“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
I guess I hit a nerve, because my last post garnered the highest number of views since askpiper hit the web in ’04. Since the world doesn’t need another freaking mommy blog (and especially since the perfect one already exists right here) I refuse to go down that path.
I do, however, have this to add to my most recent post:
6. When are you going back to work?
It’s the greatest paradox. All through our 20s and 30s, women are asked (literally and subtlety) when we’re going to get married and spawn. A friend of mine, upon getting her MBA, was told by her mother, “Congrats. But I’m not sure how that thing is going to get you a husband.” Then, as soon as we do put our uteri to work and breed, we’re asked when we’re going to leave our newborns with a stranger, or a group of strangers or a willing relative and return to the work force so we can quickly learn the impossibility of having it all.
I first got asked this question just a few weeks after delivery. I write for a living and at the time I was so sleep deprived I was having trouble forming sentences and remembering words. Typing? Wow, that seemed much too physical a task to tackle. The question confused me; especially considering most people think giving birth requires a lobotomy (see question number 4). How could I go back to work without a brain?
My doctor had advised me not to have sex until 6 weeks after delivery. I figured that held true for commuting, too—in New York City it can be just as physical and invasive. And don’t even get me started on the backwardness of the US compared to other countries when it comes to maternity/paternity leaves!
So don’t ask a new mom when she’s going back to work, unless you’re her boss and you’re calling to give her a raise, a promotion or, a la Melissa Meyer, to tell her about the nursery you’re busy building right next to her cubicle to ease her return.
(photo from examiner.com)
I’m reading ‘How To Be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran. And I’m laughing my arse off at her recounting of her formidable years, like when, for her 13th birthday, her mother ‘made’ her a baguette filled with Philadelphia cream cheese instead of baking a cake—with seven candles, each counting for two years—never mind the math. She also touches on topics like why weddings are no fun for anyone involved, why she’s given up on heels and how, despite her best intentions to keep it at bay, her first period arrives anyway.
But the book isn’t just funny for funny sake. She makes some pretty powerful arguments for feminism, albeit a different kind of feminism than we’ve entertained in the past. If the bra-burning, man-hating, underarm hair braiding movements of the past don’t float your boat, you should give her a read. Here’s one of my favorite passages:
But all those littler, stupider, more obvious day-to-day problems with being a woman are, in many ways, just as deleterious to women’s peace of mind. It is the “Broken Windows” philosophy transferred to female inequality. In the Broken Windows theory, if a single broken window ion an empty building is ignored and not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may break into the building and light fires, or become squatters.
Similarly, if we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful women are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed then, eventually, people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them. Women will get squatters. Clearly, this is not a welcome state of affairs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wake up one morning and find a load of chancers in my lobby.
Find out more about Caitlin and the book here: http://www.how-tobeawoman.com/
There’s no greater peace than knowing who you are and how you wanna live. But, knowing is just the first part. Then comes the preaching…and practicing what you preach. Unapologetically. Hats off to this gal, who’s putting it out there for her future husband.
I work in an office in Central Europe. It’s a creative environment and as an American it’s a pretty sweet life experience, I thought. We just hired a new girl, a native, and before I had a chance to meet her she went around showing everyone a book she bought on Nazi’s and the occult, a book with a big swastika on the cover with Hitler and the rest of his assholes. It was just a general interest book, but it made me deeply uncomfortable because I am part Jewish and can never tell about these people. I took a photo of the book on her desk (in plain sight!) and I’m thinking of making a complaint to my manager (who is also Jewish.) Everyone here seems to think she is OK in having a special interest, but that would never play in an American office. It’s even sadder because she is kind of cute. Anyway, now I am deeply troubled. Should I swallow my anger or should I take action? What would you suggest?
Dear Deeply Troubled,
You’re on foreign soil, literally and socially. I caution you from doing what you’d do stateside under the notion of ‘that would never play in an American office.’ It’s not an American office. You don’t know the ramifications of taking things to managers. You may find yourself in an even stickier situation than you first intended.
But some things are universal; no one likes to be talked about behind her back. And most people appreciate a straight-forward approach. Talk to this cute fräulein and let her how the book makes you feel. Don’t ask what her beliefs are, don’t tell her what you think she should or should not be doing, just let her know seeing the book on a daily basis isn’t kosher for you.
Hopefully she’ll get it, and remove the book from her desk. If she doesn’t, and you still want to take action, do a little homework on how this kind of thing is handled in Central Europe; ask people who don’t work where you work, research it online. Know the rules. Then work them in your favor.
Lastly, not that I’m down with blaming the victim, but, isn’t this what international experiences are about? Taking the good with the bad? Exploring how we’re all the same, yet, also so vastly different? You picked up and moved yourself to a different country; no easy feat. That takes guts and a thick skin. Surely you knew it wasn’t going to be all Oktoberfest and lederhosen. Just remember, this is just one small bump on the autobahn that is this great adventure you’ve chosen!
I’m a huge fan. Huuuuge. I know I am putting this heavy question in good hands.
My boyfriend, my partner, my everything moved to another freakin’ continent for a new job and other I-live-in-a-foreign-country glory. The plan is for me to follow ASAP. My friend said, “That’s great. But what are you getting out of it? He moves. You follow. Where’s the 50/50 in that?” I think she has a good point. But the only answer I have is: I love him. And he’s going to let me name our first-born child Tito.
Am I blinded by love or am I seeing clearly?
–Tito’s future mom
Dear Tito’s future mom,
Does your friend pay these guys $14.00 a month to maintain an advice column? Did she pay this guy a tidy sum for an awesome logo? Did she have these guys make her some gorgeous letterpress calling cards? I doubt it. Beware of taking advice from a non-branded, non-professional.
I have a few questions. First, how attached are you to this freakin’ continent? Do you love yourself some North America? Do you have trouble seeing yourself living in one of her sister continents? Or, to the contrary, when it comes to your Canadian, American and Mexican brethren, can you take us or leave us, at least for a temporary spell? Let’s say you were single and an amazing opportunity arose for you in a different place, is it something you’d go after? If not, you may want to stay stateside. But if so, I think it’s fair to say you have an adventurous personality, adventurous enough to take this leap if you want.
But, before you pack your bags and schedule the going-away festivities, I have another question. You say the plan is for you to follow ASAP. Is this your plan, your everything’s plan or a plan that belongs to you both? Is your boyfriend finding a place for you to live, either with him or on your own? Is he scouting out people, places and things that’ll make your life there fun? Are you investigating job or school or other vocational activities in said continent? For this to go well, I think it has to be something you both want very badly.
Now, before you break your lease and sublet your place, I have yet another question. Can you make this move benefit your life in some way? Can you find a great job or a great academic program? Can you learn a new skill that’ll take you further in life? I don’t know what you do, but the dreams and goals you have for yourself can’t be put on hold or squelched by this move. You need your own live-in-a-foreign-country glory, too. This is where the 50/50 comes into play.
I disagree with your friend. I’m not saying you should go, but I am saying there could be something good for you, too, in this intercontinental mission, should you choose to accept it. If you go, go for yourself, go for an adventure, go for an experience, go to add some glue to your relationship; don’t go for your boyfriend, don’t go just for love, don’t go to save your relationship. See the difference? And know that if you choose to move, you two might break up, but you and Paris or Singapore or Capetown, wherever it is, might always stay together.
I should add, the romantic in me really wants everyone to find the yin to their yang, the lid to their pot, the ball to their chain. If there are two people in this world who want to name their first-born Tito, and if these two people have actually found each other, then I think crossing a few international borders in order to stay together is the least they could do.
I have a name that conjures up images of a little girl. I have blonde hair. I’m 5’2″. Do you think i should change my name so people take me more seriously? Before you answer you should know I’ve tried the hair color thing. My skin just would not have me being a brunette. Blotchy, white, pink…I have too much vanity. My mother asked me if I was feeling self-destructive as a red-head. Black would make me look goth’ or punk and I’ve shed all “image” outward representation. Thanks for your advice, in advance.
The first thing I’m curious about is why you would want to be taken more seriously? That’s when people start expecting things from you, things like professionalism, maturity and an ardent work ethic. Ewww.
However, let’s assume you have your reasons. Are you sure there’s a direct correlation between your name and how you’re perceived? Here’s why I ask: Captain Kangaroo, Terry Gross, Condoleeza, Sissy Spacek, Dolly Parton, Yo Yo Ma…all taken seriously despite their names.
I don’t think you should change your name or change your hair color. But, have you thought about a nickname? A nickname can be a useful and powerful thing, especially if you get to choose it. Tell people to call you ‘Nobel’ because you once won the prize. Or, tell people to call you ‘Heart Attack’ because you’re serious like one. Before you know it you’ll be walking the office hallways with your head held relatively high, considering the 62″ you’re working with.
Does it surprise you that Cheez-Its are America’s #1 cheese-flavored snack cracker? Also, does trying to fellate myself with the aid of a long rubber tube make me gay?
–Hungry and Sexually Confused
Dear Hungry and Sexually Confused,
As a grown woman, the American appetite for artificially flavored cheese products that crunch when you bite them and leave a stubborn orange residue on your fingers will never surprise me. Nor will the extremes men will go to for self-pleasure. I don’t think such an experiment means you’re gay. Certainly not. However, I caution you to refrain from indulging in American’s #1 cheese-flavored snack cracker before engaging in the American Male’s #1 favorite past time. That’s no place for a stubborn orange residue.
I’ve been bisexual for two years now, but I like girls more than I do guys. Right now I really like this girl, but she never believes me because she says I never seem sincere. What should I do?
Girl meets girl. Girl gets girl. If only it were that simple. Trust and sincerity don’t happen overnight. If your intentions truly are heartfelt, I think time will tell. I wonder, however, how is it that you’re communicating your feelings to your hard-to-get hottie? Are you saying and doing things that are boring and the norm? You know…complimenting her eyes…complimenting her clothes…buying her flowers. In other words, are you expressing your true feelings in ways that aren’t true to your personality or character? This could be where the insincerity she accuses you of is stemming from. Be yourself. Express yourself as only you can. Use your own language, your own sense of humor or your own penchant for uber-romantic stuff. If all that fails you can go Cro-Magnon on her, club her over the head and drag her to your cave by her hair.