Here's just a sample of the kind of content you could get as a subscriber to my weekly newsletter, From The Desk Of Iman. Each week, I'll be opening up about what's happening in my world, whether that's startup-life struggles, trending think pieces, or some real-talk on my own personal journey.
This edition of From The Desk Of Iman, was originally sent out on Sunday, March 1, 2020.
Let's talk about the big news of this week… the official conviction of rapist Harvey Weinstein. His conviction is a huge win for the #metoo movement, a huge win for survivors, and a huge win for women. This story has pushed a new narrative in the media where women are not only heard but believed. Despite all the ways that his defense has tried to undermine their stories… The Weinstein news, to me, is more about a shift of power — marking the beginning of a new era in fighting the patriarchy and shutting down the systemic oppression of women.
I used to have an acquaintance that I highly respected as both a Hollywood executive and a businessman. Prior to moving to NYC, he was involved with Harvey Weinstein's companies. After the big news broke in 2017, it really started some important conversations around workplace harassment and the high-level of exploitation happening in Hollywood. It's taken three years for his court case to play out, and we're still talking about it. These were conversations that needed to happen, for quite some time. Naturally, when it all started, I felt the need to share my thoughts on it with media outlets reaching out. But when the aforementioned acquaintance of mine saw my commentary on a CBS piece, he immediately sent me a defensive text, stating that he hopes I am "happy getting coverage at the expense of someone else's misery." Of course, he was referring to Weinstein and his misery. The funny thing is, I wasn't even commenting on the Weinstein case. Rather, I was speaking about sexual harassment in general and how pervasive it is in business and the startup community. I don't know Harvey Weinstein nor do I know all of his accusers, but I do know what it's like to constantly be put down and harassed by men in power. Most women, whether they're in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Corporate America, or anywhere for that matter, know what that feels like. And we're not going to tolerate it any longer. I will continue advocating for women who have been mistreated by men like Harvey Weinstein. I will continue listening to and sharing their stories, in the hopes that it will break down this system of abuse. But, I also think it is time that we flip the script a bit. We can't have mainstream media only want to tell women's stories as they relate to powerful men! I want the media to know that women have more stories worth telling, too. Yes, this conviction is a win. But we cannot let this narrative become the only narrative. The media needs to stop co-opting women's stories only as they pertain to men in power. Women's stories are about so much more than surviving sexual harassment. The media's gender gap in favor of men writers, editors, and managers shapes our culture's perspective. This article, in Ms. Magazine, sums it up perfectly, "The lack of women skews the content of the news, gives the impression that women don't count and makes it difficult for women to gain credibility with men. If we don't have credibility, it doesn't matter who we tell about sexual harassment and assault." Reading that article and reflecting on the Weinstein case, reminded me of why I started SWAAY with the mission of giving women a space to own the conversation. Because women are more than just what powerful men have done to them. We have our own stories of triumph, glory, and disruption. And it's important we prioritize telling them.
WRITTEN BYIman Oubou