Interview with Julia Cameron De Villiers on Feminism in 2018 for IWD
It’s International Woman’s Day and there’s no better day to celebrate Inspirational women which is why I sat down with my good friend, mentor and feminist role model Michelle Zelli to dig deep on her views on Feminism and why she’s an advocate for Women in 2018.
The moment I met Michelle Zelli I knew she was going to become a significant part of my life but didn’t know quite how impactful a part she would be. I met Michelle through my husband years ago, we became fast friends with a shared love of hip hop, dancing, the universe, giggles and good vibes. I ended up working with her as my coach which accelerated my personal growth and took my life to the next level. Fast forward two years and I now feel very lucky to work with her on many levels including as a co- founder of Feminine SuperPowers, the incredible lifestyle and events movement birthed by Michelle and Cat Raincock last year.
Michelle is a one of a kind psycho-spiritual coach and speaker. She plays by her own rules, she’s headstrong, super glam, does what she wants, knows what she wants, has an incredible life story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster and is as inspiring AF! A woman on a mission and an incredible role model to me personally. You’re gonna be seeing a lot more of her this year as she stands in her power and shines her big badass light on the globe. If there was ever an empowered woman empowering women it’s Michelle Zelli.
What does being a Feminist in 2018 mean to you?
For me being a feminist in 2018 is about owning my power to choose. I don’t think there’s only one model for feminism. 2018 feminism encompasses all choices, all directions and celebrates a woman’s right to choose her destiny.
I recently did a piece for The Daily Mail, Femail section, discussing whether it’s possible to be a feminist and have cosmetic surgery. The inference is that it can’t be both, as though we would only be having cosmetic surgery to please men! I totally refute this idea. Today’s women can make our own decisions. We make our own money, we’re empowered and play by our own rules. We can decide how we’re going to look and when.
You often talk about ‘Feminine Feminism’, what is it and how do you embody it?
For me Feminine Feminism is about the balance of retaining some softness, which is expressed uniquely for each of us.
I’ve recently had a backlash on social media for using the term ‘Feminine Feminist’ but I believe one of the reasons feminism as a brand is not appealing to the masses is because it has been synonymous with anger and raging women.
In fact a recent study of male students undertaken by Student Room say 41% define feminism as ‘man-hating’ and 31% as ‘angry women’. A shocking statistic but also an opportunity for us to learn from.
In a poll conducted by Fawcett society 83% of people agreed with gender equality as the basic principal of feminism but only 7% identified as feminists. Clearly there is a branding issue. We need to find ways to help healthy masculinity come to the fore in 2018 and promote a healthy feminism with positive connotations.
How can we help men embody the healthy masculine?
Now’s the perfect time for us to build bridges, and stop burning bra’s. Ironically Donald Trump helped feminism when he came to power. He was the catalyst for International Women’s Day. Women around the world stood up, they were determined to be heard. In my mind, Trump embodies toxic masculinity – he’s narcissistic, chauvinistic and emotionally out of whack. He’s even been caught on camera saying things about women that frankly you wouldn’t expect to hear from a ‘healthy masculine’.
We can help men find their feet in this new era by finding our own ‘feminist’ comfort zone. It’s important to allow a man to be a man. Many women want strong men, “real men” but without the toxicity of the air of superiority, disrespect, sexualisation, objectification, whilst feeling the need to control women.
Why are you an advocate for women?
I came up the ranks in business. I’ve spent years in director roles in both blue chip and at SME. I now work with a lot of women to dissolve their glass ceiling in the corporate environment, which is still a male domain.
As The Founder of Feminine SuperPowers I am blessed to have the scope to come up with creative new ways to help women stand in their power. FSP is designed purely for women to plug into their superpowers, channeling creativity and sexuality on their terms. We bring together the spirituality and rock n roll with a purpose.
What are your thoughts on the Me Too Campaign? Has it been influential in changing people’s perceptions in the long term?
Yes and studies have shown over half of female students feel more hopeful for an equal future following high profile campaigns like #MeToo and Time’s Up, which is great progress.
It’s been a long time coming. For too long women have been pressured to use their sexuality to open doors. A change is long overdue. The Me Too Campaign has reached far and wide, using the powerful force of name and shame – it’s scared people into behaving themselves.
It’s unfortunate that’s the way it had to go but we have seen some big shifts. I think we need to be mindful about looking back too far. We’re looking at people who have done something wrong 20 or 30 years ago. I’m much more interested in looking forward and changing our current culture. We can’t undo past mistakes, it’s misplaced energy, let’s focus on making positive change in the now and move forward.
What do you see as the future of Feminism?
I think you’re going to see far more female leaders. Currently 26% of Directors in the FTSE 100 are female. I think that’s going to increase quickly. Two years ago the government issued a quota target, saying they want FTSE 350 to reach 33% by 2020. I work with business leaders who are serious about implementing positive change in the working environment to help woman rise through the ranks and manage a senior role with motherhood. It’s a big challenge but people are waking up and taking action.
In November last year in Reykjavik, 300 female politicians, from more than 90 countries, met for a two-day global summit. The conference is organised by Women Political Leaders, an independent organisation dedicated to increasing the number of women in politics. Currently just 23% of politicians globally are female.
I think women lead in a different way to men, as a consequence the planet will move in a different direction… and we need to!
What’s your personal mission as a woman?
To be as fearless as possible and lead from the front, whilst making the most out of every day. I refuse to be restricted by anyone’s gender agenda. This is such an amazing time to be alive, I practice living in awe and help others to find their connection with the universe. When we have true connection, we own our power. Empowered women, empower women – I’m blessed to have found this work and now love spreading the word and the magic!
What’s next on the your agenda? Will you be Zellifying the Globe?
It’s funny you should mention that Julia! Last August I felt a calling to expand the reach of my work. In September the first Feminine SuperPowers was held at The Corinthia Hotel in London and sold out two weeks prior to the event! We were blown away. But I was confident the universe was guiding me. I got out of my way paid attention and took the leap. It’s been the most incredible six months!
Co-Producing the successful docu-movie, Forbidden Games, in 2015 about the life of Justin Fashinu was exciting and I’m heading to LA in April, to discuss a TV series and a potential movie based on my coaching and my life. Another exciting concept is a foray into the chat show world, it’s a great way to spread the word whilst entertaining. Feminine SuperPowers Events are taking off with amazing success and our next is on 9th June with further events in the pipeline around the world. I am also in discussions focused on Live coaching, an ‘Evening with MZ’ – all of this is a dream come true.
My mission is to embody a woman who proves our history doesn’t have to dictate who we become, or define our life. There’s never been a better time to be a woman on this planet. We have the ability to grow, learn and morph into the best version of ourselves. We are the first generation of women who have the opportunity to earn our own money, to be truly independent, have a voice and go wherever we want to go. It’s now about growing our feminine balls and getting ourselves out there.
In a nutshell my mission is to help people find their courage and their place in this new feminist society and fulfil their potential.
Who is MZ when she’s not working?
Wow, that’s a tough one as it depends which day you ask me! I love walking in Richmond Park with my gorgeous shaggy dawg, Lily. Dancing in Ibiza, writing in Devon, learning new shamanic wisdom, hanging out with friends and my family. Talking about magic and mysteries of the universe with just about anyone who will listen . I love to unplug with a good movie, I listen to oodles of audio books and keep pretty up to date with fashion. Clothes are one of my greatest passions, along with my bed, there’s nothing like climbing into freshly made bed with cool white linen. That end of day surrender!
Catch Michelle at Feminine SuperPowers on the 9th June.
For Today Only Book your ticket for Feminine SuperPowers and get two for the price of one so you can extend this incredible experience to one of your wing woman.
For more from Michelle visit her website
Michelle Zelli adopted by the age of two, unloved by her adoptive parents, left home at 16 to channel a need for self reliance. Her need to provide security for herself . Using her wounding to propel her forward she became Blue Chip Sales Director and MD of the largest TV Post Production Company in the UK by the age of 43. A woman on a mission to help other women channel their wounding and lack of self esteem in healthy and extraordinary ways. Michelle is a coach at the top of her game, the secret weapon to successful people who embark on the path of self mastery. Michelle specialises in using adversity to drive us and teaching us the magic of the universe to love and heal ourselves and change our legacy.