Becoming a Better Feminist. Part One: Agency

I started my own bizznizz and it made me a better feminist! Who knew?!

4 years ago a series of unexpected events kind of pushed me into starting a business.

It was never my dream, my plan, nor my ambition. I was a cello playing English teacher with a profound love of literature. I certainly had zero business experience. 

But, honestly, it was the best thing I ever did. And it made me a better feminist.

I’ve come to learn that we can be agents of positive change.

This is no small thing and I want to explain very clearly why.

As women, until very very recently, we’d not really been taught to have agency and the best we could have hoped for was to marry well (in a lot of countries this is still the case).  Agency isn’t a desirable characteristic for a good wife. Much better to be accepting, adaptable, and able to make the most of what we have around us.  Obviously these are useful skills too, but what happens when we don’t want to accept, adapt to, and make the best of what we have around us? 

In the initial stages of my life as a businesswoman I wasn’t thinking much more past “Oh my God – what am I doing?!”  Zero business experience meant that my business management skills were limited, as was my confidence in my “businesswoman” self.

However, a very surprising thing started to happen to me as I evolved into, and as, a businesswoman. I started to realise, to actually see, that by practising agency it gets easier and can be used to incite positive change. By practising agency you become more confident in your decisions and you start to notice that you have an opportunity, which quickly becomes an ability, to shape what you have around you.  

I’m not saying everyone needs to become a business owner to learn this. I’m saying that we are not powerless. We can learn to be agents of change. That we can have a positive effect on what surrounds us. And this felt like a good time to remind you of that.

I think the events of last year have left a lot of us feeling quite impotent. I think some of the issues we are facing, and I’m not just talking how to recover from a global pandemic – I’m talking institutionalised inequality, climate change, the rise and unknown implications of AI, the greater divide between the haves and the have-nots, the list goes on and on and on.  All of this can leave some of us so overwhelmed that we spend a lot of our time in a state of stunned helplessness. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we remember that we can have agency, that we can exercise it, develop it, and use it as a force for positive change.

When I asked at the start what do we do if we don’t want to accept, adapt to, make the most of what we have, maybe it sounded a little like I want to start a revolution, smash everything up and start again. There’s a part of me that would like that, but there’s also a part of me that loves so much of what we have achieved as humans and believes it would be a terrible shame to destroy it all. 

So let’s turn to Kintsugi for guidance. Know it? 

It’s the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery. The smallest of cracks to the cleanest of breaks are filled with a binding material laced with gold. The process doesn’t try to hide damage, it actually honours it, by turning it into something beautiful. The integral repair work is highlighted.  Kintsugi makes a broken piece whole again, perhaps even stronger and more resilient than before, with visible golden scars that glitter as they commemorate the trouble the piece has been through. 

I don’t think there could be a more apt metaphor for what the world needs right now.

We could approach life like this, right? While I do feel there is an urgent need to empower and elevate women I do also want to include everyone in this next request. 

As we move through this coming year, can we remember that our actions have an effect and let that effect be like that of a gold laced binding agent? 

Practise agency for positive change