I had an enjoyable lunch the other day with Jane Vogel, President of Age & Gender Equity in the Arts, (AGE) an organization dedicated to challenging stereotypes about aging and gender in the arts and theater in particular. The group awarded $30,000 this year to organizations that were exemplary in their efforts to open opportunities for women in the entertainment field, and the organization plans to make future awards to encourage inclusiveness in theater. (www.ageinthearts.org) As I am a woman who has written a play, had it produced and suffered the slings and arrows of being an older woman, naturally, I wanted to meet Jane.
We had lunch at a local dinner. She ordered a sliming fruits plate lunch. I chose French toast with bananas. Being nearly 20 years Jane’s senior, I attacked my plate with gusto. Age, after all, has its privileges. Despite the differences in our eating style, we discovered we were soul mates, almost finishing each other’s sentences as we talked. And we talked a good deal about cultural and patriarchal biases, many of which some women remain unaware. Our rapport was so great, a passerby might have mistaken us for a pair of evangelists. “You got that right, sister.” And in a way, I we were.
Returning home, I was full hope. Could Jane and I, by dint of our enthusiasm, put a chink in the patriarchal ties that bind? I hoped so, though the task wouldn’t be easy. The masculine view dominates much of everyday life, including the outlandish clothes we women wear to attract men’s attention. Take venture capitalism for example. It poses a huge hurdle for women because the field is dominated by men. Imagine the reception Miki Agrawal received when she approached a group of them, looking for money to manufacture a prototype for women’s underwear: panties that “would absorb two tampons worth of menstrual fluid,” yet leave the wearer feeling dry in a fabric that slipped easily under tight fitting jeans? (“Designing Women: The VC Bro-nopoly Just Doesn’t Get it,” by Clive Thompson, Wired, July 2016, pg. 42.)
You guessed it. The men scratched their heads. Nor did they understand a second company’s mission. Livia was looking for cash to create an electronic device that would ease menstrual cramps. As might be expected, both companies, Thinx and Livia, were given a thumbs down. That’s when these entrepreneurs decided to mount Kickstarter campaigns. When women saw what these companies were up to, money rolled in.
I hope“ bro-capitalists” have learned a lesson about women with fresh ideas, like those promoted by Thinx and Livia. Certainly, many gals have turned to Kickstarter and are thriving. 65% of female-led Kickstarter businesses turn out to be successes. The rate for men is 35%. Why? Because women are better communicators, I would guess. When they like a product, they spread the word.
Now, will some woman Kickstarter for comfortable stilettos and bras? This stuff is too important to be left to men.