Femtrepreneurship Or Femtrepreneurshit? On Women And Self-Inflicted Sexism.

By November 12, 2015Podcast, With Guests
Femtrepreneurship Or Femtrepreneurshit? On Women And Self-Inflicted Sexism.

Listen to this episode.

Let’s Get This Controversy Started

Today’s guest reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked to come on our podcast to talk about social media. But after browsing through some of her content I came across an article she wrote on Medium called Let’s talk about Femtrepreneurshit that caught my attention. I was so fascinated by the topic that I asked her to talk about it instead.

And what is “Femtrepreneurshit”? According to today’s guest Mojca Mars (you’ll just have to listen for the pronunciation!), femtrepreneurship is a movement of women entrepreneurs and femtrepreneurshit is the ugly consequence. So let’s get started offending some people, shall we?

What Is An Entrepreneur?

That’s a question we couldn’t answer in a hundred podcasts. Seems like everyone has a different idea of what it means, from being a business mogul who buys and sells multimillion dollar businesses to a guy working in his sweats at home.

And maybe it’s all that, but Mojca has a simple definition and so do we. For Mojca, it means that she is just a person running a business, getting her own clients, doing her own thing, maybe not with all the fancy business plans and “corporate” pieces in place, but working for herself nonetheless.

For us it means picking up the cat puke. Because as entrepreneurs we get to have the fancy client dinners and produce the shiny new websites but we also clean the toilets and yes, pick up the cat puke. Basically, whatever it takes.

So What’s Up With Femtrepreneurs?

Mojca defines femtrepreneurship less as a “women’s power” type of movement and more of a spiritual movement and support group. It involves “female entrepreneur” conferences that spring up around – dare I say – “woo-woo” types of behavior (she gives an example of a daily routine that involves filling up a glass of water and making some affirmations while looking into it) and patting each other on the back for doing such a great job.

Ok, so what’s wrong with a little woo-woo and back-patting? Mojca feels pretty strongly that these types of events not only exclude men (reverse sexism, hm?) but actual business conversation, too.

Instead of talking about strategy and ideas and money, it’s one big female-power support group.

I have to admit, I agree with her point of view on these types of events. If I’m going to a business conference, I want it to be about business. And while there is nothing wrong with support groups, spirituality and even infusing these into your business, there is also actual business stuff that needs attention.

The problem arises when women isolate themselves by being “female entrepreneurs” and not simply “entrepreneurs.” We don’t need a qualifier. If we want to be considered as equal, as successful, as competent as men, then we need to stop imposing “other” status on ourselves.

Let the hate mail commence.

I Don’t Need a Qualifier. Neither Do You.

We don’t call men “male entrepreneurs” so why call ourselves “female entrepreneurs?” It’s actually condescending. Here’s what I hear when someone calls me (or you) a female entrepreneur: “Hey, you did a great job! For a woman.”

(Also, if you tell me I didn’t do a great job, I won’t cry.)

Does sexism exist? Sure. But we women impose a lot of it on ourselves, by hosting “women only” (isolationist) events, by tacking adjectives onto our achievements and by behaving like something other than what we are – people.

Come on, I’m seriously ready for the hate mail.

“Men Are Great People.”

That’s what Mojca says, and come on, they are. Right?

I mean, some people are great people and some people are not so great people. Gender doesn’t have to play a role.

The truth is that some men marginalize women. I have this problem repeatedly: I’ll call a vendor and make a request to have something done.

Time goes by… nothing gets done.

I call again and ask for my thing to be done.

Time goes by… nothing gets done.

After a cycle of this I will eventually go to Ralph and say, “Please call this vendor and use the man voice so I can get this done.”

And he does. And it does.

This isn’t an exaggeration. This is “a thing.” It’s a really annoying thing.

But on the whole men are, actually, pretty great. I like them. I like their humor and conversations. I like the fact that I can talk about business and not my hair or whether my feelings were hurt by that mean tweet.

I don’t want to go to an event that’s segregated. I don’t want to talk about “women things.” I just want to talk about things, whatever they may be.

So my feeling is that if we put ourselves into the world the way we are, if we act like people engaging with people, we’ll be a lot better off than being femtrepreneurs.

Why Does Femtrepreneurship Exist?

Well that would require an entire sociological study, but of course we have thoughts. Ralph thinks it may be a “rubber band” effect, a reaction to women being excluded and marginalized. What do you do when you’re excluded? You start your own group where you can be included and appreciated. And that’s necessary and useful because it can instigate change.

Mojca thinks it’s a reaction to fear. Women are afraid to be criticized so they avoid situations where they might be criticized, even if it’s constructive criticism. Instead, they retreat to women’s support groups that don’t address real issues in business.

I agree with both of them. There’s no doubt that women have historically not had the same opportunities as men. And there’s no doubt that everyone needs to silence the voice of the critic sometimes.

Somewhere beneath all the qualifiers, the reactions, over reactions and under reactions, is a balance of equality where we act and treat each other as people.

Do We Behave Like Women… Or Like We Think Women Should Behave?

Sometimes women temper their behavior because we think that’s how we’re “supposed” to act. We worry about how we’ll be perceived by men. We want to be nice, we want to be liked, we want to be beautiful. So we put out these perfectly Photoshopped photos (no beer bellies for us!) and we sculpt our conversations to fit some perceived notion of what will make us likeable.

Of course, this is not an ailment reserved just for women. Men and women alike often find it challenging to “be themselves” online, hemmed in by their own ideas of what they think people expect of them. We conform to expectations of what a “professional” is or what a “woman/man” is or what a “social media expert” is.

In the end, aren’t we just putting those limits on ourselves?

Mojca Will Punch You

Does Mojca try to be “nice?” Does she want to wrap everything in a nice bow for you? Oh hell no. She is not going to be nice just because she is a woman. She is just going to be herself.

If you start a conversation she is going to have it with you. If you say something opinionated she is going to have one right back. Get all up in her face and she will punch you.

She doesn’t hold back from being herself. And she considers it one of the advantages of running her own business – she gets to be herself because nobody is tying her hands. She gets clients just the way she is.

Also, she wears a dinosaur onesie.

More Conversation, Please

The way to combat our problems with discrimination and sexism is not to create more problems for ourselves. Creating separate groups, bestowing special titles or statuses on ourselves is only creating a wider gap.

The solution is in talking about these issues and sharing our thoughts and fears. The solution will happen one person and one relationship at a time.

Your Action Item

From Mojca: Prepare five tweets that show your personality. A photo of you or something that reflects the real you – not the “you” that you think other people want to see. Then put them out there! (PS: this is your homework whether you’re a man or a woman. Add the hash tag #wssup so we can applaud your you-ness!

And more! Mojca has prepared some goodies for you, including marketing worksheets, resources and a 50% discount on her new Facebook ads book. Link below!

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Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • Lisa

    Amen! I am so glad to realize I’m not the only woman who feels this way. I have recently made a commitment to quit attending “women only” business events for a couple of reasons. 1. I find it appalling when they bash all men. 2. I don’t seem to be learning from them and have not found them inspiring. 3. The last straw came when I attended a luncheon to support a friend who was receiving an award for being a leader. The luncheon was called the Women’s Power Summit. Four women recieced an award and spoke about what it means to be a powerful leader. Only my friend said something worthwhile. The others said to be a good leader “you need to know how to do the job each one of your employees do,” “you should always lead according to what you want your obituary to say about you not your resume,” and I have no idea what the third woman’s message was because she blathered on about how she was unworthy of the title. Each woman was subsequently given a heart-shaped plaque with the word “leader” on it and a bouquet of flowers. Like so many similar events I’ve attended, they dismissed us with a rallying cry that we women need to stick together and support each other. Yet, as we walked out, I overheard many of the attendees bitching about some of the others–including harping on their weight and appearance. Really? I don’t want that kind of support. And I think that’s the kind of thing we do that does help keep us marginalized.

    • Well, you’re in good company here, because I completely agree. Honestly, women can be exceptionally mean to each other – not to mention judgmental, as you said when people were talking about others’ weight and hair. Maybe that is born of insecurity but it is not helpful and it runs counter to the entire idea of “sticking together”. Men don’t have that crap. They get along or they don’t and you know it. No hidden BS. I want to be around smart people, successful people, interesting people – defined by who they are and not their gender.

      • Mojca Marš

        I completely agree with Carol here. So I guess we completely agree with each other, right? Women support! 😛

        Jokes aside, Lisa, that conference that you just described? That is a perfect example of a typical women’s conference. Heart-shaped plaque? No thank you. And it’s funny how they call themselves leaders, yet many of them are still being busy with gossiping about how that woman is dressed and how the other one got fat over the summer. Yuck.

        “I want to be around smart people, successful people, interesting people – defined by who they are and not their gender.” Perfect excerpt of the message I was trying to put across.

  • “Entrepreneur”, in my estimation, is a unisex title … period. 😉

    • I think you’re in good company here 🙂

    • Mojca Marš

      Amen, Melanie!

  • WTF? Why did I not come up with this “sell people and empty glass so that they can fill it up and stare at it” thingy? I am obviously not working hard enough. This episode made me realize that I SOOOO am going to sign up for one of these “Women’s Only” Conferences and take The Amazing Lori Divine as my Partner in Crime with me.

    This may be slightly off subject, but totally relevant to the Women’s Club thingy. You know how when you open LinkedIn, on the top of the screen you are bombarded with ads from NAPW? Well, when I first started out, I was dumb enough to fall for it. Of course, their schpeel was to vet me and call with a gazillion questions, about my motivation, my business and my goals. Great, that makes them sound as if they actually care. Then the whammo. The cost is outrageous, which of course, I could not afford. So, they put me on the low low limited plan, which I still invested 99 dollars in. So, since they didn’t get a thou out of me there, they came in hitting hard.

    About three months later, after I had tried my best to use their website to my advantage, to no avail. I get a phone call. They want to feature me in their upcoming newsletter. Great, that sounds awesome. The exposure would be awesome. Star Jones has just taken over as their celebrity Head, that should have been my first sign. They ask me a ton of questions and here it comes… In order for them to feature me, I must be a “elite member” with the 1000 (really like 700) dollar membership. When I tell her no way, they no longer want to feature me. Of course after she tries to take payments on it and work out a plan. Well, that has been about a year ago and I have not heard from them again.

    It is a shitty way to do business, a horrible way to claim you are helping women and there is no way that I would support anyone or anything that would treat women who are struggling and working their asses off to make it in business.

    As to what Mojca had to say, I think that we as society are still stuck in a world that thinks women should be nice, we should be generous, we should be kind to everyone and anything that differs from that isn’t acceptable. YET.. Let’s take a look at the CEO’s and Business Leaders in our country, BALLBUSTERS,
    BITCHES, STRONG AND AMAZING… That is who I thrive to be. I can be kind and generous to customers, when dealing with business matters, there is no mercy. People will screw you over if they get a half a second to take advantage.

    The fact that women are teaching women to be passive in business, instead of teaching them actionable organizational skills. You might need to meditate, but the minute you walk up to a pile a mile high of papers, that stress will come right back. If you teach them to organize properly, then you are really helping them. If you teach them to actually manage a home and a business and a family and keep them all going, those are skills that are usable and worthwhile. Teach them how to make money so that they are also stressing about bills.

    About the beautiful thing, I get completely irritated by the fact that I am always told to use my personal picture on my Social Media Accounts. Buuuuuttttt…. That brings an enormous amount of unwanted attention. I receive at least 50 friend requests from men that are in no way connected to me each week. They send me messenger messages telling me they love me and how beautiful I am. No, you do not love me, you don’t know me. I am only online building relationships and promoting my business. I have no desire to meet someone online to have an intimate relationship with. I have no appreciation for complete strangers stalking me just because of the way I look. Of course you post a good picture of yourself, would you post a bad one? Yet, you really need to take up the fact that you think you love someone whom you have only ever seen their picture with your therapist.

    Omg, I am in love, have I mentioned that. I now have it on good authority that I can wear my Wonder Woman onesie on the internet… That, AND Hello Kitty pajamas, coming soon…

    • So after reading this whole thing and nodding along going yep yep yep… I suddenly get to the bottom and the only thing I really want to know is… OMG YOU HAVE A WONDER WOMAN ONESIE!? No, really. Because that is then required homework. You have to post that online. With you in it.

      I also have Hello Kitty pajamas by the way, and at some point I KNOW they made an appearance online 🙂

      Ok, wait, we’re supposed to talk about serious stuff, too. I never tried to join any women’s organizations. I have always been instinctively and completely opposed to that stuff. I never really thought much about it at first, but after a while I started to think…. nope. Don’t need to be a “woman”. Just need to be a human.

      I actually grew up with 5 brothers and more boy cousins than you can count, plus plenty of doting uncles, my dad and grandfather… I loved men since the day I was born. From a pretty young age I knew I could go sit in one room with “the women” and gossip or sit there looking pretty, or I could go in the other room with “the men” and goof around and laugh and talk about whatever.

      It’s why to this day whenever there are “boys events” I am invited because I don’t need to be “a woman”. I just hang out and be a person.

      Have men acted badly toward me? Yes, but they are just bad people. Oh and yes, I do get men online who are in love with me so massively. They are called crazy people. I guess I just don’t think that living a stereotype is going to help me break out of one.

      Plus all the things you said.

      • Well, there was a pre introduction to the #wwsup gang period of my business where I was still doing everything I could to please everyone possible online. I wasn’t really sure how to navigate or how to act online. Should I say this, do that? The way I act normally must really be too OUT There for a business person, surely… So, my logic was, getting “in” with other business women, maybe I can find out what works for them, what might work for me.

        What I have found, since joining the #wwsup tribe, the more I am myself online, the more people like me I attract. I am suddenly surrounded by people who also use the word fuck in every sentence, therefore will not be offended by my potty mouth. People who are also habitually sarcastic and always joking, therefore will not be offended when I make a raunchy joke about the state of their wife’s vagina. And people who are not so damned uptight about everything. I was tired of being surrounded by people who were always so worried about every little thing that happened. I want to be able to have a healthy debate on a topic, that maybe we don’t agree on without everyone having to take it seriously and get their little precious feelers hurt. Really? Are you somehow related to the Bushies?

        I have had a few blogs that have wanted to join into promotional events with me and have tried to put limitations on me, restrict what I say or do. Absolutely not. If you don’t want me to be a part of your event because I might say something that you do not deem to be politically correct, suck it. I am learning, not just online, but in life, to tell those that don’t like it to take a flying leap. I happen to like my little band of potty mouths…

  • Am I allowed to respond to this podcast since I am a man? Just wanted to check, easy to get nervous when it comes to these controversial topics! 😉

    • Mojca Marš

      Please respond, Ian! Would love to hear your opinion! 🙂

    • Ian I haven’t heard from you! Waiting on bated breath 🙂

    • Oh, ok, I’ll respond! Thanks @carollynnrivera:disqus and @mojcamars:disqus for reminding me.
      I really enjoyed this conversation and it was a real breath of fresh air. This was bound to happen when we get the combined forces of Mojca, Carol Lynn and Ralph!
      I’m not a woman, so you’ll forgive me if I was a little hesitant to join the conversation. I think I am the only man to have commented so far!

      Is it easier to be an entrepreneur as a man? Maybe, I don’t know. I can’t experience it any other way. However, I quite often feel left out when I see communities of women entrepreneurs whether that be a conference, a support group or more. Then there are those Top 10 Women Entrepreneur lists. It seems ok to list the top women for a particular subject (top 10 in business, entrepreneurship, influencers etc) but not for men.

      You see, I love women (I am married to a rather lovely one for example) and I respect them- I want to hear their voice in the community. Men and women are different, but so are all of us- we’re all different and are individuals. Segregation means that we’re losing an important voice. I’m not a woman, but it seems to me that a women-only conference is missing out big time from the voice of not only men, but some important voices. I’m not sure if I am making sense, but hopefully I am.

      We need to have the best speakers at a conference or on a list. Whether they are a man or a woman shouldn’t matter. However, it could be that men just choose men – and so maybe something needs to be done to re-address things. Also, there is the confidence issue. It might be that some women (or men) may feel more comfortable in a same-sex group. It’s not something I’d find helpful, but I do understand that it might be more helpful to some.

      That’s all I can get my brain to do this Monday morning.

      Move along now…. 🙂

      • Isn’t it a shame when we think we can’t have an opinion because it wouldn’t be “allowed” or appreciated? What’s the point of having an opinion! Let it be said out loud… this is a judgement-free zone! Even for crazy radicals like you, Ian 🙂

        Seriously, I am always interested in hearing different sides to an issue. I feel like there is no way to understand something unless you can dissect it all around. And I don’t believe everyone has to agree. Heaven knows I don’t always even agree with myself.

        In this case I happen to agree… I don’t like the self-imposed segregation either. I can understand that historically women needed to get their voice heard but this is 2015. We can vote, we can drive, we can work and even wear pants (or trousers?) I think we can drop the qualifiers and start to be the “equals” we claim we want to be.

        It’s true, some people may feel safer in a single-gender group. I guess for support groups that is ok. But in business? A man OR a woman would have a hard time doing business with only one gender exclusively. If you’re in business you really have to deal with PEOPLE.

        I’m glad you threw in your Monday morning 2 cents. And I think you also said the most important thing… we are all individuals. We’re more than the sum of a label and some stereotypes.

  • Nora Joy Wilson

    SOOO happy to hear a lady speaking up about this nonsense. Personally in general, I find the whole feminist movement to be detrimental to our sex, but let’s not get into this.

    I just wanted to congratulate those of you out there who aren’t suckered in by scented candles and feeling sticks. It’s business and it’s about money just as Mojca said.

    While I appreciate the strong women who paved the way to legal equality, I firmly believe that the playing field is now equal and that we need to stop using being female as an excuse for not performing. Being a woman does pose its unique challenges, just as being a man does, but let’s not forget about the benefits here.

    Ladies, stop trying to be men and complaining when that doesn’t work out. Embrace the benefits of being female and use them to change the game.

    • I think the current trend of feminism is a detriment to women and I think we need to have more conversation about it. I don’t like the idea of being a perpetual victim. I’m just going to go out into the world as a person and do what I do. Some people will be nice to me and some won’t. Men or women, the ones who aren’t nice to me will get booted!