Frequently Asked Questions on being an EcoFeminist Entrepreneur!
1) I do yoga! I am green! Can I still be an entrepreneur?
Most people would like to work at a job or a business that helps to make the world a little bit better. However, progressives often see business and capitalism as part of the problem rather than part of the solution to the world's myriad problems. We would beg to differ!
Capitalism and business do not have to be predatory and 'dog eat dog' style. Instead you can make a living and make a difference! Over the past few years a new phrase has come into existence, 'social enterprise'. Social Enterprises are defined as economically viable businesses that also address social or environmental needs.
Yoga is a harmony between mind, body and spirit. Yoga devotees enjoy their practice on a personal level. But it is very hard to go beyond the personal. We often see yoga practitioners who struggle with their ideals and simply paying the rent. They want serenity on the inside and serenity on the general.
All too often progressive, new age, feminist and other ‘left’ oriented people see business as CAPITALISM; a ruthless exploitative system that consumes the planet and the people in it. Businesses tend to concentrate on profit. Most do not address the larger issues of planet an people that are affected by business activity.
Most yoga adepts do not like to think of themselves as actual or potential business people. However, one should strive for harmony within and harmony without. That is a principal teaching in yoga. Not only to be selfishly concerned with one's own development but also about the people and nature that surround you.
To paraphrase Mahatma Ghandi, one of the most practical ways to ‘be the change’ is to create a business that makes the change.
2) What are the Benefits of being an EcoFeminist Entrepreneur?
- Innate Morality: You are doing something good if it really either reduces pain or increases sustainable pleasure in the world.
- Nothing to fear: Cannot be blackmailed by dishonest characters when you operate an ethical business enterprise.
- Personal Autonomy and the reduction of stress! As a business you can make decisions. You have a great degree of control. Stress is what happens to people when they don't feel in control. Business allows you a way around that.
- Holistic Philosophy. Business based on social enterprise is is actually more effective because it sees itself as part of an ecosystem. It looks at the bigger picture and sees the connections there are between happy workers, clean environment, improving the world and sustainable profits.
- The Ethical and Eco and Business Lobby: With business income you can now be part of the political lobbying process! No more Big Oil! Instead Big Feminist!
- Workers with a Cause: attracts like minded volunteers, workers, volunteers, managers and friends who are attracted to the social or environmental good that your business project is addressing.
- Feminist Enterprise Business Community: As a result you have a different way of looking at business because your customers and workers will often share the goals and values of your social enterprise they can often become friends!
- Building trust: When your business is based on doing something morally good and with the highest ethical and eco practices that creates trust, repeat customers and references.
- Sustainable Feminism. As long as your feminist enterprise truly benefits women, you can confront the system in a relatively sustainable way as long as you are able to maintain a profit.
- Benefits of Good Credit Rating. When you are honest in your accounting and maintain 'good books' you enjoy many of the benefits of an excellent credit rating such as much lower interest rates and easier rental options. For Americans you also enjoy generous air miles travel with your business credit card!
- Morality with Taxes. Once you see the benefits and accept the 'morality' of paying fair taxes then you pay them. This creates relative ease with dealing with tax department and entitles you to demand more from the government for your social enterprise as you are a tax payer.
- Ethical Accounting: Of course some business matters have to be private. But as much as possible transparency is good business. When you have honest books it is easier to spot dishonesty among clients, suppliers or employees!
- Moral Business Relations and Customer Service: When you have ethical business practices you are also able to hold other businesses and even the government to those standards. This is especially true when dealing with the Customer Service Departments of business suppliers.
- A Good Night's Sleep! When you make an income from doing good you sleep better at night! It's that simple. You are not looking over your shoulder.
3) Can a Man be a Feminist Entrepreneur?
For many men the word 'feminist' is like kryptonite. They shirk away from it like it's radioactive! Most men do not see how they benefit from female equality. They see it as a zero sum game. Every time women gain rights it comes at the expense of men!
This is simply not true. However, you would not know that when you listen to many in the 'traditional' women's movement.
As an entrepreneur, Mojo found that business is a fantastic tool for women's rights. He would recommend creating a feminist enterprise as a way for any man who would like to make a difference to improve the lives of women.
Once you develop a product or service that genuinely improves female equality in some way, and have 'customers who testify to that', it doesn't matter what gender you are; you are a feminist! It's that 'easy'!
4) What about the differences between men and women when it comes to entrepreneurship and taking risks. How does being an entrepreneur change that?
Of course there are differences in the genders. However, that just means that each gender examines it's strengths and weaknesses when it comes to starting a business.
For example, when it comes to psychology and social behavior there are differences.
Agreeableness and neuroticism are 2 of the Big Five personality traits (the most studied and accurate personality theory). The way big five works is that everyone falls someone on the spectrum between the two extremes of each of the five traits.
Here is an easy way to understand the spectrum:
Lowest agreeable: They are the cynics and nonconformists who enjoy doing things just because other people don't want them to. They are extremely hard to persuade and struggle to get along well with people.
Highest agreeable: They are extreme people-pleasers who will always follow what other people of doing regardless of how they feel. They are determined to fit in and fear upsetting people.
Lowest neuroticism: They are mellow people who only experience strong emotions in extreme circumstances and even then their emotional reaction may still be less than that of a high neurotic under normal levels of stress. They tend to believe that no matter what happens, everything is always fine.
Highest neuroticism: They freak out over every little disturbance, experience strong and frequent mood swings and can't handle stress. You always know when they are having a rough day, which is often.
High Agreeableness = Positively correlated with altruism-related personality traits, more likely to make personal sacrifices to help others
High Agreeableness + High Neurotic (Low emotional stability) = They are far more empathetic and altruistic toward people they have an emotional attachment to compared to strangers and/or other individuals they don’t have a close bond with.
High Agreeableness + Low Neurotic (High emotional stability) = Very forgiving, seeks to cooperate with everyone, and rarely retaliates.
Men Vs. Women: Women are more likely to fit into the high agreeable, high neurotic group that is more empathetic and altruistic toward those they have attachments to.
Because women tend to be more agreeable which means they are motivated to prioritize the group's well-being and maintaining their relationships even if it means they aren't entirely happy with the outcomes. Generally speaking, even regardless of agreeableness, women tend to value relationships more than men so they are less willing to engage in behaviors - such as acting out on their egos - that risk damaging their relationships.
Men are also more driven by testosterone - the dominance hormone - which makes them more willing to engage in fight and more likely to feel the need to defend what they perceive as attacks on their personal power. They also tend to fear vulnerability more than women which often leads them to hide their true emotions by acting out in anger which is seen as more masculine - and often feels safer - than explaining their feelings.
More Big Five Data:
- Women scored significantly higher on neuroticism, agreeableness, extraversion and conscientiousness, differences in neuroticism were the most pronounced - women scored higher than men in 49 of the 55 nations studied.
- Women scored significantly higher than men on agreeableness in 34 nations, only in South Korea did men score significantly higher on agreeableness than women.
- Openness was more mixed - in 8 nations, men scored significantly higher than women, in 4 women scored significantly higher than men.
- Other studies cited have theorized that the mix in openness is a result of the fact that women tend to be more open about emotion-related things while men tend to be more open about idea-related things.
5) How does freedom of speech and political correctness affect a feminist entrepreneur?
Mojo, the founder of this website has learned a lot in his life about prejudice and free speech!
As a dark skinned Indian male who grew up in a time when it was still okay to beat up 'Pakis' in the UK. I could still have a big chip on my shoulder and see prejudice everywhere. But I don't. If I took offense at every negative inference or comment I have received about my race I would never have evolved as a person!
I grew to understand that speech, jokes, comments and criticisms of my race were often just other people's attempts at trying to understand my people rather than an automatic indicator of prejudice.
And I also realized that no race, creed, religion, gender etc is so sacred that it can't be criticized or joked about!
Making a racist joke is different from genuine racism. A person who is laughing at something funny they have noticed about a particular race is not necessary racist. The key is intent. Racist intent is often followed by action. Ditto with sexism and any other form of prejudice.
That is why alongside my work in women's rights, I also am a passionate defender of free speech and is a one reason why I chose to live in America, home of the 1st Amendment.
Implying prejudice when one feels offended is one of the greatest stiflers of free speech today. Because an accusation of prejudice is a serious thing. In today's PC world, it has legal implications.
Victim based feminism has a strong focus on discrimination and how language should be policed to avoid terms that suggest discrimination. In victim politics, an accusation of sexism or any other kind of prejudice can simply stifle comment or criticism.
An Empowered Feminist Entrepreneur is too busy creating and selling a product or service to improve female equality to worry about policing language which then curtails one of the most important rights we have, Freedom of Speech!
The focus of traditional feminism on the language men use and the battle to control that language legislatively has led to a male backlash that is very apparent in the anonymity of males who harass females on the Internet.
When it comes to 'sexist' language, many younger women understand the difference between so called derogatory words and derogatory actions. "Slut Walk' was invented by younger women. Bitch is used often by younger women without feeling any less of a woman for it. It is even used as the title for a feminist magazine!
Chauvinistic sounding rap or songs like 'Blurred Lines' can be enjoyed and stimulate discussion rather than trying to ban such speech. In fact, the song Blurred Lines stirred up much debate and satire which is more preferable than trying to stifle such lyrics.
6) What are some Criteria for a Feminist Entrepreneur Business?
- 1) Purpose. It should involve a product or service that works towards addressing women's rights, etc. The easiest way is to design and sell t-shirts that raise awareness about the causes you are passionate about! However, in this book we are trying to get you to create products and services that really make the change you want to see in the world.
- 2) Planet. Your product or service should incorporate efficiency and environmentalism in every aspect of its business operations. Conserving resources is not only green, it also saves money, which is also 'green'!
- 3) Profit. It should make an income that allows for a living wage for it's owners. If you are able to make a living from helping women then your business is much more sustainable than continually having to 'beg' for money if you are working at a non-profit that is try to create social change.
- 4) People. It should always strive for fair working arrangements for anyone who helps in business operations such as volunteers, paid workers, volunteers, and private contractors. The operating principle is fair trade. It does not have to involve money. Sometimes just making sure that people have enough time off is enough! At Hedonisia Hawaii, our eco-feminist community, located in the Hawaiian rainforest, we pay with time instead of money to participants in our Intern Community Manager Program.