Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.
Gloria Steinem celebrates her 80th birthday this week. If social media was a thing back in the 60s and 70s, I think the politically conscious USA would have been all over her important work. But these days it seems we have a much different idea of what’s hot, and of who is worthy of social media explosion.
3 women come to mind when I think about social media ‘hotness’ in recent months:
- Justine Sacco, the IAC PR Director who penned “The Tweet Heard Round The World“.
- Kelly Blazek, the Clevelander who fired off an arrogant email in response to a young job seeker.
- And Adele Dazeem, the John Travolta created name for “Let It Go” singer Idina Menzel.
People were fired up about Sacco’s tweet. And with good reason. Even if her intention was to express white guilt, it was ignorant and racially insensitive. And it would be great to see people battling racism via social media, but that is NOT what the Justine Sacco saga was. It was a short lived bandwagon that led its riders nowhere, and offered 15 minutes of fame to a woman that is at worst a racist and at best a big company junior exec with a horrible sense of humor.
Kelly Blazek’s email is the work of a douche, no doubt. Yes, women can be douchebags too! I do love that she was called out for her arrogance by 26 year old Diana Mekota, who ended up showing more media savvy than Blazek purports to possess, but we are none the wiser from our Blazek experience. Though it was pretty awesome that she had been named Communicator Of The Year, and then had the award taken away.
And the Adele Dazeem thing was hilarious. I definitely Travolitified my name (Craig Edbrards), but come on. She’s not even a real person!
I’m not suggesting that we stop tweeting and liking things that are funny, or stop going after douchebaggery online. I happen to enjoy both. I am suggesting that we ALSO use our influence to talk about women who are making a difference. So let’s raise the bar, think before we tweet, and take the power back.
Here are a few women who should be enjoying more of that social media love:
Christy Turlington Burns
Why? Because she is using her celebrity to make a difference, and she is getting after it!
I attended The Altitude Design Summit in Salt Late City this past January, an amazing event that brings together bloggers, designers, and creatives to learn, share, and grow. I got to hang with Heather Armstrong (another woman we should be talking about!) and learn about Every Mother Counts. EMC advocates for global maternal health, and Heather serves as a Board Member and has traveled to Haiti in her work with EMC and its founder – Christy Turlington Burns.
Christy spoke at Alt, along with Heather and other members of the EMC board. They shared a segment of “No Woman, No Cry.” the documentary that Christy made to tell the stories of at-risk pregnant women around the globe. She shared her personal experience with pregnancy complications, and the work EMC has done to fund training for midwives, and address other barriers to care in places including Haiti, India, Uganda, and Zambia. Christy Turlington Burns is a mother, director, and tireless advocate for global health. Go talk about her.
Why? Because she got me to change my Facebook profile picture. Me and millions of other people.
Remember last March when everyone changed their Facebook profile pic to the red equal sign in support of marriage equality? Me too. It was awesome. You might have known that it was organized by the Human Rights Campaign. You probably didn’t know that Anastasia Khoo was the brain behind the campaign, which is regarded as the most successful viral phenomenon ever on Facebook, by Facebook. At least one person from every county in the country changed their pic. Dude.
Khoo is the Marketing Director for the HRC, and because of that campaign she was also an early power user of Twitter ads, and the source of some interesting work for Facebook’s Data Science Team. People who didn’t get it asked “So What?” but in her own words, Anastasia Khoo’s campaign changed hearts and minds. For me, the impact was obvious when I saw just how many of my friends – even (gasp) conservatives – participated, and when I saw the reaction from gay friends to the amount of support the campaign received. The fact that a year later Anastasia is still with HRC speaks to her dedication to the cause, and her desire to keep changing hearts & minds. Go talk about her.
(Speaking of hearts & minds, did you see last week’s post on Leadership Principles from an Elementary School Principal who teaches hearts & minds together?)
Photo Credit: Geoffrey Ellis
Why? Because she sees well beyond Silicon Valley and has built an editorial team that isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers in pursuit of the truth.
Sarah Lacy is CEO, Founder, and Editor-In-Chief of Pando Daily. The veteran BusinessWeek & TechCrunch writer has covered tech for years, and has written two books, “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0″ (Gotham Books, May 2008) and “Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos” (Wiley, February 2011). Pando closed its Series A this February and branded its focus as “Speaking Truth To The New Power,” and have made it clear they are about more than just the Valley, and more than just Tech.
A Pando piece from earlier this year on Arab Bank financing suicide bombers led to lawyers for Arab Bank claiming the story poisoned the jury pool. The judge in the case disagreed, but it is clear this “blog” is having an impact. Pando also broke the story of The Wolf of Sesame Street and is showing that Omidyar & Greenwald don’t have the market cornered on adversarial journalism.
And btw, Lacy runs Pando while also raising 2 small children. Go talk about her.