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At The Doyenne, empty empowerment is a thing of the past

Jeanine Suah

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I’m tired of modern-day feminism lead by empty promises, short fuses and a distaste for our male brothers. I’m tired of women demanding equality, yet not even acknowledging the inherent discrimination experienced by their sisters of color. I’m tired of the marches with no call to action and the “just-for-social-media” activism built for artificial likes and follows. I’m beyond tired of this “pussy power” wave of empty empowerment joined by a lack of purpose and actionable items for women to overcome the adversity with which we are dealt. I’m damn sure tired of us feeling entitled to respect solely because we are women, and not because we are actually worthy of respect.

Yes, we are women, hear us roar – I get it. We’re the most powerful, resilient, ambitious, and determined warriors to ever walk this earth; but we are far beyond this superficial, competitive, and hollow construct of what it truly means to be a woman, especially a woman in business. There’s often this weird dichotomy of either being a non-assertive woman in power or being considered a b-word when you are assertive. Through her Goddess Warrior mantra, my mentor Sierra Bender taught me: “Do not let anyone mistake your kindness for weakness, and do not EVER let anyone take you for granted. Asserting your rights is part of being feminine.”

Through the building of our Co-Working Space for Women, The Empowerment with Purpose ideology of the Doyenne sometimes clashes with the modern-day wave of feminism, and that’s completely okay! But I will say that the Doy is NOT for the faint of heart. We’re serious about our business and we live to serve those around us. Our creed will never define us; but it sure as hell empowers us. We’re known around town as “Badass women who possess the trifecta for power: Seniority, Authority, and Rank,” and through our sweat, tears, and hundreds of cups of coffee, we WILL bring the FIRST-EVER All-Women’s Co-Working Space to St. Pete. After all, 2018 is the year of the woman.

Filling a Void within Our Community

Prior to the birth of the Doy, my co-founder Maghan Morin and I saw a deep void within our community that needed to be filled. We not only saw the need for women-focused developmental resources, but also saw the need for a safe, creative and productive space where women in our community could seek emotional, mental, and professional support along with mentorship to help propel them forward. Because I like to keep it real: as black women living in St. Pete, we also saw a strong need for leadership, diversity and equal representation of minority-owned businesses in downtown.

To the trained eye, sadly, St. Pete is not as diverse as it claims to be. Although we are one of the top 10 fastest growing regions for millennials and entrepreneurs in the country, it’s almost shameful to Maghan and I that we can barely identify or count the number of black-owned businesses in a city block on one hand, let alone in the entire downtown area.

We Will Succeed Because There Is No Other Option

For the young black woman in St. Pete who is looking to identify with a business owner who looks like her, the lack of representation can be extremely discouraging at times. Maghan and I will NEVER nor have ever used our being double minorities as an excuse. Growing up in Caribbean households, however, has taught us that WE WILL overcome the odds against us, WE WILL make genuine connections, WE WILL bust our asses, WE WILL work 95-hour weeks, WE WILL open up our Women’s Co-Working Space, and WE WILL succeed – because we have no other choice.

Being a woman in business, and a minority woman at that, can sometimes place you in a disadvantaged position. We’re often seen as inferior to males because we are women. And we’re seen as inferior to white women, because we are black women. But Maghan and I see our being black as an opportunity for change and for progression in our community as being one of the first black-woman-owned businesses in downtown St. Pete.

Modern-day feminism would tell us to DEMAND respect because we are women, to speak out against injustices because we are women, and to think solely about women because we are women. But that type of one-way thinking can actually cause us more harm than good; especially when successful males are offering us FREE business advice because they believe in us and our vision.

The Doyenne demands respect because we are worthy of respect and because we treat anyone whom we encounter with the utmost respect. The Doyenne speaks out against injustice because we are fighters for the underrepresented and underappreciated. The Doyenne thinks about women and places women at the forefront because it is our God-given duty to protect, uplift, inspire, and cultivate phenomenal women within our community; providing them with every resource and connection they need to succeed.

The Doyenne Company does not just create nor execute our women-centered ideas for the sake of womanhood – limiting our ideology to that type of thinking may have lost us some crucial opportunities. We create and execute our women-powered initiatives for the sake and benefit of humanity. In male-dominated spaces, women provide emotional balance and empathy that contribute to a more positive and thriving environment. If the Doyenne Company can provide a safe, creative, and productive space for women to regroup, recharge, and rejuvenate themselves, all of humanity will benefit from it, not just women. Sometimes “feminism” and being feminine means thinking more about how multiple groups will benefit from your actions, and not just the group you solely represent.

 

Jeanine Suah is the co-founder of The Doyenne. Additionally, she owns and operates Organiza Systems, providing system implementation and content writing for small to medium businesses.

Read more of her story here.

 

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