By John Y. Brown III, on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 12:00 PM ET
1) I can’t remember the other thing I forgot to do yesterday.
2) Oh, yeah, that was it.
3) Ooh! That reminded me of the other two things I had forgotten
4) I can’t believe he had the nerve to say that to me in at the meeting this morning…asshole…but I’m not going to say anything but he was being an asshole.
5) I need to workout again at some point. Maybe tomorrow. Or Saturday. Or sometime soon.
6) I’m starting to get hungry.
7) Need to listen to my voice mail messages.
8) Why is it taking them so long to get such a simple answer to a simple question?
9) Oh God! I am a nervous wreck about…something…oh yeah, paying for college for my daughter– 2 and a half years from now. That’s a ways off, though …But still….
10) I hope my wife appreciates how hard I work and all the things I worry about during the day. I don’t think she fully appreciates all the stress I am under.
11) God, that guy really was an ass this morning. Maybe I should say something to him. 12) I am probably going to need to get an extension on my taxes this year.
13) I’m getting really hungry now.
14) I hope I don’t get attacked by a gang if I go out for lunch. Zoe’s Kitchen is probably pretty low risk.
15) My life isn’t really as stressful as I want my wife to believe it is –if I am really honest with myself–but I want her to think it is anyway.
Jason Grill has extensive experience in media relations, public affairs, public relations, government affairs, law and the media. He is the principal and founder of JGrill Media, LLC. A Kansas City based, but national consulting firm that specializes in media relations/pr, public affairs, government relations, relationship building and development and strategic partnerships. Jason has worked with and consulted with numerous startups, entrepreneurs, businesses, accelerators, foundations, non-profits, cities, associations, lifestyle brands, marketing and digital agencies, corporations, c-suite executives, government entities and technology companies. Jason works in the media as a local and national writer/contributor, radio host and television analyst/commentator. Jason writes for the Huffington Post, Yahoo! and the RecoveringPolitician.com. He has written for Politico and KC Business Magazine and also been a contributor to the Wall Street Journal Radio Network and the Mitch Albom Show. He is a TV analyst for WDAF Fox 4 and is the producer and host of the Entrepreneur KC Radio Show on KMBZ Business Channel (Entercom Station). He is an licensed attorney and a published national co-author of a best selling book, “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis.”
In addition to JGrill Media and his consulting work, Jason’s entrepreneurial spirit also led him to start an innovative sock company. Jason is the Co-Founder of Sock 101, a growing national business which produces colorful high quality and professional socks and sells them for an affordable price. Sock 101 has a unique Sock of the Month Club and does custom logo and branded socks as well for organizations, events and corporations. Sock 101 has been featured in many media outlets, including Forbes. He is very excited about growing Sock 101 into a household name and worldwide brand.
Jason is a former two-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives, where he passed historic legislation to help families of children with autism access life changing therapies and treatments. He passed meaningful legislation during both Governor Matt Blunt and Governor Jay Nixon’s administrations.
Jason has served as an adjunct professor at Park University. He has worked in the White House for a senior advisor to Former Vice President Al Gore and an advisor to Former President Bill Clinton, as well as at the CNN Washington DC bureau with a senior political correspondent.
Jason earned a JD and Advanced Certificate in Dispute Resolution from the University of Missouri. He earned a BS in Business Administration, Summa Cum Laude, majoring in economics and minoring in political science from Saint Louis University. Jason also studied at Loyola of Chicago Rome Center in Rome, Italy.
Jason is an avid Missouri Tigers, Kansas City Royals/Chiefs, Sporting KC and Liverpool fan. He enjoys traveling throughout the US and around the world, anything sports and hopes to one day complete a marathon and go to a World Cup. He is still waiting for a Kansas City Royals v. Chicago Cubs World Series.
Can you expand on how JGrill Media is not only focused on strategic consulting across various industries but how it also encompasses your very own personal media work with radio, TV and writing?
I started the company with the intent to focus on my own writing, TV work and radio hosting. Through my work and the relationships I begin to build I found that many individuals, entities and agencies wanted to hire me as a consultant to help them with their own media/pr, public affairs and government/public policy related issues. Through this evolution I have been able to continue to grow my own personal media brand, as well as consulting work with some incredible people and clients. I truly enjoy doing my radio show, TV analyst work and contributing writing with some great media outlets and hope to continue to move forward on both fronts of the company in the future with some strategic partnerships.
What advice would you pass onto someone looking to build credibility through thought leadership?
Quality content and thought leadership are king these days. Building yourself as a true opinion leader, expert and thought leader in your industry is one of the best ways to build your business and credibility. This is so important especially if you’re a startup or small business. You need to get high quality content out in the marketplace to establish your brand. It’s ok to start slow on this endeavor, but make sure if you’re a CEO or a co-founder to be doing this and talking to your customers’ pain points. Give them information that they might have never thought about and ways to make their lives easier. Be willing to do this for free and make sure to highlight your community with quality content. Don’t be selfish. Give back to your city or your customers through your writing or contributing. Thought leadership is not an ego play.
Why do you think that Kansas City has seen such a big surge in entrepreneurship over the last few years and how do you predict that growth will play out in the coming years?
Kansas City is an amazing city and has a rich entrepreneurial history. We have the best foundation for entrepreneurship and education in the world with the Kauffman Foundation being here. We have an abundance of resources, Google fiber, corporate innovation and some of the best accelerators in the US. However, the real reason for Kansas City’s surge the last few years has been the community. The entrepreneurial community in KC is ultra supportive of each other in all facets. People and businesses work together and are willing to introduce you to just about anyone to help your startup or entrepreneurial endeavor succeed. In a competitive world, KC entrepreneurs are about bringing the entire ecosystem up, rather than just their own business. Kansas City is a sleeping giant on a national and international level when it comes to entrepreneurship. With a great standard of living and numerous first-class amenities as well the sky is the limit for Kansas City. KC is not flyover country.
Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your other business, Sock 101?
Sock 101’s mission is to provide high quality cotton based socks that are professional and affordable to individuals throughout the country. I have always been a fan of men’s fashion and classic style. As an individual who always was in a suit and tie, I got tired of paying $15-$25 for a nice, colorful pair of socks. There had to be a better way. The solution to that problem is Sock 101. In year one we sold thousands of pairs of socks at a price point of $7 at Sock 101. We also built a Sock of the Month Club that delivers a new pair of Sock 101’s to your door or your client, friend or loved one’s door every month. By the end of year two we will have over a thousand members in this club. Lastly, we are very excited to offer custom logo and branded socks for organizations, businesses, events and groups. We have seen a tremendous response both locally and nationally to this new service and have made socks for organizations such as the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Veterans United and Influence & Co. I believe custom socks are a major part of future marketing budgets and separating yourself or your brand from the typical gifts or ideas. Whether it’s the bright colors, a custom logo, a dot or a stripe, socks truly are a statement piece that don’t have to be and shouldn’t be boring gold toes anymore. In a world dominated by blue jeans and dark suits, socks show an individual’s personality and style almost more than any other men’s accessory. Socks are the new tie.
How did you come up with the concept behind the book you Co-Authored, “The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis” and what do you hope that the average reader walks away with?
Jonathan Miller, the Former State Treasurer of Kentucky, actually contacted me about writing a chapter in this book. Jonathan is a friend and an exceptional writer and businessperson. This book offers individuals in any business or vertical really great advice on crisis management and public relations from experiences in the brightest of lights. It gives the reader some incredible stories on how to survive a crisis in any aspect of their life or business, as well as how to move forward if you do experience what you think is the worst thing that can happen. The former head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele also has written a chapter in the book. Out of this book and the relationships it formed a national speaking group has evolved called Second Act Strategies. This exciting new service involves leadership, teamwork, integrity and reinvention seminars, as well as crisis simulations from esteemed, qualified experts who’ve earned their stripes in the arena’s spotlight.
Who is your hero?
Without a doubt my father, Brad Grill. Hardest working and most genuine individual I have ever know.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
One of the greatest things I have learned in life and in business is how important relationships and partnerships are to your success. If you treat other people like you would want to be treated, are willing to help out others and give yourself to your community even when you don’t want to, it will be beneficial both personally and in business. Mutually beneficial relationships are everywhere. They only come to fruition when you put yourself out there, listen, learn and leave the office.
Always remember this quote by C.S. Lewis – “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
As every year goes by I continue to learn more and more from the people I interact with, work with and meet. One of the lessons that is still hard for me to grasp completely at times is that you have to be willing to say the word “no.” Many entrepreneurs and new businesses say yes to everything. You can’t do everything. I can’t tell you how many times I have said yes to projects, work engagements, media opportunities, new clients and endeavors with JGrill Media that I really didn’t want to be involved with and work on.
Or on the flip side with Sock 101 trying to do too many things with the product or the brand just because someone sees a fit, a need, has an idea or wants you to do something else. Having the ability to say no to some of these things give you the ability to really focus on what types of things you want to work on and what types of things will take you, your brand and your business to the next level.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
One of the things that always helps me is getting in a morning run. If I am able to do this it really helps the general flow of my day and allows me to work later.
During the early part of my business day I usually try to get through all of my emails and if need be set up my meetings so I can really get more work done throughout the day.
I usually try to post any relevant business related social media posts in the morning as well via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
However, as we all know as business owners and entrepreneurs many days are not like the others!
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
1. Find a solution to a problem. Consumers and companies seek these things out whether they’re product or technology based and are willing to pay or help you if there is a need. 2. Build partnerships and relationships with those who have bigger teams and support. This will allow you to stay lean, but still be profitable early on.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
Success is making a true difference and having a positive impact on people, your community and in business. I have been lucky enough to have a hand in passing laws that have helped and impacted lives as a legislator, offered needed assistance as a lawyer, built a company to allow entities of all different types to get their message out into the community and connect them to mutually beneficial relationships at JGrill Media, as well as be a part of a growing company that turned a profit in its first year and is bringing smiles to people’s faces and stepping up their style at Sock 101. I strive to always evolve and become a better individual. I try to succeed day-by-day little by little.
What’s one thing you recommend all aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Be a good listener and get involved in your community!
What are some trends that you’re excited about or think that our readers should be paying attention to?
Socks. Socks. Socks. In all seriousness though, I think the rising trend of entrepreneurship and startups that are solving problems in this country is exciting. I am very excited that the mainstream media is covering these stories and individuals more often. If policymakers can realize that young companies are the engine of our economy good things will continue to happen!
By Jason Grill, on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM ET
Content marketing is the new black for savvy business owners. Are you on board?
In the last few years, the words “content marketing” have become buzzwords in the corporate business, marketing, digital and media space. But what is it really? Content marketing as defined by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI):
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Content marketing is becoming the new black from both a quantity and quality standpoint for individuals throughout the world. Some have stumbled into this world. Businesses both large and small are realizing that in order to compete, they must embrace this new era of interaction and develop true content marketing programs. Content marketing is becoming a disruptive force. In the past, marketing pros relied on production, publishing and promotional amplification tools. Content is the fuel that makes all of those platforms run. However, a few blog posts or an email campaign won’t suffice anymore.
Provide Value With Content
Relevant content coming from a business through a thought leadership perspective has a considerable effect on attracting and retaining customers. It’s not hokey, it’s not a pitch and it’s not everyday sales — it truly has become an educational and informative way to deliver knowledge and content to build brand loyalty and awareness.
A study by Roper Public Affairs shows that 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in article form rather than in an advertisement. Seventy percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to a company, while 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions. “Content marketing works because it delivers relevant proof of value,” says interactive content marketing strategist Mark O’Renick. Quality content marketing engages consumers to look at a business differently.
Many C-suite, advertising and marketing executives believe their company has great content to shoot out and share in the public arena, but they don’t feel they can do this quickly enough or keep it moving through a streamlined process. Spreadsheets, emails and project management systems have all been used by marketing teams in recent times to churn out content on a routine basis. This has led to a whole new industry of technology solutions that make your typical marketing editorial calendar look like a thing of the Stone Age.
A Kansas City, Missouri-based startup, DivvyHQ, realized that content marketing is the present and the future of marketing. Their founders, both from the digital agency world, developed an ideation, planning and production workflow specialty tool to help businesses and online publishers embrace content marketing and collaboration, but in a manner that allows the user or users to do so in a more efficient way without all the headaches. Simply put, DivvyHQ aims to take content marketers out of spreadsheet, email, storage and organizational hell and alleviate the challenging manual and laborious process. Corporations such as Intel, Toyota, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Sprint, H & R Block, Travelocity and Adobe have all worked with DivvyHQ. PR and media giants Ogilvy, Edelman and the National Geographic Channel have also used the product to streamline their content needs.
“Despite the traditional publishing industry taking a beating over the last decade, companies can learn a lot from the day-to-day planning methods, scheduling tools and production processes that help publishers hit deadlines and crank out great content every day,” says content marketing expert Brody Dorland.
Turn to the Cloud
Companies and enterprise level organizations who handle multiple individuals and tasks are finding out they need a way to plan, divide and conquer their content marketing and editorial needs on the cloud. They have discovered they also need ways to break down the internal silos in the workplace. Some have used the old fashioned approach and tried breaking down physical walls in their office to get their employees and content producers to talk. There is an easier way. Virtual, real-time sharing and collaboration significantly improves these situations and breaks down silo walls.
Dorland believes, “Simplifying things and leveraging the cloud to help global, decentralized content teams collaborate, share assets and increase the quantity and quality of their content output is huge right now.”
The content marketing phenomenon isn’t going away. Content collaboration and team calendaring is on the upswing. The spreadsheet free editorial calendar is the new king of the castle. Companies both large and small are yearning and will continue to yearn for high-powered, specific content marketing tools to help take their business to the next level.
By John Y. Brown III, on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 12:00 PM ET
Tonight my wife and daughter and I couldn’t decide if we should order room service for dinner or go out. We decided, since we were in Boca Raton, to go out –to our favorite Italian restaurant after driving by the old apartment complex where Rebecca and I lived briefly when we were newlyweds in the early 90s. I was fresh out of law school and working for Kenny Rogers Roasters. It was an exciting time in our lives and our son was born in a Boca Hospital just down the road from our apartment a few months before we moved back to Kentucky.
Lots has happened since then and tonight our daughter was with us and we wanted to share our memories with her. Unfortunately, our favorite Italian restaurant was no longer around but we found an excellent substitute, Trattoria Romana, a 4 1/2 star restaurant nearby. The problem was we were looking a little ragged and unkempt after driving 5 hours from Key West. We were wearing sweatpants and, in my case, was unshaven and wearing a rumpled shirt. But we were determined to retrace our steps the best we could for old times sake.
As we walked into the elegant restaurant we could tell we stood out in an awkward and uncomfortable way. We felt like the Beverly Hillbillies had just walked into the Boca Raton country club and at any minute we would be asked to leave. We joked among ourselves that maybe we were making other people uncomfortable that they may had overdressed tonight. After some uncomfortable self-conscious banter we were seated. Not beside the kitchen door–which was what I expected– but in a secluded corner tucked away from visibility from anyone save the waiter. It was obvious but not offensive if were willing to suspend disbelief long enough to get through an appetizer and entree.
We continued to chuckle and joke among ourselves as the waiter brought bruschetta to our table. I tried to eat the bruschetta while ordering but ended up dribbling oily chunks of tomato in an orderly pile beside my plate instead of inside my mouth. My daughter was laughing almost uncontrollably at how deftly I was fulfilling the stereotype we assumed our waiter had of us–and I wasn’t being self-deprecating. Just self-fulfilling.
I wanted to play it up with the waiter and ask if they served possum and grits. But I didn’t. We ordered rigatoni and ravioli, two entrees easy enough to pronounce–and split the two entrees among the three of us. So far, so good. We skipped dessert and asked for the check before something really embarrassing happened.
As we slinked out I joked with Rebecca and Maggie that maitre ‘d was probably expressing relief that we were leaving quietly and not creating a spectacle. We laughed again amongst ourselves and filed in line behind several older regulars at the restaurant who were chatting and chuming it up loudly and proudly–and a little intoxicated. One, a distinguished looking man of about 70, turned to me and peering over his bifocals couldn’t decide if he should give me his car parking stub or not. So he just held it out in my direction in an uncommitted way so that if I were the valet I would know to take it but if I wasn’t it would look like he was just making it known he had a parking stub but wasn’t directing it at anyone in particular.
I was laughing to myself at yet another slight– but also, by this time, getting a little irritated. So I responded by pulling out my parking stub and offering it to the distinguished 70 year old man. “Could you, uh, please get my…Oh wait! I’m sorry” And then the man’s friend interjected laughing, “He thought you were the valet and tried to give you his parking stub” We laughed together and I said I would be happy to get their car if they were good tippers and not in a particular hurry.
Then some other friends from their party came out and we tried to chat but one of the other gentleman, also about 70 and distinguished looking, said to his group just loudly enough for us to hear, “Open the door and anyone can walk in.” He was referring, apparently, to us–the riffraff in sweatpants and, in my case, unshaven and with a rumpled shirt.
I thought to myself. “Surely, he’s not referring to us.” But my wife and daughter assured me he was.
I looked at him agog and thought to myself, “What do you say to that?” I didn’t say anything. And at that moment the valet pointed to where our car was parked across the lot rather than deliver it to us. We, staying consistent, only had $1 of cash left and used it as our tip. I was very discrete in handing it off hoping the valet would think he got a larger single bill than a $1 and wouldn’t notice until we had pulled off the property.
The drive back home we joked about our dinner experience as outcasts and I tried to think of something clever I wished I had said to the man who made the rude comment about opening the door and anyone walking in. But nothing at all came to me. Which confused me. I am usually good at telling people off after they offend me and I am driving home having an imaginary conversation with them and putting them in their place. I was offended but other than fantasizing what it would have felt like to punch him (which, of course, I didn’t), I couldn’t come up with a clever or funny retort. And didn’t really even want to. It just felt like any way I could respond to such a rude comment would automatically devalue me more rather than put the other person in his place. (Especially if I haven’t shaved.)
And that, I suppose, is the lesson I learned tonight.
In the future when I go to a nice restaurant, I will try to dress more appropriately. If I do that I won’t feel as awkward and have to make inside and self-deprecating jokes about myself. Or pretend I don’t know who the valet is. And if someone treats me rudely by making an insulting remark, there’s nothing I need to say at all in response. Just let it lie and leave it with the rude person un-responded to. And just fantasize about punching the rude guy in the face (even though I really don’t) as I drive off the lot–after tipping the valet $1.
When starting or continuing a fitness program, it is vital to know the “insider information” from the pros. The following is a satire, a joke and a ruse designed to make you laugh and or cry while evaluating your fitness knowledge. Be mindful that some of us believe in these principles. Proceed with caution.
1. The proper amount of protein intake each day
All of them…duh.
2. Monday is International Chest-Day
Nothing is scheduled…nothing.
Read the rest of… Josh Bowen: 10 Fitness Must-Knows
Growing up I always admired the play of Michael Jordan. In my opinion, he is the best basketball player of all-time. However, at the time he was playing professional basketball I never imagined him to ever be a failure or make mistakes. Recently, I came across this quote from Michael Jordan. He said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Air Jordan couldn’t have said it better. Even the greatest fail in some aspects of their career or business along the way.
Echoing MJ’s sentiment here are 3 ways failure can help build a business and some mistakes to avoid.
1. Always Thinking Growing Big Fast Is Best
Many people believe growing your company with numbers and employees quick is always a great thing and will make you more successful. This isn’t always the case. Many times people learn this the hard way and fail fast with the impression that having a lot of people around you in-house will make you more profitable and successful. They fail financially and have smaller profits because of all the other costs involved. As a small business owner many times it makes much more sense to build strategic partnerships and mutual beneficial relationships. This allows you to keep your overhead costs lower and not have the stress of numerous employees as you begin to grow your profits. You won’t have to worry about everything else. Working with other businesses that might be bigger or offer more backend support allows you to do what you do best, while at the same time utilizing the strengths of the other partner companies. Growing your business with key partners is often times way more profitable then growing fast within.
Read the rest of… Jason Grill: 3 Ways Failure Can Help Build a Business and Mistakes to Avoid
By John Y. Brown III, on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM ET
Key West, Florida… Forever and always the year ’round spring break city for ages 18 to 88–but a city that really isn’t a city at all and more like a narrow corridor off of an alcove off of some real city (but nobody is sure which one) that just happens to be located somewhere between an ocean beach and the end of the world.
It’s a real place where real characters like Ernest Hemingway once briefly lived but feels more like an imaginary place where imaginary characters like Jack Sparrow would permanently live, if he was real.
The daily rumblings of the town aren’t anything like back home and resemble instead something akin to an outdoor rave–the morning after the actual rave. And the evenings are like the night after a bad hangover after you have been resuscitated with a hair-of-the-dog concoction.
And as shady and delirious (even if you are sober, like me) as all this might sound, it is kind of wonderful and mysterious, too. And even restorative –in a kind of mischievous and decadent way.
Time seems to stand still –or at least move in slow motion– not because nothing is happening but because the locale is so disconnected from anyplace where workaday things are happening you forget the need to keep track of time. Which is such an unusual–and enlivening– sensation to experience in our hustle-bustle nation.
And so glad to have found a place where, for a few days, you can remember what life is like without the push and pressures of ticking clocks in this narrow corridor off of an alcove of some city in this mysterious but wonderful place somewhere between an ocean beach and the end of the world.
Things that can happen in Key West…
While waiting for a Cuban coffee you can overhear an older white-haired Irish-looking man introduce himself to the mail carrier as “Tip O’Neill’s nephew.”
And you can wait for the mailman to leave and introduce yourself and tell the man you overheard him say he was related to Tip O’Neill and wanted to say how much you admired the personalized approach his uncle had to politics and think often of the story of President Ronald Reagan getting shot and the first person to visit him in the hospital was the democratic Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, and the two men talked and prayed together–and how you wish we could someday get back to those times in American politics.
Things one thinks to oneself while in Key West:
“Do you realize you are 50 years old and have never been to a transvestite show?”
Dolphin art show
What we did tonight instead of going to the transvestite show–next door
Dolphins are great and all, don’t get me wrong. But they aren’t fabulous!
New thing I learned tonight in Key West….
Even if you are a blissfully happily married 50 year old man, it is still nice to be checked out by a younger woman.
Even after you realize it is actually a younger man who is dressed up as a women.
By John Y. Brown III, on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM ET
I didn’t know Maddie Yates or her family but my heart goes out to them tonight.
Maddie is the Louisville high school student who committed suicide yesterday after posting a video explaining her plan to kill herself and why.
The video is no longer on the internet but the transcript is. I just read the transcript and was drawn to this part:
“Remember how bad of a person I really am. I say awful things. Even if I don’t mean them, I say them. You don’t even want to know the things that I think; I am not a good person. I’m doing literally the whole world a favor.”
I was drawn to these words because I wish more adults would say from time to time –and say it so a young person can hear it:
“I say awful things that I don’t mean and later regret saying. I think thoughts that no good person would think. I sometimes wonder to myself how someone like me could ever be a ‘good person.’ But that doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me about average–and the same can be said for everyone else who has thoughts like this. We just aren’t very good at talking openly about the uncomfortable parts of ourselves… but maybe one day we’ll get better at it.”
And I think if each of us adults would say something like that from time to time –and say it so a young person can hear it–I think we would be doing literally the whole world a favor.
By Lauren Mayer, on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 8:30 AM ET
Feminism is a complicated, messy topic, and if you ask 3 women about it, you’re likely to get 4 different answers. Some women don’t want to define themselves as feminist because it sounds anti-male, others disagree about how much sexism and discrimination exists, and you can always count on folks like Rush Limbaugh to disparage ‘feminazis’ as freeloading sluts who want Uncle Sugar to provide unlimited birth control and abortion on demand. And it’s a tricky issue around my house – my 17-year-old son feels like girls get all the breaks because he’s experienced classic educational bias against boys (everything from early school environments being more conducive to how girls learn, to a cliche-but-real male-hating gym teacher who informed them during the square dance unit that ‘the girls had her permission to slap the boys around if they messed up, because everyone knows boys can’t dance’). My 20-year-old started dancing at age 4, and he was teased mercilessly about it (until high school, when his classmates saw how cute the girls were in dance class, not to mention the revealing dancewear).
So I know there are ways in which it’s harder to be male. But I still believe women have not completely caught up – as the old expression goes, like ballroom dancers, we’re doing everything guys do, but backward and in high heels. (Note to my husband – that expression started as a cartoon about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and then was popularized by former Texas Governor Ann Richards. It did NOT originate as a line for Angel in Rent. But I digress . . . ) And as far as whether or not to use the dreaded ‘f’ word, I love the way writer Caitlin Moran summed it up in her book, How To Be A Woman: “Here is a quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Do you have a vagina? And do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations, you’re a feminist.”
Sure, we’ve come a long way, baby (and we no longer need ‘our own cigarette’ using that phrase . . . please tell me SOMEONE else remembers those hideous ads for Virginia Slims!) But we still have a long way to go, whether it’s the pay gap or minor cost differences at dry cleaners. And many male politicians seem to want to go backwards, whether it’s Todd Akin-type idiocy about pregnancy, Mike Huckabee explaining “Men like to hunt and fish together, and women like to go to the restroom together,” or the Texas legislature permitting concealed firearms in sessions but banning tampons and sanitary pads for fear of them being thrown in protest against an abortion ban (yes, that really happened).
So here’s a musical reminder to these misogynist guys that outdated attitudes towards women just might affect how we vote.