A well-known speaker tried to humiliate this woman in front of everyone. She didn't let him.

My friend Tiphani is a young single mom of two, a successful entrepreneur, a best-selling author, and an all-around inspiration.

All hustle and heart, she coaches thousands of women just like her — single moms who others may have doubted and written off — to be entrepreneurial, financially secure, authentic, and, most of all, bold.

Last week, she traveled to an out-of-town women's empowerment conference.

It was a conference for professional women seeking high-level insights on career advancement, wealth building, developing fulfilling relationships, and networking.


On the last day of the event, Tiphani walked up to the audience microphone during a Q&A session to pose a question to a very successful, very well-known man (who shall remain nameless at her request) known for his humorous, practical, and inspirational advice geared toward women.

Not the real Tiphani, but we'll pretend. Photo via iStock.

When it was her turn, she stood at the mic, smiled, and did what most people at big networking conferences do: She identified herself.

With a fun, endearing little nod to the unique spelling of her name that she always includes, she stated her name and career:

“Hi, my name is Tiphani — T-i-P-H-a-n-i — and I'm a best-selling author and entrepreneur..."

Before she could ask her question, the male speaker interrupted her from the stage and said, dramatically, No one cares what your name is!" The audience burst into laughter. Stunned, she stood there as he proceeded to mock her, tell her never to do that again ("that" being both spell her name and mention her accomplishments), and give her a lesson in what he had apparently deemed to be her self-importance and arrogance.

Stunned, she stood there as he proceeded to mock her.

My friend stood there for what felt like an eternity as the reprimand continued, the laughter rolled on, and she fought to keep angry tears from falling.

This confident woman was humiliated for being confident. By a male "motivational" speaker. At a women's empowerment conference.

What happened to Tiphani at that mic may sound like just an ironic and obnoxious anomaly. But it's what happens to so many women every day when they dare to "step up to the mic" in their lives and be their full selves.

Just ask movie producer Effie Brown, who had a public back-and-forth with Matt Damon about diversity on his show "Project Greenlight." On this week's episode, she was portrayed as difficult and annoying for registering similar concerns.

Just ask model and author Amber Rose, who blasted GQ magazine this week for writing an introduction to their profile of her that described her only in relation to her famous exes (even calling her a "baby mama" despite the fact that she was married at the time). She was called sensitive for her objection.

Just ask my colleague Wagatwe Wanjuki, who was ultimately expelled from Tufts University after speaking up about being repeatedly assaulted on campus and receiving no support from the school.

Just ask Ellen Pao, who spent months in a sordid, public gender-discrimination case against the prominent venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

Every day, women deal with the consequences of boldly speaking up and "leaning in."

Tiphani's story isn't just anecdotal, either. Research shows that women are penalized for speaking too much, speaking too little, speaking with emotion, speaking with too high of a pitch, speaking with certain phrases, speaking while appearing either too sexual or not attractive enough, or speaking while being black or Latino.

“Well, I care what my name is. And I'm going to ask my question."

In an article written earlier this year, Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett, authors of the book “The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance Is Hurting Women, Men — and Our Economy," described the problem pretty succinctly:

"Good things happen for men when they talk, but for women, silence is golden."

So what's a girl to do?

Well, Tiphani refused to be silenced. She stood there and said, voice shaky but determined: “Well, I care what my name is. And I'm going to ask my question."

Women came up to her afterward to show their support and shock for what had happened. She of course turned the experience into a lesson to teach her clients and social media followers a few days later. Because that's what we women do.

We push through and pass on our best practices to other women.

A quick Google search finds no shortage of articles written by women, teaching other women how to speak up — safely, strategically, and, of course, confidently, despite the bias that may occur as a result.

But my question after this ordeal is simple and nagging: Who is teaching the men? And when will they learn?

Until then, we'll keep standing up and being exactly who we are. And as much as I want to humiliate this guy now by putting him on blast, we'll keep him anonymous. Because no one cares what his name is.

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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