With Caryl Rivers
I wrote this after a great night back at the J-School a few weeks ago.
May 2, 2014
What stories are we writing? Is it the stories of “us” or “unconscious-us?”
“I want to write with depth,” said Peggy, an older professional woman currently getting her master’s at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I met her last night at a J-School reception honoring three of her fellow female student journalists. “I don’t want to write the fast-dash, slap-it-up stories,” she said.
For me, that’s about the Conscious Feminine value of “depth orientation” rather than “action orientation.”
This morning I read a sentence in a book that said, “A typical news broadcast consists of 30 percent ads and 53 percent crime, disaster and war.”
I mean, is this REALLY an accurate account of our world? Is this really the only thing going on?
Last night, I heard the stories of several female journalists who broke open the field, people like Anne O’Hare McCormick, who received one of the first Pulitzers awarded to a female journalist, in the 1930’s. I met Betsy Wade, who years ago helped bring a lawsuit against The New York Times for discrimination against female journalists. I spoke with Caryl Rivers, a J-School grad who recently published a book called, “The New Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendence is Hurting Women, Men and the Economy.” I enjoyed listening to Gail Collins, my favorite columnist for The New York Times. She does some serious Conscious Feminine “truth-telling” in her columns.
I also was fascinated to hear the stories of two other recent J-School grads: S. Mitra Kalita, ideas editor at Quartz, balancing family and career expectations (“Just once I’d like to get pregnant when I want to get pregnant”), and Danielle Douglas, covering the banking industry for The Washington Post (“Bankers tend to carry a lot of bravado. I had to get comfortable with that.”)
And it was a delight to celebrate this year’s Anne O’Hare McCormick Memorial Fund’s scholarship winners, Patricia Guerra, Julia Harte, and Annie Wu, who are out there telling important real-life stories: the case of a transgender drug addict and Mexican immigrant who wanted to be buried as a woman in her home town in Mexico, the story of an institutional takeover of a university in Istanbul, and the story of gambling addiction in the Chinese community in New York City. Wow! These are fascinating topics and fascinating young women.
It was Julia who told me, when I mentioned The Conscious Feminine, that 99 percent of the world’s wealth is held by men, and just 1 percent is held by women, according to The World Bank.
Wow. That is truth-telling. And stunning. This is a story that needs to be told!
What I’ve come to understand, as a woman, is that it is up to me to tell the truth, to tell my own truth. I no longer need anyone or anything else to do that. I can post anything online and within seconds, it can, in theory, be a story heard round the world. That is an important development.
But some less obvious restrictions remain, most especially, the “soft war” I wage against myself.
Do I value my story?
Do I value myself and my work?
Do I insist on equal pay for equal work, and, am I willing to break away from the established patriarchy to do that if necessary?
Do I tell the stories that need to be told?
I hope so.
I am trying to be more aware of my own internal soft war, in which I accept the unacceptable, buy into values I don’t support, and depend on anyone else to make sure my story is told or my needs are met.
Which is why I’m a woman writing for (a) change. I’m finding out my own story, writing it down, and encouraging others to do it as well. The world needs to hear our stories, but, even more importantly, we need to tell them, for ourselves. The stories about us. The Conscious Feminine stories that will help break the grip of scarcity-thinking in our lives.
As Caryl Rivers quoted in our brief conversation,
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, then what am I?
And if not now, when?”
Today, I am grateful to be a female writer (also supported by the AOM Fund 25 years ago as a J-school student), telling the story of my life, as, I hope, a Conscious Feminine leader.
p.s. I’m also supporting organizations like the Anne O’Hare McCormick fund, so other fabulous female journalists can continue to tell their stories. Please consider making a contribution here.