“Mentorship finds you.”
I use to believe that. I use to believe that if I worked hard, I would be recognized. I use to believe that people would see my potential and elevate me. I use to believe that talent was the only factor that attracted mentors. This might be true for men, but it’s just not true for women or other marginalized genders.
Why? Because mentors (people with skills and power) are usually white men scouting people they relate to. They are more likely to choose men. Sometimes they’ll choose women— but with what intentions?
Do they really want to share skills, or is there a predatory intent?
Do mentors see potential or just a pretty face?
Does a woman’s receptiveness to wisdom make them feel entitled to her body?
Will they teach self-sufficiency, or build a codependent relationship with hopes of it turning sexual or romantic?
Genuine mentorship, unfortunately, doesn’t always find talented women, but predatory behavior MASKED as mentorship certainly does.
People of color of marginalized genders are more susceptible because: 1) Exoticism. We attract people that fetishize us. 2) Saviorism. We become self-serving charity projects, and predators center our success around themselves.
Predatory mentors make us feel like they’re supporting us, when they’re really just using us to boost their ego. If we step away they’ll flex power, convince us that we’re not good enough, or just cut us off completely. Predatory mentors don’t see us as whole and autonomous humans. This objectification of women’s bodies is rape culture.
Maybe “not all men” are like this, but all men do benefit from oppressive cycles that keeps women from achieving more. I challenge men to talk about mentorship relationships. Who do you mentor and elevate? Who is the relationship centered around? Is there a problematic pattern? The creepy dudes AND those that only mentor men, are inflicting trauma. It’s your responsibility to hold them accountable.
Women, it is not our fault. We deserve better. Together, we are healing and creating safer spaces where we can chase our ambitions because we are strong, we are capable, we are worthy.
We can BE mentors and leaders.