I read a post from a woman who wanted to know what she should call herself in business networking events. What sounded best? "Mompreneur," "Femalepreneur," "BossLadypreneur?" I wrote back, how about an Entrepreneur? To my surprise, I had many people hit the like button. We talk about the divisions in our society, yet we keep perpetuating it ourselves. For example, I spoke to a theatre owner who told me the last couple of magicians that performed in his space specifically told him not to advertise them as female magicians. I said that I agreed with their thinking. If we don't stop separating ourselves into categories, we'll never achieve the equality we deserve.
We're in the 21st Century, but it feels like we keep taking steps backward without realizing it. Our words reflect our perception, and the only way we can expand and change our mindset is to be aware of how we speak. There's an old riddle that I first heard on a show called All in the Family. (A sitcom from the '70s). A man takes his son to the hospital for emergency surgery. The surgeon sees the boy and immediately says, "I cannot perform this operation because this is my son." The characters on the show are unable to solve the riddle until the answer is revealed that the doctor is the mother. Granted, the show was fifty years ago, but it showed a bias that still exists today. Funny side note, I read an article where a group of first-graders was given this riddle to solve, and one young boy answered, "Simple, the boy has two dads." Maybe we're evolving, after all.
We need to push back on stereotypes and see people for their humanity. For example, when I was taking improvisation classes, people insisted that they not be pigeonholed to play only certain characters. One Hispanic woman said every time she entered a scene to contribute her idea, someone would say, "Oh, look, here comes the maid." That alone screamed how insensitive we are to each other, even though no malice was intended. The more we can spotlight this, the more we can recognize that we still have a long way to go in seeing each other with more understanding.
It's not hard to say he's a great athlete, or she's a wonderful musician without prefacing it with: He's a great Asian baseball player, or she's a wonderful female saxophone player. I believe it takes away an unnecessary description that only helps divide us. When I talk about my friends, I don't say my black friend Carolyn, or my white friend, Dawn; that's ridiculous. Yet, we continue to separate ourselves from each other without realizing it through our words.
I respect everyone's culture and beliefs. We all learn from each other, and sharing our experiences allows us to understand each other better. It helps to remove our prejudices and see people as people. Please take a moment and think about how you see others and pay attention to your words to describe them. Do you see them as their personality, funny, caring, enjoyable, or do you see them for the color of their skin or gender? Let's help each other find common ground instead of what divides us. But, of course, that's just my female opinion.