Monday, September 28, 2009

I met Erica Ehm

So yes the title is a bit sensationalist. But it sounded much more interesting than A Feminist Self Analysis. And meeting Erica Ehm is what started it all.

So the story begins the evening I met with various other Moms from the Yummy Mummy club. The occasion was the founder of the Yummy Mummy Club Erica Ehm was in town. We had a lovely dinner, mostly with women who I had met on twitter but never met in person before. Dinner, like the yummy mummy club, had interesting and varied conversation. We were empathetic, supportive and cheerleaders for each other. We were women, who happened to be Moms, having nice adult conversation.

The night got me thinking though (stewing for several weeks actually). I consider myself a feminist that respects and supports the decisions of other women. I spent volunteer time supporting and mentoring young women and an organization committed to promoting women in leadership (Women in Leadership Foundation). But when I think back to the time when Erica was breaking ground at Much Music I certainly wasn’t supportive - nor were many other young women I knew. My teenage friends and I gave Erica a pretty hard time (not directly of course). Instead of realizing how great it was to have a girl playing with the boys at Much Music. We gossiped about everything she wore, said, did or didn’t do. I don’t know how I would have held up under such tough scrutiny when I was in my early 20s. But Erica excelled and grew in her career. She paved the way for other women to follow their dreams. Today she continues to support other women through her Yummy Mummy Club. (and NO I didn’t have the balls to admit this to Erica or ask her about those early days in her career)

Of course it is easy to look back and say that was over 20 years ago and times have changed. But have they?

Think about when Katie Couric took over the anchor desk at CBS Evening News. The news and media were skeptical. She was scrutinized for everything she wore, said, dated, did and didn’t do. I’ve never seen such a critical analysis of a male anchor before. But Katie must be doing something right because another major network has decided to take the “risk” on a woman at the anchor desk. Diane Sawyer, one of the most respected women in journalism, has finally been offered the ABC anchor desk. That is now 2/3 of nightly network news anchored by women.

And look at Hilary Clinton in the news this summer about her trip to Africa. She is the US Secretary of State and was asked what her husband thought about a specific policy. The media focused on that one incident for weeks. The reason behind for the trip lost while they raked her over the coals – she was even accused of having a bad hair day.

I guess the short note is that women continue to break ground, paving the way for the future. And while we have come a long way, we have a long way yet to go. And we need to start with ourselves. Do we support the women in our lives? Do we support the ones breaking ground in your community? Society? Country? We need to stop judging each other. And like the yummy mummy club start listening, supporting and cheerleading each others dreams and choices. It is that sort of positive support that will only make it easier for us to realize our individual dreams. And lay an even stronger foundation for ourselves and the next generation of women.


  1. Wow, I haven't written anything this coherent or relevant in quite a while. I was listening to part of a foroum on "Sunday Morning" and someone asked what people think would change if our Parliament was actually 50% female. I had a knee jerk reaction that said nothing would be different. But I am not so sure. Wuld things be different? Would they be better or worse? Would the parliment be more representative of the country? Or would it still be an elitist forum that really doesn't represent the make up of our country.

    I guess I have some blogging to do. Thanks for the food for thought!

  2. Gwen - Glad to be some food for thought. The government question is a tough one, as I think the system itself is flawed. Looking forward to reading your blog on that one.

  3. I'm glad you made it to that dinner. I wish I could have attended, but sadly my young toddler won't go to sleep without me, and bringing him along is a recipe for disaster. It sounds like a great (and thought-provoking) evening.

    As for being more supportive of other women, I ran into a lot of these issues when Sarah Palin was running for VP in the US. On the one hand, I was glad to see a woman seeking such a prominent office. On the other hand, I wasn't really pleased with HER. In the end I decided that if I can evaluate someone on her actual merits and find her lacking, that's fair and feminist. Tearing her down for her clothing, hair, family choices, and so on is not fair game, and it's the challenge that women face far too often. But saying I disagree with your politics, that's OK in my mind.

  4. Amber - totally agree. Sometimes a person is the wrong person for the job - male or female.

  5. It will never change until the media stops glorifying the objectification of women. We have to turn it off but it is hard becuase it is everywhere. We take some steps forward but there are always steps taken back somewhere. I can't even look at what the young women are doing nowadays, there is no longer any morality. Its going to be hard to guide our daughters through that.

    I think you are right, we have to do this at home, instill the message there and then share it within our village. I know it is possible, because we all sat around and did it didn't we? We listened, we supported each other. That is part of Erica's magic, she builds these little communities and sets an example and we consider, think, follow and then continue to spread the message, so yes, it starts at home.

    Gorgeous post. :)

  6. Really well thought-out, articulate post . Bravo. And I echo much of what Rachael (above) had to say about the objectification / sexualization of women, particularly young women in today's culture. Terrifying really, and steps backwards not forward. (just wait until you get to listen to your child singing along to the lyrics of the songs on MuchMusic!)
    We really should have come much further than we have. Female CEOs still earn significantly less than their male counterparts. It is still so important to say this stuff out loud so that girls and women can indeed realize all of their potential.