expect childcare, we're selfish;

and if we stand up for our rights, we're aggressive and unfeminine,

and if we don't, we're typical weak females;

and if we want to get married, we're out to trap a man,

and if we don't, we're unnatural;

and because we still can't get an adequate, safe contraceptive,

but men can walk on the moon;

and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy, we're made to feel guilty about abortion;

and for lots and lots of other reasons

we are part of the women's liberation movement.

- Joyce Stevens, written for Women's Liberation Broadsheet, International Woman's Day, 1975.

American Medical Association Officially Condemns Photoshopping

Kim Kardashian's artificially thinned-down thighs are bad for your health, says the American Medical Association. Though it's been a common practice in fashion, publishing, and advertising for decades now, photoshopping pictures has also left millions of Americans, particularly women, with unhealthy body image issues.

The AMA this week formally denounced retouching pictures and asked ad agencies to consider setting stricter guidelines for how photos are manipulated before becoming advertisements. "We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software," said AMA board member Barbara McAneny.

Last year in France, members of parliament advocated attaching warning labels to imagery that had been digitally enhanced; lawmakers in England have also dabbled with the idea. Perhaps the AMA's new stance will be the nudge America needs to follow our European friends' lead. Unfortunately, our staggering eating disorder statistics seem to not be enough.

 June 28, 2011 • 2:40 pm PDT

Monday, June 27, 2011

photo by Stan Carpenter, Shreveport

Stan Carpenter, Shreveport , originally uploaded by trudeau.

This photo is currently in the "Shoulders of Giants" show at artspace in Shreveport, LA.

It was taken on the steps of the Caddo Parish courthouse in the late '80's during the infamous "David Duke" era.

The Confederate Memorial - with flag - still stands there today.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”  ~Peace Pilgrim

“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”  ~Bryant H. McGill

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”  ~Tom Robbins

“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”  ~Ralph W. Sockman

“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

“In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.”  ~Dalai Lama

“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.” ~Bertrand Russell

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  ~Aristotle

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Louisiana Sen. Butch Gautreaux's thoughts on Gov. Bobby Jindal

Here is the prepared speech that Sen. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City, read aloud Wednesday from the Louisina Senate floor. His actual remarks differ somewhat from the notes in some instances.

"Bobby Jindal has led our state now for approximately three-and-one-half years and I think it is time to acknowledge some of the most notable achievements of his first term as governor of the Great State of Louisiana.

Gov. Jindal, our most traveled governor in Louisiana history has logged well over a thousand hours in State Police helicopters, spending Sundays campaigning in churches mostly in north Louisiana. Additionally, he has logged hundreds of hours in Army National Guard helicopters traveling to the coast after Hurricane Gustav and Ike and the BP oil spill in an effort to point out that President Obama wasn't there and that the Federal government was doing nothing.

And, while the State of Louisiana struggles with the national recession having unprecedented unemployment, Governor Jindal crisscrosses the United States of America delivering the curious good news of business growth and job creation under his leadership. Of course all the while Jindal's pointing out that Washington is out of control and that he is prepared to bring his principles of success in on-hands management to our nation—that is once he is back in Louisiana for a visit.

For the wisdom he delivered, millions of dollars were bestowed upon him by his adoring followers for his re-election campaign.

Who can forget Gov. Jindal's adamant and very public refusal to accept the millions of stimulus dollars from Washington? And who can forget the very generous six foot by two foot presentation checks delivered to each and every parish of the State from the special checking account of Governor Bobby Jindal along with the same inspiring speech, except for the "insert parish name here" part?

I know how special I felt as we accepted the checks in the five parishes I serve. Some were trying to cast dispersions on those special occasions saying that the money doled out was Federal stimulus money, but we know the governor refused those dollars.

Let's not forget the encouragement Gov. Jindal has given to our eldest military veterans—pinning the state's veterans during his interrupted out-of-state campaign travel.

And of course, let's not overlook the encouragement given to the young people of Louisiana. Among those is the opportunity to pay more for an education in state universities while losing courses of study and outstanding professors almost by the minute.

Graduates have much more job opportunities today—out-of-state jobs that is. And special thanks should be given to Gov. Jindal for his attempt to make smoking more affordable.

And for special friends of the governor, great business opportunities have been given, adding big dollars to their bottom lines. Notables coming to light during this legislative session alone are the opportunity afforded to Vantage Health to participate in writing the RFP for an unprecedented awarding of a book of business away from the Office of Group Benefits.

In a meeting in Timmy Teepell's office attended by the Commissioner of Administration, the Governor's Chief Council, Teepell and three executives from Vantage Health, OGB CEO Tommy Teague was given the instructions and language to provide a book of business for Vantage Health. How's that for transparency?

Next we have CNSI, a company with offices in India and the former employer of our newest Health and Hospitals secretary, had the RFP re-written so that they could be eligible for the $34 million-per-year award for handling the Medicare billings and administration. This again was done by Administrative Act, bypassing the legislative oversight. We want to point out that those Louisiana jobs will now be headed to points unknown in a continuing Jindal effort on job growth, just not for Louisiana residents.

And now it is my understanding Bobby Jindal will be saving the State of Louisiana $10 million by firing 149 employees at the Office of Group Benefits as soon as I get my butt away from Baton Rouge.

Of course the flip side of this significant savings is that it will cost twice the amount saved in additional costs to the State by placing the PPO plan in the hands of some favored private insurance company as evidenced by the Chaffe Report steadfastly kept under the shield of ‘NEW TRANSPARENCY' by Gov. Jindal.

The real and yet unreleased final report is more critical of this deal than the draft we saw. The cost of that deal within the Governor's office will be borne by all Louisiana taxpayers.

While resolutions from the Legislature, District Judges Association, The Office of Group Benefits Board of Trustees and numerous State retiree organizations have been sent to Gov. Jindal opposing the placing of OGB in private hands, the Governor has seen fit to ignore us.

I would be remiss not to sincerely thank the governor for one thing that has stood out this year; it has been a long time since Republicans and Democrats have courageously stood together and in opposition to Bobby Jindal's efforts to denigrate and devalue the contributions of State employees and retirees along with other administration efforts not in the best interest of Louisiana."

written by:
Published: Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 10:46 a.m. 
Last Modified: Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 10:46 a.m.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Congressman John Fleming strikes again

John Fleming (R-LA) recently posted the following on his Facebook page:

"Hypocrisy at its worst. Democrat female Congressional members are all up in arms over the Supreme Court decision on Walmart. Where are these women when Palin, et al are attacked by the media and others?"  

Mr. Phlegming, comparing Sarah Palin's intellectual inadequacies to the recent SCOTUS decision in favor of Wal-Mart Inc. = apples and oranges.

I pray that none of the women in your family ever have to support themselves financially because I am sure that - after living under your ill-advised, patriarchal, "family values" dictatorship - they are woefully unprepared to face life in the REAL world.

The Fleming family

Thursday, June 16, 2011

City Life Magazine article - April, 2011

Thanks, Forum/City Life Mag and my friend, Karl Hasten, for the great article!

Ensure Continued Nutrition to Children and the Elderly

"For the Hungry" - 2010 - by Debbie Buchanan Engle

Ensure Continued Nutrition to Children and the Elderly

"The House of Representatives will debate and vote this week on HR 2112 – Agriculture Appropriations for 2012.

Please ask your representative to speak out against the provisions which would reduce access to food for members of our communities who are living in poverty – particularly children and the elderly. 

Ask them to vote “NO” on the bill if these provisions are maintained."

Agriculture Appropriations for 2012 (H.R. 2112) contains significant cuts which will deny hundreds of thousands of our children and elders sufficient nutrition. These provisions of the bill need to be changed.

Anti-hunger advocates support $6.83 billion for WIC -- the amount estimated to serve the anticipated 2012 caseload. However, the current legislation would fund the program at $6.047 billion.

If food prices do NOT escalate during the 2012 fiscal year, the proposed funding would require roughly 200,000 fewer women and children receive WIC assistance. If food prices go up 5%, that would require 350,000 women and children be removed from the WIC program.

Pregnant women and new mothers are provided nutrition education -- so they know what foods are most helpful to the health and development of their children, and how to prepare them. This bill eliminates the portion of WIC funding for this education.

The WIC Farmers' Market program would be cut by $5 million (25%), making it more difficult for mothers to obtain fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provided $176.8 million for food boxes to supplement the nutrition of seniors in 2011. The amount proposed for 2012 is $138.5. This would deny this necessary nutritional assistance to many thousands of our neighbors.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program should not be capped at $51 million below the 2011 spending level.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

DE/AD with artist, Lynn Gauthier and hubby, Sam

Artist Lynn Gauthier, and husband Dr. Sam Gauthier, with me and my hubby, Alan Dyson, at the Shreveport Farmers' Market.

Middle-Class Suburbanites Fail to See Irony in Their Lives

 January 22, 1996 | ISSUE 29•02
These parents (above) work constantly to make money to provide a better life for their children, yet in so doing, see them an average of one hour per day. In a recent study, this family reported "no irony whatsoever" in its lifestyle. 

Princeton University’s renowned Institute for Advanced Studies revealed yesterday that the middle class, known to French social theorists as the “petit-bourgeoisie,” failed in over 98 percent of measured cases to notice the inherent irony in their lives. Though their very existences are riddled with the exact opposites of intended meanings that define irony as we know it, the middle class roundly failed to notice it in a barrage of tests conducted over the past six months by IAS.

“There are countless examples of irony evident in the lives of suburban consumerism-based nuclear families,” Institute spokesperson Jody Clewes said. “These ironies, however, are totally lost on the fatuous, unthinking middle class.”

The IAS released over 75 sample questions and answers to demonstrate its findings, ranging from irony evident in social and political agendas, all the way to personal lifestyle choices.

Most striking was the middle class’s predominant self-definition as “socially liberal,” with regard to equal civil rights and fair treatment for society’s impoverished. This stood in marked contrast to the middle class’s recent trend toward gated, exclusive communities as well as voting for lower property taxes in high-income areas and higher taxes for those living in low-income communities with racially exclusive public schools. Of those polled, 100 percent saw no irony in this.

Similarly, the suburbanites were asked if the frequently cited justification of “wanting to provide my children with a better life” stood in contrast to working seven days a week to accumulate money. Despite the ever-widening gap between parents and children, and the skyrocketing divorce rate resultant from a lifestyle focused not on family but on careers, all those polled responded, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

As for middle-class suburban lifestyle, there was a similar lack of “irony recognition” among the respondents.

When quizzed about the familiar practice of “saving money” by purchasing retail items “on sale,” when the items are not needed even under non-sale conditions, only one of the 68 housewives polled reported noticing slight irony. It was later confirmed that the woman had recently been “chewed out” by her husband for spending too much on extravagant, fashionable hats.

“What we’re seeing here,” UCLA sociologist T. Hubbard Meyer said, “is that these people sincerely do not see how absurdly comic and borderline pathetic their lives are. Of course, as part of academe, I live on campus and do not have to deal with such societal trifles.”

Middle-class Americans also failed to see the irony in avoiding physical activity by driving everywhere and using elevators instead of stairs, and then joining an expensive health club. The study also queried the logic of drinking diet soda for health reasons, despite the fact that soda is universally defined as a non-healthy “sweet,” with “diet” merely representing a lower-calorie version of soda with no inherent nutritional value.

With regard to pet ownership, the middle class frequently spends hundreds if not thousands of dollars on purebred animals, when healthy, free pets are available at most pounds and humane societies. When approached with this irony, respondents answered with a universal, “Duh?”

Two rare exceptions in the study were a pair of middle-management employees in their 50s who had suffered psychological breakdowns and were hospitalized after bungled suicide attempts. Their answers noted high degrees of irony in all aspects of their lives, though each survey they submitted included a note from their wives asking, “Please, pay no attention to my husband, he is not well.”

One respondent, when interviewed for this story, was more than willing to share his take on the survey.

“Irony... Now let’s see, I seem to recall something about the importance of not mistaking irony for sarcasm in an essay in the NYROB I read recently,” Gus Freen, 51, said. “If you’ll have a seat, I’m sure I can dig it up in the library. Irony, was it? Here, would you like a gin and tonic while you wait? I see you’ve noticed my Civil War Memorial Chess Set. Well, the Franklin Mint is known for its exquisite, hand-crafted workmanship.”

The sample group used for the study, residing within a carefully chosen four-block radius located in residential Wellesley, Massachusetts, was “an excellent representational cross-section,” according to IAS Director H. Kaitlin Blanchard, who added that “under these research conditions, if any of the middle class were aware of the irony, we certainly would have detected it.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

Would You Rather Give the Rich $2.5 Trillion or . . .

June 8, 2011; Source: hypervocal | We are still commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 2001 Bush tax cuts by passing along a question posed at the Thinkprogress blog.

After reiterating that we have as a nation suffered a net loss of 1.1 million jobs in the decade following the tax cuts, which were, of course, aimed at stimulating the economy, the blog asks us to play the “would you rather” game.

Each of the items below costs the same as the tax cuts to date and we will continue to pick up this tab with the recent extension.

So would you rather provide $2.5 trillion to the rich or . . .
  • Give 122.7 Million Children Low-Income Health Care Every Year For Ten Years
  • Give 49.2 Million People Access To Low-Income Healthcare Every Year For Ten Years
  • Provide 43.1 Million Students With Pell Grants Worth $5,500 Every Year For Ten Years
  • Provide 31.5 Million Head Start Slots For Children Every Year For Ten Years
  • Provide VA Care For 30.7 Million Military Veterans Every Year For Ten Years
  • Provide 30.4 Million Scholarships For University Students Every Year For Ten Years
  • Hire 4.19 Million Firefighters Every Year For Ten Years
  • Hire 3.67 Million Elementary School Teachers Every Year For Ten Years
  • Hire 3.6 Million Police Officers Every Year For Ten Years
  • Retrofit 144.6 Million Households For Wind Power Every Year For Ten Years
  • Retrofit 54.2 Million Households For Solar Photovoltaic Energy Every Year For Ten Years
Watch this video and feel free to provide your own alternatives in the comments section.

—Ruth McCambridge

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I wonder why the right to get a vasectomy isn't a political issue?

Adolescence and the problem with truth

The truth is, most adolescents are selective about how much truth to tell their parent about what is really happening in their lives and in their world.

"If my parents knew it all, they'd never let me do anything!" There's the rub. The teenager knows that telling truth will not always set them free. It can often get them in a lot of trouble. Parent: "You did what? Your friends are doing what? You're staying home until further notice!"

This is why adolescents lead double lives - the life about which parents are informed and the life about which parents are not told. There's a fine line between self-confession and self-incrimination and most adolescents don't want to cross it because if they do, significant freedom can be lost.

However, when truth is deliberately omitted, denied, covered up, or fabricated by the teenager, the consequences for the parent can be profound. Come adolescence, the young person is the parents' prime informant about what is going on in his or her life. Deprived of valid information the adults feel cut off and out of control. "We can't believe anything you say!"

Adolescents often treat lying as a practical way to escape punishment of get away with the forbidden, a way get illicit freedom. They don't comprehend the emotional impact of lying in a valued relationship -- the anxiety and helplessness from being kept in ignorance. After all, there is no trust without truth, there is no intimacy without honesty, and there is no security without sincerity. And there is anger. To be told a falsehood by their teenager can feel like a betrayal. "You deliberately lied to us!"

Once at a workshop a parent described how she used an object lesson to teach her middle school daughter to stop repeated lying. An object lesson is a risky disciplinary maneuver whereby the parent models the transgression in the hopes that, finding it objectionable, the child will want to stop it too. The risk is that the young person, rather than learning to cease, will take the parent's instructional example as a justification for continuing the misbehavior. "Well you just acted that way with me so I can keep acting that way with you!" However, in the case described, it was successful and it worked like this.

The mother told her daughter, "Sometime in the next two weeks I'm going to tell you a really big lie." The daughter didn't believe her mom. "You wouldn't lie to me. You always tell me the truth." But then the girl started to get worried. "About being able to spend my savings on what I wanted, is that the lie?" "No," the mother answered, "that's not the lie. You earned the money." Later in the week, the daughter asked, "Being allowed to go to the overnight this weekend, is that the lie?" "No," the mother answered, "that's not the lie. You can go." Then, deep into the second week, the daughter asked, "Getting the puppy, is that the lie?" "No," the mother answered, "that's not the lie. We've already named him."

Finally the two-week wait was over. "Well?" asked the daughter, by now angry at not knowing what was true and what was not, "You promised you were going to lie to me!" "That's right," answered the mother, "that was the lie. And that's how it feels to be lied to." And perhaps because the daughter was a mature only child, she took the lesson to heart. It's really hard to live comfortably in a relationship where the other person is telling you deliberate untruths.

Of course, telling the truth is not that simple because truth is more elusive than we like to think. So placing people "under oath" we ask them to take a vow no human being is empowered to keep: "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" Only a liar would swear to that. After all:

Language only approximates meaning.
Experience is subject to interpretation.
Truth is a story that can be told many different ways.
Accounts of facts are often mixed with bits of fiction.
There are different visions and versions of what happened.
Perception is biased by personal point of view.
Truth is a matter of debate and hard to prove.
Memory is selective.
Understanding is limited.
Awareness is constantly shifting.
Like history, "truth" is in a constant state of revision.

But if the truth is so hard to unequivocally establish, what are parents and adolescent to do? I think what parents can reasonably ask their teenager is this. "Tell us as the truth as you see it, be as honest with us as you possibly can, don't deliberately deceive us, and tell us enough about what is going on so we can be there when you need our help."

LA GOP Rep Defends Bill Banning Abortion, Compares Women Seeking Abortions To Heroin Addicts

As ThinkProgress’s Marie Diamond reported last week, the extreme anti-abortion group Personhood USA is making headway in GOP-led state legislatures across the country with efforts to turn abortion — and even forms of birth control — into “the legal equivalent of homicide.” While consistently faltering in Colorado, it seems the Personhood movement has a firm grip on Alabama, Mississippi, Georiga, Texas, Montana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and now — Louisiana.

Today, the Louisiana House will debate a bill that would make abortion “a prosecutable crime for doctors who perform” a constitutionally-protected service or prescribe drugs with the intent of ending a pregnancy. Originally planning to prosecute women as well, the bill — introduced by state Rep. John Labruzzo (R) — now allows for medical exceptions but no exception for rape or incest. Labruzzo, who once suggested sterilizing poor women to lower welfare costs, was joined by a Personhood USA lawyer in a recent committee hearing to defend his radical efforts.

During the hearing, a fellow lawmaker noted LaBruzzo’s bill will have “unintended consequences when we do that broad brush” and questioned whether the bill would cause a “dramatic decrease on the abortion rate.” Sitting beside the Personhood lawyer, LaBruzzo dismissed her concerns and launched into a comparison between reproductive rights and drug abuse. To him, a woman who seeks an abortion is just like a heroin addict:
LABRUZZO: I can assure you if abortion is illegal, it will have a dramatic decrease in the number of abortions that take place. Now the opponents in the opposition argue that whether we make it illegal or not, people are going to get abortions. Well, we’ve illegalized [sic] murder and drugs for a long long time, and yet those crimes continue to take place. And it’s not our stance here to say that “just because people smoke pot and break the law or use heroin and break the law, then we should legalize it.” There are many who say we should. But we don’t agree, we don’t think so. We think it’s wrong and it’s best to keep it illegal…This is the pro-life bill. And I think you’d be in a difficult situation if you voted against this bill and tried to convince everybody that you are ardently pro-life.

But LaBruzzo is not the only right-wing representative in Louisiana’s anti-abortion game. Last week, a Senate committee passed state Rep. Frank Hoffman’s (R) bill that would further imperil woman’s access to health care by allowing anti-choice health care providers to summarily reject providing any kind of abortion service even if the woman’s health is at stake. In 2009, Louisiana passed a law allowing any health care provider to refuse abortion-related services if it “violates his conscience to the extent that patient access to health care is not compromised.” Hoffman’s bill would eliminate “the qualifier that a medical professional’s decision cannot threaten patient’s right to care.”

As Planned Parenthood’s Julie Mickelberry noted, the bill could “go well beyond abortion” and end up denying women access to birth control, “both conventional prescriptions and emergency contraception.” Under this bill, gynecologists could refuse to prescribe birth control, pharmacists could refuse to fill legal prescriptions for such birth control. Such refusals, Mickelberry adds, would be particularly harmful to “women in rural areas with limited health care options or fro women, regardless of where they live, whose insurance allows limited office visits.”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reclaiming Leadership

by Dana Theus (2011)
I am IN my power when I deal with WHAT IS
If business women aren’t broken, why does “the system” need to adjust?

I’ve been watching the statistics and conversations on gender pay inequality and women’s leadership development programs for a while. This week I noticed two thought provoking articles by Liz Bolshaw and Marcia Reynolds about equal pay and corporate training programs specifically. While I’m very thankful that people are tracking this information – and promoting the idea that women don’t need to be “fixed” – the more I read, the less inspired I am that the world will change as a result of this dialog.

Why? Because an undertone (unconscious, perhaps) of this conversation is an expectation that – even though “we’re” not broken – someone else is going to “fix it for us.” Reading many of the women’s corporate leadership discussions, I see us measuring our success and power in the very system that doesn’t play to our strengths – the same system that’s dangerously close to ruining the world for our grandkids. Sometimes I get the distinct sense that many corporate women are so fixated on what other people – men and “the system,” mostly – think of us, pay us and give us in the form of development and support, that we’re not spending this energy on simply BEING the powerful, successful and impactful individuals that we all know we ARE.

I know for a fact that many women (corporate and otherwise) ARE BEING in their power – regardless of what “the system” does or doesn’t do about it – but I would like to see our women’s leadership dialog reflect this more assertively. I appreciate the caring we show in tracking the corporate women’s place in “the system,” but there’s just so much more to the women’s leadership potential than this dialog lets us explore.

Real Power – Dealing with What Shows Up

Life is “unfair.” Women are more worthy than “the system” acknowledges. Every being on the planet deserves more recognition, praise and love than they get.

All true.

All irrelevant.

If we want change, it’s up to us – and I’m not talking about getting angry.

Judging success according to someone else’s scorecard is an abdication of our power to define what success really looks like to us. I’m speaking specifically of pay scales and corporate board membership here, but I’m also making a general point about how we can take back our power individually and culturally.

When we deal with what IS – putting aside judgment, attachment and fear – set our intention on what we want to BE and bring that into being, we establish the power that matters most – to ourselves, to the people around us and to the world. This is real power that can be exercised in the coffee shop, the boardroom and everywhere in between. I believe this is a power that women are naturally very skilled at – we’re wired this way – but we have to put aside other people’s definitions of power and success to let these skills shine.

Wielding Real Power

Leadership development and programs for women can be a force for good in the world, but let’s not rely on them – or on rebellion – to address what we see as inequities in “the system.” If we want to achieve and measure real success let’s demonstrate real leadership power – the power we were born with – and set our intention on that.

What can we DO?

As individuals, we can focus personally on defining this internal power we have to BE the change we want to bring to the world and mastering it for ourselves so we can mentor others in it. We can support each other – as women and human beings – in reflecting to each other when we see ourselves acting in power, reinforcing to ourselves what that real power looks like. I’m personally committing myself and my business to doing this and I invite everyone to join me in defining this internal power.

As a culture, we can focus on developing a new index of power and success – defined by women and useful for humanity. Do I know what that is? Nope. Maybe someone’s already doing it; the UK made noises last year about happiness metrics so maybe that’s an interesting place to start. I believe whatever this evaluation tool is, it includes more integrated measures of personal satisfaction, mastery and impact than the typical pay scale and executive membership metrics provide insight into. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we found out that we get paid less but are happier and make a bigger difference to sustainability and profitability than men? I have no idea if that could be an outcome, but I’d sure be interested in finding out what these kinds of evaluations would tell us. If anyone knows about such an index, please let me know. If there isn’t one, reply in comments with your ideas for what it could be. I’m happy to start the conversation here and see where it goes.

Ladies – We Have the Power

I believe in the power of the feminine. I believe it flows through us (men and women both, actually) and gives us all the strength we need to claim our place and power in the world – including and especially the business community. I’m personally committed to doing this and helping others do it as well. I welcome others to join me – in conversation, reflection and being IN power.

What about you? Are you waiting or are you being? How important are the stats for you? Do you let the stats get you down or go about your day being the best of who you are according to your own definition of success? Do you define power as your ability to be who you want to be or do you buy into the “other view” which is that power gives you status and control over others? Is any of this feminism or are we onto something else now? Be provocative. Speak your truth and let’s talk about it. Conversation, after all, is one of our strengths.