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How Do We Change Language?

How Do We Change Language?

Driving Linguistic Evolution Beyond the Patriarchy

I have recently seen a tweet circulating that says, “in 2022 we’re not finishing our sentences, does that make sense anymore.” I have seen this type of idea presented in many different ways. The general message: women have too much self-doubt. We should be more confident. It’s time to stop with the self-doubt and speak with confidence. The underlying message I hear: we should speak more like men. 

There is a part of this message that resonates with me–the part about taking ownership of our language and cultivating our power through language. However, as I’ve been seeing these types of messages circulate in recent years, I’ve realized that some part of it has been bothering me. 

Lack of Confidence or Cultural Gaslighting?

I do feel that many women, myself included, have had and continue to struggle with self-doubt. The patriarchal world makes it easy for us to doubt ourselves. It likes for us to doubt ourselves. On top of doubt, we’re supposed to feel shame for our doubt and guilt about our lack of confidence. If we could only be more confident, like men, then we would be more successful in business and in life. 

I find this to be an example of deep cultural gaslighting that perpetuates the exact problem it points out. Even the most confident among us may start to doubt our confidence if the dominant narrative tells us we lack it. Even the most self-assured among us may start to wonder if the reason we aren’t as successful as men could be an inherently flawed self-esteem rather than misogynistic structural imbalances. Can we self-care our way to the top of a patriarchal structure? I don’t really think so, or necessarily want to. Even the strongest among us may stumble from time to time in a world designed by men for men.  

It’s time for us to recognize this societal gaslighting.

Perhaps we don’t need to doubt our use of language. Maybe we don’t need to dissect our forms of communicating using a male lens. 


A few years ago, I worked as the executive director of a nonprofit healthcare organization. During my time there, I received an award and grant for personal and organizational capacity development and was assigned a wonderful consultant. We worked closely together for about a year. 

One thing that I learned by listening and watching the way Angela communicated was how to give space in conversation. Angela would often ask, “does that make sense?” And when I was speaking, she would affirm in a similar way. Six years later, I can still hear her lovely, calming voice in my mind, “that makes so much sense.”

Confidence & Empathy Belong Together

When Angela would ask me if what she was explaining made sense, never once did I perceive self-doubt from her. What I felt was that she was intentionally building space into our conversations, space for me to reflect, ask questions, and comment. It was a way to slow the flow of the conversation and check in with me. 

Her affirmations while I paused during my time speaking were also helpful–and these questions “does that make sense,” and affirmations, “that makes so much sense” balanced each other into a beautifully constructive process. 

She wasn’t asking me if it made sense because she was unsure of herself. It wasn’t about her. It wasn’t a lack of confidence. She was asking to make sure that we were both in the same conversation, to see if something needed to be reworded or clarified. And if something did need to be clarified, it wouldn’t be because she wasn’t doing a good job explaining, it would be because we are humans, and we often need clarification. I began to mirror her and do the same in conversation, and I felt shifts in my work relationships.

Maybe this kind of compassionate, intentional communication is needed more–in professional and personal settings. Perhaps we shouldn’t encourage women to speak more like men. Here’s a radical idea: maybe men can take some guidance from women. 

Men, does this make sense? 

Now, I am all about direct communication. I facilitate practices in direct communication. There are many moments in professional and personal contexts where the most direct communication possible is exactly what is needed. So I’m not advocating against direct communication. 

In my workshops, we also practice empathetic listening, asking open and honest questions, and nonviolent communication styles. Different contexts require different kinds of communication. I believe we can be direct and empathetic at the same time. That we can communicate effectively while still pausing and allowing for spaces in our conversation, giving ourselves time to process. 

change language

Who Has the Power to Create Language?

Language, just like music, fashion, design, and culture in general, evolves. How does it evolve? Who drives linguistic trends and changes? Well, who usually has most of the social power? Could it be the same dominant group who has historically had access to academia and publishing power? The majority of the power of directing and creating movies, television, radio and news media? 

Of course, there are marginal or subversive drivers of cultural change as well. But in every social narrative, there are dominant voices–and then there are all the others. A global (ahem, colonial) common factor is that women’s voices have been hushed, along with many other intersecting populations. 

What I propose here is that instead of condemning ourselves as women for the way we speak, perhaps we could embrace our subtle and not-so-subtle differences, and see the potential strengths within them. Perhaps, instead of modeling our professional voices after those of men, we could analyze in what ways we can drive linguistic trends.

What I suggest, is that instead of gaslighting ourselves into filing our pauses and our sensitivities into the “lack of confidence” category, we embrace these and honor the place for them within the professional context. 

Make sense?

Interested in practicing some of these communication styles? Medusa offers 1:1 coaching and workshops for classes, organizations, and small businesses. Get in touch today for practical communication tools.

amy schmidt

Amy Schmidt is the CEO and founder of Medusa Media Collective. She is an editor, writer and teacher. She also teaches yoga, leadership, and empowerment self-defense for women. Her goal in writing is to create connection through empathy, and her passion is working to end gender-based violence. She likes her humor dry and her fruit juicy. 

Queer Ecology: Why Female Birds Couldn’t Sing Until Recently

Queer Ecology: Why Female Birds Couldn’t Sing Until Recently

The Patriarchal Hush of Female Birds & How Queer Ecology Can Help

Did you know that female birds couldn’t sing? Scientific observation gives us facts and from those facts we build reality, and in this reality, only male birds produce song. That is, until the past two decades when female scientists began to also study birdsong. 

Wait, what? 

That’s right. 

The Complexity of Female Beings is Not Abnormal

For more than 150 years, dating back to Charles Darwin’s writings on sexual selection, scientists generally considered birdsong to be a male trait. According to widely accepted scientific perspectives, bird’s songs were complex vocalizations that male birds produce during breeding season. Female vocalizations were rare or abnormal. 


Female vocalizations were rare or abnormal. Except they weren’t abnormal at all. Female birds could, in fact, sing and had always been singing, long before the colonization of science. Female birds were always capable of complex vocalizations along with their complex male counterparts.

They just couldn’t be heard over the patriarchy. 

In the past two decades, scientists began to “discover” female bird songs. In a recently published study analyzing the research itself, data shows that the key people driving this recent paradigm shift were women.

Traditionally, white men working in countries of the northern hemisphere have conducted much of the research on birdsong. 

Traditionally, white men have led research on many topics. That is because white men and the systems that benefit them have excluded women, BIPOC, queer, and pretty much anyone from the global south from the educational opportunities and professions that do this research–until recently when systemic conditions have improved. Slightly. For some.  It’s still not equal, of course. We (and it’s a giant we) have been excluded from producing cultural knowledge. 

Is it any wonder that female birds lost their songs just as women have been denied our voices for so many generations? Any wonder that female beings of all species seem quiet and simple, vessels for procreation, objects for the use and pleasure of the male species? Perhaps the comparison is a stretch, but I think not. I happen to think that females and males and every other expression of sex or gender is equally and differently complex and beautiful.

We Are All Biased

Science is meant to be objective. Observations, tests and results. However, we also know from the science of quantum physics, that the observer, by observing, tends to affect the outcome of the experiment.

I know I am not the first to point out that science is neither unbiased or objective. Research and observation is seen and reported through the lens of the observer. If the lens through which observation is made is only open so far, the possibilities for observation are limited to that lens’s aperture. 

Men, especially white men, have predominantly done research and controlled the production of knowledge in regards to bird song (specifically birdsong in this article, also knowledge in general).

Is Binary Killing Beauty? 

So if the people who do the observations already carry a herteronormative, binary belief system, then that will be the lens through which they will make observations. That will be the world they see and the world they report to others on. 

This is one fascinating example of how patriarchal and colonial domination has not only oppressed women and others, but is literally robbing the human world of a range of knowledge, or suppressing knowledge that previously existed. Or both. I would imagine that knowledge of various indigenous cultures includes female birdsong and lots of other beautiful things that white supremecist patriarchy has suppressed.

What other information are we lacking about our world because so many of us haven’t had access to professions that observe and create knowledge?

Just imagine. Imagine what other songs are out there. Imagine what else is waiting to be discovered, not just by female scientists, but all kinds of humans who observe through the lenses of different intersecting identities and bring varied lived experiences to their observation. And imagine a kaleidoscope.

We construct our reality through words, language, story, and media. Women and basically everyone else except white men have largely been left out of the production of knowledge and therefore, the creation of reality, to the point that we literally believed female birds to be silent. What other beautiful aspects of life are happening out there, waiting to be heard, seen, touched, felt? What more is there to discover that hasn’t been observed through limited hetereonormative white lenses?

queer ecology, female birdsong

Bring On Queer Ecology

There is an entire field of knowledge blossoming called queer ecology, which combines queer theory and environmental studies with the goal of diversifying our narratives of the natural world–and I can’t wait to see where it takes us. I can’t wait to learn what knowledge exists outside of the binary. My hypothesis? The world will become much more fascinating. 

As much as I am continually frustrated by the injustice of patriarchy and colonialism, I am equally excited for what awaits us on the other side. Excited about the beauty of the world we haven’t tapped into yet, but that is existing there, waiting for the right eyes to see it.

What a beautiful world it will be when we are finally able to see it through many different eyes. What a beautiful world it is already, filled with songs and dances of so many species, dancing right alongside our own species. 

How much more beauty is there in the world that are we capable of observing? How much more beauty can we see and process? Can we feel?

I think the answer is infinite. We can experience infinite beauty. All we have to do is learn to view it through as many lenses as possible.

Perhaps you feel called to share your infinitely beautiful creations with the world too? Join us today in adding more nonbinary, decolonized, patriarchy-smashing knowledge and wonder.

amy schmidt

Amy Schmidt is the CEO and founder of Medusa Media Collective. She is an editor, writer and teacher. She also teaches yoga, leadership, and empowerment self-defense for women. Her goal in writing is connection through empathy, and her passion is working to end gender-based violence. She likes her humor dry and her fruit juicy. 

What Being A Women’s Collective Means To Us

What Being A Women’s Collective Means To Us

Guess what? It’s not purely to exclude men.

So why are we a women’s collective, then?

We are stronger together? Yes, kind of. It is such a cliche, although not the worst cliche. It isn’t a bad concept to overuse by every company, organization, and movement. It’s not untrue. 

Women are stronger together. Also true. 

Women supporting women. Women empowering women. Nice hashtags. We even use them. 

Is that why we are a collective? Because women are stronger together? Well, that’s part of it. Of course, it goes much deeper. At Medusa, everything we do and feel and write and touch goes deeper. 

We are a collective because the patriarchy doesn’t like it. And when the patriarchy doesn’t like something, we want to do it more. Patriarchy has benefitted by keeping women apart, from denying women the opportunity to be a collective body or voice, by calling them witches or other things when they gather. 

The women are talking to each other…burn them. 

Something along those lines. 

In 1486, the Malleus Maleficarum, inspired 2 centuries of witch-hunting hysteria and the subsequent torture of women and systematic destruction of their spiritual practices and health care in Europe and beyond. This oppression lasted 500 years and thanks to colonialism, it traveled to every corner of the Earth–anywhere women gathered. 

And here’s the thing. Women gathered everywhere. They did because humans gather everywhere. It’s what we do. We are social beings. We share stories, learn together and from one another, support each other, laugh together and grieve together. 

Women’s Collectives Takes Strength From the Patriarchy

The patriarchy maintains strength by denying women access to public spaces, keeping women isolated, by keeping us from sharing our stories, by keeping us suspicious of other women, by making us witches and “mean girls” or at least intimidated by “mean girls,” at least frightened enough to point fingers at other women to save ourselves. The patriarchy is stronger when we compete against each other rather than support each other. 

I, and many of the women I know, have been each of these things: isolated, witch, mean girl and intimidated.  

We have also been abused, gaslighted, manipulated and sexually assaulted by men. I’d venture to say that nearly all women have experienced some kind of violence, somewhere on the spectrum, at some point in their lives. 

I don’t know when I became a feminist exactly. I certainly wasn’t raised this way. Nor do I remember when I started gathering with women in more intentional ways and spaces, with structure around sharing and processing and healing. But I do know that I felt my own life improve significantly when I started talking, sharing, being vulnerable, and actively circling with other women. I know that my life has become significantly richer, more open, more silly, and most importantly, more validated.

When we start sharing these experiences, they become real.

They aren’t just hidden away inside each of us as these solitary, unspoken, often doubted, heavy things. When we start sharing, and saying, hey me too, and that is fucked up–then we realize, how it is fucked up the way women have been and continue to be treated by patriarchal societies the world over. 

We are a collective to share. To support women who want to share their stories. To receive and validate (and edit and polish) and honor the stories and voices of women, in their creative process and in their business

womens collective

We are a collective of women, not to exclude men, but to validate ourselves and our experiences. 

Not only that, but we are a collective because it’s more fun. The women we work with are hilarious, loving, wild, gritty, and fun. And we really love to have fun. 

We are a women’s collective to validate.

Your story is important, valuable, and beautiful. Your voice is powerful. Your messiness is perfect and charming. Your art is needed by the world. Your traumas hurt you, and still, you are strong and soft–a work in progress and a complete work of art at once.

And we are here for you.

amy schmidt
Amy Schmidt is the CEO and founder of Medusa Media Collective. She is an editor, writer and teacher. She also teaches yoga, leadership, and empowerment self-defense for women. Her goal in writing is connection through empathy and her passion is working to end gender-based violence. She likes her humor dry and her fruit juicy. 

Storytelling: A Necessity for Women and Humanity

Storytelling: A Necessity for Women and Humanity

The World is Ready to Hear Women’s Narratives

When we think of storytelling do we think of ancient humans sitting mesmerized around a campfire? Do we think of children gathered around a jovial elder? Or do we think of modern social media platforms and marketing? 

Perhaps all of the above. 

Storytelling is a characteristic of humanity, an important part of how we understand our world and see ourselves within it. Stories are how we create culture and from them we learn how to behave within it–for better or worse. Society is not fixed, rather we create culture daily as an ongoing production of the stories we tell. 

Storytelling is also a new buzzword within the world of marketing. It may even be replacing marketing. You aren’t just selling a product or a service, you’re selling your story. 

I don’t know about anyone else, but as soon as something becomes buzzy, or even slightly trendy, I quickly find it a turn off.

But storytelling is never a turn off, because stories are what turn me on more than anything. 

Anyone else? 

Anyone else feel like they could never be bored as long as there are stories to be heard, shared and told? Books to be read. Movies and documentaries. Anyone else fascinated by the fact that a small number of letters that represent a small number of sounds can form infinite arrangements of language and infinite meaning and infinite stories? Or is that just me? 

Anyone else love their own stories? We hope you do! Because when you love your own stories, you’ll be passionate about telling them and we want to hear. We want your stories–your juicy, funny, sweet, sad, bitter, loving, funky human stories. We want them because we know the world needs to hear them too. 

Stories are part of what makes us human.

They are the connecting fibers in the larger fabric of humanity. They make us laugh and cry and feel stuff and raise our empathy for fellow humans. Stories help us understand what it means to be human. 


The act of creating stories, and the telling or sharing of them, are natural human processes. They help us as individuals and societies to understand our human experience and locate ourselves within reality. Unfortunately, many humans, women included, have been left out of the process of contributing their stories to the collective.

Using Storytelling To Create New Realities

At Medusa, we want to actively engage in creating a better version of reality. In our reality, women’s stories are culture. We tell, share, shout, and sing them. They are honored and exalted.

We want our collective experience to be like a modern day campfire, warm and vivid, where you’ll likely hear a feminist retelling of Medusa, whispers and roars of our matriarchal ancestors, and songs from these witches who just won’t burn. You’ll hear women who are outspoken and unapologetic.


Join us in rewriting and respeaking the collective narrative to one that is holistic, inclusive, and full of previously hushed voices. If you’ve got a story to share, we can help you polish it. Get in touch and send it our way. 

amy schmidt
Amy Schmidt is the CEO and founder of Medusa Media Collective. She is an editor, writer and teacher. She also teaches yoga, leadership, and empowerment self-defense for women (as a diploma coach at the University of Peace). Her goal in writing is a connection through empathy and her passion is working to end gender-based violence. She likes her humor dry and her fruit juicy. 

Support Women Who Are Kicking Ass in Business

Support Women Who Are Kicking Ass in Business

Why Women-Led Businesses are Outperforming Men

Are women kicking ass in business? Absolutely. Is it good for the economy? Sure. It’s also good for loads of other, more important things. (What?! More important than the economy!?) When women have the opportunity to thrive in business, when they are seen, heard, and included, entire communities reap the benefits. Women-led initiatives help our societies evolve, but the hurdles for women are daunting. 

Barriers to Women in Business

There is plenty of research about the barriers women face in business. At the top of the list is an old favorite–the classic family/household narrative. As the story goes, women struggle to succeed in business because they have more responsibility to their families and households than men. The objective reality of the narrative may vary culturally, but regardless of cultural differences in gender roles, it definitely isn’t the only barrier.

In many places, women don’t even have the option to commit to business. For starters, 2.7 billion women in the world are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. 

In 2018, 104 economies still had laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, 59 economies have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace (and just to state the obvious, rampant sexual harassment tends to hinder women’s advancement or participation in certain environments), and in 18 economies, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. So. There’s all that. But wait, there’s more. 

  • In the legal world, women are 45% of associates but only 22.7% of partners. 
  • In the medical world, women are 40% of all physicians and surgeons, but only 16% of medical school deans.
  • Don’t forget academia! Women currently earn the majority of doctorates (for eight consecutive years) but are only 32% of full professors and 30% of college presidents.
Family still holding us back?

There has been a lot of recent celebration of the increase in women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. It’s up to a whopping almost 8 percent–all of whom are white it feels important to note. While meager, this 8 percent of white women has at least overcome the fun statistic from a few years ago when there were more CEOs with the name of John or David then there were women. (That’s correct, not John and David combined.) In 2018, 5.3 percent of CEOs in the U.S. had the first name of John, 4.5 percent had the first name David, and 4.1 percent were women. Fascinating, truly. 

Who Is Investing and Why?

In the U.S., female entrepreneurs received significantly less early-stage capital from investors than their male counterparts. This investment gap exists despite the fact that in many countries, women-led businesses are outperforming those founded by men in terms of revenue. Research also shows that women tend to make more realistic projections, ask for more realistic loans and investment capital, and default less. 

Who are the majority of big investors? Who already holds most of the economic power and capital? Take a guess–who are the majority of the people who approve or deny loans? (Hint–it’s not women.) 

And this is not solely a binary situation. This lack of inclusion in investing, receiving investment capital, and general access to entrepreneurship is true across all intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. 

So while women, BIPOC, differently abled, immigrants, and humans of all genders and sexualities have new and valuable ideas, and while this may make it difficult for the white Davids and Johns to see the value in these products or services, it doesn’t make them any less important or desired. Consider this–all these humans also purchase goods and services and generally tend to exist in the world. 

Changing Tired Narratives 

In Mexico, 39% of businesses are founded by women. These women-led businesses consistently show higher profit margins in comparison to male-led companies. Around the world, women who found businesses are likely to start with less capital, seek less financial backing, and receive less when they do seek it. Despite these financial barriers, women-led businesses are generally kicking ass.

Why are women’s businesses doing so well? It turns out that women have ideas that men may not think of, due to different day-to-day lived experiences. Could it be possible that responsibility to family may even give women ideas for businesses that men have not considered?

women-led businesses
Women are kicking ass in all kinds of businesses.

Perhaps the reason women have been “held back” from entrepreneurship is less about our commitment or responsibility to the family and more about not having had access to capital. 

Perhaps we are still climbing our way out of generations of not having our own bank accounts, the ability to own property, or even access public spaces. Just perhaps, these little details are all related. 

Women-led Businesses Are Good for Communities

There are plenty of calculations that celebrate the economic potential of women. 

Ah, thank you capitalism, women should be equal because there is more money in it. But, as it turns out, women-led businesses are good for society for more than just a dollar amount. 

At the individual level, women experience an improved ability to provide for their families, greater respect in their communities, and increased self-confidence. Furthermore, research suggests that employees are better off in women-led businesses, where there tends to be greater investment in employee growth and well being. 

At the community level, women tend to spend more of their income on education and health, which benefits families, children, and overall community health. 

When opportunities for women are more closely matched with those of men, communities have fewer child deaths, fewer conflicts, and better public services and health. Essentially, when women are more involved in creating and driving the economy, communities are safer and healthier.

A lot of research shows that our societies are better, healthier, and safer when women participate fully in them. When you break it down to a basic thought process, it makes a lot of sense. Equal participation is good for everyone. It’s really not a difficult concept. 

However, it seems to be difficult to carry out. Many gender mainstreaming efforts, and even women’s own advances in leadership and entrepreneurship, seem content, or conditioned, to just add more women into men’s places. Or to encourage women to take on stereotypically male characteristics in order to succeed. Maybe this is how women learned to succeed at first in male-dominated spaces, but now we are learning that we are valuable on our own terms. 

Now we are learning that no human should have to conform to any gender stereotype in order to become successful.

The Goal: Deconstruct Our Notions of Power

The goal isn’t for women to just grab at power and leadership, to take power from men, and then wield it in the same ways. Nor is it (in my opinion) to use women to grow the economy ever larger in the same unsustainable ways. The goal is to deconstruct the notion of power and to reconstruct holistic and healthy societies where all humans are seen, heard, and valued. In this vision, businesses add value to our societies, not just dollar amounts to our economies.

This holds true for all intersecting identities–ethnicities, races, sexualities. All people have unique experiences and lenses through which they view the world. All people have value to add to our economies, governments, and social structures. 

Support Your Local Women-led Business

At Medusa, we are all about women in business. It’s who we are and it’s what we support. Our website was created by a women-led company. Our graphic design and branding was done by a Latina entrepreneur. All of our photographers, coaches and consultants have been women. It was critical to us to support women-led businesses as we built our own brand. 

Go ahead, follow our lead! Support women-led businesses. And while you’re at it, support queer, BIPOC and Latinx-led businesses as well. Our communities only stand to thrive and flourish.

What do you think? More women in business? More CEOs? If you’ve got a business idea cooking or need content for your already-running initiative, get in touch here!

amy schmidt

Amy Schmidt is the CEO and founder of Medusa Media Collective. She is an editor, writer and teacher. She also teaches yoga, leadership, and empowerment self-defense for women. Her goal in writing is connection through empathy and her passion is working to end gender-based violence. She likes her humor dry and her fruit juicy.