The last few days I’ve been catching up on my reading and movies I wanted to see. There are three reads that made an impression, and will elicit an emotion and an opinion. And whenever that happens I feel it’s a must-read. The funny thing is that they are all about strong women but at the same time rebut each other at some point.
1. READ New York Magazine’s article: The Retro Feminist
In this week’s New York Magazine I was drawn into an article that stirred up a fierce debate and the article received wide spread attention. Much so that other media picked up on the debate and started to discuss it on their blogs and websites. The article describes how the current generation of women chooses to stay at home with their children instead of chasing the dream they once had as a student: being independent career women. This retro housewife feels that a family should have one care taker. New York magazine calls this shift in perception the feminist housewife.
The new breed of women are high educated, upper middle class, and successful in their jobs, but nevertheless voluntarily choose to become housewives. They embrace the results from research (and plain simple experience) that women are just better at domestic chores and are better at multitasking. Why should you also juggle work in this equation? they say. Moreover, they are supposed to compete in a male-driven business world with men, where they will never win anyway because of the glass ceiling.
They are however not the domestic housewives like our mothers were, but instead get involved in blogging, creative courses, and build mommy communities to interact and share interests. In the article one woman says: “Professional status is not the only sign of importance, and financial independence is not the only measure of success”. – I love that quote and I agree. To read the complete article go here.
2. READ the book Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg
In contrary to the article in New York Magazine, Sheryl Sandberg states in her newly published book Lean in (March 11) that women should not feel that they have to choose between their careers and family. Sandberg is the COO at Facebook and introduced her Lean in philosophy first at a TEDX conference in 2010. (watch here). Lean in soon grew a following, became a brand in itself, and today, 12 days after the launch of her first book, she is already a bestseller. The book is filled with advise, all grounded on scientific data and supported by recognizable stories and examples we can all relate to.
Sandberg shows us that the reason why there are so little women at the top is part of our culture, upbringing, and taught gender rolls in society. From an early age on girls are taught to be humble. Women lean back instead of being assertive go-getters and leaning in. One of her best quotes I think is: ” Success and likability are positively correlated for men, and negatively correlated for women”. Again, she can support this quote with research data.
Lean in encourages women to accept that they cannot do it all and you cannot have it all. You have to make choices and you have to get help. You also need to work together with your partner and your employer in finding alternatives.
3. READ at least one of the books by Pamela Druckerman
Her latest book is called French Parents don’t give in: 100 parenting tips from Paris. But I was told that her other books are just as good and even funnier: 1. French Children don’t throw food. – and 2. Bringing up bébé, one American mother discovers the wisdom of French parenting. All three books are a collection of Druckermans life experiences in Paris where she observes how French parents interact with their children and how disciplined and better behaved kids are in France compared to the USA. (although I think it’s also applicable to Dutch kids and parents)
At times she puts things under a magnifying glass, but most of the time she is pretty accurate I think. She describes how French mothers assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children and that there’s no need to feel guilty about this. Children should be able to entertain themselves, and explore things alone within your set boundaries. They have an easy, calm authority with their kids that Druckerman can only envy. (I recently learnt that mothers like that constantly hovering over their kids and giving them attention are called helicopter moms…no,no, not in France)
Her books are great reads even for non-mommies because we all see it happening daily and know someone in our circle who could use this book.