To clarify: my rating is not due to content. This is a narrative that needs to be told. I just would have preferred it in a different writer's hands.To clarify: my rating is not due to content. This is a narrative that needs to be told. I just would have preferred it in a different writer's hands. I recognize that the prose need not be complex and the plotting as-told-to. But craft-wise, it was lacking--more akin to a mediocre YA novel.
A writing sample: "So I chose the school in the nearby neighborhood of Rawdha, so that people would stop staring at me, so that I would be treated like everyone else, like my little sister.
'Well, hi there Nujood! Oh, you are sooooooooo cute!'
Oops--not this time, I guess! A woman with blue eyes, perfect posture, and a mauve scarf awkwardly draped over her short hair has just appeared in the middle of the courtyard. Surrounded by schoolgirls, she's waving her hands around and talking loudly, but the words pouring out seem like gibberish. Must be a foreign language." (pg 160)
I think I'd rather get Nujood Ali's story from strong journal articles.
Though this does beg the question: Whose story is this? Who has the right to tell it? (And who has the right to profit from it?)
I would suggest, instead: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide ...more
Intro + Ch 1. The Leadership Ambition Gap: What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?
"A 2011 McKinsey report report noted that men are pNotes as I read:
Intro + Ch 1. The Leadership Ambition Gap: What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?
"A 2011 McKinsey report report noted that men are promoted based on on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplishments."
"Many of these girls watched their mothers try to 'do it all' and then decide that something had to give. That something was usually their careers."
I read this, and I hope I am not judged for my choices, though I am not naive enough to believe that I'm not. It's impossible not to be, and as a woman, that is especially true. It's true that men are expected to be the breadwinners, so while my staying at home might be less surprising than if my husband did, it's still judged. Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote a piece about it in The Atlantic. Granted, I'm no where near the 1%, but I am comfortable enough for this to have been a choice. Yes, something did have to give. That something was my teaching. I am a mother, a partner, and I write poetry, sometimes even get it published. I am a thousand other things, but these are among my favorite roles. My ambition won't take me to the top of a boardroom pyramid, but it does include contributing to letters. And to my children's lives. Sometimes a load of laundry. But my husband's got dinner covered.
"When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy. Boys are seldom labeled bossy because a boy taking the role of boss does not surprise or offend."
(As my friend said, "But my son IS bossy!" And my daughter can be too, but I'm going to watch myself with both kids. Because being a boss is fine too.)
"Fear of negative attention."
Big checkmark for that one for me. I abhor it.
"You will find something you love and you will do it with gusto." Yes.
Ch. 2 Sit at the Table
(So far, this is sounding quite a lot like her TED Talk. I wonder if one need read the book too? The book is always better, isn't it?)
I should count the number of times the word 'guilty' has come up thus far. What amazes me, is how many times I've thought the word... since I've become a mother. Never before have I felt this kind of guilt about the way I spend my time. A bit as a teacher, but as a mother, it's increased a thousandfold. And I fight this so much because: I was the one who asked for the kids, I was the one who wanted to stay home. My husband loves them just as much, but I was the originator, so that seed feels like I need to own it. Fortunately, this is only in my head, and not in his, so I have to work it out for myself.
Ch.3 Success and Likeability
When voted most likely to succeed (and I was voted 'most likely to become President,' our school's variation, I suppose), Sandberg asked for her name to be removed so she could get a date to the prom. "He canceled on me to go to a basketball game, saying, 'I know you'll understand going to playoffs is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.' I did not point out that as a high school girl, I thought going to prom was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." Oh, Sheryl. As a girl, my experiences were so different. I grew up being told (by my mother) to be PROUD of my intelligence and I was pleased to be a teacher's pet. In high school, I wasn't quite as overt, but I still could be counted on in discussion to fill in gaps, to lead groups if needed, to be a "strong" student, and I was proud of that. Prom was a delicate matter, but certainly not the ultimate in life's experiences, or even high school's or that year's or maybe even that month's. My date liked books too.
After describing a magazine article that was about powerful women with an image of their heads superimposed onto men's bodies, she writes, "Our culture needs a robust image of female success that is first, not male, and second, not a white woman on the phone, holding a crying baby."
"Early in her career, Arianna [Huffington] realized that the cost of speaking her mind was that she would inevitably offend someone. She does not believe it is realistic or even desirable to tell women not to care when we are attacked. Her advice is that we should let ourselves react emotionally and feel whatever anger or sadness being criticized evokes for us. And then we should quickly move on. She points to children as her role model. A child can cry one moment and run off and play the next."
I know children's development is a bit different from an adult, but I do support the allowance of giving yourself a chance to mourn whatever it is that has been damaged or passed and then move on. It's something that is hugely difficult for me and I'm learning how to do it now, also likely because of my children and it is rooted in time. I don't want to devote too much time being sad about something that I cannot change when I could look into the face of someone who delights me. It's OK to take offense, process, and move on to something that would better suit our attention. Just clear the rest; I let things linger in such a ridiculous way.
Ch. 8 Make Your Partner a Real Partner
"Half of the men listed their children as a hobby. A hobby? For most mothers, kids are not a hobby. Showers are a hobby." Ha! True!
"Gloria [Steinem] reiterated that progress for women in the home has trailed progress in the workplace, explaining, 'Now we know that women can do what men do, but we don't know that men can do what women do.'"
I am lucky in my home in that my husband does share in responsibility (and irresponsibility). While our relationship has plenty of blips, this isn't one of them. In fact, he generally does the chores I like the least, and he takes on equal child care when he's home. And I love that he doesn't filter this as a feminist thing but simply equal partnership. This seems like it should be obvious, but it's amazing what we observe in extended family and friends' families.
Ch. 9 The Myth of Doing It All
"In his latest book, Colin Powell explains that his vision of leadership rejects 'busy bastards' who put in long hours at the office without realizing the impact they have on their staff. ... I am paying them for the quality of their work, not for the hours they work."
"Our different viewpoints seem inextricably gender based. Compared to his peers, Dave is an exceptionally devoted dad. Compared to many of my peers, I spend a lot more time away from my children."
Ch. 10 Let's Talk About It
"Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go through life without being labeled by my gender. I don't wake up thinking, What am I going to do today as Facebook's female COO?, but that's often how I'm referred to by others. When people talk female pilot, or female engineer, or female race car driver, the word 'female' implies a bit of surprise."
Ch. 11 Working Together Towards Equality
"[Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo] was heralded as the first pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Feminists cheered. [She shared she'd take off only a few weeks and would be working throughout.] Feminists stopped cheering. Since taking such a short leave is not feasible or desirable for everyone, they argued Marissa was hurting the cause by setting up unreasonable expectations."
My reaction is doubled, here: Marissa Mayer indeed, by becoming so powerful, is an example in the public eye. And she has every right to decide how she'll take her leave. Right now, there just aren't that many female CEOs, of Fortune 500s or otherwise. Power is a tricky thing. (But, I think, if I were asked to give up poetry 100% for six weeks, I might be awfully grumpy.) (Or, I might be awfully relieved.)
What Sandberg does point out here that really makes a lot of sense is how women need to not attack one another, but stand up for each other. Because these positions of power are seen as such a rarity, there is a lot of competitiveness that comes out.
We also internalize a great deal and don't realize we are subjecting others to a double standard.
And at the end, she brings up the Mommy Wars, which exhaust me and too: "Society has long undervalued the contributions of those who work without a salary." [She cites her mother, a volunteer.)
"We must raise both the ceiling and the floor."
I'm grateful for this book. My takeaway: push yourself as far as you want to go in your given life. This book focuses on moving up in corporate America, because that is what the author knows, and she gives little hints at how it might be applicable to others: true, this book comes from the perspective of a woman with a good partner and can afford a nanny. Can afford to not work. She's also clear and articulate and smart. She doesn't tell a great deal of anecdotal stories from a range--mostly herself, her friends who are also powerful women. But the meat of the book is her message, which aligns neatly with her TED Talk.
Originally, I wanted to be department head and to teach the smartest kids at the high school. Years later, I have gotten my second Master's degree (and hope to one day get a Ph.D, but not for a job--for the education) and I'm at home with my two kids. I also edit poetry for a journal, run an interview project, have published two chapbooks, am trying to get a full-length a home and have written the first draft of a hybrid essay and am writing poems towards a second full-length, I attend Loft Mentorship seminars and am a member of a poetry collective, where we're writing a collaborative full-length aubade. So. There's that too. But her book is going to inspire me to keep pushing through the rougher patches: to lean in and try harder as a mother, to try harder and get opportunities as a writer. And I deeply look forward to the day when I am in a position where I can be able to mentor myself, because I think it's awfully important to provide opportunities for women coming up in ranks....more
I hadn't expected to want to keep this book; I figured it was another read-and-give-away sort, but I was drawn into the vignettes, the quick glimpsesI hadn't expected to want to keep this book; I figured it was another read-and-give-away sort, but I was drawn into the vignettes, the quick glimpses of women Griffin deemed "courtesans," from centuries previous to the 1930s. I'm drawn to Klondike Kate and think I might do some research on her for a poem. I appreciated how well-researched the book was, without showing its cards--the writing is clean enough to feel smooth, just enough. Her organization--by "virtues," as opposed by chronology or some other more dull preoccupation, gave the reader the opportunity to keep attendant to the script, and I appreciated that. So easily this could have turned into one of those rote, painful historical tracts. But it never turned away in tone, a slight sound of applause and admiration, combed together with fact.
I have mixed feelings about the prevailing attitude--Griffin's descriptions gave the women the power in the narratives, while I doubt that always felt true. I think of the dancers whose mothers sold them after performances to supplement income, the precariousness that is accepting a kept woman station (though who knows how differently a marriage might have worked for these women, especially in the particular times in which they lived?). There were women such as Sarah Bernhardt who truly seemed to rise above and have heart and soul for the performance profession, and I celebrate those....more
"There are as many theories for self-injury as there are trauma survivors--escaping feelings of emptiness, easing tension, expressing pain, punishing"There are as many theories for self-injury as there are trauma survivors--escaping feelings of emptiness, easing tension, expressing pain, punishing the body as a way of expressing responsibility for the 'abuse,' providing a sense of control and mastery. My repetition compulsion was based on impulsive acts to ward off experiencing aloneness and badness. Dissociation was an opportunity for magical thinking, a sense of mastery to overcome my powerlessness, hopelessness, and learned helplessness. As I now understand it, my drama looked like this: tension gradually builds (pregnancy), the painful battering incident occurs (abortion), a calm respite follows. Arousal before the violence and the peace of surrender afterward both reinforce the traumatic bond between victim and abuser." (207)...more
"Along with the oaks, pines, tea olive, and azalea already growing, the cedars helped form an irregular circle.(2.5)
Muddy / murky prose. Heavy-handed.
"Along with the oaks, pines, tea olive, and azalea already growing, the cedars helped form an irregular circle. A circle of trees." (153)
"Our journey deposits psychological or spiritual energy (empowerment) into our internal banks." (208)
I never had a sense of connection with the narrative, though I do appreciate the journey for what it is and recognize that this book is an important one to some women who need that bravery.
There were moments that surprised me:
- The book shows Monk Kidd collecting a great number of artifacts on her journey. On pg 118, she mentions her husband gifting her a pair of antlers, which she hung. I love the idea of antlers giving her a sense of power, but I wonder: are there instances of female deer ever having antlers? (I know, recently, it's been discovered that there are lionesses with manes.) - Monk Kidd spends some time going over the myth of Ariadne, and writes, "Theseus's leaving suggested to me that the last of a woman's dependence on male deliverers must be stripped away. She needs to see that the external Theseus is really an extension of the patriarchal father--another male figure upon whom she's dependent." (128) And then Dionysus shows up on Naxos and rescues her?
Some sections I marked for compelling elements / use for later:
Another woman who was a student of ancient mythology told us that the turtle was a feminine symbol of strength and wisdom. "Did you know that in some ancient cultures the turtle shell was considered the base and support of the universe? It was said the whole world axis sat on her back." (37)
... I was visiting the High Museum in Atlanta when I came upon a striking sculpture of a pair of feet. Just feet from the ankles down. They were surrounded by a field of large glass spheres that appeared to be oversized teardrops. The title of the work was Mother." (Kiki Smith) (40)
... If you severely injure an ankle, the connective tissue or fascia in that area will remold around the trauma, trying to compensate for the damage. You may begin to walk a little differently, to favor the other side ever so slightly. If this keeps up, over time your posture will change. Whole new patterns of maintaining your structure will emerge as bones, soft tissues, and tendons realign themselves. (42)
... I stumbled by chance upon the Greek myth of Philomela. It is the story behind the Silent Woman, and it goes like this: While traveling to see her sister, Philomela was raped by her brother-in-law, Tereus. Outraged, she threatened to tell her sister and the world what he'd done to her. He responded by cutting out her tongue and banishing her to a guarded tower where she was forced to live in silence. / Eventually, though, she seemed to know that if she continued to be silent she would die. So Philomela began to weave a series of tapestries that became her voice and told her story. She then enlisted an old woman to take them to her sister, who came and liberated her. (58)
The word mother comes from the Latin word mater, which means matter. (65)
(Heading:) Eden as Wounded Geography (71)
In an old Sumerian myth, the Goddess Inanna, making a descent to the underworld, moves through seven gates. At each gate she must strip a piece of her clothing away until at last she is naked, arriving without any of her former trappings. At the depth of her descent she is turned into a piece of meat and hung on a meat hook for several days before being resurrected as a woman. (97)
all good marriages are remarriages (101) (referring to how we must adapt in our partnerships as we change)
Until then I'd known practically nothing about Minoan Crete. That day I discovered it was a highly evolved culture that existed in Greece up until around 1450 BCE, a culture in which the supreme deity was female and women and feminine values enjoyed high cultural valuing. Scholar Riane Eisler suggests Minoan Crete was the last surviving example of a prepatriarchal society. (108)
"Listen to this," I said, as we pulled into a small parking lot set aside for visitors in the stone circle. "Avebury was a religious center dating back to the third millennium BCE. It says here that the arrangements of the stones may have represented the shape of the body of the Goddess." (134)
I was especially intrigued with the phrase El Shaddai, an interesting name for God that occurs forty-eight times in the Bible. It has been traditionally translated as "the almighty" or, more exactly, "God of the mountain." But shad is also a Hebrew word for breast. The ending of ai is an old feminine ending, therefore a probable ancient meaning of El Shaddai was "the breasted one." God, the breasted one. (148)
Meinrad's panting Hagia Sophia: At her belly was the divine womb, pictured as a labyrinth. (152)
Matryoshka doll. It means 'mother' in Russian. (180)
Coming out of the woods reminded me of a group of women I read about during the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer. Thirty-five Norweigian women skied down the slope, opening the giant slalom competition. In Norway this group is known as the kjerringsleppert, which roughly translated means "women on the loose." / The group formed back in 1989 when only men were invited to participate in the opening ceremony of Norway's Alpine Center. The women felt insulted and excluded, so these thirty-five banded together, waited in the woods until the appropriate moment, then shocked everyone by swooping out of the trees on snow skis, clanging cow bells and crashing the ceremony. (204)
Harding points out that in ancient times the word virgin had a different meaning than it does now. It didn't mean being chaste or physically untouched. Rather, being a virgin meant belonging to oneself. (212)
Suffragettes: arrested, refused to eat. The authorities brought in gastric tubes and force-fed them. Still the women refused to open their mouths to eat. They were, as one sympathetic bystander called them, "the iron-jawed angels." (215)...more
2011: Beautiful, wonderful, will be re-read, and I hope I'll find a bit of time to write more here. I feel this is a book I'll need to return to at di2011: Beautiful, wonderful, will be re-read, and I hope I'll find a bit of time to write more here. I feel this is a book I'll need to return to at different stages of motherhood, and I'm so glad I read it for work on manuscript #2....more