We’ve been wondering this since Marissa Mayer made headlines by taking charge at Yahoo while still pregnant. On the one hand, she’s done a lot for other women by virtue of her ascendence. On the other hand, one reason it’s important to have more women in charge is so that they can make woman-friendly changes from inside the corporate suite. Jessica Grose tackles the issue in a post on Women in the World.
This is a comeback I’ve heard many times for the six years I’ve been writing my advice column, And That’s Why You’re Single. Apparently, in order for a woman who writes about dating to be taken seriously, she needs to have a man to trot out or cite as evidence that she knows of what she speaks.
My answer to this pointed question is quite succinct. I don’t need a man in my life in order to practice common sense and critical thinking. People throw the fact that I’m single (as far as they know) in my face to try and discredit me. This one query reveals quite a bit about the person posing it. Namely, that they consider a woman’s ideas and opinions invalid unless she has a man by her side to validate them.
This question isn’t really a question. It’s an attempt to minimize my thoughts. The point of the inquiry is to shame me. Apparently, a woman who isn’t constantly looking for excuses to talk about her relationship is considered suspect. [Read more...]
Pregnancy seems to be on the rise for over-40 celebrities like Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Kelly Preston and Naomi Watts. These women seem to have the proverbial “it all” – stardom, riches and family. They make it seem so easy to have a career, delay pregnancy until they are in their 40s, and begin a family on their own terms. If they can do it, we can, too … Can’t we?
Probably not. Anything’s possible, but the way most women’s fertility clocks work, it is unlikely that these women’s children are biologically theirs. It’s no one’s business but their own, but since they are in the public spotlight, it does send a message that pregnancy in your 40s is easy. However, research shows that most of the time, it is not.
The last thing we want to do is pile onto the “hurry up, settle down, your eggs are wasting away!” panic the media often foists upon us. But in this case, the tabloids are peddling an opposite, and impossible, fairy-tale ideal. In the spirit of helping women to pursue every life option they want, we think it’s important to know: The only surefire way to put off children until well into your 40s and beyond is to get an egg donor or a surrogate when the time comes — or to freeze your eggs, an expensive but increasingly popular option, when you’re still in your 20s or 30s.
In this guest post, Bill Shireman — President and CEO of Future 500, which brings together major corporate and civil society — makes the (very sane) argument that the “gender binary,” as we call it in thinky feminist circles, is bad for everyone. Here, he explains why we should all, men and women alike, “lean in” to both our “masculine” and “feminine” tendencies.
When it comes to workplace gender politics, it’s no secret that the current climate still leaves much to be desired. Men still dominate the corporate world, occupying almost every high-powered position. Some argue that this is because male privilege is naturally ruthless and oppressive, and powerful men are invested in preventing their female rivals from gaining power.
I don’t believe this to be the case. As individuals, many men are not violent, dangerous, or oppressive. Within both men and women exist dual traits of masculinity and femininity that need to be channeled by both to ensure a balance of power in the business world. In order for business to thrive, however, corporations must recognize the value of the feminine traits that exist in both men and women and reward those traits, rather than solely rewarding the masculine traits that exist in both men and women. These traits are often valued in life, and lead to success, so why not in business?
Here are just a few of the reasons why I believe that gender neutrality equals success in the workplace and in life:
After an initial rage of criticism, Sheryl Sandberg has steadily gained ground in both feminist and corporate circles. Lean In has been reviewed from every possible angle, and the book is actually a good, quick, entertaining, informative, and sometimes shocking read, which I highly recommend – but yet another review is not what you are waiting for. Instead, it’s time we tackle that other aspect of the dreaded term “work-life-balance.” Forgoing the temptation to criticize this strange terminology, as if work is not inherently part of life rather than juxtaposed to it (a point indeed made in Lean In), let’s focus on family life for a bit. And when it comes to gender issues, that automatically means the central role society assigns to marriage and motherhood, more than anything else, in the lives of women.
With discussions going on and on about equal marriage rights in the United States, a letter by “Princeton Mom” (and alumna) Susan Patton urging female college students to look for a husband while in university, and a recently posted CNN article about American couples living together without being married (shocking!), it is clear that marriage in the United States is still viewed as a sacred tradition and a number one priority – for women.
I have followed the arguments with a growing sense of discomfort – not to say downright shock. Time for some common sense.
In this excerpt from our new book, Sexy Feminism, we argue why caring about the earth is the kind of activism that can actually save the world. We hope you’re inspired to do something today. We’d also love to hear what you’re doing to help Mother Nature while promoting equality for all. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
Why is environmental activism a feminist cause? At its core, feminism is about humanitarianism. Everyone must do her part to ensure a brighter future for the global population. Consider a few recent examples of natural disasters:
The 7-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 was the nation’s most devastating in two centuries, not for its force but for the insurmountable destruction. This already-struggling country was not equipped to take the brunt of such a tremor, which resulted in the cities crumbling. The death toll of 300,000 and more than 2 million left homeless was the worst blow. The unthinkable crimes against women (rape, beatings) and children (abandonment, illegal trafficking) that followed was the violent aftermath.
Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of starvation in the world — more than 40 percent of its residents are classified as malnourished, and 45 percent of all children are starving. This nation is one of the poorest on the planet, and it also has a history of natural disasters — tropical floods, cyclones, tornadoes, and monsoons hit every year.
In 2007, Cyclone Sidr killed nearly 10,000 people and caused a whopping $1.5 billion in damage — about 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Even when disaster strikes industrialized nations — such as the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the ongoing hurricanes and flooding in the southern United States — those that suffer most are families already living at or under the poverty line. Every time one of these environmental catastrophes strikes, humanitarian efforts are derailed, making already bad situations much worse.
In addition to donating to charities that fight against these atrocities, you have to live your life with respect to how it affects the environment. It matters.
Sexy Feminist Action Plan
Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s more than just a catchy slogan; it’s something that should be a part of everyday life. Simple, consistent actions can make a world of difference — and just the difference the world needs to survive. Some ideas:
We’d like to demand you never use another plastic bottle or grocery bag, but this is easier said than done. Invest in reusable everything until you no longer need these items, and recycle anything and everything you can. Visit your county’s website for details on everything that’s recyclable. It’s fascinating, surprising, and comforting to know how many things you can toss in the bin to be reused rather than piled in a landfill.
Plant a tree or join a community garden.
Clean out your closets twice a year and take your duds to a recycled-clothing store for credit, where you can buy new looks for way less. This is also a good way to shop when it’s 90 degrees in December but retail stores are stocked with wool turtlenecks and fleece leggings. (This could be happening more, thanks to global warming.)
Get crafty; create new uses for old things. We admit, we suck at this, so enlist a crafty friend or children (they are all awesome at this) to help spark some ideas.
Be a conscious consumer. If more of us buy consciously and demand better products from the corporations that sell us all the stuff we use, then that’s what the marketplace will supply. That’s how green cleaning products became mainstream and how the unfair, unsafe, and inhumane labor practices of some major manufacturers became public knowledge (visit Sweatfree.org for a directory of retail stores and companies that do not work with sweatshops). Every time you open your wallet, you’re sending a message. It’s an opportunity to speak up without saying a word.
Excerpted from “Sexy Feminism: A Girl’s Guide to Love, Succes, and Style” (2013 by Mariner Books). © Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudulph – All Rights Reserved
Don’t worry, we’re not going to make you say affirmations in the mirror or break out your journal. Nor are we going to talk about makeup, hair, or diet tips. In the spirit of fighting The Beauty Myth, we’re going to get just a little Oprah-Remembering-Your-Spirit-ish here and share some of our ideas about how to make yourself feel good — a close cousin, incidentally, to a dear feminist concept expressed by Audre Lorde known as “self care”: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Here, some ways to indulge in a little positive warfare — share your ideas with us as well!
Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. Important corollary: Ditch anyone who makes you feel like crap.
Wear only stuff that makes you feel good. You know that top that every time you take it out, you’re like, Ugh, why did I buy this? Donate it to a thrift store. It will fit someone else better and then they can feel how you wish you always did in it.
Put yourself out there. Sing, perform, speak. Once you get through it, even if it doesn’t go perfectly, you’ll feel good just for trying and overcoming your fears. If you kick ass at it, you’ll feel even better. Warning: You’ll probably get addicted to this feeling and have to go to karaoke every week. For example. Not that this has happened to us.
To celebrate the publication of our book, Sexy Feminism, we’ll be sharing some short excerpts of it with you, the readers who helped make this book possible!
Consider these feminist-minded companies the next time you need to stock up on your favorite products.
PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics: Founded on the principles of nonviolence and truthfulness, this company gives all of its after-tax distributable profits to charities that support women’s health and human rights. It sells only products that come from companies that practice fair labor policies and do not test on animals: Iamapeacekeeper.com.
MAC: A favorite of stage actors and drag queens, MAC launched its line of VIVA Glam lipsticks and lip-glosses in 1994 to contribute to HIV/AIDS research and treatment. The MAC AIDS Fund has raised more than $250 million worldwide through sales of VIVA Glam products, which are often endorsed by sexy feminists such as Christina Aguilera, Cyndi Lauper, Mary J. Blige, and Lady Gaga. The lipsticks are freaking gorgeous and they last longer than most. So splurge—and save lives: Maccosmetics.com.
The Body Shop:Long gone are the days of hemp oils and patchouli perfumes (though you can still get those here). The Body Shop has a complete modern line of face, body, and beauty products—from mango body butter to mineral makeup—all derived from natural ingredients and sourced from communities around the world to help sustain them. The company also has active campaigns to stop sex trafficking and domestic violence and to raise awareness of global HIV/AIDS: Thebodyshop-usa.com.