The beleaguered Don Imus' "Imus in the Morning" show was swiftly yanked off MSNBC television and CBS Radio simulcast this week for sexist and racist remarks. However, many still don't connect the dots regarding the long-term impact of hurtful, degrading throwaway comments like Imus' made on air April 4th toward women and minorities.
Tuesday on NBCs "The Today Show," Michelle Moore, Sr. VP of the National Urban League said, "Imus' comments were as sexist as they were racist." She added the young women of the Rutgers basketball team worked hard and reached a pinnacle of success for their efforts and then this is what they hear.
Roland Martin, journalist, author and guest on CNNs "Anderson Cooper 360" Wednesday said, "Remember this is an issue of sexism first and racism second."
Denise Michaels, Las Vegas author of "Testosterone-Free Marketing: The Yin and Yang of Marketing for Women is a marketing expert for women business owners. Michaels says no matter how many strategic business tips she provides her clients, "Our business growth can't happen any faster than our personal growth."
She provides insight into the effects of repeatedly hearing degrading, dehumanizing comments. "I mentor women who realize they hold back from 'getting out there.' One commonality they all share are the wounds from insensitive, thoughtless comments they've endured throughout their lives."
A subtle undercurrent still characterizes women as "not okay" or "unfeminine" if they're too bold or ambitious. The result? They hold back from doing their best in business. In my experience at the core is fear of criticism and ridicule." Michaels has mentored over 1,200 home-based business owners in marketing.
Debra Condren, Ph.D. and author of Am-Bitch-Ous echoes Michaels' sentiments when she says in her book, "What makes us feel we have to deny that part of who we are, that part of ourselves that is aching, on some level, to recognize our ambition as a worthy part of our makeup?"
Michaels adds, "For too long women have been subjected to judgments based on appearance not on performance. If a woman doesn't meet the acceptable standard of beauty she's ignored or put down. The women on the Rutgers University basketball team insulted by Don Imus are far more representative of what we should be proud of in young women compared to Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan or Britney Spears."
"Frequent, subtle messages like this shape our attitudes and mindset," Michaels says. Consider the parallels between success in athletics and success in business for either gender:
Yet traits like being ambitious, persistence and a willingness to beat the competition are lauded in men and seen as circumspect or worse in women.
- Persistence and hard work
- Sharpening and improving your skills
- Wanting and believing you're entitled to success
- Ambitiousness and a willingness to grab the ball and run with it
- Willingness to beat the competition
- Facing challenges or difficulties head on
Why should all Americans care? According to The Center for Women's Business Research, women are starting businesses at double the rates of men and African American women are starting at four times the rate of men. Yet women-owned business' sales growth lags more than three times behind that of businesses owned by men.
And sales growth is essential to success. These businesses need to become a viable part of each family's economy and our US economy as a whole lest our standard of living erode further.
According to Michaels, "The answer lies in reframing the hurdles that face all business owners for women who have concerns about marketing and getting out there. Also, helping women see it's appropriate to be more assertive in business. From there it's about helping them make different conscious choices that support success.
Women can be incredibly successful business owners and savvy marketers when they get past the negative beliefs that subconsciously keep them 'stuck.'"
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