Sunday, August 26, 2007

Language Arts

I'm excited and delighted to be part of this panel.

In case anyone is wondering where we got our name, it was inspired by the line from the Country and Western song by Ed Bruce (who also wrote such other classics as "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies to Grow up to Be Cowboys") that goes like this, "There's girls, and there's women and there's ladies. There's yeses, there's no's and there's maybes." It makes me laugh every time I hear it. Here's the whole song; it's a good example of the C and W storytelling that endears itself to my Texas-born heart in spite of my feminist soul:

There was only me and her and him
The bar was giving last call so I thought I'd move on in
And I was slick and feeling like a man so I took the stool between 'em
And ordered one more round for me and her and him
I placed my arms across the back of her barstool
And I don't remember what I said but at the time it sounded cool
She pushed her drink away and never looked at me
She just paid her tab tipped the man and left me sittin' there alone with him
And he said there's girls and there's women and there's ladies
There's yes'es and there's no's and there's maybe's
There's teasin' and pleasin' they start learnin' when they're babies
There's girls and there's women and there's ladies
Well he pushed his old straw hat back and he grinned
And he said ain't they all a mystery ha ha sonny it's a sin
They're all sittin' on the world they're tryin' to win
Ah but you know I love a mystery
So let's drink another round to you and me and them
He said there's girls...There's girls and there's women...He said there's girls...

Language usage is one of the most important elements of any conversation about women in the world today. When Hillary Clinton recently said about herself, "I'm your girl", she stirred up a little dust. I tend to think we women have simply matured past the need to rail against the word once we had made it our own little joke and/or sign of mutual affection. We took its power back from men who in the past used it as a way to demean and infantilize us. I don't know whether Hillary's use of "girl" was contrived, but it strikes me as a bit of self-deprecating humor of the sort that candidates need to use from time to time to show they are human.

What do others think?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why this converation matters to me...

I feel like I have been blessed with some of the most amazing mentors a girl could ask for, but I have also--to be down-and-dirty honest--had some really horrifying experiences with older women. Think body image expert not eating her own birthday cake, a thesis adviser who only pretended to read my blood, sweat, and tears work, and a racist, chain-smoking Devil Wears Prada boss.

When I was in my young 20s, I often took the bad to heart (waaaaay to heart), and though I think it made me stronger and more resilient, I also want to prevent that from happening to the next generation of youngins. Sure there are bad eggs everywhere, but the more that women can "out" some of our most toxic intergenerational thoughts, the less of them there will be.

Plus, we just have so much important work to do. And so much outrageous fun to have. I can assure you I am already having an absolute blast collaborating with Gloria, Debbie, and Kristal. Who knew work could be so fun?

Welcome to the conversation!

Young women think empowerment means short skirts and high heels! They are so entitled!

Older women can’t let go of their leadership positions and they're so damn judgmental! It’s like they don’t even want young women to succeed!

Sound familiar?

With all the important work to do, it is time that women of all ages talked and listened to one another instead of rehashing the same cliquish complaints in isolation. It is time that we reopen a dialogue about women’s lives, power, entitlement, and empowerment from a generational perspective.

The four of us--Kristal Brent Zook, Gloria Feldt, Courtney E. Martin, and Deborah Siegel—are taking it on the road to spark just this discussion and we figured this would be a great online home for all of our thoughts, fights, and insights.

We are four diverse, feminist authors representing generations from Generation Y to pre-Baby Boomer and we want to ask the tough questions:

  • Are young women really opting out of the workforce?
  • Do older women really think of their employees as [overly?] entitled?
  • How can younger women express gratitude and learn from their elders and visa versa?
  • How can older women listen and cede power to the next generation?
  • What do power and empowerment look like to women of different generations?
  • Does liberated sexuality equal Paris Hilton? Madonna? Bisexuality?
  • What is the major unfinished business for women in the workplace today?
  • How do we keep our eyes on the prize of equality and opportunity for all?
Stay tuned for our intergenerational explorations of these issues, and so many others. And by all means, join in! Here's to women who have ideas and aren't afraid to use them...