Sunday, December 11, 2016

"YEAR OF YES" AS A FUNNY FEMINIST MANIFESTO?


I'm just kidding. Shonda Rhimes' boo is written in too silly a style to be called a "manifesto." Or is it? I do feel like she set an agenda for women in some way.



To be honest, the silly way she was writing it was kinda getting on my nerves at first, which is funny because....something about the way Rhimes is silly sounds very, very much like me. (
I don't think I want to think about that too hard)

I'd say this book is part biography and part self-help book with a definitively feminist slant. It's not preachy though. She talks about her deep longings and feeling like an outsider. Taking her life area by area, Shonda tells you what she was doing, what she was afraid of at the time, and how she was not responding appropriately. She tells you how she was trying to hide. 


Then she follows up by telling you how she said to herself "Why are you doing this? This is dumb" and where she went from there.



I can't actually remember if she ever mentioned the f-word (feminism) directly. But a lot of the personal growth she talked about was about pushing herself through things women commonly struggle with such as women valuing themselves. She also spends time on how women shouldn't be afraid to call attention to themselves when they want to be successful or when they already are successful.*
She really broke fear of success all the way down. For me reading this book right now wound up being a happy coincidence. For whatever reason, I'd been thinking about how women are praised for "humility" a lot more than men are quite a bit this year.  I believe this has had a lot of negative impact on me. But that's a whole other subject.

As much as I'd already thought about how women's work in the home is devalued, Shonda's words on the subject tweaked my thinking even more.

When she started talking about how mothers are regarded all year long and what they are actually praised for on Mother's day, I kind of reared back thinking, "Damn, she's right."

On mother's day, women are being praised for working like dogs while being almost invisible 364 days a year."

She made me think that there is an entire new industry to be created around self-esteem appropriate mother's day cards that are currently missing from the marketplace.  

She also confirmed what I've been thinking for a while now. There's a reason so many women are not rushing to get married these days -- and it doesn't have a thing to do with loving the idea of work or loving their career more than they love the idea of raising a family. Most women want to do both.  


I have an idea of what marriage should be that doesn't look anything like what most of my friends went through--- and that was before they got divorced.

It has always amazed me how few women think of how solid their friendship is before they get married. I mean, so many women put up with a level of self-centeredness from their men that they would never, ever put up with in a friend. That's because many women suffer from sexist thinking, right? They think "That's just the way men are." And then women file 80 to 90% of the divorces.

Louise of the movie THELMA AND LOUISE  probably said it best. "You get what you settle for."

There was a book out a decade or so ago called, WHY MEN LOVE BITCHES I read a few chapters over time at a library or something (pssst -- multiple visits to a bookstore) broken up with yet another control freak.  I figured I must be doing something wrong if I was attracting men that got on my nerves so quickly. So I decided to skim it and wound up reading a few chapters.

The behavior the woman described in the book would indeed get her called a "bitch" in a number of circles. But all she was describing was basic self-worth.  



For example she told a story of an elderly aunt calling when she was on her way out with her boyfriend, an aunt she doesn't hear from often. Apparently, he started behaving like an jerk about 2 minutes into the conversation. I can't remember her exact response. But it went something like, "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you had limited time to do" X. "We'll get together another time....Bye."


The boyfriend was shocked that she didn't go out with him that night, shocked that she didn't hang up on her Aunt as if she was not nearly as important as he was. But the next few time he spoke to her? He did it with respect, according to the author of the book.  


I'd seen multple scenarios, in real life, go a totally different way from what the author wrote. Mostly what I saw friends do was try to anxiously appease everybody at the same time while almost frightened(?) of his response  -- not afraid of physical abuse but afraid of his displeasure.  
After watching so many women behave in this way during the slightest conflict, it's not that surprising that its the woman that files for divorce most of the time. Trying to fix somebody who doesn't respect for years on end has to be exhausting. A lot of women have told me about how they didn't feel loved when they decided to get divorced. But the scenarios they described as "unloving" were actually about lack of respect. 
Rhimes also talked about changing her own behavior away from what most of us were taught was "good behavior" for a women in her book. I wouldn't say anything in the book is new or ground breaking. But it's like Maya Angelou said, "People don't remember what you said. People remember how you made them feel." And it made me feel good to know that a woman as successful and powerful as Shonda Rhimes was just as squirrely, slippin and sliding on thin ice, scared of the wrong things WHILE she was becoming successful. 

That's the thing I liked most about Shonda's book.  She didn't try to tell you that she had all her self-worth issues worked out and that she was handling everything before she was successful. Hard work and quasi-obsession in doing what she loved brought her success. It was not perfection in any way shape of form that brought her success.

Tons and tons of women need to read a book like this and feel good about where they are now and what's possible in the future no matter how messy life looks in the here and now.