Tag Archives: feminism

Reputation Management and Appropriation, Lessons in Ethics from Edmond Dantès

My study of communications and public relations was taught by passionate adherents to Ivy Lee’s Declaration of Principles – that it is the ethical responsibility of a public relations practitioner to offer uncompromising truth to the public on behalf of one’s clients. Perhaps because of this, and despite working in high tech for 16 years, it should be un-surprising that I view the use of technology in the form of bots exponentially deployed during the United States 2016 presidential elections, let alone anywhere else, as abhorrent.

My various social media accounts address the complexities of my person; Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram serve as outlets for my professional existence while Pinterest and Facebook are more intimate expressions – at the intersection of these social platforms is my blog. While I have a blog I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself ‘a blogger’ (it is not a commercial venture). Yet my writing on this platform, having gone viral, has had impact – in part responsible for shifting public policy and the proposed exploitation of the pristine waters of the Adriatic in 2015/2016.  While building my own Instagram presence I admit to being thoroughly perplexed as to how (with the quality of photos and nominal content offered) fellow travel specific accounts could possibly have earned followers approaching 100,000 in less than a month. Thus, the clarity offered in reading Jess Gibson’s Dear PRs post referencing ‘bot-gate’ was genuinely appreciated, and it’s also why I take a particular delight at the failure of Instagress.

The truth has always found a way to be revealed, in our connected world discovery of appropriation, fraud or illicit behavior comes down to days, minutes or even seconds with a few keystrokes and keen intelligence. Throughout history there have been individuals whose jealousy, ruthlessness, greed and sloth have risked fortunes and reputations for (perceived) gain or retribution – Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo anyone? Just as Edmond Dantès took full advantage of his time falsely imprisoned to learn every skill imaginable in developing a faultless reputation and re-branding himself, every effort in thought leadership and in garnering a dedicated follower base, and fostering epic levels of engagement takes considerable patience, skill and acuity.

Beyond the Instagram bloggers’ ‘bot-gate’ other more widely known unveilings of deceit relate to appropriation of the resistance movement by Pepsi and State Street of New York City’s iconic bronze sculpture created by Arturo Di Modica.

The Tate Modern offers this essay on appropriation,

[…] to create a new situation, and therefore a new meaning or set of meanings, for a familiar image. Appropriation art raises questions of originality, authenticity and authorship…

All great art is subversive, a commentary manifest with physicality. Co-opting the passion found in resistance to injustice in its many forms, feminism, racism, environmental stewardship, and its related arts for commercial gain by the advertising industry has a vast history in the United States.

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I don’t like what Fearless Girl ‘is’ specifically because she is contrived by Mad Men to gender-wash their clients’ bottom line. The $2.5 trillion (under management) State Street Global Advisors opted for a publicity stunt on International Women’s Day of instead of doing the long overdue ‘hard work’ of creating a work environment of equality and gender partity or proactively investing in education for girls on a global basis. For the unaware allow me to point out that advertising (in which both Pepsi and State Street engaged) is only related to public relations as it is a part of the greater communication functions in general. It seems to me if you are retained to represent the interests of a seven or eight figure client your responsibilities should include candid risk assessment to any proposal you present. Ultimately this all comes down to proactive reputation management versus putting your client in the rather costly position of damage control through crisis management.

With so much to lose why take a chance in the first place?

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Walk softly, wear pink, and carry a big bamboo stick

Nikita and MadhuThis blog post is dedicated to the memory of Madhu and Nikita, friends age 16 and 17, who took their own lives in India this last week.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise but women really do make up half of the world’s population. And with that the solid density of sheer numbers it would be logical to assume we would be better represented – in everything (and safer). Yesterday morning a gentleman friend in Croatia posted an article to his Facebook wall which included a photo of the NATO gathering in Wales. He offered a comment to the affect that the photo clearly spoke to why our world is in such a state of dis-ease, decline, dysfunction. You would have to be a total idiot not to see that we are on the verge of outright global war as a result of civil wars in the Middle East, the rise of IS (Islamic State) and Vladimir Putin’s testosterone being just a little too high for any of our collective good (and unable to be treated medically); only four women are in that elite group of global leaders. nato wales

Servane Mouzan, brilliant champion of empowering women through her London based effort Ogunte also had a comment about the status of women yesterday; being underrepresented in high tech. Servane’s was an article in Inc. magazine which covered a study conducted by Kieran Snyder (who holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked in tech at very senior levels for more than a decade) about the disparities in performance reviews between men and women – it’s worth the read. And sadly, in the United States – not even one of the top ten countries in the world for gender equality (2012) – a woman will still earn a mere 77 cents to every dollar a man earns doing exactly the same job.

I (still) don’t tend to think of myself as a feminist, but increasingly I am completely disillusioned as to the humanity of a great percentage of men and certainly some women (the ridiculous and the outright mean anti-feminists who deny their gender equal pay while raking in salaries that make their net worth $12million USD basically by being a bimbo) who deny equality.

fruit of thy womb cathy hayes

Fruit of Thy Womb by Cathy Hayes

We are all, without exception, born of the “fruit of thy womb” so when women actually ‘need’ to have a day dedicated to the prevention of violence against them – 25 November – it should be an embarrassment to every single human being on this planet.  I am fortunate. Only once in my life has a man even threatened to hit me (my father) and I have never known the violence of rape but all too many women (and girls) know this terror, live with it daily, suffer needlessly from it.

Against all this I am inspired to the point of near awe at two separate groups of women in India (which ranks 20th out of the G20 countries for women’s rights) and whose paternalistic society breeds rampant misogyny, violence against women, perpetuates child marriages and denial of education for girls and women – the scope of which is heartbreaking and played out daily on both traditional and social media platforms.

First, let me state I don’t condone violence – of any kind. But these Indian women, the current ranks 400,000 of them and growing, walk dressed in flowing hot pink saris like gorgeous butterflies wafting across 11 districts in Uttar Pradesh (a Northern Province bordering Nepal with a pinkpopulation of some 204 million people) carrying long bamboo sticks exacting retribution on men for violence against women; these are the women of the Gulabi, or Pink, Gang. A woman taking on the role as a warrior is not new; recent forensic analysis by the archaeology team at University of Western Australia determined that historic Viking raiding parties were actually made up of 50% women. But those were side-by-side efforts with men, a model of civilization which our whole world would certainly benefit from embracing once again, whereas the Gulabi women are police, jury and judge all in one cohesive unit in a country that tends to turn a blind eye to meting out justice for women.

And now, girls. Amazing young women whose passion and determination to get an education, to avoid becoming a child bride, by owning something of their own and not only increasing their value within their families and communities but more especially to Girls Projectthemselves. I had been aware (in those fleeting moments of social media that slip through our psyches) of girls being taught to garden because of this Sundance Film “After My Garden Grows” by Megan Mylan (for those too lazy to do the math around the dowry conversation 20,000 rupees is the equivalent of $332 USD. Let that tiny amount sink into your brain. I just rediscovered the Girls Project because of this image, at left, the supporting article, of five girls who avoided child marriage by learning to garden.  As a gardener, this made my HEART SOAR! So I dropped the Landesa Organisation a note – and promised to include them in a blog. I cannot encourage your financial support enough. This not simply about young women in India, it’s making our whole world better by empowering our girls, giving them the tools to value themselves and create economic value for their communities. It’s about our respecting that “Half the Sky” is still largely underrepresented, devalued and debased and it’s in all of our best interests to fix this – now.

Do something, anything, in memory of Madhu and Nikita. Namaste. 

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Eh gads, I am a Feminist?

I very clearly recall a conversation between my parents at the dinner table in the late 60s or very early 70s. My brother and I were in school all day at this point, and while my mother mandingohad an expansive vegetable garden to tend,  and read novels like, oh gawd, Mandingo (I remember sneaking a page and being mortified of the vivid description of a rather endowed man’s anatomy), she also sewed, baked and cooked, but she wanted to get a little part time job at the local pharmacy as a cashier, to have her own money and get out of the house. My father told her in no uncertain terms that if she went to work “it will put us into a different tax bracket” and that was the end of the discussion.  (Lord knows she’s never expressed her opinions to his face in 54 years of marriage. )

It’s notable that my father’s favorite TV show of this time was All in the Family, the parody of a ultra-bigoted, racist and sexist man, a man all too literally sitting at my kitchen table each evening. It pains my heart that, as so archiemany of you reading this will attest, the telling line of the theme song “guys like us we had it made” reflecting a nostalgia for a different time when women stayed home (like my mother) is still with us and our collective humanity. And “angry old white guys” are making things difficult and ugly for so many because the world as they would like it to be doesn’t exist – exerting excessive control, spouting abhorrent rhetoric, always seems to escalate when this segment of society feels threatened. (My father peeled rubber down the driveway throwing gravel, stormed out of rooms with the toss of his chair, or gave you ‘the look’ whenever he was challenged or somehow something anyone else knew and expressed was contrary to his closely held view.)

Growing up in a childhood environment such as this, and with all the ills that remain for women to fight against even to this day, how is it that I have not actively and passionately embrace this moniker until recently?

I mean at 12 I was having a conversation about Roe v Wade with my priest and I have struggled against the barriers to equal pay throughout adulthood, the mere idea of human trafficking makes me quiver with angerHumanTraffickingMythbusterPOSTER, and yet it took a social media chat with a man of Latin heritage who can claim serious credibility in “enlightenment” to push me over the edge and realise, I AM A FEMINIST! (if you aren’t also you need to watch this video from the brilliant Lacy Green.)

This ‘title’ doesn’t feel authentic to me yet (there are women and men I know that truly fight the good fight every day, utterly committed, and they are damn loud about it) but (for clarity, just now) I called up Merriam-Webster online and according to their site feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”, who wouldn’t want that? (Okay, other than the Republican Party in the United States and the ultra-Orthodox of any and all religions.) Feminism, in case you reading this were unaware, actually traces its roots back to the age of Enlightenment and the hero of said movement Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My claim to being a feminist came about because the aforementioned man posted an image on his Facebook wall entitled ‘Tennis Sweets’ (not a reference point to Sugarpova) which  featured a nubile young woman in (ridiculously) high heels, the shortest white pleated tennis skirt imaginable, lace panties, no shirt, no bra and a white sweater draped in such a way as to just cover her nipples. This was in such a stark contrast the Universalist mindset of love he had presented that I was compelled to call him out on it, and he responded that he took it down but not for me (okay, fine, whatever).

gender is not between your legsWhat’s odd is that in his posting the image he did me a huge favour, so I thanked him and expressed: “my reaction told me something I didn’t truly realise about myself – eh gads, I am a Feminist!”

And then he wrote: “That’s not healthy… Be human first… Your sex is not you…”

If you think about it, this is kind of funny because the image that prompted this personal discovery for me was about sex, a woman’s sex, and objectifying her rather than seeing her ‘in fullness of being’; and that has ALWAYS been an issue for me, the objectification. (How one woman balanced the ‘creepy man syndrome’ – do click thru, it’s brilliant!)

Equally so, I suppose, is the assumption that he made earlier (and men often make) that unless a woman has a partner, a lover, a man, there is something wrong (with her). Because despite the fact that he freely acknowledged my “great soul” and later in our text conversation wrote “enlightenment will disable all thoughts of need of equality between man and woman.. That’s my point… I believe your higher then you believe so…” he had pointedly asked: “How you survive the nights? in terms of sex? or companionship? You have a active lover?”

sadhuSigh. So even when we have reached a higher level of consciousness, our souls having a human experience, it ever comes down to ‘who are you spending your nights with’? And if you aren’t spending your nights with someone that somehow either makes you a freak, diminishes you in the eyes of humanity or evokes pity. Does anyone express such about monks, nuns and sadhus?

So let me be clear, Madison Kimrey is the kind of chutzpah packing feminist I wish I was and she’s not yet 13 years old (I sincerely hope no one is asking her who she is spending her nights with)! I absolutely love that she has taken on uber-conservative Phyllis Schlafly  in the common ground of a bra to eloquently express that equality really means having choices. My choice, as a woman and as a feminist, and more accurately as an evolved soul having a human experience, is not to share my bed simply for the sake of doing so.  The energy in the sacred sanctuary of our sleep needs to be nurturing, protective, harmonious, inclusive and yes equal – and I am unapologetic about abstinence and exclusion until I find that singular person unquestionably worthy of aligning all of my chakras as I take responsibility for the care of his.  

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There will be consequences for your stupidity! 😉

In the meantime there’s something to be said for being a feminist, a humanist, a mindful sensualist and for not suffering fools. (Yes, I unfriended the Latin man. )

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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