I was asked to blog on a very important topic after sharing about it in my instagram stories. So, here is that blog post.
One of my favorite T-shirt companies, Mess in a bottle, posted a photo of a black woman sitting on a conference table with one of their shirts on. The shirt reads "Pay me, like you pay him." It sparked words in me that I felt the need to share.
When we read words like this, we are reminded that men are often paid more then women in the same positions. We all know those stories. But what you may not realize, is that it goes so much deeper than two people of equal positions in power, being paid differently.
There is so much more to this inequality. It is not only women who are affected by this inequality either. From Trans individuals, to even regular men, the inequality affects everyone. It affects the way we parent, the way we earn income and build families, the way we do everything.
Specifically, I want to touch on the concept of feminine based work.
A women or a man can do any position, there is no debate here. But what I am addressing, is not male or female, but feminine and masculine energies. We all have both feminine and masculine energy with in us, in different balances. And- each job title, each working position and power has those same energies in them as well, each with its own unique balance.
The fact is, feminine based energy is valued less then masculine type energy in the work place. There is an inherent imbalance ingrained into our culture and society, that puts more monetary value and respect on masculine energy work.
What do I mean by that? Lets look at specific positions.
Masculine energy work may include working as/in: A lawyer, a doctor, medicine, construction, combat, mechanical, engineering, government, etc.
Feminine based energy work is things like: Teaching, childcare, birth work, art, photography, writing, nursing, caring of the elderly, hospice work, therapy, etc.
All of these things are needs, all of these things are important.
But even a very feminine person, who works in a work field that holds masculine energy, is expected to hold that same energy. It is why there is so much discrimination over maternity leave, mothers in the work force, and women leading anything. We inherently see a position as masculine or feminine energy, whether we want to admit that- consciously acknowledge it or not. And if we don't see that person making an effort to match their energy to the energy of the job position, we discriminate, or find the root of our bias.
So on one point, we need to find a way to allow both feminine and masculine energy to be portrayed in jobs that are inherently opposite. We need to re-evaluate why we believe certain things about certain people and positions.
But another nuance of this issue, is that we do not give proper monetary value, or respect, to feminine based work.
It's the way we value and never question the dollar amount of masculine energy work, and always "lovingly adore" feminine energy work. We attribute money to a masculine energy field, and not to anything soft, nurturing, or strong in the way that feminine energy is strong. Even the most successful women in business, will show up with a strong masculine energy in their work because they have to in order to be respected most of the time.
When we see feminine energy work, we expect discounts. We see negotiable time and money. We see relationships, and nurturing. We see the good, and know that we all deserve it. But here is where we mix up our values and push in those disparities. We mix up deserving access, with the untrue sentiment that feminine work should be offered for free, or for less, out of the good of their hearts.
If you see a doctor for a problem, your not going to expect them to lesson their salary, so you can be seen. You expect those aids to come from other places. If you go to get your tire changed, you might price shop, but your not going to tell them to lesson their prices of their work for you specifically because you deserve it.
We need to stop expecting feminine based energy work to allow for these "breaks" these (needed) accommodations. We all know that teachers, and childcare workers, are not paid enough to do the insanely big jobs they are tasked with. We all know mothers deserve more then the loosing out of an income in order to raise their children at home. We all know this work matters. But we can not always escape our bias, and it hurts all of us in the end. We constantly see this work belittled in the ways of money and respect. In my opinion, one of the first ways we can change the narrative, is in our own businesses.
Feminine energy workers feel led to discount, to give back, and to heal. But honey, you deserve to be paid too. Giving back is a beautiful thing. But how are you going to give back, when your living check to check? Why are you the one being called on for compassion, discounts, and breaks- when you struggle now and then to keep food on the table or afford to buy yourself the basics like new underwear, or healthcare, or therapy. Giving back is a beautiful thing, but in order to give, we have to have. Giving should be done from a place of abundance.
Please don't cut yourself short or try to give to everyone until your at a place where you can afford to. In feminine energy work burn out and sacrifice is romanticized in a way that is not sustainable.
When feminine workers give back, without having... when they try to fix all of the problems they themselves are stuck in... they burn out. And this is where I start crying while I write because I have been there, because I have seen SO many birth workers and feminine based workers be there.
Your guilt, shame, or fear surrounding money is not your fault. It is not your job to lessen your paycheck, or cut into your needs, in order to feel better, or to fit a narrative that is harming women and feminine energy workers.
If you feel called to give back, it is often because of two things. Because you know what it is to suffer, and need. Because you know what it is to not have enough. AND because our culture places this insanely heavy weight of compassion on the shoulders of feminine energy.
If you really need to give back, to balm that wound, or for any reason- there are ways to do so. Raise the value and honor your own cost of doing business. All of the feminine workers need to see this work valued. All of them. There are so many ways to work charity into your profit margins.
Accessibility is so important, but not at the cost of our feminine energy workers. Not at the cost of your health, your dinner table, your rent, your business, or your peace. Not at the cost of protecting, feeding, clothing, honoring yourself. That is how you burn out. And if you burn out, it is not just you that suffers, but every soul you could have served, every life you could have touched if only you had been supported enough, given enough to thrive before giving away all of that precious energy and time. Burn out looses us our nurturers. We see it in schools. In art fields. I see it in birth.
If you can value yourself, your time, your business will last longer and have a much deeper and more meaningful impact. It took me a long time to break up with the toxic stories my mind held onto as I learned how to run a feminine energy business as a birth worker and woman. I needed what I went through to get here. But I hope, that I can prevent others from going through such things, that I can turn back and inspire someone to break up with this value before they reach burn out. Before they give up. Before they shame themselves for not being able to give back.
Being a woman, being feminine, or working in a feminine energy field- does not make you a charity. It does not make you responsible for holding the weight of every tragedy on your shoulders. Haven't you held up your own tragedies for so long? Your own trauma and lack and need? Giving back for you, might look like giving yourself what no one else ever did. It might look like charging more, building longer, honoring your own need for comfort. Allowing for bits of luxury to permeate into your skin and lifestyle. Your work is good. It is important. It is needed.
And I value your work. I am telling you, we need you to stay. You deserve to get paid, to thrive, so that you can do this longterm. So that it is not a struggle. You deserve to have a business that pours back into you! That pours the spirit of abundance and victory and rest into your life! It is possible, and 90 percent of the work is these mind reframing concepts and the breaking up with old stories we tell ourselves.
(song Inspo/mantra by Trevor hall that I loooove: https://open.spotify.com/track/0qs5MJucN6LMKtY6v3gQDu?si=40aceb5811b24429 )
We need you to be paid enough, that you can do this work for years and years to come. Comfortably. If the serving person, is suffering, how can she serve? If the person feeding me, is starving, is anyone really winning?
We need you to be taken care of before we need you to worry about how anyone else is going to afford you. People value people who value themselves.
And in the rare chance that any masculine energy workers are reading this- we need you to spend all that money you have built with that privilege and respect, on these feminine energy workers who you try to get deals out of. We need you to honor us and our work with your mouth and with your money. Because exposure does not pay the bills. And this woman here who has been giving away her heart and time, deserves to be shown that people will show up and pay her. That people need and deeply value her work in a way that goes beyond a beautiful thank you and a soft hug.
Woman, feminine worker, don't mistake your need and want to be charitable, with that always being the right choice. Don't conform to your trauma responses. Unequal monetary value finds balance within our own self opinions, actions, and demands. It does not matter what you are worth to yourself. Don't charge you're worth. Charge your need. Your cost of doing business, your cost of thriving. That is where you start.
Healing in business, looks like seeing energy as a renewable resource, an energy exchange. It will flow to you. Back and forth and all around the world. Don't block that flow because you wish everyone had access to it.
You can do good things, you can be charitable. But honor your needs first, get paid, and plan your business like you would a birth. With the support you need around you. With the resources to thrive and be held. IF your charity work, leaves you in need of charity you are doing it wrong.
Your time, your energy, your space, your ideas, your love, your hands, your words,- hold value. Don't cut yourself short.
When you feel led to help someone in need, find creative ways to do it. Serve them in ways that keeps your wallet and peace of mind protected. Work it into your prices for other clients. Set aside a fund for this. Sell prints at a mark up for this purpose, or dedicate a separate line of income to fueling the giving back portion of this work. Raise money or apply for a grant. Open a charity. Accept bartering when it makes sense for you, when it's something that will lesson your load. But only when you are living in abundance, and able to give without cutting into your own flesh, wallet, and mouth.
Never give anything away. If they can't pay you with money, they better be paying you with respect of your time, honoring your energy, and helping you in some other way. If they don't value you, and understand the exchange of energy- it will always leave all of you empty.
It is such a big topic and it takes time to find this truth. Your instinct might be rejection of this truth. But maybe you need more of this? Maybe you need help reframing and building a business that gives back to you? PHEW. I hope you do. Because I am passionate about this. I want to hold space for you.
In 2024 I am launching a mentorship program for birth workers- to help them thrive and build and grow and give in a way that's sustainable. A birth photography training, a heart to heart, a community support, a soul check up, and a business mentorship all in one. It is going to be amazing. I hope I get to see a few of you there.
-Your Wildwood Birthkeeper CordeliaGrey Oriana Allen
For a shorter, sharable version of this topic- here are the stories I posted that prompted this blog post. Feel free to use with a credit to @wildwoodbirthkeeper or my website. If you share the slide with the shirt please credit the shirt company as well!
After writing this piece, I could not find an image I felt represented this topic well, so I decided to draw one. I created the below artworks with so much intention.
"This is the work"