If you’ve been a reader of this newsletter for a while, you may know that we aren't big fans of the term “empowerment.” Because women don't need “to be given power” (which is the dictionary definition of “empowerment”); we have plenty of power. And, in particular, plenty of economic power. It’s just a matter of when — and how — we choose to step into and use it.
The answer: This summer. We chose to use it this summer. In uniquely feminine and feminist ways.
And, boy, has it been fun.
I saw Taylor Swift with my daughter; and I saw my friends and her friends there in one huge, intergenerational party that played out night after night after night across the country. Rain or shine, and despite ongoing, not-very-thinly-veiled sexist backlashes against this once-in-a-generation talent (her songs are too personal or too petty; she says too little or dates too much), which made it all the more powerful to see her triumphantly owning all of it. Causing economic earthquakes in the cities she visited, and, for good measure, a literal earthquake in one. And having so much damn fun, all while making a ton of money and generating jobs.
Next up: Beyoncé. We’re flocking to stadiums to watch a powerful, fearless, ultra-talented icon, who frankly embodies feminism. And the power of relentless, hard work. So, let’s talk payoff: Beyoncé’s “Renaissance World Tour” is officially the highest-grossing tour of her career — and for any Black woman artist. Just the other day, Bey was given her own holiday in Atlanta. Beyoncé’s using the momentum she’s generating to offer tour-inspired merch that supports Historically Black Colleges and Universities. And we’re loving it, again as groups of women gathering and celebrating together.
Then to Barbie. Another chance to dress up, another chance to step away from the grind, to connect with my daughter — and my friends and her friends — around a deeply feminist message, delivered in a profoundly surprising way that almost forced you to laugh. And to think. Also to maybe cry a little. Genius. While generating yet another economic earthquake (a history-making one!), driven by women.
(Also, my Ken’s job is desk.)
Not so much fun this summer?
The US women’s soccer team is out of the World Cup. Because this was supposed to be their summer, when we were also supposed to come together in watch parties to see them win it all.
But they showed that they are human (remarkably fit and talented humans, but humans nonetheless) in losing in the Round of 16. I'd argue that there was something sort of sweet about their losing — as we all do at some point — but doing it while still earning the most they ever had, because of the fight that they had fought and the work that they put in. And also because we shouldn’t have to be super-human all the time in order to be paid fairly.
Also, decidedly not fun, but powerful nonetheless: Women and our allies coming together in Ohio to defeat a measure that would’ve made it harder to amend their state constitution, an action that was aimed right at the heart of restricting women’s reproductive rights. Women in that state took time out from all the fun to get the hard work done.
All of this is demonstrating the power that women have. We don’t need to be empowered; it's instead a matter of individually and collectively choosing to use our power. And that power is often financial or economic: how we spend our money, whether we’re investing that money, who we’re investing that money with, and whether we’re investing that money for positive impact.
Women are feeling themselves this summer. In ways that they’re defining. They couldn’t put Barbie back in her box. I don’t think “they” can put this — this power — back in its box either, now that we’ve seen how much fun it is.