Break the Rules Like ... Stephanie Newman
Not all Wonder Women wear capes, and not all Unladylike role models need to sit in the C-suite to spark change. Each week, we're introducing y'all to rad women and nonbinary folks we admire. They'll offer up pointers on how we all can #breaktheruleslike they do and help them make the world a better place. If you have a role model to shout out, send hot tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Introduce yourself: Who are you and what do you do?
Hi! I’m Stephanie Newman, a hybrid writer and entrepreneur. I started a company called Writing on Glass that helps creative women build careers in alignment with their feminist values. That happens through coaching, workshops, my email newsletter and an online course called Feminist Incubator. I’m really fascinated by this idea of feminist business: what is it, and what can it be? How is it different from the much-maligned idea of corporate feminism? Anyway, that’s the kind of stuff I write about in Forbes and elsewhere on the Internet.
2. When did you first realize this was the right path for you?
I’m still not sure! I’ve accepted that I might never feel like I’m on the right path, but rather a right path for the current moment. I try to trust my intuition when it comes to matters of being in the right career, and for a long time, growing Writing on Glass and creating Feminist Incubator felt very aligned to me. That manifested in all the ways you’d expect: being excited to get up in the morning to work, feeling so absorbed in what I was doing that I lost track of time, having random thoughts while walking around that I feel so lucky to be doing what I’m doing. Eventually, those feelings started to subside and I found myself more uncertain. Was I doing “the right” thing? Should I be focusing on other interests? So at the moment, I’m actually re-evaluating a lot of what Writing on Glass does, and what it can be and evolve into in 2019.
3. What’s unladylike about you and what you do?
Truth be told, I don’t think I’m unladylike, even though I fully support unladies. My gender expression and personality is pretty “traditionally” feminine. I was the little girl who loved unicorns and had great manners and wore pink dresses, and when I reflect on this, I think it was at least as much my nature as it was socialization. Because I internalized at some point that being masculine was cooler than being feminine, I tried on some unladylike behavior for size. Some of it I kept, like being straightforward about my interests and not apologizing. But ultimately, I’ve come to accept that I enjoy shopping for clothes, eating salads and saying, “Excuse me.” I wrote about this process in a blog post, actually!
4. Which of your heroes or role models would you immortalize in bronze?
Probably my grandma. She was a very complicated woman who made both good and bad decisions throughout her life, but she was capable of an incredible amount of love and compassion.
5. What was your feminist aha moment?
When I was a senior in college, I had this moment reading an article called, “What if we responded to sexual assault by limiting men’s freedom like we limit women’s?” It’s a piercing satire written by human rights lawyer Amanda Taub. She describes three ways women are expected to “avoid” being raped (e.g., not walking alone at night), then proposes we ask men to follow the same rules in order to “avoid” raping. I hadn’t considered the hypocrisy before, so her arguments were cutting.
I felt explicitly angry about gender inequality for the first time. I’m very conflict-averse, and anger is such a rare emotion for me that I knew at the time it signified something. That was activation energy I needed to start reading more articles, participating in more discussions and becoming a keener observer of how gender functions.
6. What’s bringing you joy right now — or at least keeping you sane?
Watching My Brilliant Friend on HBO. Loved the novels, and it’s been so much fun to see the dynamics on-screen.
7. Aside from keys/wallet/phone, what do you never leave home without?
Oil-absorbing face pads. I have greasy skin and use them to dry my face during the day. Maybe that’s my unladylike quality!
8. How can unladies help you and/or your mission?
Join my awesome community of Writing on Glass subscribers! If you download this 101 Resources Guide for Feminist Creatives, you’ll be added automatically. And if you or anyone you know is interested in starting a feminist business of your own, check out Feminist Incubator.