Jenni & Howtomo

"If these competent, amazing people feel anxious when expressing themselves and their ideas, we need to do something —­­ we need a school of badassery."

How did you end up creating Röyhkeyskoulu (School of Badassery)?

”It was year 2017. I was sitting in a volunteer meeting, drinking coffee with these awesome, driven people. We were chatting about our professional lives. I noticed that there was a recurring theme of feeling intimidated or discouraged to open up one’s mouth in certain situations that routinely occur in working life.

The table was full of really competent, seasoned professionals from different fields. And then I got really angry!” Jenni laughs. ”My thought was that if these people feel anxious when expressing themselves and their ideas, we need to do something —­­ we need a school of badassery.”

The kindling for Röyhkeyskoulu (School of Badassery) started as a workshop Jenni organized in February 2017 through Howtomo. The event was called Women and shame - how to give zero fucks. 

“Howtomo was a recently founded network that offers women a forum to learn, share and highlight women’s expertise. The workshop was a powerful experience for both me and the women involved. I was told it was a magical moment for them to hear someone verbalising their feelings and thoughts out loud.” After the Howtomo workshop Jenni started to figure out what she was really good at: helping women untangle shame. 

“I’m a screenwriter of the Finnish comedy panel show Hyvät ja huonot uutiset (Good and Bad News), so I do a lot of research on different scientific topics for the show. When I first began to think about the phenomenon, I wondered if it occured more frequently amongst women.  I started to dig deep on the topic and found sociopsychological and neurological studies that confirmed that women are indeed more prone to feel intimidated and make themselves smaller in certain situations.”

”But how do we learn to behave like that? It is certainly not something that is biologically programmed into our brain. Already in kindergarten, boys tend to receive praise from different reasons than girls: boys get positive feedback when they act brave or do something well. Girls, on the other hand, are often praised for looking pretty or being submissive,” Jenni explains.

Although Röyhkeyskoulu has been more focused on empowering women in working life, feeling intimidated is not an emotion reserved for women only. According to Jenni, more important is belonging to a minority in the context of social interaction. ”When you are in a minority, you may feel that you are being evaluated as a representative of your group, not as an individual. Your gender is not the defining factor: it is your position in the majority or minority that affects the dynamics of social interaction,” she ends.

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