- Isabella Lenarduzzi

Those women who are enemies of the rest of us


This week I had several experiences that left me feeling quite aggrieved.

I took part in an event for women leaders in Frankfurt. The subject had nothing to do with equality probably a deliberate move to attract a larger crowd, but even though more than 75% of those attending were women, the place was awash with dark tailleurs. During a workshop, we were divided into small groups to think about the recommendations we would make to large companies so that they became more responsible towards society. Naturally, I suggested recommending a greater balance between women and men in decision-making roles as this was not only important for the performance of a company but also guaranteed a larger range of leadership styles that enabled everyone to exercise their responsibilities according to their own values. This diversity of approaches and vision also prevents a series of management abuses for personal gain by a dominant group. Very politely, the women around the table (there were no men) replaced my suggestion with a more watered down version on diversity in general. Only an American woman from General Electric spoke out saying that it was typical of a group of women not position themselves in favour of greater gender diversity and to demand nothing for themselves. For once, this corporate bank had given women the chance to voice their opinions at an event that was organised specifically for them, but they preferred to ignore the fact that Germany is one of the worst placed countries in the statistics for the number of women in economic or corporate power.

A few days later I heard that a woman, of whom I had been singing the praises to several managers of her company, had decided not to support the JUMP Forum because, “it is too feminist, therefore anti-men!”
As a reminder, the word “feminism” by definition means: “doctrine favouring the equality of the sexes”. Being a feminist is not about being against men but more about standing together with them to fight against sexism and stereotypes. Neither is being a feminist about blindly glorifying women but more about considering them as human beings as a whole, no worse or better than men.

I also heard that a woman, whose company had invited her to take part in the JUMP Forum in 2011, said that she felt so ashamed to come to an event for women that she made sure no one saw her entering the Forum emblazoned with the JUMP logo in shocking pink!

That’s why I decided to write on all communication materials for JUMP, why we chose pink as a colour for our brand. This choice is a declaration that confirms that pink, the undisputed symbol of femininity, can also be a colour used in “business” to support the development of an authentic leadership and enable us to combine femininity and power. Everyone should be free to be who he or she wants to be. Nothing more. Nothing less. No need to love the colour pink for that. We are using it only as a symbol.

It’s clear that female misogyny still exists. I believe (hope) that it is becoming less the case, but it is still very evident in all strata of our society. No need to be a female leader to dislike other women. These female misogynists are only playing out what the patriarchy invented long ago: divide and rule. By being mean spirited and not united with other women who work for better gender equality, they are only working against themselves. Being ashamed of femininity and feminism, this self-loathing, is terribly destructive for themselves and for everyone who is working hard to build a more egalitarian world. The more women start to regain their self esteem and value their femininity, and start to appreciate and trust one another, the more they will be able to develop their social network and become powerful allies on their way to decision-making roles, which they will then be able to use to create a better world for all of us!