Go get it at TueNight ….
So goes the subtitle of a GirlBoss article helpfully pointing out all the helpful ways in which women help others at work—at their peril. I’ve written about being a young woman with a bad boss (The Boss of Me), a beleaguered commuter (Girl in the Gray Flannel Suit) and a woman trying to decode Broffice Brocabulary.
But this article made me laugh, wincingly, especially this part about being saddled with “girl” tasks:
If women had a dime every time they were asked by a man to take notes in a meeting, for no other reason than the fact that they’re women, we’d be making at least 84 cents to their dollar.
Yesterday, a colleague I like quite a bit started mansplaining an editorial calendar to me—me being the editor, he being the marketing dude. He looked a bit hurt when I called him out for mansplaining so I apologized…a lot. He’s new to the organization, hasn’t worked a lot with editorial teams, was really just explaining his understanding of the edit calendar, not schooling me about it. But I was in a mood, I guess. I apologized again today. And now I should just stop apologizing.
I wrote this as a caption to a Harvey Weinstein post, thinking he’d surely be the year’s most egregious abuser. But no, women are speaking out about their #metoo experiences, outing screenwriter James Toback, who has had 38 women accuse him of abuse, and the already disgraced Bill O’Reilly, who agreed in January to pay $32 million to legal analyst Lis Wiehl, bringing the total to $45 million paid to the five women the anchor is known to have abused, after which time Fox (forced to oust abuser Roger Ailes) signed O’Reilly’s $25 million a year contract.
There’s just so, so much packed into that last sentence, so I will simplify: Men with money and power abuse women and get away with it until the women band together* to speak out. Now with floodgates open and a defiance reminiscent of “…and yet she persisted,” do we expect to hear more and more and more stories about serial abusers? I think so. Just this past week, related reports include:
*Another reason for protection: Men buy it with non-disclosure clauses in the settlements they pay. Women, it must be said, sell their silence.
Pause is the title of a essay by the poet Mary Ruefle about menopause. It is long and, in many ways not my experience. I never felt suicidal, wanting to kill myself “with a steaming hot turned-on iron.” Ruefle (hmmm… sounds like rueful?) writes in the third person, telling you what you will feel, with no small amount of conviction, which is why I feel the urge to disagree with her. However, this part sounds right to me, especially the italicized bit:
You have the desire to leave your husband or lover or partner, whatever.
No matter how stable or loving the arrangement, you want out.
You may decide to take up an insane and hopeless cause. You may decide to walk to Canada, or that it is high time you begin to collect old blue china, three thousand pieces of which will leave you bankrupt. Suddenly the solution to all problems lies in selling your grandmother’s gold watch or drinking your body weight in cider vinegar. A kind of wild forest blood runs in your veins.
This, and other behaviors, will horrify you. You will seek medical help because you are intelligent, and none of the help will help.
You will feel as if your life is over and you will be absolutely right about that, it is over.
No matter how attractive or unattractive you are, you have been used to having others look you over when you stood at the bus stop or at the chemist’s to buy tampons. They have looked you over to assess how attractive or unattractive you are, so no matter what the case, you were looked at. Those days are over; now others look straight through you, you are completely invisible to them, you have become a ghost.
I do feel invisible, which, Frances McDormand tells me is the best thing that will ever happen to me:
‘You become sexually invisible to both men and women. You gain the power of not giving a shit,’ McDormand says in a profile about her in the NY Times Sunday Magazine.
And I love Ruefle’s last lines, finally hopeful, and explaining why the pause exists in the first place:
You haven’t even begun. You must pause first, the way one must always pause before a great endeavor, if only to take a good breath.
Happy old age is coming on bare feet, bringing with it grace and gentle words, and ways which grim youth have never known.
Within a few weeks time, Nancy Gibbs of Time (32 years at that magazine), Elle’s Robbie Myers (16 years), Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair, and Glamour’s Cindi Leive (17 years) announced they were leaving their posts. None of them seemed to have real plans, save Carter’s decision to live and drink wine in France for awhile.
They also share this: all of them are in the old-to-really-old age range, they all pulled down a $1MM or more (Carter at $2MM) and every single one of their magazines is tinier and less profitable than its ever been.
Keith Kelly (no spring chicken himself) piles on even more grim stats in his article, heralding the end of days for the “celebrity editor.”
Meanwhile, back at Time Inc., we are undergoing a months-long McKinsey operations review and launching new revenue streams like PetHero, a program where for $20 a month, members can get, in addition to pet toys and products, discounts on health care for pets.
Which sounds to me like a final death knell for editors, those of us left.
I’m drawn to articles about ageism, especially as that relates to women who achieved real success and, at the age of 50 or 60 or even older, still have it. “It” being some combination of experience, expertise, management skills, a strong work ethic and the potential to grow in a job. Currency, in a word.
But the workplace views her as a worker whose currency has been so devalued she’s not even considered for positions for which she’s well- (or over-) qualified,
(I see errors I’ll let stand that reveal bias in my own writing: “60 or even older” and “still.”)
An editor and one-time EIC of McCall’s, Sally Koslow is “lucky” enough to have published novels, she writes in The New York Times. So while she doesn’t appear to be struggling, she feels the bias all the same: “In my mid-fifties I was shown the door,” says Koslow, who wrote the novel “Little Pink Slips,” about the magazine world. “The old saw goes that on a deathbed body wishes they’d spent more time at the office, but I suspect many women whose careers stop prematurely do.”
She makes the point that women who choose (and who can choose to) take off a few years, or a decade, to raise children, have a narrow window to achieve success. Rejoin the workforce at 35 or 40 and you have 20 years to succeed. After that, if you’re Koslow, you’re joining “the gig economy,” as she calls it, while admitting that hers is a pretty good gig. On the other hand, a woman I met recently spoke of her current gigs, hustling for video and film projects after having worked on staff at Saturday Night Live. “To make ends meet, she works at the food-sampling table at B.J.’s,” a mutual friend confided to me.
So I join Koslow in her plea to HR people everywhere: “Hire someone’s your mom’s age.”
From Quartz, an article that promises to reveal “the real reason women drink too much wine.” The writer, who is now sober, points to the literal wash of alcohol all over the media, her office, the birthday card rack and even billboards: “Driving home from work, I pass billboard ads for Fluffed Marshmallow Smirnoff and Iced Cake Smirnoff and not just Cinnamon, but Cinnamon Churros Smirnoff.” The birthday card thing is something I’ve noticed too — with their jokey invitations to “rose all day” and also:
But, no, the real reason she’s an alcoholic is that she is an alcoholic, as it turns out, and it’s really damn hard to be a women in this world.