Women Leading the Conversation: the Power of Female Platforms

How often do you see a mosaic of talking heads on a news show or a panel of speakers at a conference and think to yourself, “well, those are all men”? It happens very often. So often, in fact, that a popular Twitter profile was created just to tweet the exhaustive list of ongoing examples. In more egregious instances, the panels or news segments are about women’s issues, which makes their exclusion all the more baffling and angering.

In order for there to be true gender equity and equality, women need their own platforms. Not just a seat at a table of mostly men, but their own, dedicated space where they can discuss issues, discuss lived experience and create actionable change.

Why is this an important issue? Why should you keep pushing for female-led platforms where women control the conversation? It all has to do with representation, space, perspective and intersectionality. Let’s take a closer look.

Overcoming the Universal Phenomenon of Male Interruption

When Senator Kamala Harris was talked over (yet again) by male colleagues in 2017 while questioning Jeff Sessions, it prompted The New York Times to write the article: “The Universal Phenomenon of Men Interrupting Women.” Countless studies and anecdotal examples later, the conclusion is one that women know all too well: yes, men do talk over women.

A women-led platform, therefore, is necessary if there is to be uninterrupted, unobstructed female perspective. In her new talk show, Red Table Talk, Jada Pinkett Smith understands that necessity. Together with her daughter Willow and her mother Gammy, she leads an intergenerational, women-focused discussion on a number of topics, from addiction to violence to mental health.

It’s a welcome respite from the interruption-filled talk shows you’re used to. And although they welcome men on the show occasionally, there’s no question as to whose show it is: it belongs to these three, strong women.

Issues that Affect Women Need Women’s Perspectives

Those egregious examples mentioned above, where men-only panels gather to discuss women’s issues, highlight why there needs to be an alternative. Issues that face women can only be understood by women. You can absolutely make a case for men being able to understand the issues intellectually, or even with high degrees of care and sympathy, but they can’t understand them fully, as realized experiences.

If you’re going to discuss the ways in which gun violence affects women (to use another example from the aforementioned Red Table Talks,) you need women’s perspectives. And since roughly half of all experiences on earth are female experiences, it makes sense to create space for female-led platforms.

Creating Space for Intersectional Discussion

How does the experience of being a woman intersect with the Black experience, the queer experience, or the disabled experience? In order to begin having those intersectional conversations, we have to start promoting women’s platforms.

All experiences deserve to be seen, heard and discussed. In order to achieve that, men have to cede some space and allow for diverse voices – not only to take a little airtime, but to have creative control and ownership in public discussions.

Thankfully, more women are leading the conversation. With some momentum, there might be a world soon where women’s discussions are the norm rather than the outlier, where panels are diversified, men wait their turn to speak and intersectional conversations are a normal part of public discourse. Hopefully, that time is soon.

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