The World Is Not Binary

On April 4, 2019, 350 people gathered for the second annual Champion Awards, presented by the Female Founders Alliance and Reverb, in Seattle, Wash., to honor the people and organizations who are making an impact on gender equity.

Founder and CEO of the Female Founders Alliance, Leslie Feinzaig, at 37 weeks pregnant with her second daughter, closed the night with this memorable and inspiring speech.

Full Video Transcript Below

If something as fundamental as gender — something that my whole life I thought was a given — that there’s boys and there’s girls and nothing in between. If I was wrong about that, what the hell am I wrong about? Just imagine all of those constructs in your brain that you think are binaries, and rethink them. Because, they’re not.

Good and bad is not binary. We are all imperfect in some way. They’re two extremes of a single range.

Your political belief is not binary. It’s only binary if you boil it down to a single issue, but the world is complicated.

Privilege is not binary. It is multi-dimensional. It’s a giant range and some of us have more than others. And, if you’re sitting in this room, you have loads of privilege. Somebody brought you here or you brought yourself here, so remember that.

And, you know what else? Allyship. Allyship, championship – they’re not binaries.

The world, as much as you might believe, is not made up of allies and assholes. Most of us are in the imperfect, messy middle. All of us are in the imperfect, messy middle.

And, the thing about binaries is that they’re simple and we live in the age of social media where simple is powerful. I know this. I’m a communicator. It is much easier to get those clicks if you’re angry and take a single point of view in 120 characters. Simple is memorable. Simple is easy to understand, easy to explain, easy to use. But, the world is not simple. The world is complicated.

And, the only true binary that I see today is between people who live in the extremes and the rest of us who are comfortable with the discomfort of being in the messy middle.

Those who will only understand others like themselves and those who are willing to listen to each other.

Those who are out for themselves and those who are out to support other people.

Those that want to divide us and those that want to unite us.

And, unfortunately, I think that today, it’s a world of divisiveness and a world of anger, and I think that social media is fueling that.

But, I don’t want to live in that world, and I don’t want my daughters…I don’t want my daughters to live in that world. And, so I’m making a better one.

I’m making a world where we can all be each other’s allies, because tonight I stand in this beautiful room (thank you, Pacific Science Center) filled with beautiful people with giant, beautiful dreams. And, for so many of us, those dreams don’t come true, because we don’t have the same opportunities or we don’t have the same access or because we’re actively oppressed or because we’re unseen. Because of our gender or our sex or the color of our skin or who we love or the country we were born in and our citizenship status or our religion, our physical ability. Or, because we’re 37 weeks pregnant and people question our commitment. (But, not you, Tim.)

To everybody who’s in the room today, I want you all to be a champion, and I want you to know that championship doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be intentional and it has to be a little bit better. Don’t be afraid of trying a little harder, and you might find yourself on this stage next year. You never know. We need all the help we can get, and we need to help each other.

And, to the rest of us — those with the dreams, those who are unseen, those who have been hearing that us vs. them language for so long and been told that we don’t have power, that we are less than — some more than others. I just want to say that you do have power. I’ve seen it. You have power, and you can use it.

There is power in being beaten down.

There is power in not having anything.

There is power in not being seen.

Because, when you’re beaten down, you learn how to get back up.

And, when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

And, when you’re unseen, then nobody sees you coming.

Except for me. Because, I am watching you. And, I can’t wait to see the world that you are going to build for my two daughters and for all of our kids.

So, thank you for being here tonight. I will see you all next year on stage. Thank you.

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