"Nothing Good Trickles" ~ The Personal, Political and Business Case for Activism




There’s a lot of self-censorship going on over at LinkedIn. I’ve personally been taken to task for stating a “political opinion” on that social media channel because “it’s a business site, not a political one.”

If you have opinions like that (patriarchy, for example, or worse, women’s reproductive freedoms) take them on over to Twitter.

I assume that those advising me on the topic of injustice have never heard, or don’t recall, that the rallying cry of the second wave women’s movement was “the personal is political.”

True then. True now. Because absent the cultural and political changes of the late sixties and the entirety of the seventies, I wouldn’t be a lawyer, captain of my own financial ship of state. Because here’s what women raised in the 50s and early 60s (back when America was presumably “great”) couldn’t do:

  • get birth control without the consent of her husband

  • terminate an unplanned pregnancy

  • go to “men’s schools” like Harvard and Yale

  • have a credit card in her own name

  • serve on a jury

  • apply for a job (unless she had a uterus of steel) listed in the “Men Wanted” ads

  • make the same salary as a man doing exactly the same job (gender wage discrimination was legal)

  • become a professional of any stripe (lawyer, doctor, architect, engineer)

  • play in a sport supported by an academic institution

  • finish high school anywhere but a “continuation institution” if you both conceived and were denied an abortion as a teenager

  • wear anything but a dress to a public school

And that’s just off-the-top of my head of what I remember about being a child and teen in mid-Century America. Note that this list ignores the much greater injustices suffered by our African-American sisters who were legally discriminated against in our Southern states and actually discriminated against in every other state in the Union.

But I’m about to digress.

Why wanda?

As I said, there’s a lot of self-censorship going on in business and social media because injustice has been defined as “political” and hence forbidden as a topic in the very space in which women experience injustice - BUSINESS. Lord knows, I never discussed feminism or racism as an attorney at “business” functions.

I was, after all, raised in the 50s and 60s. I expected to be disrespected. You weren’t supposed to mention gender politics. You were lucky the boys let you up into their tree house. Just keep quiet and do your job

Last night I watched Wanda Sykes new Netflix Comedy Special - Not Normal. This morning, I read the L.A. Times review that prompted me to write this somewhat rambling post. The Times notes that Sykes previous special, What Happened,

didn’t get the attention it deserved, perhaps because it premiered on Epix. On Twitter, she said she went with that channel because she was offended by the offer from Netflix, after the comic Mo’Nique raised the question about pay equity on the powerful streaming service.

Sykes turned down Netflix!

Did that hurt her business relationship with the “powerful streaming service.” Not so much. As the Times notes, Sykes “suggested to Variety that speaking up might have helped her negotiating position.”

Let me say that again

Speaking up about inequity might have helped sykes negotiating position.

And I have no doubt that Sykes speaking up about inequity at Netflix (truth to power) and then cutting a better than usual deal with power, benefitted not only Wanda Sykes, but every other female, black, lesbian comic, as well as (intersectionally) every other specific individual who happens not to be a white man.

And that’s why injustice is political and personal and commercial, even though it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) have a political party. It’s also why we should stop censoring ourselves lest it hurt our commercial opportunities.

Thank you Wanda. And thank you to every woman who has spoken truth to power in every sector, industry, business and profession to the benefit of all other woman everywhere.