When I launched the Magical Unicorn Project at the beginning of this year, I had a dream in my heart of creating an inclusive and collaborative initiative to help women achieve true equality.
I wanted the focus of this project to address three main “Glass Ceiling” challenges that I feel contribute significantly to keeping women down: 1) Corporate; 2) Social; and 3) Emotional.
Of all the glass ceilings I had on the agenda to tackle, Social Glass Ceilings and, specifically, social injustice, was by far the most delicate and difficult of my hot topic items. How could I create an environment where both men and women felt safe to open up about these tough issues – and compelled to speak up about them too?
In the Fall of 2017, I was working through the project details in my mind and trying to devise a non-threatening and welcoming way to open up conversations about social injustice. Just as I was doing this, in a stroke of fate that I hadn’t seen coming, the #MeToo movement erupted all around me. It was like the universe had this master plan and was tapping me on the shoulder… telling me to hurry up with my vision and go out there and do something! Okay fine. Challenge accepted and game on! I would have to figure this out quickly because I didn’t see an alternative choice.
As the flood of #MeToo social media posts came in, I felt incredibly disheartened. This wasn’t just due to the avalanche of pain and victimization that was pouring out in posts from too many women to count, but also because of the deafening silence from men. What saddened me the most about this silence is the fact that I knew so many great men that weren’t “these” men. Was the very fact of being a man making them all feel like perpetrators who couldn’t safely take a stand in support of women?
If so, this wasn’t right and, in my view, compounded the problem. How are women going to find themselves in a world where they’re treated with dignity and respect if the good men don’t raise their voices and show their support? I truly believe there are more good men than bad and it’s these very men who will apply the pressure on those who are less evolved and challenge them to level up.
One brave soul who took a stand for what’s right back in October 2017 and put himself out there despite the dark, omnipresent storm of #MeToo emotion was a friend of mine, Dustan Woodhouse. I remember him being one of the only men that I personally saw posting about this issue while it was going down and feeling like, “Thank God! We finally have a male perspective weighing in on this.” It gave me a slight breath of hope and I felt grateful for his courage to be a supportive voice for women in what was otherwise a very unsafe space in time for men to speak out.
So, what do unicorns have to do with social injustice and women’s empowerment?
Everything! For starters, the “uni” in unicorn is Latin for “one” and “oneness”. I’ve never contemplated women’s equality as a battle between men and women. I’ve always believed we’re connected in oneness together in our humanity and men have an important role to play in establishing the kind of society where women can wholeheartedly thrive.
I’ve composed a theatrical visual in the form of a unicorn costume to unite a hybrid world between women’s current reality and a dream for what’s possible for our future. The costume serves to parody the pain of inequality and social injustice experienced by women throughout history, and a committed vision for a more utopian future. This fantasy nature is intended to create a deliberate conscious detachment to soften the difficult commentary around inequality and, specifically, social injustice.
As well, the whimsical appearance serves to not only create a welcoming atmosphere where everyone feels invited to join in on the discussion, but also to capture the interest of a younger generation of girls. As a human unicorn, I’m purposefully choosing to be a symbol of unity and show the world that we can celebrate one another’s differences, yet feel safe in the knowing we’re all one. It’s time to disrupt the status quo and work together in our humanity so true equality can exist for all.
Now back to social injustice. Below is comment, as well as a link to the original post, from Dustan Woodhouse, which I would encourage all men to read and contemplate.
If you’re a likeminded man and willing to use your voice to support women in our bid to help women achieve true equality, I’d love to hear from you! We can’t do this alone, boys. We need your support. I believe we’re better together and the future is bright… please be that unicorn in a field of horses and take a stand.
Dustan Woodhouse’s Thoughts & Original Post
Does It Really Take A Unicorn?
Maybe it does. The stats below, when broken down into male vs female, tell an interesting story.
When it comes to social media posts, we say as much to the world with what we ‘like’, comment on and share, as we do by quietly pretending we missed a post. Some posts are deemed worthy by all, while other posts are considered radioactive by all, and then there are certain topics that many of us may believe to represent universal truths… yet the final stats on the ‘likes’, comments and shares tell us a different story.
In the hierarchy of social media responses, there is the ‘pretend-I-didn’t-see-it’, the ‘like’, the agreement/disagreement ‘comment’ and then the highest form of agreement, the rare but wonderfully validating, ‘share’.
The first example to really catch my eye of the bias demonstrated in engagement, or lack thereof, was this post on Oct 15, 2017 regarding the just launched #MeToo movement.
It was a Sunday, and being that I have a female parent, a female sibling, a female spouse and a female child in my life, this seemed to me a universal topic that we would all agree on. (I’m aware it’s not all about female victims, but females represent the majority, so I’m speaking to the simplicity of rallying behind this movement for anyone.)
Yet the stats below, pulled from the post, tell a clear story on who’s rallying and who ‘missed-the-post’.
23 likes from men
88 likes from women
3 loves from men
32 loves from women
4 sad/angry faces from men
30 sad/angry faces from women
3 comments by men
51 comments by women
12 shares by men
170 shares by women
89% female engagement.
89%, not 51%… 89%. Wow.
Who are these men without Mothers, Sisters, Aunts, Daughters or Nieces? Would they not be enraged by any sort of incident involving their loved ones? Do they not want the women in their lives to feel empowered to speak out without fear of reprisal?
Do we not realize that continually pushing to shame strangers into silence is also pushing to shame our loved ones into silence at the same time? My loved ones are strangers to you and yours to me. But I think they all ought to have a voice – a voice heard, a voice believed, a voice supported and a voice that’s paid as much attention as my own. Why is my voice heard simply because I won the genetic lottery?
Life is not easily navigated for any of us, but power should not be unevenly distributed simply due to genetics.
Social media is not easily navigated either. Posts aren’t always clear and, all I can ask is that, if you see communication from me that rubs you the wrong way, please let me know.
Call me out, call me and let’s talk.
I’m still trying to get it right myself. I’m a work in progress.
And when I try to defend one group, I realize I may be misunderstood by another. But unless I hear from the others, I will not learn and grow.
But I will always try.