Redefining “Feminism” for the Millennial Generation

Web surfers discovering Denise Mobolaji Ajayi Williams’ website for the first time are transported back in time. Williams, founder and creative director of Workingmomin20s.com, said the site channels the values of the 1920s and places them in a modern context; it emphasizes family, hard work and self-reliance for the Millennial generation.

“Workingmomin20s.com gives women a platform to tell their personal stories and help others in the process,” Williams told Opportunty Lives. “Our goal is to redefine the word ‘feminist’ as Millennial women.”

The site, Williams explains, is a place women can go be motivated without the added pressure of advancing the feminist movement’s agenda. “We give women the voice to speak up on the social, political and economic topics that impact people from a diverse background.”

Williams, who is African-American, said the site is meant to promote a healthier, less sexualized body image for women than is often portrayed in mainstream media.

“We place a great deal of value in women maintaining their femininity and ladylike demeanor,” Williams said. “In today’s world, the sexual appeal of women has been taken to new heights. Workingmomin20s.com celebrates the class, elegance and sophistication of a woman. Women between the 1920s and 1960s eras demonstrated this through their fashion. We appreciated these times when a lady acted like a lady.”  

_MG_0618

Photo: Calvin Evans, The Brand Factory

Williams seeks to strike a healthy balance between femininity and modernity, harking back to a time before women entered the workforce during World War II, yet also encouraging female empowerment and entrepreneurship.

“During the 1920s, the American Federation of Labor was opposed to putting women and men in the labor force together, in order to avoid competition between genders,” Williams said. “We are an organization dedicated to rewriting our history; in doing so we become authors of our own legacy.”

A children’s book author (Akiti the Hunter—The 1st African Super Hero, published in December), Williams co-founded the site with her husband, Hayden, an Air Force veteran, pre-medical student and interventional radiologic technologist. He’s an active contributor to the site.

“Being a full time student, father, husband, and entrepreneur, Hayden knows the dynamics of the family structure and how important the chemistry between a wife and husband plays in the development of children,” Williams said. “Hayden has written articles for Working Moms on subjects such as the destruction of the black family from an historical perspective, as well as suggesting topics that will bring the message to demographics beyond the feminine gender … Hayden is also a researcher of women philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Susan Okin. His research from these prominent female philosophers has helped shape some of our beliefs and organization structure.” The couple’s young son also makes cameos throughout the site and on social media.

Williams assembled more than a dozen women to write for the site, some of whom she’s known since childhood. Others are fans that closely followed Workingmomin20s.com and were invited to contribute.

“Oftentimes they are eager and honored by the request,” Williams said. “We also engage new writers through the use of social media, offering women from a diverse background in different geographic areas an opportunity to tell us about their world abroad. We have writers from Ghana all the way to Pakistan. Our writers are reflective of our diverse views of the world, and our ability to engage readers by celebrating the uniqueness in culture.”

“Our goal is to redefine the word ‘feminist’ as Millennial women”

Born in Nigeria, Williams emigrated to the United States by way of the United Kingdom when she was 10. In addition to English, she speaks fluent Spanish, Yoruba and French. She’s an MBA student at Ageno School of Business at the Golden Gate University in San Francisco and earned her B.A. in economics administration with a theatre arts minor from the University of California at Riverside. Her diverse background makes for creative story ideas.

“These topics are closely aligned with current events and our personal struggles as women and minorities,” Williams said. “For example, articles about saving and investing help show a single mother with three kids and minimal financial educational background how to build a good credit profile so she too can achieve the American dream of buying a home someday.”

“We create content to speak to that woman, and communicate key tips and tools she can use to build a good credit rating,” Williams added.

The approach contrasts with competitors that seek simply to entertain readers rather than add value to their lives.

“People are drawn to the level of class and sophistication that is represented by the brand, through quality images used in our articles. People are interested not only in the content we produce, but they are also interested in the people behind the brand,” she explained. “They follow each of us personally. They can see that we practice what we preach.”

“We share some of our excursions, our victories, and our letdowns,” Williams continued. “Our readers are most impressed that a young community of women and the founding couple are able to demonstrate and achieve a level of success through pure hard work and dedication. …We were not born with silver spoons in our mouths; we just worked hard and choose to help others do the same.”

In her role as editor-in-chief, Williams said she tries to push her writers beyond the one-dimensional narrative of a news cycle. On the issue of police brutality and the “Black Lives Matter” movement, she sought to bring in many different perspectives beyond just the protesters, including lawyers, police officer, and judges.

“These additional resources (interviewees) create value in driving home our message, giving our readers something to walk away with in order to improve their daily lives,” William said.

Williams said Workingmomin20s generates up to 10,000 readers monthly, and the brand has a social media reach of more than 100,000 users and a subscriber base of more than 50,000 people.

Somewhat surprisingly, Williams said her readership is 60 percent female, 40 percent male, despite its title focused on motherhood. Besides English-speaking countries such as the United States, Canada and the U.K., the site draws readers from Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Egypt.

“One of our organization’s objectives is to create a platform where our readers felt comfortable and welcomed even if they were from an entirely different culture across the globe, people should still be able to identity with our content,” she said. “We provide guidance, encouraging contributors to write from a broad perspective, promoting topics and materials that are inclusive and often provide discretion against publishing topics that have a narrow view of the world.”

Carrie Sheffield is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @carriesheffield and on Facebook.