Back in September, I hosted an event called SheSpeaks. It was a women’s speaking series that was designed to celebrate and honor women – our power, perspectives, voices, wisdom, and relevance. The event was essentially an evening of storytelling and featured five courageous women. I got to play emcee.
It was a tremendous success by all accounts – the feeling in the air that night, by the sheer numbers of women and men that came out that rainy evening to attend, and the number of rave reviews that were shared with me afterwards. I was honored. Moved. Inspired. And totally jazzed to do it again (and I will February 2, 2012).
But here’s the most curious thing that happened: following the event, I began to receive several tweets, e-mails and calls from men asking if I would consider doing a HeSpeaks. It was suggested that having such an event would “balance out” the perspective of the genders.
This is where I got stuck.
I thought we were already out of balance. Last I checked most platforms for public speaking (think politics, corporate CEOs, wallstreet, board chairs…) were already pretty much stacked with men. So how is it that having an event focused on women’s perspectives would add to that imbalance? Silly me, I thought SheSpeaks actually might address it.
I know what these men are suggesting, so before you skewer me as “anti-male”, let me just clarify… What I think they’re asking for is a forum of storytelling in the way that women did at SheSpeaks – brutally honest, deeply personal, filled with heart and soul, and radiating the raw power and strength that comes from making oneself vulnerable.
I totally get it. I also get that we’re not really talking about men and women here. We’re talking about the masculine and the feminine, which in my eyes, is related, but fundamentally different. One is gender, one is energy. Most of us only identify with one gender, but many of us can identify with both the energies. They’re in us – the yin and the yang, the animus and the anima, the sun and the moon.
I watched as a number of men approached me sheepishly at the conclusion of the SheSpeaks event and said, “you know, I actually related to a lot of the themes from tonight’s stories. I know they were women’s stories, but I totally related…” Of course you did. Because their stories were about the human condition – being afraid, being with the unknown, being angry, being in awe – but they were simply told through a feminine lens.
So while I don’t see myself ever hosting a companion “HeSpeaks” event, I do see how women’s stories will continue to offer women and men a much-needed infusion of the feminine in an otherwise masculine-laden culture.
Call it re-balancing, call it unfair or exclusive. I call it SheSpeaks.