Female Empowerment or just Creating a Bigger Divide?

I’m not a feminist – in all honesty, I don’t even know what the word means. But, I am a woman and I believe that as women we deserve as much opportunity, as much respect, as much freedom and the same choices as men. I don’t think men and women will ever be equal – as there are some things each gender just aren’t built to do and aren’t made to cope with. But, I believe that men and women should be treated fairly regardless of their gender.

But over the last few years there have been some phrases that have made me uncomfortable – and more and more phrases are joining the pack as time goes on – Mumpreneur, Mumboss, Momboss and even Fempreneur. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen a Dadpreneur, a Dadboss or a Mas(culine)preneur. Why? Because there is just no need for those words and I don’t think any men would even think to use them, let alone stand behind them, as a collective, giving weight to words that we just don’t need.

Female Empowerment or just Creating a Bigger Divide?

There are entrepreneurs and there are bosses and neither are gender specific. They are gender neutral, all encompassing and perfect for any individual and any role that they are doing. They are great words to describe people in managerial roles, directors of companies, self employed people and pretty much anyone in charge of anything.

But then new words have been created to describe women in positions of power and expertise, being a boss at whatever they set their mind to – in business or in family life. Mumprenuer – being a mum and an entrepreneur. Mumboss – being boss at all aspects of family life. You don’t necessarily need to work to be a mumboss, you just need to be boss at what you do – pretty empowering to women, right?

But no, I don’t think these terms empower women at all. If anything I think they just set women apart from men at a time when we have been working so hard to close that divide. They put women on a pedestal that just isn’t needed and if anything they cancel out any change that has been made over the last years to put men and women on an even footing.

So many men have successful businesses and are parents too. So many men are self employed but so many men work for other people too. There are many, many men working hard to provide for their families and there are men staying at home and looking after children too. They don’t need a term to empower them – they are just living their lives the best way they can in a society that already does so much to label people and stereotype them.

We live in a world where there will always be a gender divide in some way. As much as we try to get rid of this divide there will always be pay differences, jobs aimed more towards one gender and more opportunity for different genders in some work sectors than others. So let’s try not to increase that divide any further and instead stick to the labels, if we need them, that have always been there and have always worked.

If entrepreneur is good enough for Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and Deborah Meaden then it’s good enough for me.

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  1. As much as I agree about labels with “mum” tacked on as being unnecessary (as well as patronising and Othering), Donna, if you think that women should be equal to men in opportunities, treatment, and choices, then you ARE a feminist. That’s all being a feminist is. It isn’t hating men. It’s loving men and women and thinking that they should be on an equal footing in everything x

  2. Interesting. I think like you there will always be a men / women divide. It would be nice to be proven wrong but I am not so sure it will happen. I’m not a fan of Mumboss to be honest, but I think the meaning behind these terms comes from the fact there was a time when as soon as women had children they were expected to give up work. And now they have the ability to be a Mum and an entrepreneur and combine the too. I see the word Mumpreneur meaning that a woman has started a business around her children. Which I do think as kind of cool. That being said, it would be equally fab if a Dad did it too.

  3. Yep I agree, terms that are divisive don’t help do they? I personally think the whole thing will go full circle and these terms will be seen as not being politically correct. It’s just gender stereotyping at the end of the day isn’t it?

  4. By your own definition you are a feminist 😉

    I am not a fan of made up words like mumboss and mumpreneur, but I do understand why they are used. It is not really a divisive word. It is used more to highlight that a woman can be a mum and a boss and whatever she wants. Unfortunately we live in an unequal society. If you picture a “boss” in your head it is nearly always unvariably white and male. Any words to use to break that mold aren’t really that bad.

  5. Feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. Equality of course doesn’t mean the same as – I also think a person with a disability should be equal to someone without any disabilities in terms of access, opportunity etc. So by your own definition you seem to be pretty much feminism-friendly! You’ve got to be true to how you feel but I hope you don’t mind me saying that I’ll cross fingers that one day you’ll say it proudly – because I honestly think that when women back away from the term it can make it seem like a scary or wrong thing that other women don’t even support.

    I object to mumpreneur / mumboss when they’re used by other media (not, to be clear, you at all!) in the same way as 50 Shades was dismissively written off as ‘mummy pr0n’ or those times when even the phrase ‘mum blogger’ is quite clearly being used snidely by those who don’t respect motherhood or mums. When it’s used in a reclaimed kind of way by mums themselves, then it doesn’t bother me. While it’s not a phrase I really want to use myself (like you, I’d rather use the existing word, if only because aesthetically I think mumpreneur sounds terrible!) their aim is I think to challenge the perception of what mums are capable of. They use it precisely because men don’t need a term because everyone assumes they’re the default already.

    I think you sometimes need to name a problem and state the solution before you can reach the point that we’d all really, really like to be at: when you can see ‘entrepreneur’ and everyone automatically assumes, without thinking about it, that it could be anyone of any gender or family setup (or age, race, ability, orientation etc). If using one of these phrases helps do that, then I can’t really argue with it. Even if I’m not keen on the words themselves. 😉

    Appreciate your view and the food for thought!

  6. I agree that there really is just no need to add “Mum” to anything. Just do it and be good at it and be chuffed with yourself. Don’t make it be about your gender.

  7. I’m completely with you on this post. As well as equality, it is also about inclusivity. And that works in every single way. Why, when making a stand for equality would you feel the need to be exclusive. Terms with ‘mum’ are discriminatory, some may present a view of positive discrimination but I can’t say I would understand their position. It’s not even about women, it’s about women who care for children… it really shouldn’t matter.
    I am fortunate to work for the first time with a team of parents, it a really different environment- being a parent is tough, regardless of gender. Being a woman in a male dominated environment is tough, as is the vice versa.
    Personal circumstances should be appreciated, gender should be appreciated, and yes, all of our individual differences should be welcomed with open arms, we are better because of our experiences, we each bring values because we are all unique. But we shouldn’t be creating a status based upon it, we should just be welcoming, because we are all amazing individuals, who are always better standing together.

  8. Oh wow, are you gonna get some great comments on this post!

    I have long found phrases such as ‘mumpreneur’ exceptionally patronising. If anything, however, it patronises women considerably more than us men. I agree with you, I think it does create a bigger divide. While appearing empowering on the surface, what such language does is encourage women to stick together as opposed to breaking down barriers with men.

    I could write a very, very lengthy response to this, but it would bore you. Suffice it to say, I much prefer to mix with both men and women an dmuch prefer the diversity of thought and opinion I get as a result.

    That said, I do label myself as a stay at home dad. Unfortunately there are so few of us that such a label is still required at this point in time.

    1. But, you are a stay at home dad. It does what it says on the time and I don’t think any parent has ever referred to themselves as a ‘stay at home parent’. Carry on as you are! Thanks for the comment John.

  9. Agree 100% with you. We are equal. Physically there will be somethings we can’t do the same and that’s a positive for both sexes but I feel by emphasising the mum/female bit we are in a way being sexist to men as its looks like we are superior for doing just what they do. Isn’t this what women have fought against? Why do the one thing we have tried to hard to irradiate; sex discrimination!

  10. Thank you for providing a post that encourages debate. I agree with you entirely, I think sometimes people try to do good in giving women these particular names, but it actually does more harm than good. What we are to other people is not always the only way to define ourselves.

  11. I was actually thinking about this the other day, at least the cringeworthy made up terms I keep seeing all over Social Media like mumboss and mumpreneur. I don’t understand it. Why can’t you just me a boss or entrepreneur, there doesn’t need to be a Mum version. It always feels like people think the term ‘Mum’ isn’t enough so it has to be added to a more powerful word to make the user feel better or more important. Being a Mother is a much harder ( and imo, more important) task than any job I’ve done!

  12. I loved reading this Donna, and I agree with you. Of course, I completely agree with equality for men and women, but terms like this can be divisive and sometimes suggest that women should have special treatment. I’ve seen lots of things popping up recently that I think are almost too geared towards women, which I hate to admit. I swap it round in my head, and yes I would find some of them offensive if they had been about men. Another term I hated is ‘Daddy’s girl’…like girls should be treated differently because they are different, weaker or need protection. Do not suggest your girls are different, or weaker, because they will believe it x

  13. I dislike ‘Mum’ although I despise ‘Mummy’ being used as a prefix. Mumpreneur is condescending, it’s Entrepreneur with a little ruffle of your hair and a ‘well done love’ from someone who will never appreciate just how hard it is to run a household and work full time.

  14. I’m a little disappointed in reading this but equally I’m not surprised. Over the last few years, there’s increasing commentary that being a feminist is equal to being anti-men. There isn’t one layer/ type of feminist and I would argue that if you think women deserve equal opportunity to men, you’re a feminist.
    To your point about “dadpreneurs” and the like, we don’t get those titles because they are just entrepreneurs and bosses. Unfortunately for many people, when we think of a CEO, it’s a white male. That’s why there’s this attachment of “mum” to everything.

    Men don’t have an extra title because they own the neutral term and yes you’re right – women don’t need mum attached to entrepreneur and by using it, there’s a feel of other. As to why this is, maybe it’s something worth discussing in more detail.

    I hope the above makes sense. I’m really sad to see you feel this way but hopefully you understand my viewpoint.

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