What is a feminist coach?
Shedding light on what it means to be a feminist life coach
There are probably as many answers to “what is a feminist coach” as there are self-identified feminist coaches. That’s because there are many perspectives on what it means to be a feminist.
Socialist feminist, queer feminism, Black feminism, Indigenous feminism are just some of the many types of feminism that I wholeheartedly believe are real and valid. Others are less valuable (“girl boss” feminism) and others are downright harmful (trans-exclusionary radical feminism, white feminism).
This post is specifically about how I define feminism and feminist coaching.
What is feminism?
My approach to feminism is what can be termed “collective feminism” (). This means I believe in the equal humanity of all people AND I aim to transform the status quo.
My feminism is inclusive. It’s about dismantling all forms of oppression. That includes sexism, of course, but holds equal commitment to the end of racism, heterosexism, transphobia, classism, ableism, and fatphobia.
This perspective necessarily means that I strive to hear, uplift, and learn from the voices, experiences, and values of all marginalized people.
Furthermore, my vision for a feminist future isn’t more women at the top of power structures as they currently exist. My goal is to topple the power structures entirely and see a world where everyone flourishes.
My vision is to kick away the hierarchal ladder of patriarchy (WTF is Patriarchy?) and replace it with a feminist worldview that values humanity, equity, caring, community, agency, and accountability.
What is a feminist coach?
I’m a life coach, which is all about helping individuals develop greater life satisfaction (“What Does a Life Coach Do Exactly?”).
Given my commitment to feminism and to my values (equity, growth, courage), my vision for my business is to dismantle oppressive systems by helping individuals unlearn patriarchal conditioning so they can feel self-assured and able to advocate for their true needs and desires.
My Gutsy Boss group coaching program delivers on my vision by helping you:
- Uncover and unlearn the conditioning that makes you feel stuck, overwhelmed, and unworthy.
- Cultivate unrelenting self-compassion so you can confidently take steps in a new direction.
- Redefine your definition of success to focus on what you really want from life (not what you think you should want).
- Develop tools for staying the course even when things get difficult (and they will).
What this means for my work
My work is necessarily—and positively—affected by my commitment to feminism. Here’s how:
• I believe that every human is born inherently worthy of love, compassion, and comfort. You don’t have to prove or earn it. You don’t need to be “fixed” because you are not broken (“There Is Nothing Wrong with You!”).
• Personal growth does not exist in a vacuum, but much of life coaching, self-help, and “mindset” focuses only on the individual. Without acknowledging and deconstructing the ongoing harm of patriarchy, that approach is ineffective and harmful.
“Individual transformation is neither a substitute for, nor a harbinger of, structural transformation. Holding oneself in perpetually low self-esteem is a structurally induced condition.” Brittney Cooper
• Blame and shame are the sharpest tools of patriarchy. The system makes you feel like your problems are of your own making, and that it’s also your fault if you can’t just “get over it.” It’s all a distraction to keep you from fighting the systems that are actually at fault.
• You don’t need “tough love,” judgment, or to “push through.” What you need is an endless well of compassion. That’s what I give to my clients and, eventually, they learn to give it to themselves and others.
• Despite what the T-shirts say, empowered women can’t empower women. The notion that a coach can give power to a client is rooted in colonialism and control. My work is about co-creating transformative experiences that help people step into their own power and advocate for themselves.
• Consent is a critical component of any feminist relationship. Coaching should be client-led, meaning the client—not the coach—sets goals and action steps. And the coach should frequently check in on a client’s comfort level with the coaching approach and relationship.
What is a feminist business?
A feminist life coach is concerned about the practice of coaching (as described above), and also the business of coaching. A feminist business must function differently than a traditional business rooted in colonial and capitalist ideals.
A traditional business model is almost entirely about revenue. It addresses how to get money from customers, and how to re-distribute it into back the business and into the owners’ and shareholders’ personal wealth.
A feminist business model also addresses how to earn money (or, in the case of a nonprofit, how to solicit donations). But it cares as much or more about how it does it in a way that demonstrates its values and in a way that helps to positively change the world.
In my business, this means that I strive to walk the talk of my values always, in all ways. This looks like:
• Changing the world. I have a singular vision and passion for dismantling oppressive systems. The way I feel empowered to contribute to this enormous goal is through my coaching. Each person I help unlearn harmful conditioning and redefine success on their own damn terms represents one more tiny chip out of the wall of patriarchy.
• Prioritizing people over profits. My programs are offered on an equitable sliding scale to make them available to as many people as possible. Ultimately, I care more about dismantling oppression than I do about making more money.
• Promoting justice. How I do my work, use my voice, and spend my money matters. In addition to offering coaching that chips away at patriarchy, I use my platform to speak up about feminist causes and to uplift Black, Brown, and Indigenous voices. And I donate 10% of my company’s profits to organizations that share my values.
The term feminist coach can many different things to many different people. But I hope this article helps you understand what it means to me, and how it influences Gutsy Boss coaching.