I was getting worried that I would have writer's block forever!! It turns out that I just needed some time away to rest myself from the constant fight for women's parity. I just got tired of waging a seemingly endless war on the pathetic and inadequate status of women in the United States. But lo and behold, something has snapped me out of my lethargy. And while wanting to put this person who moved me so in her place, I probably need to thank her for royally pissing me off.
I'm speaking of one Virginia Sole-Smith, a writer for The Nation's writer's institute, who embodies one of the main reasons women's economic progess has so completely stalled. As you know, little has changed for women in the past 20---30 years here in America. Women make 77 cents on the man's dollar, we rank 78th in the world for female representation in government, 2.8% of Fortune 1000 companies are headed by women, we've never had a female president or vice president, read the rest of the stats in the right column. There are many many reasons for these problems which we've discussed almost ad nauseum on this blog. But the one I need to call out today is the one where women gore other women to get ahead because it is one way to break into the men 's club. Men love to watch women tear each other apart. And apparently they are willing to pay good money to see this sport!!
Before I go any further, in case Ms. Sole-Smith makes her way over here, I want to state EMPHATICALLY to her---------I AM AN INDEPENDENT. I know that people who call themselves "progressive" have sclerotic thinking when it comes to people like myself who are neither fish nor fowl, neither left nor right. But please, Ms. Sole-Smith, do not use that framework to make assumptions about me. I would suggest you read some REAL progressive thinking on this blog about how we can break the logjam that women find themselves in, holding little or no power and being paid less for the same work. The readers of this blog talk endlessly about finding NEW ways to progress this issue, not the same old left/right memes that have stalled women from where they ought to be.
So what has brought me to my feet? This writer has written a major hit piece on Mary Kay that was published in this month's Harper's. The full version is unavailable on the internet, but here is an excerpt. I have written both Harper's and Sole-Smith on both her facebook page and blog to rebut her claims. Much of what she has written about Mary Kay is highly inaccurate. And when I discovered that she had embedded herself into our company in order to find stories to fit her premise, I was furious. Her premise was that companies like Mary Kay prey on poor, stupid, unsuspecting women to make money. And these poor stupid unsuspecting victims have lost everything they own plus their marriages because of their involvement with Mary Kay, a company that has done more to promote the bottom line for women than just about anything out there.
Once her piece made it to the front page of Harper's, an egghead magazine that few people read (thank God!!), she did a gleeful victory dance because by polarizing women and lying about the great things Mary Kay does for women, she thought she had hit the big time. Why would she do such a thing? Well all I can figure is that she's trying to make it as a journalist, and most of the journalistic power lies in the hands of men. The journalism profession suffers greatly by its gender imbalance. I could write an entire piece about how women are stalled in journalism the same way they are in other professions holding only about 17% or so of the positions in the profession. There have been so many women writers who have complained that when they get out into the working world the most important slots go to men. Read any major publication, and most of the time the vast majority of the major articles have a male byline.
So how does a woman get attention? The good old-fashioned way by poking holes into something where women have gained respect and making women look ridiculous so the men can laugh about it and voila-----you are given a cover story. Shame on you Virginia Sole-Smith!!
I have been in Mary Kay for 28 years, and I got into it because it was the best way I could find to make a great living and be the kind of mother I wanted to be. Along with that, I got the added bonus of being able to help mentor other women find strength and self-esteem to do the same. It was a feminist's dream come true in many ways. Sure people poke fun at you when you're in Mary Kay, but if you work it properly and find success, that gentle ridicule goes away. People like success----it's the American way. And sure, plenty of people come into my business and discover that it's not for them, but so what? We all try things that aren't for us on our way to finding ourselves and it is part of that great American process of self-discovery, a privilege that much of the world can't engage in because of their hardscrabble existence of survival.
Sole-Smith's premise was that Mary Kay is an example of the powerful preying on the few----the current 1% meme. Sound familiar? I can hardly stand that language----and honestly, the Republicans have gotten this one right. The idea that business preys on people to enrich a few is a quack's argument. Business has also provided lots and lots of ------JOBS!!!! OMG----imagine that!!!! Nothing is perfect, nothing. We can all aspire to be better and to do better. But this idea that our country has become so pathetic because business has created job opportunities for people to make a living and that the people at the top get paid too much because of that is a fantasy gone awry. Just as the article about Mary Kay strung together a bunch of semi-truths to create a pre-existent storyline so does this crazy idea that business is bad. But again, I believe that Sole-Smith is just parroting the party line to get her pieces printed.
I'd like to finish by saying this to Sole-Smith and others of her ilk----------when you build your success by dissing women who are trying to get ahead, you may get an opportunity to advance yourself, but you are setting all of the rest of us back in the process. You need to look deeply into your soul and decide if what you did was worth the price of getting yourself ahead. Most of us think you are shameful for you yourself are preying on women for advancement.