• Motto

I Have a Big Problem With the Women’s Empowerment Movement

5 minute read

I am the ultimate girl’s girl. I have written books for women and produced videos and a blog specifically geared toward women. I talk to and teach women about money all over the country. But there is something about the latest surge in the female empowerment movement — and how it’s been taking shape ever since President Donald Trump was elected — that doesn’t sit well with me.

Just hear me out.

Take the Women’s March on Washington. Was the very fact that so many millions of women came out to unite in the name of peaceful resistance awesome for female empowerment? Of course. Did the outpouring of sisterhood and solidarity make my heart sing? Absolutely. But the lack of results that followed was disheartening. Today, the same organizers have called for a general strike on International Women’s Day. What will come of that? What are we asking for? It’s all too vague.

In the last few months, there has been an overwhelming sense of good lady juju all around. I’ve attended women’s events and conferences and heard again and again, “It’s a really hard time for us — we need to come together and help each other.” Well, I don’t entirely disagree with that sentiment. But why haven’t we been “coming together” all along? If we had all been more proactive about protecting and advancing women, maybe we wouldn’t feel like we’re in a state of emergency right now.

I’ve been ignored, dismissed and even cussed out by women who publicly claim to be “girl’s girls,” just as I do. Most of the time, it’s not that dramatic: I meet a female “boss” socially or through work. We get together and plot fabulous plans for professional domination. Then, crickets. A sort of non-romantic ghosting. Is it because she is too busy to follow up? Or I’m too busy? Were our pledges to support each other disingenuous? It’s often a combination of all of the above.

Later, I always wonder if I didn’t do a good enough job of breaking down the big plans I’ve made with a fellow female boss into the specific steps needed to get there. And that’s essentially what we’ve done on a macro scale, as women. We’ve been so focused on “winning,” we’ve failed to define what “winning” means so we can set the plays to get across the goal line. What if, instead of generally asking for support from female friends or colleagues, we took the time to think, and then speak up, about how they could help? That’s what we need to do collectively. We need to spell out what “coming together” and “helping each other” really mean.

I am just as much to blame as anyone else. I educate and inform women on the daily — but what am I actually doing for them? I’ve made introductions when people have asked. I’ve offered support when I knew people were between jobs. I’ve helped fund female founders. But my efforts haven’t been measured or consistent. It’s felt like the same reactive, haphazard attempt at sisterhood that we are experiencing now as a whole. I’ve had women with chutzpah (a quality after my own heart) reach out to me directly and I’ve failed to reach back. Shame on me for that. I’m a firm believer that women apologize too frequently, but in this case, it needs to be said. To the young women who found me on social media or tracked down my email who never heard back from me: I’m sorry. If I can’t hold myself accountable to helping other women, then how can I expect anyone else to?

So, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Starting today, I vow to help two women who reach out to me personally every quarter. I’m going to make that my goal, in the same way I set quarterly business goals and hold myself to them. I hope you will join me. Let’s honor those promises we make to each other at women’s events and conferences and see them through to fruition. Let’s form true partnerships when opportunities come across our desks or hit our inboxes. And let’s commit to paying it forward, one-on-one, so our mission spreads on. If every woman sticks to her own goal, we all win.

Nicole Lapin is the author of Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together…Finally and the forthcoming Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career, out March 21 (Crown Business).

MOTTO hosts provocative voices and influencers from various spheres. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of our editors.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com