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Delia Ephron said it all in Sunday’s New York Times:

To me, having it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up.

Nothing more to say.  At all.

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Not gonna lie, I will be glued to the tube like most of you for the next two weeks: swimming and soccer and sprinting, oh my!  Really, I can’t wait.

And like you, I am reveling in the fact that this has been dubbed the “year of the woman”.  As NPR reported, via the Associated Press:

For the first time, there are more women on the U.S. team than men, 269 to 261, and Russia’s team, which is nearly as big, is also majority-female. Saudi Arabia has sent its first two women to the competition, and the games feature what in all likelihood is the most pregnant athlete to compete in an Olympics: Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, who is due to give birth to a girl any day now.

Even Britain’s poster athlete for the Games is a woman — heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who in addition to appearing on countless London billboards also beams up at arriving visitors from a field along the Heathrow airport flight path. A 173-by-264-foot likeness of the telegenic star is painted on the grass there.

Good stuff, right? But while we’re busy patting ourselves on the back, especially here in the U.S. where the women Olympians outnumber the men, I’ve collected a few instances of sexism skulking around the “you go, girl” edges.  (Please don’t accuse me of whinging, which is colorful Britspeak for whining) And so, in the interests of feminists everywhere, I thought I’d bring up a few of the most telling examples to show that, well, our work is not quite done.

1. Back of the Bus, little ladies:  The Independent reports that both Japan and Australia are in the hot seat for flying its male athletes business-class while the women were stuck back in coach:

Japan’s world champion women’s football team took exception to flying economy while their male counterparts sat in business class on a flight to Europe for the Olympics. The Japan Football Association said the men flew in business because they are professionals.

As for Australia, it was all about basketball.  The males were up in front, even though the women’s team was the better one.  Again, from the Independent:

Former Australian women’s basketball captain Robyn Maher said the Australian women’s team had repeatedly asked Basketball Australia to justify the inequity.

“Over the years it’s been a multitude of (reasons given) — the men get better funding, so they’ve been able to do it; the men are bigger so they need more space,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s been a bit of a sore spot, especially since the women are much more successful.”

Ya think?

2.  Pin-up Babes?  Yep, that’s how the Scotland’s Daily Record described the the U.S. women’s soccer team as they arrived in Glasgow this week.  Without a mention that the U.S. women’s soccer team is one of the world’s best, the story frames our girls in terms of sex. Insulting, much?  It starts like this:

ALL of a sudden, the Olympics have got sexy. Really sexy.

The pin-up babes of the US Olympic football team arrived for their first training session in Glasgow yesterday.

And although the rain was pouring down, you would hardly have noticed as stars such as glamour-girl keeper Hope Solo, 32, and strike stunner Alex Morgan, 23, hit the pitch.

The story segues into a condom count – according to the Record, 150,000 – and includes a quote from Solo about sex.  But not word one about, you know, soccer.

3.  Bar codes on … the bum?  You heard that right.  Salon, via Bitch Media, reports that some enterprising advertiser bought space on the backs of two UK beach Volleyball players’ bikinis during the qualifying rounds this spring – allowing creepsters with sharp eyes and quick phones to scan the QR codes and be taken to the advertiser’s website.  Ew.  The Olympics committee nixed the codes for the actual games, but according to Salon, the images were already all over the internet.  If that doesn’t creep you out, how about the Brit nickname for beach volleyball: “Baywatch with balls.”

Even Yahoo! sports has gotten into the act, with reporter Martin Rogers writing in wink, wink mode that Prince Harry, the “self-style Playboy Prince” is “most excited” about attending the beach volleyball event.

4.  And then there’s Go Daddy.  Which we wish would just, well, go. USA Today reports that Go Daddy, the bad boy of Super Bowl ads, is back again with a few commercials that will air during the Olympics that supposedly tone down the “naughtiness.”  You be the judge.  One features a sexy chic stripping off her trenchcoat to descend into a bubblebath.  Another shows a woman with a come-hither look in her eye stroking an otter resting just beneath her rather large chest.  The theme of the ads, which juxtapose pretty girls with geeks, is “beauty on the  outside, but brains on the inside.”  Whatever.  What’s interesting is that I read somewhere that, unlike the Super Bowl, the majority of the Olympics audience is made up of women and families.

5.  Finally, there’s the press corps:  The The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games estimates that some 21,000 journalists will be covering the London games and what I’d like to know is how many of them will be women, this being the year of the woman.  The numbers are almost impossible to come by, at least today, but here’s an estimate from my pal Mark Purdy, currently in London covering the Olympics (his twelfth) for the San Jose Mercury News:

Educated guess: Among USA journalism contingent, probably 75-25 men vs. women. Among international contingent, probably 95-5 men vs. women. Although that’s only print journalists; we work in a separate building and in separate parts of the venues from the broadcasters. There seem to be more women in that field, though I couldn’t give you a real guess.

Those lop-sided numbers?  Not really surprising, considering that according to a 2012 Women’s Media Center report, 11.4% of sports editors, 10% of sports columnists, and 7% of sports reporters were women.  But still, it makes you wonder.  Is that gender inequity one reason why, research has shown, that the gap between Olympic coverage of men’s versus women’s sports has widened? But more importantly: does that impact the way the stories are framed?

Don’t know, can’t answer.  But it might be fun to pay attention.  As for right now, I’m just anxious for the games to begin.  When it comes to the medal count, my money’s on the girls.

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Does fashion reflect the culture, or does it sometimes shake it loose?

I bring this up because we were recently on a decadent vacation and somewhere between a tamarind smoothie and a full body massage, I picked up the latest issue of Vogue and flipped to a fashion spread entitled “Risky Business.” And what did I find within those ten glossy pages?  Shoulder pads.  Lots and lots of shoulder pads.

The caption under one photo, a power chick dressed in a bold blue big-shouldered coat with the collar flipped up and with a take-no-prisoners look in her eye, reads:

In the eighties, padded shoulders were meant to make women look more mannish (read: powerful) in the boardroom.  Today we wear a broad shoulder because we’re comfortable  (read: powerful) enough to dress creatively in the office, too.

I am old enough, and enough of an unrepentant fashionista, to remember the last time we bought into the broad-shouldered look.  (I also have a number of blazers to prove it.  My favorite: a bright yellow shawl-collared number that I wore with a prim white shirt buttoned up to my neck — paired with a black leather mini-skirt.  What was I thinking? Clearly, I wasn’t.)

Back then, when we women were trying mightily to find our niche in the workplace, many of us became men in skirts.  The idea was to blend in, to refrain from calling attention to our feminine side, to be one of the boys.  And part of that fitting in was our clothes:  Big shoulders, prissy buttoned up shirts, and silly little bow ties. All of which became the uniform of the woman on the way up, a symbol of where we stood in the world of work.

And yet, we found, that wasn’t right either. If what it took to be taken seriously was to be more like a man, well — couldn’t men do that better?  No matter how we camouflaged our femininity?

As we explored in Undecided, could in fact our differences be our strengths? We vote yes.  As we penned a while back:

But what if we could tap into our authentic, feminine selves and do what we do best:  Studies show, for example, that women negotiate in a win-win manner, we’re interactive leaders, we’re sensitive to subliminal cues; we’re multithinkers, multitaskers, and are more comfortable with ambiguity.  Not to say one gender is better than the other.  Just different.  Which brings up one of my favorite bon mots from Man Men, seasons past.  The context may have been different, but you gotta love the line: “Don’t be a man, be a woman. It’s a powerful business when done correctly.”

Which leads us back to Vogue and all those shoulder pads.  To be sure, the shoulders are structured and broader than a wooden clothes hanger.   But manly?  Not even close.

And so I got to thinking — if indeed thinking is even possible after a full body massage — about what all this “risky business” might mean.   What I think these chic chicks, with their wild ass hair and red slashes of video vixen lips, are telling us is this:  whether we plan to copy the look or not, we’ve arrived.

Or at the very least, we’re shouldering our way forward.

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One of the problems with decisions is we sometimes make them before we’re ready. Sometimes we’ve forced ourselves into a box. Sometimes we entered that box with a skip and a smile. Sometimes it’s been a full-court press to please the iconic self. But as the saying goes: Decide in haste, repent in leisure. Quite possibly, a few years down the line, we’ll look over our shoulders, second guess ourselves, and wished we’d opted for Door Number One, wondering what for the love of God were we thinking.

I bring this up not because of that Hefty bag full of extremely unfortunate clothing I donated to the Good Will this weekend — but because of the renewed debate about the value of college.

Education or occupation?

Yes, I agree: Tuition is rising out of control, even in public universities.  Then there’s the economy, which results in a number of graduates of high priced universities spending the equivalent of a “gap year” brewing lattes and living back in their high school bedrooms because they can’t find a full time job.  And then there’s the campaign chat from presidential candidate Rick Santorum who suggested that President Obama’s talk about giving everyone the opportunity to pursue higher education was elitist.

All of which has led into an unfortunate conversation about economics:  the cost-benefit ratio of tuition versus paycheck.  And the point that many folks are suggesting is that, maybe the best plan before you go to school — or decide not to — is to figure out right quick what you want to do with your life and head off in that direction. Choose your path, put on your blinders, and then steamroll ahead.

Think about that.  Did you know what you wanted out of life when you were 18? 20? Even 30?  When I was that age, my life plan was to have seven kids and write the great American novel.  Marrying into a family of, well, seven kids — where my mother-in-law once told me that for ten years of her life she remembered nothing but driving car pools and doing laundry — quickly disabused me of that notion.  And the great American novel?  To this day, I have yet to come up with a plot.

But that’s behind the point.  Seems to me that this rush to adulthood, to forge ahead with the five-year plan before you’re even legal to order a martini or sign a lease on your own apartment is a recipe for a lot of indecision down the line, especially for women who are new to this game of figuring out what to do with their lives.  For men, maybe it’s different.  For generations, they’ve known that their purpose is to provide.  To go, seek and conquer.  And maybe that makes the decision making a little bit easier.  But for us?  Suddenly all the doors have flown open:  we can be anything, we can do everything, we can have it all.  Or so we’ve been told.  And based on that, what we’ve found is that those choices are incredibly hard.  Especially without the generational role models men have had for years.

So what I wonder is, why the rush?

But back to school: Is higher education just an expensive form of job preparation?  Or is it about learning about the world and about yourself: figuring out who you are, how to make your way in life, and edging your way through what has been dubbed “emerging adulthood“?  And so my question is this:  how can you choose what you want to be in life when you’re barely out of your teens, don’t have the role models to forge the trail, and, given good health, you’ve probably got 60 years of adulthood waiting at your doorstep?

And then there’s this: while you’ve been diligently following the five-year plan, what might have you missed out on along the way?

I’ve been teaching at the college level for 15 years, and I see the effects of choosing too soon all the time among my women students.  The trigger for our book, in fact, was a conversation with a young graduate we called Jane – a rockstar by any definition – who entered college with a firm plan in mind, yet shortly after graduation was so overwhelmed by the choices that lay in front of her and her dismay that she might not have chosen the proper one, that she confessed that she sometimes wished she had been born into a culture where everything — from what she did with her life to where she lived to whom she married — was chosen for her.

And what we wondered, again, was why the rush?

And so, I was so heartened when I ran into an interview with Columbia professor Andrew Delbanco over on salon.com the other day.  His  book, “College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be,” is a defense of liberal arts education, and when he was asked why college is necessary, what he had to say was this:

… I understand the reasons students feel compelled to specialize early, but I think there is something valuable lost when we give in to these pressures — namely, what college has traditionally provided: the opportunity for young people to make a pause between adolescence and adulthood, to reflect on life, on their choices, on who they are or want to be. We don’t want to lose that precious chance — what the English philosopher Michael Oakeshott calls “the gift of interval.” In my mind, that gift is the essence of the American college and what has made it an important institution in the world.

Bingo. The point is not necessarily that everyone needs to go to college, though it would be great if everyone could.  But what I think is that, one way or the other, all of us need to allow ourselves the space to embark upon some trial and error.  To expand.  Grow. Find our gifts.  Get to know who we are and what we want.  After all, we’ve got plenty of years ahead of us.

Why rush?

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Flying solo is in–in a serious way. A New York Times Q&A with Eric Kilnenberg, NYU sociology professor and author of the new book “Going Solo,” leads with the facts:

In 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single. Now that number is almost 50 percent. One in seven adults lives alone. Half of all Manhattan residences are one-person dwellings.

Kilnenberg has done his research. He spent a decade studying the phenomenon while working on his book, and he has all kinds of good explanations for those numbers. There’s less stigma than there once was around being single. People crave privacy and personal space–tough to preserve when you’re sharing a bathroom. From another piece he wrote several weeks ago,

Living alone comports with modern values. It promotes freedom, personal control and self-realization–all prized aspects of contemporary life.

And Kilnenberg’s not the only one digging in. Melanie Kurtin enumerated what keeps her from committing here and Dominique Browning did the same thing here, while Kate Bolick’s much-discussed piece in The Atlantic, “All the Single Ladies,” leads with a simple confession:

In 2001, WHEN I was 28, I broke up with my boyfriend. Allan and I had been together for three years, and there was no good reason to end things. He was (and remains) an exceptional person, intelligent, good-looking, loyal, kind. My friends, many of whom were married or in marriage-track relationships, were bewildered. I was bewildered. To account for my behavior, all I had were two intangible yet undeniable convictions: something was missing; I wasn’t ready to settle down.

And this, I think, really gets at the truth behind our reluctance to commit: to borrow–and tweak–a phrase from a long-ago presidential campaign, It’s too many choices, stupid!

When we’re told that we can have it all, that everything is on the table, why would we ever commit to anything? Even if we know we love the thing to which we’re committing, we can’t help but wonder about all the things we didn’t choose.

And I’m not just talking about relationships.

Too many options applies to commitment of the romantic sort, sure, but also to jobs and where we should live and what kind of life we should have. Passion or paycheck? Security or freedom? Long hair or short? High heels or hiking boots?

Deciding, by definition, means “to kill.” Choosing one thing means you’re killing the possibility of having the other. And when we’re raised on the idea that anything’s possible–and every option is available–we see choosing anything as settling. And, of course, it is–it’s settling for something less than everything.

When you decide to take one path, there’s a risk of missing out on something–something we often imagine to be glorious, the proverbial greener grass–waiting for us at the end of another. As Hannah, a woman we profile in Undecided, put it:

The grass is always greener. Like, do I want to move to San Francisco? Colorado? South America? Will life be any better in any of those places? Probably not. But it might be, so there’s that risk that I’m taking by not moving.

This mindset is so prevalent, some worry we have an entire generation of commitmentphobes on our hands. Psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett is trying to get the in-between stage–the years when we try different jobs/relationships/cities/hairstyles on for size–designated as a distinct life stage, one he calls Emerging Adulthood. People don’t spent their entire career with one company anymore–the very idea sounds Flinstonian. Nor do they generally marry their high school sweethearts. To paraphrase Hannah, There’s that risk we’re taking by not checking out what else is out there. We have the whole world to explore first!

For women in particular, it’s excruciating. Because, in addition to that message–that we can do anything!–we were fed another, often from the women just a generation or two older than us, who weren’t afforded the same opportunity: that we’re so lucky that we can do anything. And combined, they leave many of us shouldering a load of responsibility. 

From a post I wrote some time ago,

This bounty of opportunity is so new that we were sent off to conquer it with no tools–just an admonishment that we’d best make the most of it.

We know we’re blessed to have all of these options. We get it. And so is it any wonder we want a shot at each and every one of them?

But therein lies the rub.

We want to travel, but can’t take off whenever we feel like it if we’re also going to get our business off the ground–and featured in Oprah. We want a family, but that’d mean that packing up and moving to Cairo or New Orleans on a whim is pretty much off the table. We want to be there for our daughter’s every milestone, yet we also want to model what a successful career woman looks like. We want torrid affairs and hot sex, but where would that leave our husbands? We want financial security and a latte on our way to the office every morning, but sit in our ergonomically correct chairs daydreaming about trekking through Cambodia with nothing but our camera and mosquito net. We want to be an artist, but have gotten rather used to that roof over our heads. We want to be ourselves, fully and completely, but would like to fit in at cocktail parties, too. (And when on earth are we going to find the time to write our novel??)

We want to do it all, to try it all before we buy! And that, I believe, is what’s at the root of the cold feet. Choices are hard. Damn hard. And every one of them entails a trade-off. The work is in accepting that–and in finding out who you are right down at your core, and figuring which of those trade-offs you can live with.

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The fight for the women’s vote ramped up this week when Michele Bachmann officially declared her run for the presidency. The Tea Party founder is pro-family, anti-government, and has proclaimed herself the champion of women everywhere. We beg to differ.

She’s just one of the guys, she told Daily Beast writer Kirsten Powers:

“I’m a woman comfortable in her own skin. I grew up with three brothers. My parents didn’t see us [as] limited [by gender]. I would mow the lawn and take out the trash; I was making my own fishing lures. I went along with everything the boys did.”

Just don’t call her a feminist, she told Powers. Clearly.

The opening salvos in the battle for our hearts and minds were fired a few weeks back when DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the Republicans out for their war on women. To which Bachmann told a New Hampshire reporter that Democrats were

“terribly afraid of a Michele Bachmann candidacy for president of the United States,” said Bachmann. “Democrats see themselves with group politics quite often, they’ll see that they think they should own certain minorities or ethnicities or that they should own women. That’s not true.”

Instead, Bachmann asserted that women are paying attention to economic issues, such as the rising gas and grocery prices.

You know what’s coming, right? The creepy idea that, issues notwithstanding, we’ll vote for a woman because, you know, we are one. That we’re so dumb that we’ll vote against our own interests just because the candidate wears a skirt. Or proclaims herself pro-family.

It’s insulting at best. (Why is it, again, that a man is allowed to vote on the issues, while a woman must vote according to chromosomes?) Dangerous at worst. When it comes to issues that really matter to women – and their families — a skirt does not a woman make. Neither does a tea party.

Don’t get us wrong. We think women come in many stripes and colors. And yet. There are a certain number of bedrock issues you’d assume any Double Xer would support, mainly because these are issues that affect us all.

Just for the hell of it, let’s take Bachmanns’ position on defunding Planned Parenthood, which she once called “the LensCrafter of big abortion.” What often gets lost when the debate centers on abortion is this: Planned Parenthood is a prime provider of health care for women who can’t afford it. I know of one woman, in fact, whose life may have been saved by Planned Parenthood. She discovered a lump in her breast shortly after losing her work-related health insurance. Where did she turn for a mammogram? Yep, Planned Parenthood, which ultimately shepherded her through the scary process of not only the diagnostics, but ultimately surgery, chemo and radiation.

And while we’re on the subject of health care, there’s this. Who suffered most under our health care system of old? Women. And when women suffer, it’s often the kids who pay the price. So much for those family values. Let’s recall a few things we may have forgotten about our old health care system that would be back in business if Bachmann and others succeed in repealing Obama’s health care overhaul, which, incidentally, has been estimated to save $140 billion over the next ten years. Pregnancy: pre-existing condition. Women:  statistically more likely to work  part-time jobs (so they can care for their kids) that do not provide benefits. Sure, it’s all peachy for ladies who can depend on well-employed husbands for heath care benefits. But what if he loses his job? Hard to afford COBRA on a part time salary.  Or no salary.  Or even one salary, for that matter.

And what if she’s a single mother? Sorry, kids. No doc for you…

Should we go on? Let’s. Back when the bill was first being debated, USA Today provided a cheat sheet for the ways in which the old health care system discriminated against women:

  • insurance companies are allowed to charge women more for the same policies as men in 40 states and the District of Columbia;
  • in those same states and D.C., insurance companies can charge businesses with mostly female employees higher group rates;
  • many companies don’t provide maternity coverage as part of their basic plans;
  • insurance companies can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions; having had a C-section is one of them;
  • if a woman is pregnant when she buys an insurance company, insurance companies can deny maternity coverage;
  • 8 states and D.C. allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence.

There’s more, but those are the highlights of healthcare coverage for women who had insurance. But what about the ones who didn’t? Or their kids? You do the math.

Obviously, health care isn’t the only issue that affects women or families. How about the fact that women still make 77 cents to a man’s buck for the same work? Or that the ERA has never been passed? Or the fact that for many women, affordable child care is nothing but a pipe dream because we’ve never made it a priority? But again, what about the families we care so much about?  What happens to the kids when mom and dad can’t get a job, or when a single mother can’t find anyone to watch her kids?  Or the fact that the workplace is still set up for an employee with someone at home to take care of business — and pick up the kids before the day care center closes. Now that the 40 hour workweek equals 52, there aren’t enough hours in the day for any of us to meet the demands of both work and family without, well, going postal. Which is why so many women, who still own the second shift, dial back their careers when kids come along. Which is fine, so long as there is a spouse in the picture to bring home the bacon – and the health insurance – and that said spouse is guaranteed to have a job in the morning.  Maybe this is all stuff that small-town communities, big-hearted bosses  and god-fearing families can fix without government intervention.  But how has that worked out for us so far?

There’s more that gets our goat, not the least of which is the fact that Bachmann is in favor of killing the EPA (so much for Mother Earth), has opposed tax deductions for breast pumps designed to encourage breast feeding among poor women, and favors spending cuts (that could disproportionately hurt the poor) and is against tax increases (that could disproportionately hurt the rich).

Thing is, parity is important. Absolutely. We want equal representation in government, in business, in life. But when it comes to those who make the policy or run the show, let’s face it: Men vote on the issues, not the pants. Same with us. It’s the issues, not the skirts. A woman who can’t-slash-won’t support women’s issues? Fail.

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By now you have surely heard that the Supreme Court has denied the Wal-Mart class action suit, brought on behalf of some 1.5 million female workers, on grounds of gender descrimination.   The ruling was not a decision based on whether Wal-Mart had discriminated against the women (more below), but that they could not proceed as a class because, you know, the class was just too big for them to have had common experiences.  In effect: the judges found that the class was too big to prevail.  From the New York Times:

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said the women suing Wal-Mart could not show that they would receive “a common answer to the crucial question, why was I disfavored?” He noted that the company, the nation’s largest private employer, operated some 3,400 stores, had an expressed policy forbidding discrimination and granted local managers substantial discretion.

“On its face, of course, that is just the opposite of a uniform employment practice that would provide the commonality needed for a class action,” Justice Scalia wrote. “It is a policy against having uniform employment practices.”

The case involved “literally millions of employment decisions,” Justice Scalia wrote, and the plaintiffs were required to point to “some glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together.”

Now I’m not a lawyer, though I am married to one and have raised another, so I can’t get into the law here, but it’s interesting that the court was divided not only along ideological lines, but gender lines as well.   And what interests me were the plaintiff’s (Betty Dukes et. al) complaints.  Let’s check what Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, wrote a while ago on Huffington Post:

Ms. Dukes was an enthusiastic Wal-Mart employee, eager to work her way up from store “greeter” to a position in management. But after years passed watching male colleagues move up and finding no opportunities for her own advancement, she discussed her concerns with a district manager. The result was a pattern of retaliation that eventually led to a demotion and pay cut — and the biggest sex discrimination case in history.

It turns out Ms. Dukes wasn’t alone. When a woman with a master’s degree who had worked at Wal-Mart for five years asked her department manager why she was paid less than a 17-year-old boy who had just been hired, she was informed, “You just don’t have the right equipment… You aren’t male, so you can’t expect to be paid the same.” Another female employee was informed that a male employee got a bigger raise then she did because he had “a family to support.” Another was told that men would always be paid more than women at Wal-Mart because “God made Adam first, so women would always be second to men.”

… In every category of salaried management at the company, women are significantly underrepresented and are paid consistently less. To move up in Wal-Mart, employees need a “tap on the shoulder” from upper-level management, which is overwhelmingly male and stubbornly protective of a corporate culture that demeans women.

Pissed off?  I am.  Clearly those two weren’t the only ones with a major beef.  And here’s the thing: this stuff cuts to the core of one the reasons why, for women, our career and life decisions are so much more difficult.  We’ve been promised an equal world, opportunities our mothers never had, along with the expectations that we can sail along blissfully, the way the menfolk have done for generations.   And yet.  There’s the maternal wall:  women are promoted less, given fewer challenging assignments, once they have kids, for fear that they are less serious about their careers.  And if they don’t have kids?  On the one hand, there’s the assumption that they might (see above) or that, if motherhood isn’t in their sights, well, they are weird.  And if they are ambitious?!  God forbid.

And then, there’s this:  despite the strides we women have made over the last several decades, we’re still stuck in a world designed by and for workers (as in the case of Wal-Mart, with the right anatomy) who have someone at home to take care of business.   But who lives like that anymore?  Do you?  Will you ever? And why don’t we talk about it?  I was particularly taken by my cyber-friend Morra Aarons-Mele’s post yesterday in HuffPo where, prompted by a mother-daughter panel at the Worklife Legacy Awards in New York, she got into a discussion about work-life conflict — and the fact that we women don’t talk about it nearly enough — and feel vulnerable when we do.  What I liked best was this:

We work in a male system. To paraphrase Anne Weisberg, it’s the dynamic between men and women in the workplace that’s the cause of so much work-life conflict. And we don’t want to be bitches so we play along with the system and pretend like everything is OK. And before you say, working for women is way worse than working for men… I went to girls’ school. When you were in class, all girls, and you got a better grade or knew more than another girl, you weren’t a bitch you were just smart. When you got into the co-ed world and one-upped your fellow women, you were a bitch. We work in the world men who aren’t primary caregivers built, and we feel we have to play by their rules.

Like.  We’re in a state of transition, trying our damnedest to take advantage of all the opportunities that were never there a generation ago, in an economy where we will always have to work, while still navigating a workplace and a societal culture that hasn’t kept pace.  What Shannon and I think is that it’s all a work in progress, and if we’re going to make any sort of change — we need to keep the conversation going.

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If you’re Undecided, you’re definitely not alone! And we’d like to cordially invite you to several events we have going on this week:

Wednesday June 22: Join in on Twitter as we guest-host (along with moderator Chanelle Schneider) a GenYChat about the topics we explore in Undecided. If you haven’t participated in one of these chats before, expect to find GenYs, Gen Xers, and Boomers who are friendly, interesting, and full of good advice and insight. The topics are always relevant, but we think this week’s will be especially fascinating… (Biased? Us? Nahhhhh.) Follow us and @genychat for updates, or join in on Wednesday by searching the #genychat hashtag. The chat goes down at 9pm EST; 6 Pacific. BYOB.

Saturday, June 25: Stop by the Barnes and Noble in San Jose’s Pruneyard Mall at 1pm to say hello to us and to get your copy of Undecided signed. If you’d like us to write something extra-special, consider bringing treats to bribe us with. Think frosting.

Monday, June 27: Join us at 7pm for a reading at Modern Times Bookstore‘s new location in San Francisco! No doubt this will be a fun one.

Hope to see you there — and don’t forget to tell your friends!

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Greetings! Today, we thought we’d catch you up on what’s going on with Undecided (the book… have you bought your copy yet?), because there’s quite a bit to catch you up on!

Ahead of the book’s official release on May 3, we had a sneak peek reading at Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara last week. The reading was fantastic, the crowd was enthused (and not at all undecided about buying books…), and the bookstore was, of course, awesome. Chaucer’s is independently owned and a longtime community staple, and it was an honor to read there. Many thanks to Chaucer’s–and to everyone who came to hear a little taste of Undecided! (And to Julienne, for the post-reading meal. Which was, in a word, epic.)

We’re working on getting our schedule all figured out, but we do have a couple of other dates confirmed. So if any of these are in your ‘hood, please mark your calendars and plan on coming!

May 25: Modern Times, San Francisco

May 26: Books Inc., Mountain View

July 7: Third Place Books, Seattle

And there’s more to come! Stay tuned…

Also, Joyce Lain Kennedy wrote about us in her “Careers Now” column, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune, this week–Check it out here.

And finally, we’ve started a little collection of photos of Undecided readers with their books on our Facebook page. (Yes, I know I said the publication date is May 3. It is. Officially. Dear publishing world: Why?) And while we love the shot of baby Hazel, we feel a need to brag about U.S. Judicial Attache Amy, who sent us a picture of herself with the book… in front of the official seal of the Embassy where she’s stationed in the Middle East. I’m sorry — how awesome is that? If you have a pic of yourself with the book, post it and tag us!

Allrighty, good people of the blog. Until next time, we’re out… and undecided.

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In the spirit of the season:  an iconic duo of  feel-good Christmas Eve moments, movie style.  Just enough gratuitious Christmas cheese to make even Ebeneezer Scrooge  a little teary — plus a few life lessons, Undecided style.

“If things don’t turn out the first time, you’ve still got to believe” (from the original “Miracle on 34th St.”)   Which is to say,  just because things don’t work out the way we want at first, it doesn’t mean they aren’t actually working out.

“Merrrrrrrry Christmas, you old Savings and Loan!” (from the best Christmas movie ever — no matter how many times you’ve seen it.)  In other words, even when everything’s a mess, everything can still be great:  a change of perspective can make all the difference.

Merry Christmas to all…  And to all, a good night!

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