Empowerment Backlash

Copy of freshstart (2)
Today I spent 21 minutes inside the Playboy building. (A sentence I never thought I’d type.)

It all started very innocently.

I interviewed a woman for my #Empowerista series (who I will call by the fake name “Jane”). I genuinely respect her and the work she does to empower men. In return, she asked me to be on her podcast, and I was happy to reverse roles and be a guest on her show.

That is until I plugged the address into my GPS (the day of) and discovered her show taped inside the Playboy building. I looked up her podcast on iTunes and didn’t see or hear any mention of Playboy, so I still showed up. Often podcasts simply rent a studio, so I was hopeful this was the case.

Once I entered the studio, all I could see were the provocative Playboy covers mounted on the wall.

Enter: pit in my stomach.

To add to my discomfort, three nights ago I watched Miss Representation, a documentary about how damaging the objectification of women in media is.

I decided to speak up and get more information. Jane explained the main use of the episode was for her independent iTunes channel… but the podcast was also on Playboy’s website.

Hold up.

#Empowerista (and I) would be on Playboy’s website?!

The following raced through my mind:

“Ugh. Noooo… I should have done my homework. I feel so bad. I have to cancel. No, you can’t cancel. No. You. Have. To. Cancel."

I conjured up the courage to say aloud:

“I respect you and your brand, but I don’t feel comfortable associating #Empowerista with Playboy. I just discovered the Playboy connection today, and I am so sorry for the last minute cancellation.”

She said she was offended, which is understandable. She is entitled to her feelings, and I certainly have empathy for how much a last minute cancellation, on a show you believe in and work hard on, sucks.

Then she told me she believed the empowered choice was to own my message on any platform. It’s not that her perspective was wrong. This would have been many people’s truth, and the right choice for them. But it wasn’t my truth. And it wasn’t the right choice for me.

Regardless, my inner perfectionist left feeling guilty. And as the guy at the front desk asked me why I was leaving so soon, I was hit with a solid dose of embarrassment too.

Owning your truth, trusting your gut and making the right choice for yourself... isn't always easy.

Often we assume making an empowered choice will make us feel like superwoman. But sometimes instead, it makes us feel super human--as uncomfortable emotions like guilt, doubt and embarrassment kick in. That’s why people often opt out of choosing their most empowered choice.

But then as my mom says, “we abandon ourselves, and the pain from abandoning ourselves is greater than the pain from upsetting someone else.”

On a positive note: I’m happy to report, 3 hours, 2 venting sessions and 1 yoga class later, I feel empowered and confident in the decision I made.
So here’s to trusting our gut and making the most empowered decision for ourselves--even if it upsets someone else. If uncomfortable emotions arise, allow yourself to feel and work through them. You’ll thank yourself sooner than later.

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