Monday, April 8th, 2013

I AM SPUTTERING!!

A truth burp is a truth burp.  It is spontaneous.  You, yourself are surprised by it.  Out it comes.
And you have to honor it.   I almost faked it this week.

But here it is.

Are we back in the 70’s?
I wrote lightly a couple of weeks ago about being a lousy feminist.
But I’m not.  I wasn’t.  Not about the big stuff.

I have no problem with Sheryl Sandberg’s book LEAN IN except that it had to be written.
And that it mirrors so many that were written in the 70’s.
And I’m sorry that she has an Ann Hathaway- like backlash. Somehow her words feel glib and they are not.

I too was a woman executive (EVP) and  often the only woman at the table and surely the first to give a Board presentation.  (When by the way, I was almost late for my presentation because my Executive Committee male colleagues all rode home from a night before  dinner in the same van and decided to change the time.  I was put in the van with the women spouses so didn’t know about the change.  The women spouses were lovely company so I shrugged it off–and almost missed my presentation.)
So I know of which I speak.  Of which I sputter!

I did lean in Sheryl.
I did sit at the table–invited or not
I did battle any interior reservations I hadbecause I wanted to get something important done.
I did and do speak my truth
I did laugh about even thinking of doing it all
I did know there was no ladder: I wended my way.
I did assume my husband was an equal partner and we still argue about what that means.
I did have a mentor but we never made it self-conscious or duty bound by saying it out loud
I did prefer to be likable and occasionally “sucked-up” as my male colleagues would say but I didn’t put that first.
I did talk about equality every time there was an inadvertent (or vertent) insult, or visibility issue (no golf for me) but not more than I talked about the business.
I did have kids and no household help and very few kid sitters (few are hardy enough for five children)
I did love my work.
I did have a husband who also loved his.
I did know I was a pioneer and a role model.
I did work to develop women leaders.

I do know that all of this was hard on my family and good for my family.
I do know my ambition came from love of the work and need for the money.
I do know it was not at all story book pretty.

But here is why I sputter:
In one day:

*I  heard that my state legislator put on paper his thought about being against equal pay for women in small businesses because it was a cost small business could not bear.

*The  President who, in a formal moment, referred to the attractiveness of a competent professional.
(Informal in a group– fine. Who doesn’t like to be called attractive?  Formal moment–no.

 *An article on whether men should do half the housework in a non- woman’s magazine.

Tip of the iceberg on issues that have been raised for almost thirty years. But here they still are.
What happened?
Did it get just “good enough”?
Did we lose our nerve?
Did we settle for a kind of subsistence nod of the head like nursing rooms at the company but still a demand to be back at work too soon after birthing a child that necessitates the nursing room itself?
Did we make such good money, albeit not equal to our male colleagues, that we got placated?
Did the economic boom mask gender issues?  Are unmasked as times are tough?

Well, I’m glad I’m back to mad.
Thirty years.  Same themes.  Not OK.
I sputter.

2 Comments

2 thoughts on “I AM SPUTTERING!!”

  1. mikefromaine says:

    Come on up and sputter on my deck over a glass of wine!

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