This episode kicks off our women’s series. It’s an acknowledgment that we are complex human beings. And there are so many different ways we can be stuck.Sit back, relax, and kick it with a couple of blue girls from rural red states who talk about overcoming fear, imperfect advocacy & standing up for truth and equity. #podcast #feminism Click To Tweet
Listen to Our Women’s Series
For the first 40 episodes, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about different trends, tactics, and methods for improving your business.
You might say we’ve worked together on your business.
We are not defined by our businesses; nor can we control outside forces. It’s also impossible to lead a silo-ed existence where our actions are governed by our business.
Basically, we’re not robots.
Today we talk about the importance of advocating for what you need. We talk about it through a progressive lens, but the message is clear that all women need a seat at the table regardless of race, politics or sexual orientation.
So sit back, relax, and kick-off 2019 with a couple of blue girls from rural red states who talk about overcoming fear, imperfect advocacy, standing up for truth and equity, being vulnerable, and the importance of communication.
About Melissa Bird
As a writer, professor, life coach, and fiery public speaker, Dr. Melissa Bird creates the genesis for a new brand of leadership.
When she’s not building her public speaking Empire, she can be found reading trashy novels, drinking fine whiskey, playing mom to three delicious humans, and loving her punk rock scientist James Thomas Kelly.
Get her FREE handbook 5 Can’t-Miss Steps to Finding Your Voice and learn how to awaken your inner revolutionary trailblazer and engage in the quest for justice.
You can also connect with Missy at https://birdgirlindustries.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @birdgirl1001
Transcript: Why Women Must Advocate for What They Need with Dr. Melissa Bird
Jen: Hello and welcome to the podcast. I’m your host Jen McFarland. Today I talk about the graceful revolution with writer, professor life coach and fiery public speaker, Dr. Melissa Bird. She creates the genesis for a new brand of leadership. When she’s not building her public speaking empire, she can be found reading trashy novels, drinking fine whiskey, playing mom to three delicious humans and loving her punk rock scientist James Thomas Kelly. We’ve got a lot of fun stuff to talk about.
Announcer: Welcome to the podcast, recorded at the Vandal Lounge in beautiful southeast Portland, Oregon. Why the Third Paddle? Because even the most badass entrepreneurs get stuck up in business Shit Creek. Management consultant Jennifer McFarland is your third paddle, helping you get unstuck.
Jen: Welcome back to the show. For the first 40 episodes, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about different trends, tactics, and methods for improving your business. You might say, we’ve worked together on your business. This episode kicks off our women’s series. It’s an acknowledgement that we are complex human beings and there’s so many different ways we can be stuck. We’re not defined by our businesses, nor can we control outside forces. It’s impossible to lead a siloed existence where actions are governed by our business. Basically. We’re not robots. T oday w We talk about the importance of advocating for what you need. We talk about it through a progressive Lens, but the message is clear that all women need a seat at the table regardless of race, politics or sexual orientation. So sit back, relax it. Kickoff Twenty 19 with a couple of blue girls from rural red states who talk about overcoming fear in perfect action, being vulnerable and the importance of communication. So what does it so just give me, give me just a little clue about what full throttle bird means exactly.
Melissa: I’ve been thinking a lot about how I hold my own self back. So here I am coaching people and doing these workshops and having these conversations about being fully you and finding your voice and using your voice and there’s like this piece of me that’s like, don’t go out of the way. Ms Dot. Don’t say exactly what you mean. You can skirt around what you mean ms dot bird, but don’t go all the way because if you do what will happen And my biggest honest to God, my biggest fear is that people are going to be like, that’s not gonna work for us and someone might literally kill me. Someone will come after me physically, like I have all of these thoughts around if I say exactly how I want to feel, what’s going to happen. And I had this epiphany like six months ago and I posted about it on my professional facebook page and someone literally came after me and it was like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Melissa: So I kind of pulled back a little bit, right I mean this guy ended up, he ended up a social worker and I got him fired from his job because he violated the code of ethics . And so I was like, like I found out who he was and where he worked and we got his license poll. So like don’t mess with the bird. There’s the lesson there. Don’t mess with them. But. So I pulled myself back a little bit and here I am, I’m like, I’m feeling, I have this image of myself getting my feathers ruffled a little bit because I am a bird and I do actually have wings to. I’m a phoenix tattooed on my back and I like have this moment, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a bird getting ready to take flight, but they roll their shoulders. You’ve ever seen what they do with their wings, they some up and down and then they spread them out and they go. And so I have this image of me getting ready to do that. And so I think full throttle bird is taking unapologetic to a whole new level because that’s what’s going to happen. Well, I mean it sounds like
Jen: in some ways you haven’t been completely unapologetic.
Melissa: Exactly. I have not been completely unapologetic and I’ve been apologizing to myself. So I’m, I’m engaging in all these moments of teaching and taking action and writing and I’m doing the blogging thing and I’m writing my book and I’m, I’m really engaging in writing and talking regularly but not like fully in me. And that is totally out of fear, just fear of literal death or attack because what I say is comes from a feminist based perspective. And what I say is about dismantling patriarchy. And that’s really scary for a whole lot of people. And I’m like the patriarchy, like, like all those people. I even. So, um, I, I tweeted this morning, fuck cautious, I have a social justice vision that will not be erased by the internal Patriarchy fucking my own brain.
Melissa: And it’s this voice in our head that says, oh no, you can’t do that. You got to be quiet. No, no, no, that’s too much. What will people think if you’re too much And the great part was, I got this great tweet back from somebody who was like, that’s amazing. Can You keep running with that And it was some guy who follows me and I’m like, sweet, okay, I’ll keep running with that? Yeah. It’s like, oh, can do you know. So far the feedback’s been awesome. So, and I think that
Melissa: No, it’s really interesting too because the trolls that I’ve had, like I’ve totally been able to like put them in a box and like get rid of them. Like I have this really healthy a block and delete my frame and I think I learned when I was lobbying for planned parenthood because when I. So I was the lobbyist for planned parenthood of Utah for six and a half years. And most people cringe when I tell them that they’re like, you. And I’m like, no, it was a great job. And, and I loved my job and I was good at my job and I got attacked a lot. Like my car got vandalized and I would get, I like, I had all these horrible things happen to me and I’ve had, I’ve gotten used to death threats for saying stuff, so it’s sort of funny that I’ve gotten more cautious and weird and I think maybe it’s because I don’t have the planned parenthood, maybe security or the building behind me, it’s just me out here doing this. So I got really used to the trolls doing that job. So the trolls are not the issue. I think it’s this, this real need to say exactly what I want to, but this real fear that someone is literally going to hurt me and I have no way of protecting myself from it anymore. So I just really love this idea of seeing what will happen if I really, when I really go full, if I really know when I really go full throttle bird because it’s gonna be awesome.
Jen: Yes, I agree. My friend sent also received death threats. She was a crime reporter for a major newspaper and it’s the same thing, you know, you dig too deep and it, it starts to happen.
Melissa: Yeah. That’s so fascinating because of course it’s women who are getting the death threats, right Like I noticed that, um, that one of the, one of the things that’s happening out of all these shootings of women is that other women are calling for a category of shootings that are for women who just say no. So we track by rape violence and we track sexual assault, violence, and we attract domestic violence. Why are we not specifically trapping the number of women who are killed because they said no. Right. And why are we not thinking about how we try and silence women constantly, um, because they don’t want somebody else’s affection or they don’t want to be in a relationship with another human being or they are saying exactly what’s on their mind in service of their best interest. So for those of us that speak out about reproductive justice and social justice issues, because it benefits ourselves and our community, we are constantly being silenced and told to shut up.
Melissa: And I think that, um, you would, you just would never see that if it was a man, you would never. If a man was getting up going, y’all get a vasectomy, like get yourselves vasectomies, like it’s amazing. You can have sex with whoever you want whenever you want, and you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant. It’s awesome. Oh, hear people saying that But if vasectomy is the most, it’s an easy procedure and it’s easily reversible. So if you decide you want kiddos down the road, you could totally do that, but you don’t know. You don’t. It’s,
Jen: it’s related to the quote that I posted on twitter today, which is when a man gives an opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives an, she’s a bitch. Betty Betty Davis said that by the way, I mean, but it’s totally true and it’s still true today. Yeah. And that’s why that’s why it’s so important that we speak out. So I’m one of the things that people might not know about you, is it like me, you come from a conservative state while sharing many progressive ideas. So how did you get where you are today and how has your upbringing affected how you interact with people who have an opposing view
Melissa: Um, so how I got to where I am today, that’s such an interesting question. It’s such a twisty turn. So I was born and raised in Utah and um, I used to follow that with, but I’m okay, but that seems kind of mean you tell us a really beautiful place. So it’s okay. Um, but uh, born and raised in Utah and, um, my family followed the traditional lds pass and tell my dad committed suicide when I was six and his suicide, uh, broke my mother’s heart and she went from a relief society president to um, someone who became addicted to drugs and went off the deep end and it took my mom a long time to come back. She’s actually writing a book about it. I’m so proud of her. It’s so awesome. Um, the work that she’s done on herself and the work that she’s very inspiring to me, although I did go through a point where I hated her guts, but she’s incredibly deeply inspiring to me now, but my mom kind of lost it.
Melissa: And, um, she married someone who was an alcoholic and who is still my father. He’s my stepfather and who has dealt with his own demons and his own battles with alcoholism and is doing really well. Excuse me. I’ve been battling this horrible cold. So, um, we were, I tried to be LDS for a long time because all my friends were but it wasn’t me and it didn’t fit me and I had a lot of conflict with it. But that was where all my friends did. And so that’s what I thought I should do. My mind, I don’t think my mom really noticed what I was doing for awhile. And then we ended up moving when I was young to park city before park city became a Sundance down in a big town and it was a very small town. There were 400 people in my high school, so there was not very many people and we still all in with each other.
Melissa: Like there were like 120 of us in my senior class and we still all know each other and we’re all mostly connected. And so. But in that time, during high school was when I discovered ms dot magazine. And I was like, what is this magic feminist magic like I still have all my ms magazines here in my bookshelf behind me. Like I love Ms. Magazine and I still do to this day. And it is, it is the thing that saved me in high school and made me realize all this abuse I was going through. I went through a lot of, I had a very abusive childhood. There’s a reason I’m a social worker. I had all this tumultuous stuff happened to me in my life and ms dot magazine sort of gave me the foundation to build my own idea of what it meant to be a feminist and what it meant to be a strong woman.
Melissa: And I would do one woman protests and like walk out of high school and be like, this is an injustice. And everyone would be like, missy is 20 degrees and snowing, come back in like, you know, what are you doing I was constantly protesting things that I did not find to be just. And I got a little lost on my way to finishing college. And um, I mean like I went to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for a year, which in and of itself was like the worst idea ever. Um, but I ended up going back to the University of Utah and finally landed on getting my degree in human development and family studies, which I lovingly call the home ec of the University of Utah. So if you don’t go to Byu, you’d go to the, you and get your home ec degree in family studies, human development, family studies. But that degree really taught me how people work and how young people develop. And I wanted to be a preschool teacher for my whole life. But you can’t make a living wage to teaching preschool. I did teach preschool for awhile and I loved it. And so I have this foundation of play and joy and happiness and little humans learning big things. And I love a four-year-old. Give me a four-year-old and date. Four-year-olds are great training grounds for being a lobbyist. Actually, it’s kind of handy.
Melissa: But what happened was I taught preschool for a while and I actually ended up working at the Casa program court-appointed special advocates. I volunteered for them and then I ended up being one of their volunteer coordinators and then I went back to get my master’s degree in social work because my grandma Mary Merrill Valentine, who is one of the greatest humans that’s ever lived on earth. My grandma asked me one day, what are you doing with your life And I said, well, I have my own business cleaning people’s houses and it’s really great. And she said, you need to go back to school, you should be a doctor. And I said, no, I don’t like blood. Nope, not gonna happen. Ironically, I’m now a doctor. She said, you should be a lawyer. And I said, grandma, you don’t want people to pay me to argue with them.
Melissa: That’s a bad idea. I’ve no. And I run a class. Ended up being a lot to say and do you get paid to argue with people I get paid to argue. So that’s awesome. And then she said, well, why don’t you get your MSW like your grandpa did And I said, well, that’s not a bad idea, but I don’t have the money to pay for tuition. And she said, we’ll pay for everything, go back to school. And I said, okay, I guess I’m going to go back to school. So I applied. I didn’t think I’d get in. My grades were terrible. I was not like a straight a student and I did not get my first four point. Oh, until I got into my Ph.D. program. So the terrible student got in, got my Msw, decided I was really good at policy. I figured out that I did not want to be a play therapist for the rest of my life, but I was really good at policy.
Melissa: I’m a terrible condition, but I’m really good at advocating for people and I’m really good at writing bills. And I figured out how to write laws on my dining room table while listening to Metallica. And it was awesome. And so, um, that’s what I did. And I ended up, uh, the first bill I ever wrote was to help, um, LGBTQ homeless kids, a queer kids get emancipated so that they could get off the street and get into housing. And what that ended up doing was getting me in. I mean, I passed that bill and with strong bipartisan support, it was all run by Republicans at the end of the day and, um, did some really amazing work in Utah and ended up passing legislation for planned parenthood is their lobbyists. And now here I am, I’m post Ph.D. I went, got my Ph.D. at USC, um, and I am sitting here in my beautiful office in Corvallis, Oregon Writing a book about my dissertation research on how women navigate religious stigma to get contraception and blogging and coaching and doing public speaking about how to find your voice, to tell your story, to make a change in the world.
Melissa: And I think that’s really unbelievably mind-meltingly awesome. Because I never expected that this would be the life that I’m living, but I cannot believe that all of these moments along the way where I’ve found my own voice, I get to teach other people how to find their own voice and do their thing. It’s fucking awesome.
Melissa: It’s totally fucking awesome. And it makes me cry a little bit sometimes because I’m like, wow, how is the tap thing One of the questions, um, I want to swing back to is like how do you interact with people who have an opposing view Because I know that when you pass that bill, there’s kind of a cool story in there with a legislator. But I think that, um, there’s probably more to it than that. So the thing I love about being trained as a social worker is I’m trained to approach people from where they’re at, not where I want them to be. I’m not going to convince people to come all the way with me, but I want people to see the merit in looking at all aspects of a problem and try and come up with a solution that’s best for the community. And best for everybody who’s involved and I think that’s really critical, um, when we’re talking about engaging in social justice action and advocacy and we’re really talking about using our voice and finding our voice is how do we talk to other people about an issue in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re being polarized but brings them to the table.
Melissa: And that’s the only way to make good lasting change, I think. And that’s what I did. So I was not afraid to call legislators. I was not afraid to call the attorney general. I was not afraid to call the governor because to me it was so important that these kids, these homeless youth not be freezing on the street. I mean I could, there was a point, there was always a point in the Utah winter where I’d be driving on seventh east towards my house on 21st south. And for those of you who are from Salt Lake and are listening, you know exactly where I’m talking about by Liberty Park. And I would be driving by and I would be thinking it is so cold outside. It’s five degrees. And there are children and I would always cry because there were children that were sleeping in that and I could not even fathom what it would be like to not have your mommy or daddy there, um, when you’re 15 years old sleeping on the street because you’re queer or because you’re unwanted or because nobody wants to love you because of who you are.
Melissa: And it was devastating to me. And so I found a way to tell those stories in a way that made it real for people and, and they could not deny the humanity and the human, the human rights issues with not having this law in place. And I did that with everything, you know, when I was working for planned parenthood and I stayed away from abortion as much as possible. And what I really tried to focus on was how to prevent abortions from happening. And that meant that we did really, really good legislation about to prevent STDs from spreading and to, to, to get women into substance abuse treatment if they were pregnant. And if they wanted it. And we figured out ways to have amazing conversations about those things and stay away from the polarizing divisive issues that, that really, that I think it over sensationalized when you when you’re not hearing real women’s stories. So
Jen: absolutely. And I, and I think a lot of that happens because so often women don’t have a seat at the table. Like a lot of the people, I mean a lot of the people who were talking, I have no idea what it’s like to have a period, let alone be pregnant or anything, you know, like they don’t know. And, and, and until were included, um, we just, there’s no way that those conversations can, can be reasonable or fruitful for women and men. It’s just like the children sleeping outside in the cold. They’re not invited to come and talk about the policy. So that’s why we have to advocate on behalf of others. So to that end, would you mind sharing why you’re so passionate about helping women engage in advocacy
Melissa: I am so deeply convinced that the way that we dismantle the system of Patriarchy is by talking. And it’s not, um, it has to be all women. It can’t just be certain types of women that look presentable or acceptable. It has to be all women, no matter who they are speaking from their own space of life. So no longer can white women be speaking for women of color. Correct. What we need to be doing is moving our assets over and being like, tell us your stories and here’s my story. What’s your story And figuring out where we have commonalities within those stories. And we have got to start seeing how, you know, one of the things that is becoming very, very visible to me is how invisible people with disabilities are. And how, especially because for many of us, we don’t see people’s disabilities, um, because they’re invisible and we can’t.
Melissa: It’s not like they’re walking around with a wheelchair or a walker or blind. We can’t see their disability. And, and they are on the chopping block. If there was ever a group of humans that were on the chopping block, it is, it is people with a disability, um, especially people who suffer from mental illness and who experienced mental illness and I, every single one of us deserves the opportunity and the, the, the right and has the right to stand up and tell our story. And I think we have to figure out ways to do that in both safe ways and unsafe ways. Because I think. I think there are many spaces where I can talk and be safe and safely talk. But there are also many spaces where I can’t and I see my privilege in that and I see what that looks like. And so one of the things that I have become committed to is helping women figure out how to tell that story and figure out how to say their story in a space, in both spaces that are safe in spaces that may be unsafe.
Melissa: Because I feel like we have to figure out how to infiltrate all these spaces of power so that we can make a change in people’s lives. And I think that the more women that I can reach and the more women that are willing to figure out how to take the risk to speak their truth and say what they need to say about how things impact their lives greatly, the more we’re going to be able to shift the world. And it’s, it’s incredible to see what happens when women actually speak in an honest and authentic way eat, especially when we don’t necessarily agree on stuff. That’s where the change and the shift happens. And that’s what I want to see happen in the world. Absolutely.
Jen: I think that, you know, for women who are business owners, sometimes we think that we can’t be as big of advocates outside of the business because we’ve got this like business persona. And I think that it just holds us back in both arenas, right If we see problems in the community and we’re not doing anything about it because we have a business, then I mean, I just think that that really holds you back.
Melissa: Yeah. That’s really interesting. You know, there’s so many people who, who have these platforms and these opportunities to speak out against injustice or things that, that they see as unjust and they for whatever reason, feel like they have to stay silent. And I, I really want to figure out how we create opportunities for, for women from all backgrounds and all spaces to not have that be the default.
Jen: Absolutely. I mean, I worked in government as I think, you know, and we have like rules for what we could and couldn’t do. Um, but it didn’t silence our voices entirely. And I feel like it’s the same thing in your business. Like if you’re a small business owner, if you’re within an organization, you may need to check the rules, but sure, you still get to be a human no matter what.
Melissa: Yeah, and I think for a lot of people, what I’ve seen in my advocacy work in particular, and in my work I’m in lobbying on the hill and being in the state capital and also the federal capital is that a lot of times people fall back on, well, I don’t want to break any rules. I’m almost as an excuse not to engage in action and I feel like I, I feel like it, that’s not happening anymore. And in fact, I think so many people are starting their, use their voice now and to speak out against things that they just cannot remain silent about anymore. That a lot of us who’ve been doing this work for a long time are like, whoa, Whoa, whoa. You’re not saying it the right way. Right We’re not doing the right way or, you know, I’m not doing that because I’m really excited about it.
Melissa: Like I, I remember having to follow rules when I worked for planned parenthood and I remember there were things I could say and things I could not say and, and figuring out how to find the people that could say them for me. Well, I can’t say that, but you sure can because you’re a private citizen. You can do whatever you want. So, I mean, I think that, um, one of the things that is really pissing me off about the quote unquote progressive movement is, is how and progressive they are. Because if you aren’t saying the exact perfect politically correct thing, then there’s something wrong with you and you’re going to ruin everything and I’ve seen that backlash happening and it’s not okay and it’s not right. And, and for all of you who have, who are feeling silenced and stifled from both ends of the machine, just know that you have a voice and you can say whatever you want and it’s okay and it doesn’t have to be perfect. You have to engage in imperfect activism. It’s critical
Jen: that I had a podcast episode about imperfect action. It fits right into that, you know, is when you start to be curious about things that are going on in your community and speaking out, of course people are going to say you’re saying it wrong or doing it wrong, but that it’s part of your own story. And you have to tell that story because it’s part of everybody coming together. And I just thought, I want to tell people to shut the hell up that are like you’re saying it wrong.
Melissa: It makes me mad. It’s called article one of the constitution. So,
Jen: um, so to that point, because I’m seeing, I’m seeing some of what you’re talking about in the aftermath of the recent election. Um, so why do you think it’s important for women to run for office
Melissa: Well, there’s about a million reasons women should be running for office. I know, I like that up
Jen: for you. Like this is, this should be an easy answer for you.
Melissa: It’s not hard because. Because as they say in the Biz, if you’re not at the table, you’re being eaten for the meal. Yes. Oh, I have. Yeah. If you’re not at the table, you’re being served for dinner. So I’m women for a multitude of reasons need to be represented at the table. But I think that the biggest number one reason, and I’m talking women of all political parties, not just, yeah, we cannot, not everything is black and white and at the extremes. And so right now you have this extreme right and this extreme left and we need to swing back into the middle so that everybody is represented. And the only way to do that is to get more women elected to office. Now I get a lot of pushback from my progressive friends because of my progressive friends were like, but we need more progressive women and that is very true, but we also need more women who tend to be more fiscally conservative, but I still think are good on the gay.
Melissa: Right. I always say that you got to be good on the gay and it’s one of my prerequisites. You can’t be mean to LGBT people’s. Okay. Absolutely, and you have to be on the spectrum of pro-choice in some way. That does not mean you have to be pro-abortion. That I think is a different view than most pro-choice people take, but that’s my positioning and my view and I feel like the more women we get who are at the table, who are interested in engaging in policy that actually impacts their communities, the more of a change we’re going to make for the better in our communities. And research bears that out time and time again that the more women you have in elected office at all levels of government, the more community and a neighborhood thrives. So I, I sort of have written off the federal government as a place where we can make shoes changed, although I’m thrilled with what the election turned out.
Melissa: I’m more invested in seeing women run at a city, county and state level because I believe that it is the cities and the counties and the states where most of the, most of the impact can be made now federal dollars, you know, this is policymaking one-on-one federal dollars fill that funnel down to state fallen funnel down to the county, followed him down to the city. But if the city lawmakers are 50 percent women, 50 percent men and they’re representative of their population, then a lot of different change can be made at the city and county and state level. And I think that is where I want to see more women take action is running in those local races because they just think they can just make such a huge difference.
Jen: I think that represent representation in local city. State government also leads to more representation at the federal level as well. Um, it makes it, first of all, you get the experience. Second of all, it makes it normal for your local politicians to be women, so it makes it normal for your federal politicians to be women. And I totally agree. I mean, some of the things that make me crazy are, um, whether you are a conservative woman or a progressive woman, we need to stop talking about the clothes that people are wearing. We need to stop judging people in calling them a bitch just because they’re a woman.
Melissa: Right And the only reason it happens is if we get more women elected and it becomes the new normal, right Right. Comes normal for women to run for office. Then we start picking on them when they’re running and if it becomes normal for women to be holding elected office, then we stopped picking on them while they’re holding elected office and they’ve done some research and girls are more likely to think about running for office. I’m the rarity. I’ve grown up saying I’m going to be the president of the United States of America. I’m like, I. When people would play with me, I’d be like, well, I’m the president. And they’re like, why can’t you be the mommy And I’m like, why am I not surprised I want to be the president who knows states of America, I’m the president. And they’re like, okay, but can be the president and the mommy. I’m like, sure, I’ll be the president and the mommy. That’s fine. So I spent a lot of girls don’t think that way. Girls don’t think I’m going to be the president until the 2016 election. And then all of a sudden girls were like, oh my God, I can do this. What was actually 2008 and then 2016. They’ve done all these studies on girls thinking, okay, I could totally run for office. The more girls are more likely to cry when they see themselves represented, which is why what happened in Georgia with Stacey Abrams is the beginning of a flood of women of color running for office in Georgia and in other southern states. And, and, and taking over and please God, let it be so that they start taking over because it’s critically important that they do. And I think that it bears an interesting. I’m a bears US having an interesting dialogue about what it will look like if more women run for office and start winning.
Jen: I think for me it started with Geraldine Ferraro, like I was the one little girl, outsider elementary school in, in Meridian, Idaho telling everybody that they needed to vote for her. I thought that she was so inspirational and I still remember seeing her on that big stage. And, and I think the same is true for Barack Obama. I think it gave people of color like, okay, well somebody who looks like me can be president, you know, and I think it’s the same thing when it’s, you know, Hillary or people at the state and local level. I mean I think it just opens things up and that’s why it’s so important for women and people of color to be representing the community, not only because they bring new things to the table that are important and a value and are necessary. Absolutely. But they also inspire the youth.
Melissa: Well, and I think that’s why the patriarchy is losing its mind right now. And what the backlash has been so bad because they weren’t because, and I said this early on, I said the white man is not going to like the black man telling them what to do for eight years. They’re not going to like having a black man in power. It’s going to go bad and then they’re certainly not going to like a woman being in power for another four to eight years. They’re not going to like that either. And all of my friends told me I was. I was like, just you watched this is going to get bad. It’s the pendulum is gonna swing so far in the other direction. Although I never could have predicted it was going to be this bad. But I think it’s, it’s what it brings up.
Melissa: The point that it brings up to me is that is that we are at the beginning of shifting. We are not. This is not the middle and it’s not the end. This is the first opportunity we, as women have had, I would say, since the feminist movement in the sixties to really for the first time we keep being given opportunities, so during the suffrage movement, we had the opportunity to include everybody and we failed. It was white women who told black women that they needed to take a backseat. We did it again in the feminist movement in the sixties. We did it again in the feminist, the, the sort of attempted another feminist movement in the seventies. We kept telling women of color to take a backseat and we now are being presented with it. Yet another opportunity in recent history to stop the shenanigans stopping mean to each other. Put the main girls bullshit aside and say, okay, everybody gets to talk. Everybody. Everybody gets a voice. Everybody gets a seat. Everybody gets to say exactly how this is going to impact our community and we need to put this mingles bullshit away and just start advocating for each other and lifting each other up and giving each other space to say what we need to say and not police each other’s words because it’s bullshit.
Melissa: What’s the graceful revolution They’re graceful revolution, um, is an idea that came to me at 3:33 in the morning, in the middle of the night when I was dead asleep. I’m a good sleeper and I picked up my phone and typed out the grace for evolution and, um, I thought it was a dream. And then I went back and I looked at my phone and I read what I wrote and I was like, wow, do you want me to read it Can I read it I believe in a new brand of advocacy where we engage in acts of grace for revolution that bring light to the true reality of people’s lives. I believe that when we engage people in their own spaces, teach them to look at injustices as moments that touched every one of us. If we give them the knowledge of the power structure and the tools to infiltrate its membrane, then change will take place in America.
Melissa: This is the graceful revolution. I think the thing that I love about the graceful revolution is that it pit. It takes these two words graceful and grace, which is meant to be something almost seen as like a peaceful, enlightened thing with revolution, which is typically seen as a militant action. Right And it really helps us see how if we engage with each other in our own spaces and the way I can, I see it is literally introducing ourselves to our neighbors and starting to talk about what we’re passionate about and talk about the things that might have some fire and make us feel excited. And if we can do that and we can see how maybe people start to tell us their stories of how they’ve experienced injustice or how they’ve experienced a traumatic event or how they’ve experienced, how they are able to survive in the world.
Melissa: And we start to hear them. Then we can see that those are things that also touch us and touch ourselves. And we find commonality there and then we can collect with each other and based on those feelings and that emotion, we can collectively come together to make a shift in our communities. And I feel like if we can sort of weave that web of community again and start to come together in our space, in our spaces here on the ground, that we could change things all over the place. And I just really, I’m the graceful revolution is all about every single one of us finding our voice in that advocacy to just do one thing and take one action. It doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to run for office. Although if you’re a woman, I’d like you to consider it. But if it’s not running for office, it might be collecting socks and underwear for the local homeless lady that lives down the street.
Melissa: Like, you know, where she lives. She hangs out there every day. Right Like it is it. I’m figuring out how to feed somebody who, you know, you know. Um, last summer we were really struggling for money. Like our money was really tight last summer and I told our neighbors across the street and around the, as I said, if you have any extra veggies in your gardens, would you please share them because we’re kind of strapped for cash right now, and they were, you would be amazed at how much vegetables I got on my porch. Like I had to share my bounty with other people, which was awesome because there was no way I can eat that much Zucchini and my Zucchini bread is fabulous, but I couldn’t make 100 loaves of it. So like it was so amazing. Like, ah, you know, the fact that I was willing to ask for help and say what I needed made it so that I could help other people, which is awesome.
Melissa: And I think putting that pride down and engaging in these little moments of personal, graceful revolution is what’s going to shift the world. I think so too. And I think it’s also what’s going to keep us from living on the fringes and being these polarized people. I think that when we all come together and just start lending a hand to each other and meeting each other where we’re at, then it starts to build and then the people on the fringes are like, oh shit, we better. We better talk to each other, you know, and I keep. I keep. It’s so funny. I, I just, I long for the days of old politics where there was actually bipartisanship and people talking to each other and because I feel like we’re the ones who suffer. I think that I think that those days are, I think going to come back, I would.
Melissa: So I don’t think this divisiveness is going to last forever because it just, it can’t, it can’t, it can’t. It will. Peter asked nicely and it’s the, I think it’s going to come back and I think it’s going to be even more powerful, more amazing because more people will be represented at the table. It won’t just be the white guy sitting at the table anymore. It’s just those days are long over and it terrifies them. I have this image. I want to find someone who’s a cartoonist, so if anybody’s listening and you draw cartoons, please let me know. I have like Gollum hanging on the edge of the Grand Canyon and over under his hands it says Patriarchy and he’s holding on for dear life, but he’s scrambling and he’s about to fall into the Grand Canyon to his death with the patriarchy, with them. Like I could totally see it.
Melissa: I want someone to drop for me because I can do my God. Fresh is the patriarchy. You know, and here’s the thing. I mean the patriarchy is bigger. It’s a system. It’s not just white men and we’re not attacking white men. When we talk about it, we’re taking certain ideologies that certain white men have attached to them and that the idea of privilege that some people experienced that other people don’t. I think it’s not just. I think it’s that and I think it’s also that we are talking about a system of oppression that is meant to keep us quiet and keep us silenced. And that’s really why I wrote that tweet today. I bought the patriarchy in my own head. I have been trained and taught that my voice is irrelevant because I am a woman because I am a liberal because I’m a member of the LGBT community because I cannot have children, so if we make motherhood synonymous with womanhood, I’m not really a real woman because I cannot have my own babies. I’m a stepmother, so I had this full info. You’re evil. I’m evil and I’m a wicked witch. All entire dialogue going on in my head that is built up of that structure of patriarchy, which is meant to keep powerful people in their place. Yes. The thing that silences us and stops us from doing things to take action, and I have a. believe me, I got a whole bunch of stuff about being a stepmother that starting to up.
Melissa: What do you think the one thing is that that would make men better allies for women and then how can we be better allies for each other One of the things that I’m,
Melissa: that I have watched men do really well that my own husband does and that the men that I am surrounded by do is ask, how can I be more helpful to you How can I get your message out better How can I defend you when it’s necessary and let you go when it’s not right How can I support you in all the ways and how can I defend you because we still do need defending. Sometimes I like chivalry. I’m a big fan of it. I was raised to love having my door opened. I that might make me a bad feminist. I’m not really sure, but I like being given and romantic notes and all of the things that makes sense,
Jen: but I think that that’s part of being unapologetically feminine is it that we get to set the rules, we get to set the rules. That’s feminism, feminism, and sometimes men like to be saved too. I mean this is a two-way street.
Melissa: Yes, and so I think the real key here for men and for women is to start talking about what we want and what we love and what we need and like actually make our needs known in a way that’s vulnerable and real and authentic and not full of bullshit and if you can do that and be vulnerable and real and authentic than all the other stuff just kind of goes away and all the rest of the fighting becomes unnecessary. I said this before and I will say this again. Women have got to stop being mean to each other. Yes, we fuck up. We have to say privately and lovingly and from a space of vulnerability. I didn’t really like what you said there. This is how it hurt my feelings. It really made me feel like shit when you said that I still love you.
Melissa: I still want to be friends with you or I still love you, but I really don’t want to be friends with you anymore and that’s okay. We have got to start breaking up with each other or supporting and loving each other as women and friends. In a way that is real and authentic and not me, and we’d been playing mean girls for a long time. Women have been coming after women’s since, since the witch hunts in the 1400s. We have been coming at each other for awhile and I really think that we are being given the opportunity to stop that cycle of shit right now and it’s going to take some time. This is. This is. I actually. I went from saying this is a marathon, not a sprint too. This is a relay, not a marathon or a sprint relay. Okay. And we need to hand the baton off to someone else so that we can come back around again and be ready when they come back around and we have gotten them loving on each other. We’re going to say stupid stuff. We’re programmed to say stupid stuff and it and it goes
Jen: both ways, right Like it. It means that shared. Does it need to be busting on Sarah, Sandra, Sarah Huckabee, sanders as being frumpy. It’s okay to disagree with her on the issues if that’s how you feel, but let’s stop tearing each other down when really we disagree about issues. That’s like,
Melissa: I cannot stand Melania trump. She is not my people, but there is nothing I hate more than the, the, the cruelness with which people come at her. Um, when they describe how she looks and they, they call her stupid constantly. And I absolutely don’t think Bonnie is that stupid. She’s not. And she’s sitting in the place. She’s sitting in a hell of a place of power. Um, she might be silenced and she might be a lot of things, but one thing she is not as stupid and people the way they talk about her in such a derogatory way. Now my new, I did mock the Christmas tree, the Red Christmas trees. I did do a little mocking up the Christmas tree, but, um, I haven’t even know what that means, but she wearing red Christmas trees or this is what you should put the shout outs. The handmaid’s tale is Christmas trees at the White House full of red blood, Red Christmas trees down the hallway of the White House and someone on Twitter in their genius.
Melissa: Put handmaid’s tale hats on them. So it looks like she’s walking down a hallway full of handmaid’s. It’s hilarious. Um, yes, that happened on twitter, twitter, twitter, and November of 2018. And for those of you who don’t know, Twitter is Melissa Bird, spirit animal. Oh my God, I love twitter. I love twitter so much. I love twitter. I have found the best, best humans on twitter ever. I mean, Twitter has gotten me places I never would have gotten. It’s magic. I love twitter. You can follow me there at Burger one. Zero, zero one. So, um, hey, you’re skipping ahead because I need to ask you if you have anything to offer our listeners before we get to how to reach you. Okay, awesome. So I do have something to offer your listeners. I have this amazing online program called fanning the flames online. And um, so I do a fanning the flames workshop in person, which by the way, I will do anywhere, anytime, anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world, really.
Melissa: I’m trying to arrange one in Ireland, um, that I will do anywhere and I just need a room with a projector and a screen in 30 to 40 women. Um, so I have that, but my favorite thing is fanning the flames online, which is an expansion pack to my workshop. So it’s five modules, so it’s five workbooks and five videos and it’s evergreen. So you can, you can do it whenever you want, you can binge it in five hours or you can go back and forth to it. You can do whatever you want. But, um, I teaches you how to become an imperfect activist, how to run if you decide to run, um, how to really, um, figure out how, how to find your voice and tap into whatever passion is you have to let you on fire and help you stand up and speak out for what it is you want.
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