Hello friends! Thank you so much for signing up to The Story of Woman newsletter. I think I will call you “storytellers”, though I am still playing around with that one. Feel free to offer your creative suggestions!
As I discussed last night with my friend Virginia Mendez from The Feminist Shop, I have so far neglected this newsletter - even as you so kindly signed up, and indeed, I prompted you to do so - mostly because I was busy launching the podcast, but also because I wasn’t quite sure what to say!
To be clear, I have plenty to say, but what do I want to use this space for? What would be the most useful and enjoyable content for all you storytellers out there?
How about an announcement that the first episode has been published?!
how I'm feeling about it
I chatted with Mary Ann Sieghart, author of The Authority Gap, about why women are still taken less seriously than men - in the year 2022 - and what we can realistically do about it.
Perhaps you’ve heard of mansplaining?
This phenomenon is so pervasive that, as you will hear in the interview, Mary Ann had men EXPLAIN TO HER why her book on the authority gap was unnecessary, misguided, or just completely inaccurate. A topic she had been researching for a few years at this point, in which these men most definitely were not the experts on.
And while we could fill a whole dictionary with terms like mansplain, manderestimate, mandermine, and conversational manspreading, it isn’t just ‘man’ that perpetuates this gap... unfortunately. We are all a product of the (patriarchal) system we live in, which makes the issue even more difficult to tackle. But prevail we must!
Fiction book shoutout - the authority gap in action
Because my days are filled consuming non-fiction, I don’t read as much fiction as I’d like. However, I did just finish the book Rodham which is a fascinating alternative history novel written by Curtis Sittenfeld that tells the story of Hillary Rodham if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton! How might things have turned out for her... and the world?
I highly recommend it. And I also think IRL Hillary is a perfect example of the authority gap in action. The media and public have been obsessed with her “likability” for decades. Like many (all?) women in power, she has had to walk the balance beam of being assertive, but not aggressive; speaking authoritatively, but not coming off as “shrill”; being a powerful female, but remaining likeable - a possibility that remains yet to be seen.
Anyway, NO SPOILERS! But I wanted to share one (annotated) paragraph from the book that I think is a spot on analogy for how women in power are perceived. The person talking is someone on Hillary’s team whose job was to observe a mock debate and offer advice on how Hillary presents herself... to ensure she is likeable, of course.
So basically, seeing a woman running for president is like seeing someone with a facial tattoo!
The good news is that there are people out there like Mary Ann raising awareness and (slowly) narrowing the authority gap; and there are people like you listening to what she has to say and carrying the conversation - and the story - forward.
Lastly, you might be interested in a blog I wrote this week about the inspiration for The Story of Woman, season one highlights, and more!
That’s all for today. Thanks for being here and holding space for woman’s story!
PS - Happy Women’s History month!
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