Thanks @HAWK and @Piper_Wilson for weighing in here, it’s easy to second-guess yourself when it comes to issues like this.
Yesterday, after I posted here, the saga continued a bit, and the decision has become about whether to allow this event to still be shared, but with edits to the description so it’s not offensive, or block the event from being shared altogether.
I heard back from the original event poster, who apologized and said he never meant to offend anyone. He asked for the chance to update his event description and re-share the event. I said that would be okay with me, as long as everyone was welcome (not just men) even though the programming might be geared towards men.
He agreed and sent me this updated post to review:
Next Event! Save the date 7/6/17. For centuries We were taught to work for money but very few have learned the concepts to have money work for them. The Men and Money event will provide information and education around a topic that most people have been running away from; money. The attendees will walk away with the tools to make solid financial decisions and put their money to work for them. The discussion will be geared towards men, but all are open welcome to attend. • Register ASAP as space is limited.
I thought that looked much better to me and gave him the go-ahead to post.
Meanwhile, I wanted to let the woman who had alerted me to this post know that this was happening. I sent her a quick note so she wouldn’t be surprised explaining that the poster wanted to rectify the situation and that I had reviewed the language and it looked better to me.
When she saw his new post, she immediately emailed me back and said she was frustrated and disappointed at how we handled it, because since the event was still called “Men and Money” it was excluding women or at least discouraging them from coming. She didn’t see what “men” had anything to do with the programming as it was described. Her argument was, “Imagine having an event called “White People and Money” with an original description that includes, say, blackface, and then reposting it, with the blackface reference removed, and the clause “People of Color encouraged to attend” added. And no explanation at all about how exactly the connection between White People and financial dealings would be explored. Would it be posted?”
She also left a shorter comment with a similar sentiment on his new post, and one other woman also chimed in saying, “yes, this is offensive to me as a woman.”
I took the new post down and called Joshua to explain that, at this point in time, I felt like the team needed to discuss and figure out our stance on events that cater towards groups that are traditionally privileged (i.e. men).
He took it well, and said he understands the need to moderate, but was disappointed the post was taken down because he would have preferred to have an open dialogue about it. He also explained why the event was called “men and money” – it’s actually a series they’re hosting, the first event was called “women and wealth.”
So, now my struggle is, do I put this post back up in the community and allow a public conversation about it? On the one hand, the community is about owning a small business, not about issues of gender equality. On the other hand, this conversation is about, “how do we want our community to be?” which does seem relevant.
Thoughts and suggestions on this? I find myself tempted sometimes to defer to the squeakiest wheel (in this case, the woman who reported the post), but that’s not really the right way to evaluate.