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Podcast Transcript

Stand If You Ever

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:11  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we uncover what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Well, Marsha, welcome back and welcome to March. I mean, and this is our first episode celebrating National Women's History Month.

Marsha Clark  0:32  
Well, it certainly is. Thank you, Wendi. And yes, Happy Women's History Month to you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:37  
Yes, yes, yes. Okay, I'm going to confess something here. I honestly never really paid that much attention to National Women's History Month. But since I've been more and more attuned to the idea of women supporting women and helping women step into their authentic power as leaders, it's become more and more relevant and meaningful to me. Hello, we just seem to be supporting each other more and more.

Marsha Clark  1:03  
Well, I'll be honest with you, you know, until a few years ago, and I say a few years ago, even back in 2000, 2001, when we started the Power of Self Program, and so on, and so forth, it wasn't nearly as big as it is today. And so we're gonna talk a little bit about the history of it. And when it first started, I was clueless. But now it's a really big deal. And I love that I'm getting, you know, requests to come speak at Women's Day, or Women's International Month, at various times throughout. And I think taking a moment to really begin to appreciate what it represents is an important thing for all of us as women and for our daughters and girls. Yes,

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:41  
Yes, absolutely. So today's content is going to be a little bit of an eye opener, I think, for many of our listeners. And even though we want to spend a little time exploring and celebrating the origins of Women's History Month, we're also going to take a sobering look at misogyny and how we can hurt ourselves and each other as women.

Marsha Clark  2:02  
I think that's a really good point, Wendi. And the name of this episode is called "Stand If You Ever...", and it's a reference to an activity we use a lot in our programs to shine an uncomfortable light on how we, despite some wonderful progress over the years, still sometimes hold ourselves back as women and that we don't always support each other like we could.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:26  
Yeah, I like how you put that, shine an uncomfortable light. I think for us to truly celebrate our success and progress we also need to acknowledge that we still have opportunities to continue to improve and push ourselves to be even better.

Marsha Clark  2:43  
All right, let's do it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:44  
Okay, so you know how I love to dive down rabbit holes in the internet and research these topics that we cover. And so I found some really great resources that I wanted to share. And one is from a year ago that provides some of the history of Women's History Month.

Marsha Clark  3:03  
Well, please let us know what you discovered.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:04  
Okay, so this article was actually in People Magazine. I don't know how I feel about that source, but anyway, in People Magazine, written by Andrea Wurzburger, thank you. Wurzburger. Okay, so here's some of the highlights from her research. Women's History Month started out as only one day, International Women's Day, intended to commemorate the February 28th meeting of socialists and suffragists in Manhattan in 1909. So then, Wurzburger explains, that one year later, on March 8th of 1910, according to the BBC, a German activist named Clara Zepkin suggested that they recognize International Women's Day at an international conference of working women in Copenhagen and with 17 countries in attendance at this conference, they all agreed. So International Women's Day was celebrated a year later, on March 8, 1911, in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark.

Marsha Clark  4:21  
Is that not impressive! That this is like 'the powers that be' around the world, you know, connected in a way that I'm sure they never realized would be as big as it was.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:30  
Yeah and the one thing that I found really interesting was that although countries throughout the world were celebrating the holiday, it really wasn't widely celebrated in the US until the United Nations began sponsoring it in 1975. So 64 years later...

Marsha Clark  4:48  
Yeah, took a couple of years. Yeah, and in the meantime, women had gotten the vote and we had been come out of our homes in World War II to help support the country and, and for me, I graduated high school in 1970. So the fact that, you know, I was just beginning my, you know, young woman, early professional career time in 1975 when it was first initiated in the U.S.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  5:14  
So that rabbit hole then took me to a website for the National Women's History Museum, which is at women's and they filled in the blanks about how we went from one day a year to celebrating Women's History and contributions for a full week. Okay, so now we're up to a week. So according to their site, Women's History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The educational task force of the Sonoma County California Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a Women's History Week celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women's Day. And the movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women's History Week celebrations the following year.

Marsha Clark  6:09  
And, you know, again, we're going into the 70's and 1978 was the year that I joined EDS. So you know, we're just now or just then, I should say, celebrating women in a meaningful way in all the ways in which we contribute in the world.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  6:28  
So then we fast forward to 1980 a consortium of women's groups and historians, led by the National Women's History Project, which is now called the National Women's History Alliance, successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February of 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women's History Week, and their site included a quote from President Carter when he signed the proclamation. And I brought it today for you to read to everybody, Marsha.

Marsha Clark  7:08  
And I love this. So thank you, President Jimmy Carter. So his quote is: "From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. (I love that.) Too often the women were unsung, and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well." I just, I want to put this on everyone's wall everywhere. And I'm struck, Wendi, you know that way back when I did an 'On The Nightstand with Cassandra Speaks', and what the connection I make with this when I read this quote is that history is not what happens. History is who tells the stories, and this is, we now get to hear some women stories throughout history and current to know the real truth, the real reality of it all.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:21  
Yes. So what I also learned was that subsequent presidents continued to proclaim a National Women's History Week in March until 1987. And that's when Congress passed a public law, 100-9, which designated March as Women's History Month. So between 1988 and 1994, Congress continued to pass additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the president to proclaim March of each year as Women's History Month since 1995. Each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as Women's History Month. And that my friends is now how National Women's History Month was born.

Marsha Clark  9:11  
Well, as long as I've been working on the women's issues, I did not know all of those details. So thank you very much for sharing that background. And what a great and fascinating evolution of the acknowledgement and the celebration of women.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:24  
Well, so here's the latest news. So evidently, every year the National Women's History Alliance selects and publishes the year's theme. Guess what this year's theme is?

Marsha Clark  9:37  
I don't know. So tell me!

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:39  
It's, - this year's theme is "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories".

Marsha Clark  9:45  
Oh my gosh, there it is! There it is. That's pretty cool. I love that. And you know, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Women learn through stories, right? And so even us hearing stories about ourselves, women like us, women who inspire us, women who have come before us, women that we want to impact going forward. All of that is a part of the storytelling. I love it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  10:07  
Yes. So now we've set the groundwork for March as National Women's History Month and our continuing theme of Women Supporting Women, specifically. So let's dig into the content for today, which is around misogyny and the reflection activity called "Stand if you ever..."

Marsha Clark  10:24  
Yeah, Wendi, I do think it's important for us to recognize the importance of reflecting I would call it both sides of the coin of women's history and our own place in it, both celebrating and lifting each other up, and how we do sometimes break each other down. And it would be irresponsible if we only focused on one aspect of that, sort of the happy, sunshine version of women's history.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  10:51  
Yeah, I agree. And part of how I can better support other women is recognizing when I might be the one marginalizing or harming other women, even unintentionally, which is why I find this exercise so powerful and personally convicting.

Marsha Clark  11:10  
Yeah, it's a good way to describe the experience and many other women who have participated in the exercise that I'm going to take our listeners through, have shared similar words to describe such an experience.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  11:21  
Yep. Okay. So for our listeners who have also read your book, "Embracing Your Power", they'll likely recognize this content and the activity.

Marsha Clark  11:30  
Yes, it comes from chapter four, and that the chapter is entitled "Women Supporting Women" of course, and this content starts on page 118, with an exploration of misogyny. And as I say in the book, much of this work that we're going to discuss today was inspired by one of my dear friends and colleagues, Rita J. Andrews, and she was a longtime facilitator in our Power of Self Program. And so she passed away in 2010, was an amazing colleague and supporter of women. She dedicated her adult life to supporting women, especially on tough topics. And the material in this section on misogyny is based on Rita's research and her teaching. And she wrote, spoke and taught eloquently and competently on this subject of misogyny. And in the early years of our program, I just want to say many women didn't even know what the word meant, although they had certainly experienced it in some form or fashion.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:36  
Yeah, I know you include a definition of misogyny in the book. So why don't you share that?

Marsha Clark  12:41  
Sure. It's the Merriam Webster definition of misogyny, which is 'hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women". And for the women who did know what misogyny was, they often connected it to domestic abuse or sexual assault.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:03  
Well, and what I think is so interesting is that people tend to apply the word misogyny just to men.

Marsha Clark  13:11  
That's right. That's right. And this is, we're going to talk about that today. That's right, and the word and the topic in today's world have become more mainstream, whether it be with more transparency into domestic and sexual assault, whether it be into the Me Too movement, all of those things and sadly, because it's still alive and well in our world today. And thankfully, it is now being exposed so that we can work to fight misogyny on every level.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:41  
And yeah, in the book, you introduced the idea of internalized misogyny as well as how women can display what you call misogynistic behaviors towards other women. So share more about what you mean by internalized misogyny.

Marsha Clark  13:57  
Yeah, I think this is a foundational step in exploring how we, you know... I think about it as drink the toxic misogynistic Kool Aid being served up on a daily basis by society, by media, by institutions by legislation. You know, it's everywhere. And the following passage is my adaptation of an excerpt from an article by Rita, and it's entitled "Women and Internalized Misogyny": Although the subject of misogyny isn't often discussed, either in mixed company or in all female groups, the impact of misogyny is felt in every society and organization throughout the world. When misogyny is discussed here in the United States, the focus is often on our country's patriarchal legacy. In women's group, for example, we talk about how men have historically been accorded power, privilege and access while women have not. And as a facilitator who's speaks of misogyny often, I have cautioned participants that, certainly while I believe the power differential between men and women is an excellent place to start, I'm particularly concerned with women's own internalized misogyny. And as women, we have to become more aware of what we do to ourselves and other women. And if we ignore this, the phenomenon will continue to influence every aspect of our lives. So to shift the status quo and address issues of internalized misogyny, we've got to first be able to see it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  15:36  
Yeah. And so what should we be looking for to spot this internalized misogyny?

Marsha Clark  15:42  
Well, I've got several ways that I want to share with our listeners. And here are the ways that this internalized misogyny shows up. So the first one is questioning, doubting and negating oneself. And, you know, this can be anything from women beginning their statements with the following caveat: I'm not sure of this, or this is probably not true, rather than making clear direct statements. And we've talked about these before in Invisible Differences. These are Patricia, Dr. Patricia Heim's research calls these disclaimers. And this is a very public way, by making these statements, of questioning, doubting and negating oneself.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  16:25  
Yeah, the whole I may be wrong, but... or, I'm sorry to say this, and...

Marsha Clark  16:32  
and this might be a stupid question, but... yeah, yeah, exactly. And often in all female groups and mixed groups, participants will display this dynamic, this dynamic of questioning, doubting and negating and it's at a completely unconscious level that they're doing it. And, you know, highlighting and raising awareness of this behavior can help us to shift it. And it seems that women are also willing to negate their contributions to organizations or team effective. And this is where when complimented about a work contribution, we deflect. Some women will still reply, "Oh, it was nothing, or it was my team or it was no big deal' rather than accepting that compliment.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  17:18  
Right. So what's another example of internalized misogyny?

Marsha Clark  17:22  
Yeah, so the next one, and I don't mean to overstate the obvious but it shows up as the hate or mistrust of other women. And how often have you said yourself or heard another woman say, "I hate working for women. They are so difficult." And this is another form of internalized misogyny. And in her work on jealousy, envy and rivalry in girls, Dr. Anne Litwin shows where this mistrust comes from and how it results in what she calls horizontal violence, women hurting one another. And one of the biggest questions among women at the start of an all female group is "How can I trust these women?' You know, they walk in the door, and I had one woman in an early class say, "Oh, too much estrogen in the room."  I mean, and she was a woman with five sisters, right, so she knew the all female phenomena. And so, often this lack of trust comes from women's experiences with being socialized not to trust other women, which is a blatant misogynistic message, and really, from experiencing one another's internalized misogyny.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:32  
So what else can we watch out for?

Marsha Clark  18:32  
Yeah, so the next internalized misogyny indicator is finding oneself unacceptable. So our society is constantly telling us that we're physically unacceptable because we don't measure up to advertisers images of beauty. This is particularly true for women of color, older women, and women who are considered overweight. And it's also important to note that the idealized woman that we see in social media and media, print media and movies and TV and everything else, it's airbrushed, it's filtered, it's unreal. In many programs, I've shared a documentary that's called Miss Representation. And you can go out and find this now. It talks about how women are treated in the media. And there are two versions. There's one for the adult woman to see, and there's one for the adult woman who might want to share this with younger women and girls in her life. So make sure you get the right one and don't watch it with your younger women and girls until you make sure it's the right one. As a part of this documentary and the messages we all receive, in addition to this narrow beauty standard, there are other ways women learn that who they are is not acceptable. And so In general, in our society, and some might say this is only a Western bias, but I have, as I've said, had women from over 60 countries and I've yet to meet a country who values women in the same way that they value men. So I just want to say that. But in our society, masculine qualities are often valued, and feminine qualities are often consistently devalued. When I was starting my career, there were many subtle, you know, not so subtle signals that acting like a man, do it like a man, was preferred. It was taught, it was written about, we had dress codes, you know, all of that. I laughingly said that my husband and I, we kept his suits on one side of the closet, mine on the other. Many were of the same fabric. The only difference was I had a pleated skirt. And I said, you know, God forbid that we get on the wrong side of the closet! So that's how strong that message was, was 'be like a man'.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:05  
Right, right. Well, I want to go back just a second to what you were previously talking about with finding oneself unacceptable, because I'm getting reminded of last week's episode on the next gen and Zoe's comments about social media and so that narrow beauty standard and the ways that women learn that they find that their unacceptable. How much of this do you think is still in play in organizations today? I mean, do companies even have these standards and dress codes anymore?

Marsha Clark  21:38  
Well, that's a really loaded question because yes, some do. Has it changed over the years, absolutely. And I say there's two major reasons for the change. One is just generational change, right? What you wear to school these days is more casual. I had to wear a dress first grade to 12th grade, you know. And so when I got to college, I wore cut offs and a football jersey because I could, you know, kind of thing. But today, they can wear that school so it's not the same expectation of what is appropriate dress. I remember the first time I flew on airplane. You got dressed up like you're going to church. And I mean, look at people that come in their pajamas. I mean, you know, all that. So that's one aspect of it. The second is the work from home phenomenon that we've experienced as part of the global pandemic. And, you know, whether it is I've got my pajamas on the bottom and I've got my suit, coat and tie on the top, or whatever that might be that too, has changed things dramatically. And then the industry that you're in also dictates. So if you're in an industry that is about my money, you know, banking, insurance, financial planning, those people still wear suits. Because you know what, I want you to be serious, and I want you to be buttoned up, literally buttoned up, if you're gonna take care of my money and have that and I'm gonna put that in your hands. That's also more of an East Coast phenomena thing. The other industries, if you think about advertising, public relations, even technology in the whole Silicon Valley, and I'm gonna wear my flip flops and my tee shirt, and I'm gonna bring my dog to work, and we're gonna play ping pong at lunch. Yeah. So there's that piece. What I would offer to our listeners is, notice who is on the generation of the executive team in your company because that's also an influence. If it's run by older men or women, they're going to possibly have a different dress code expectation. So it's all over the place. It's constantly changing. We know that we have no second chance to make a first impression and appearance matters.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  23:43  
Yes. So it seems like we've shifted from internalized misogyny now to a more external or societal misogyny. Am I right in noticing that shift?

Marsha Clark  23:53  
That's a good catch. It's a good catch. The internal aspect of it lies in how much we buy into those external messages and either don't check or challenge them, right? Do I just play along or go along or am I a rebel? You know, I will tell you this. In 1984 in my performance review by a very well intentioned white gentleman who was my boss, he told me, because I was living in a world of dark suits, white shirts, hoes, close toed shoes, all that, and he told me, he said Marsha, you've got to stop wearing these bright colored suits because it was navy, gray, brown and black were the acceptable and I was wearing red, yellow, pink and blue. And again, it was just me trying to hold on to who I was. I wanted to be me. I also when we would have these big global meetings and there were you know, 500 people in the auditorium of EDS and there were six of us or women or something like that, I didn't want to blend in with all those guys. I wanted to stand out in a way, not to call attention to myself, but to say I'm not them. (Right.) So anyway, years ago, it wasn't that obvious that what we were being told on a daily basis was something we should or could push back on, though I did. And even today, many women are still tolerating what some would consider incredible societal and institutional misogyny, because it aligns with their familial or their cultural norms and traditions. And, you know, women basically are fundamentally relational or communal. So, rather than push back against those community norms, which may be highly misogynistic, we're afraid to push back because we risk isolation or abandonment. So they continue on these misogynistic, you know, things.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  25:46  
What's an example of how this institutional misogyny shows up?

Marsha Clark  25:50  
Yeah. So there, there have been lots of different studies. And I'm going to cite one from Catalyst that says, "To facilitate their advancement, the majority of women develop a style with which male managers are comfortable." Now, that doesn't mean we have to be like them, but we have to accommodate them or learn to broaden our range of possible behaviors in order to quote unquote, "make them feel comfortable or to fit in." But you know, that isn't good enough, either. When women choose to do it like a man, or even when we do things that the company says they value, like, stand up for what you believe in, be assertive, be ambitious, we get criticized. And so women talk about being coached in their organizations and even if they don't say it out loud, you hear it on performance reviews, or reasons you're not ready for the next assignment or whatever, but to avoid being too aggressive, too assertive or too demanding. And for men in those very same organizations, those characteristics would be entirely appropriate, encouraged and rewarded.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:00  
Yep, absolutely. I mean, well, I spent some time in the finance industry. And so I know exactly what this feels like, that walking that tightrope. I mean, it literally feels like a tightrope. And how, how nice am I today versus how assertive am I today? And am I now falling off the wire being too aggressive or am I being too Pollyanna? And somehow all of this is my fault.

Marsha Clark  27:26  
That's right. That's right. And, you know, it's another institutional example, or is how organizations systemically undermine women through their formal processes for programs for mentoring and sponsoring women. And, you know, what the research shows is that women tend to be over mentored and under sponsored.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:48  
Okay, I want to underline, triple score, highlight, like, give it the big exclamation point. Explain to us, Marsha, the difference and the importance of why it matters between those two words, mentored and sponsored.

Marsha Clark  28:04  
Yeah, there's this an important and significant difference between being a mentor and being a sponsor. A mentor willingly shares information that can help you navigate your organizational system or help you handle a new or challenging situation. And mentors have knowledge and they're going to share it with you. A sponsor is a person who has power, and that's typically positional or influential power, and will use it for you. A sponsor is willing to put their political capital on the line for your benefit.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:42  
And that is a huge significant difference.

Marsha Clark  28:45  
Yes, it is. And it becomes even more problematic because people's tendency to gravitate towards those who are like them on salient dimensions such as you know, gender, it increases the likelihood that powerful men will sponsor and advocate for other men when leadership opportunities become available. And the similarity principle, which affects all workplace relationships, is even stronger when it comes to sponsorships because the stakes are higher. They're putting their political capital on the line for me. So sponsorship is a relationship in which senior powerful people use their personal clout to talk you up, to advocate for you and to place even a more junior person in a key role. And while a mentor's knowledge and experience will not be depleted if shared with someone else, the political capital that a sponsor spends fighting for someone to get that key assignment, it can no longer be used on something else.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:51  
Yeah. So what did you say the research shows, that women are over mentored?

Marsha Clark  29:56  
Yeah, and under sponsored. So there's an excellent Harvard Business Review article about that, by Herminia Ibarra and it's called "A Lack of Sponsorship is Keeping Women From Advancing Into Leadership". And that was published in August of 2019.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:17  
Yeah, I think I remember catching this article, honestly. And you know, so we've covered a definition of misogyny, and the concept of both internalized misogyny as well as looked at a few examples of how it shows up in society and institutions. I think we've probably now given our listeners plenty of time to safely examine their own misogynistic behaviors or beliefs.

Marsha Clark  30:42  
Well, I think you're right. And I also think we can go a little deeper (Yes) and so we're going to get into the "Stand If You Ever..." activity.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:51  
Yeah, I know that when we did this in the Power of Self Program, we actually did stand up for each of the items that rang true for us. So what's your advice for our listeners?

Marsha Clark  31:02  
Well, I'm going to recommend the same thing, Wendi, if they really want to get the full, visceral effect of the exercise. Find a quiet, private place where they can stand, and they're gonna sit down, stand up, in response to any of the prompts that I'm going to share with our listeners, that may be true for them. So if you need to pause the recording and find that location, then I think it will be an even more powerful experience for you because this physical act of standing for each statement that is true for them, then sitting back down, than repeating the action every time a statement is true again, and again, as you said earlier, is compelling and convicted.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:48  
Yes. Marsha, I know that you say in the book, when you introduce this activity, it's on page 123 for those of you following along in the hymnal. I think it's an important point to make right here about the intention of the exercise.

Marsha Clark  32:03  
Yeah, good add, Wendi. And I want to be really clear with our listeners and our readers too, this is not, N-O-T,  not meant to be a shaming exercise. It's not intended to heap even more internal misogyny on top of what you may already  experience. Rather, the goal in this exercise is to generate really meaningful awareness of how we can unknowingly or unintentionally display this misogynistic behavior toward ourselves or another woman.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  32:37  
Yeah, so Marsha, I'm gonna actually do this exercise. Even here in the podcast studio I am going to do this because it's been a few years since I did it and I want to see what's changed for me since then.

Marsha Clark  32:48  
I love that, so good for you. All right. So everybody get ready. You can hit pause now and go plug plug us back in when when you find your place, but we're gonna get started. So I'm going to, you're going to hear me say "Stand if you ever" multiple times. Stand if you ever discounted or doubted yourself. All right, and if you do stand up, stay there for a moment, and then sit back down and that'll be part of the routine here. Stand if you ever apologized before presenting your ideas in a group or meeting, such as saying 'I may be wrong' or 'this is probably a stupid question'. Stand if you ever felt like an impostor or a fraud when you got a promotion or opportunity. Stand if you ever looked in the mirror and really disliked what you saw. Stand if you ever tied yourself image to your appearance, or clothes. And I just want to note for our listeners that these thoughts and behaviors reflect internalized misogyny. Now I'm going to read a longer list. Stand if you ever told a joke about women in mixed company. Stand if you ever laughed at a joke told by a man at the expense of women. Stand if you ever assumed a woman got promoted because of who she slept with. Stand if you ever assumed a woman got a job because of a quota. Stand if you ever talked about other women with men in order to be accepted as one of the boys. Stand if you ever said another woman was too sensitive about gender issues. Stand if you ever listened to gossip about another woman. Stand if you ever passed on gossip that you heard about another woman. Stand if you ever got upset with another woman and denied it when she asked. Stand if you ever said she's such a bitch. Stand if you were more critical of women in leadership than of men. Stand if you ever talked about a woman behind her back and smiled to her face. Stand if you ever made fun of another woman's appearance behind her back. Stand if you ever said I hate working for women, and I would add, I hate working with women. Stand if you ever said or thought you can't trust women. Stand if you ever breached a confidence and told another woman's secret. And I would just encourage our listeners, add what you're willing to say that you may have done that's not been said in this context of misogyny against another woman.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  36:39  
Yeah, this is, the first list is a gut punch. The second one is like the the right hook that just makes you go down for the count. You know, because in my opinion, it's one thing to discount and do these things to yourself. That's one level of pain and failure to yourself as a leader. It's a whole other level when you're doing this to someone else.

Marsha Clark  37:10  
I agree. I agree 1,000% and I don't think it's any of our intention. And you know, part of this is raising our awareness.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  37:16  
Yes. Yes. So Marsha, what can we do when we realize we want to do better and be better and not perpetuate these misogynistic beliefs and behaviors?

Marsha Clark  37:27  
Yeah, so one of my favorite resources on this topic is Dr. Anne Litwin. I referred to her a little earlier. And for our longtime listeners, you might remember our interview with her from Episode Eight. It was fairly early in our series and it was called "Women's Friendship Rules and Other Things You Didn't Know". Anne did her PhD on women's friendship. And this of course has a big impact on our ability to develop women's friendships. And Anne, along with a few other treasured resources along the way, offer us some guidance on how we can better support other women. So what we can do, a collaborative experience in a women's group gives women a sense of being supported by other women, which is often something they haven't experienced before. So if you want to be a better supporter of women, and perhaps a role model as well, here are six keys to addressing internalized misogyny. And I just want to say the collaborative experience in a women's group gives women a sense of being supported, an experience they may never have had before. And I hear that from women coming into our programs all the time. You know, I'm not alone. You have similar stories to me. We don't have to be in competition. We're in this together, kind of thing, right? So here are six ways. One, make a decision to address misogyny and yourself and others. Two, begin to open your eyes and see the misogyny around you. Once I learned this from Rita, it was everywhere. I could not escape it. Notice what you notice. Number three is raise awareness with information and statistics, because there's plenty out there. And let me give just a couple. Notice when there are court cases that are rendered. And here in Texas, you know how hot it gets in summer. Children get left in cars by both fathers, mothers, men and women. Do you know that women get tougher sentences than men do for the very same act?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  39:44  
I am not surprised.

Marsha Clark  39:45  
Right. So just think about that. The misogyny of when a woman has been raped or molested, the first thing we ask is what was she wearing, was she drinking, where was she? So this idea of a different standard for women...

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  40:03  
And even on the health care front during COVID, the health care workers, the first responders, the women, their PPE gear was men size. It had a fly in the front. The gloves were enormous.

Marsha Clark  40:22  
Right. It's all of that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  40:24  
It's, you know, it's just that's the...(institutional stuff) institutional bias.

Marsha Clark  40:27  
So also, number four, help women to know when they're being misogynistic. Call them out on statements about women that are generalizations and stereotypes, such as women are so bitchy, undependable, emotional, catty, needy, drama queens, the list goes on and on. Number five is ask other women to point out your own (my own) internalized misogyny such as when you make some of those self doubting, self negating statements, and again, we all have a list of those. And six is be compassionate, not judgmental, in your observations of your own or another's unconscious misogyny. Otherwise, if it is judgmental, it's just more of the same misogyny, women on women.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  40:28  
Yeah, one of my other very favorite suggestions that you offer in this section in the book is around what you call, quote, "the courage of conviction", and how we can make deliberate choices about how to respond to misogyny when we see it or hear it. Will you share a few of those choice points with our listeners?

Marsha Clark  41:44  
Yeah, I'd love to do, too. And this is really something I do share often with coaching clients. And I'll also add that these response options not only apply to when you hear misogynistic comments, but any disparaging comments about anyone, whether they're a woman, a person of color, a comment about sexual orientation, you know, any kind of other in this. So this is a choice continuum. So if you can visualize this or may even want to write it down, if you don't have the book in front of you, kind of from left to right. On the far left, if someone is saying something in a disparaging way, you can listen, you can join in, you can share your own disparaging comments. Moving to the next point on the right, you can listen, laugh, and say nothing. In the next point further to the right, you can walk away. And what I will tell you is that even if you walk away, others may have overheard and see you there, so you get connected with it anyway. The next point on the continuum, moving further to the right, is you can say something to the person privately after the fact. I'm not going to shame you or embarrass you in the moment, but I am going to pull you aside and say let me tell you how that hit me or how that landed with me or how I interpret what you just did or said. And then the next point is to say something in the moment. So that's the far right end of the continuum, and saying something in the moment, you know what I will tell you, and I want to be clear with our listeners. As I got older and had stronger relationships with the men that I was often standing in circles with as the only woman and as I gained more positional power along that way, too, I moved farther to the right on this continuum. So I didn't start on the right. I'm embarrassed and ashamed to say that. But I never added disparaging comments though I can remember laughing nervously you know, thinking, I don't know. And here's I'm just gonna kind of, you know, laugh. And, you know, again, it's hard for me to admit that even now and whether it was shallowness, immaturity, lack of awareness, or just not knowing what else to do, which is why I put this continuum in the book is to give women a way to handle it differently. And so over time, as I became more courageous in asserting my convictions, right courage of convictions, you know, offering a way to respectfully push back even on that far right point of say something in the moment, I would say would you be okay if a group of people were talking that way about your wife, your partner, your daughter, your mother or your significant other? I mean, that kind of makes them stop in their tracks. (Yes.) Now, I also want to say that people then learn not to talk that way in front of me. Now, I'm not naive enough to think that they suddenly stopped making these disparaging comments when I wasn't around. I can't know that, but I made my stand and they knew what I stood for. And several of the men in those circles actually thanked me for helping them to be smarter and educating them. And as we all know, we can't control what another person thinks, how they act or what they say. But what we can do is have the courage of our own convictions and stand up for our own values. And this one, in my case, is about treating others with with dignity and respect.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  45:29  
Absolutely. Well, Marsha, as we wrap up today's episode, I want to thank you for tackling this uncomfortable, but crucial conversation around misogyny and especially as we consider how we can become even stronger advocates around supporting women. And you close out this section in your book with three reflection questions. And I think they'd be an excellent way to close out today's episode. So will you share those?

Marsha Clark  45:56  
I will and write these down if you don't have the book, and even go back and listen to this episode again and answer this question. How has your awareness and understanding of misogyny expanded? The second reflection question, what might you do differently going forward regarding your own behavior? And then third is what opportunities do you have or what opportunities will you create to show support for another woman? And and I want to be clear. I don't have to agree or absolutely, you know, blindly support another woman. But even if I disagree, I don't have to make disparaging comments about her or anyone for that matter. I don't think that's very useful. But it particularly hurts women because the stereotype is for, we are expected to be relational and nurturing. So when we say something bad about another woman, it's got a double edge, it's a double whammy. I think that that's the way I want to say that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  47:10  
Right. Well, usually, I'm gonna ask you for what you think are the key points in this episode, but I'm gonna take the plunge first (I love it) on this particular one. And I just want to offer that what really stood out for me, and what's been reinforced in this episode, is something that I remember in the Power of Self Program, is this clear distinction between internal misogyny and actually naming that, naming this discounting of self, naming this apologizing with qualifier statements before you actually get to the point of what you're trying to say,with this, I may be wrong, or this is probably a stupid question, you know. That and looking in the mirror and disliking what you see or tying your self image to your appearance and clothing, and identifying how that is internal. And then how that internal reflection of how I'm looking at myself then becomes almost a mirror or maybe even a microscope that I then project on to others. (That's right.) And that second set of "Stand if you ever..." the 16 that you listed about others, how important it is to recognize that these two are intertwined, because normally, you only see it because you know it or something like that.

Marsha Clark  48:41  
If you spot it, you've got it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  48:42  
If you spot it, you've got it. Thank you. If you spot it, you've got it. So I just want to leave that that's what I've really taken out of today.

Marsha Clark  48:49  
And you know, I want to also share with our listeners, and this is not in the book and it's an omission on my part. It should be in the book, dare I should on myself. In addition to what you can say in the moment, is also write letters when you see advertisements that you know, misrepresent women or negatively portray women in what I will call mean spirited ways. Look, I mean, we can all laugh at ourselves. I'm not saying don't be that, don't be that person who's so serious and can't laugh at ourselves because we have to as the human factor, but when it's about us being women and we're applying it to some stereotype that really diminishes our ability to contribute and be our best selves. So whether you I'm going to say it, but you know, this is the vote with your pocketbook. Write a letter, you know, stop buying products. Don't go into that store. I mean, and let them, but you can't just not, this is like just walk away. No, you have to let them know what they're doing that you don't appreciate. If there is legislation being passed, write your congressman, write your senator, let the institutions know what you don't like about their institutionalized misogyny against women and girls. Yeah. And you know, I say this. Around the world now I know in some countries that's putting your life in danger, so I'm not suggesting that anyone do that. But how can we help you? How can we be an ally? How can we support each other in that?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  50:27  
And I'm going to piggyback onto your stop buying the products that are (yes, yes) you know, actively support those companies that are supporting women. Yeah, there are a ton of by women, for women clothing companies. I'm being reminded of Marsha and I, I emceed and Marsha was the breakfast kickoff keynote speaker several months ago at an event, and one of the speakers later in the day or the close out wrap up speaker, one of her videos was the Pantene, if you remember this from several years ago, it was the Pantene commercial and the hashtag was Sorry Not Sorry. And the entire first part of the commercial was showing all the ways that women say they're sorry. And it's this picture of a woman sitting on the subway and a dude comes and sits down next to her and crosses his leg and his foot, like scrapes up against her skirt. And what does she do? Oh, I'm sorry, and scoots over. Right! And, you know, and then the scene in the conference room and Susan raises her hand and says, I'm sorry to ask this, but it... And another shot of a couple in bed, and she like pulls the blankets more on her and says oh, I'm sorry, but you know, and then gives them back to the spouse, and it's showing all these ways that we constantly go throughout our day of apologizing, and then at the end, nope. Sorry Not Sorry.

Marsha Clark  52:07  
I love that. And I do remember those. You know, Dove is another big supporter of women. And I like the one, it was the throw like a girl, which was a positive, not a negative kind of thing. And those are all just the phrases we use in the commercials, in the ads and the media and that reinforce these things...

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  52:28  
that we do to ourselves in a negative way. And then also, as you just said, there are some starting to showcase and highlight the positive.

Marsha Clark  52:39  
Yeah. I hope our listeners today really do go away from this with maybe a broader view of how we're being portrayed in ways that don't serve any of us well.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  52:50  
That's right. Well, Marsha, as always another provocative and powerful explanation that sets us up perfectly for National Women's History Month. (There you go.) Yay! So thank you, listeners, for joining us today on our journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please download, subscribe and continue to share this podcast from wherever you're liking to listen. Visit Marsha's website at for links to the tools and resources we talked about today. Again, we gave you from the "Embracing Your Power" book, you know the page numbers of where you can do the exercise and ask yourself the questions. So if you haven't gotten the book, get the book.

Marsha Clark  53:33  
Yes, thank you, Wendi, always for that. And here's what I would offer to women whose maybe their organizations are not celebrating International Women's Day. Don't wait for your company to do something. Organize it yourself, do a lunch and learn in a conference room. Get together, you know, after work and just say we're gonna go celebrate women and all those who have come before us and all those who are making life better in today's world. And how do we want to support one another going forward. So if your company's not on top of their game in recognizing this important time, take the lead, you know. In absence of a leader, be one. So take it and go with it. And again, Wendi, thank you for being my partner in today's work. And I hope that each of us will now be more cognizant, more aware, have a deeper understanding about what internalized as well as woman-on-woman misogyny is and really embrace the power of "women supporting women!"

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