- Gloria Feldt will read in D.C. tonight (Maryanne Russell)
In "No Excuses," feminist icon Gloria Feldt argues that it's time for women to stop pointing fingers and just claim our equality already. Feldt's new book gives us nine clues on how to do that, from changing the way we think about power to resisting being co-opted into a man's world. (Full disclosure: "You will see yourself in this book," one reviewer said, and sure enough, Feldt graciously quotes me in a section on why you shouldn't combat discrimination by pretending to be a dude).
Feldt will read from the book tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Busboys & Poets 5th & K Sts. location; last week, I spoke with Feldt about tokenism, female socialization, and Academy Award Best Director award-winner (and lady!) Kathryn Bigelow.
ON TOKENISM: "When I was still living in Odessa, Tex., there was a bank where my office was located, which had determined in the mid-70s that it needed to have some women. They appointed one woman to management that apparently had no authority. People referred to her as the ‘VP in charge of friendly.’ It seemed that her job was to simply be there, and make it appear as if this bank was friendly to women. Meanwhile, they wouldn’t give me a loan for a car I wanted to buy in my own name . . . to me, that’s just a classic example of how women get co-opted into thinking we’re powerful."
ON KATHRYN BIGELOW: “Any time a woman succeeds it’s going to help other women. In any given industry. In politics, for example, Hillary Clinton, to see that women can rise to that level—to see her capability, talent, credibility, and leadership—it’s always going to help women. But i think a woman who reaches that point also has an obligation to other women. I thought Kathryn Bigelow missed an opportunity. She would never consciously say, ‘Yes, I do realize I’m the first woman to receive this award, and I do think it’s a big deal, and i want to help other women.” She wouldn’t even answer a question about her being a woman. . . . It’s just an object lesson for me when people forget what a movement is. Women forget that we are all interconnected."
ON POWER: "One of the reasons why women sometimes feel they shouldn’t highlight their being women is that they want to just go up the career ladder for themselves without thinking about being part of a larger movement. There’s an old paradigm of power that still influences us—it's power as how men have been defining it, which is a 'power over' other people. If you think of power as 'power over,' that is a finite pie. If you take a slice, there’s less for me. Especially when tokenism is in play. But one thing that women can uniquely bring to the workplace is a new definition of power, the 'power to'—the power to accomplish something, to create innovation, to do something good in the world. It’s not a finite pie anymore, it’s infinite. The more we redefine power on our own terms, the more comfortable we'll be trying to work women into that culture of power."
ON DIVERSITY: "Studies have found that better decisions are made when more women are around the table. That's true about all kinds of diversity in the workplace. But when you have that critical mass of women, behaviors change and the qualities that women bring to that decisionmaking body become prevalent enough that it really does make a difference. If there’s only one woman at the decisionmaking table, she’s probably going to be thinking mostly like the men do."
ON FEMALE SOCIALIZATION: "It’s never too late. We all have choices in life. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed, nothing that we can’t make another choice about. The whole world seems to know this is women's moment, but these moments don't last forever. I’m very optimistic abut the future, because right now, if women decide they want to do things differently, they can. We’ve been so culturally programmed as women not to do things for ourselves. Let’s get over that."