I usually don’t read a lot of nonfiction, specifically memoirs.
And yet, over the last few months, I’ve gravitated towards memoirs by females like: Bossy Pants, Seriously, I’m Kidding, Talking as Fast as I Can, Wild (yes, I’d consider Cheryl Strayed a celebrity now) and Yes, Please.
I don’t know. But, this new tendency conveniently aligns with Women’s History Month, so I’m going to embrace it.
There’s something insanely wonderful about hearing from successful women. It’s empowering to hear them talk about kicking butt, and doing it without apologizing for stepping on anyone’s toes. I love it. I draw from it. As an ambitious woman who wants to take over the world, or at least have a successful career, it’s important to hear from women who have done it and draw on their experiences.
However, there are some aspects of these stories that have left me disappointed. I understand that they are talking about their lives, and are covering every aspect of them. These books are their personal musings, not ‘how to become successful, kick-ass boss ladies’ books. But, on the other hand, if you name your book Bossy Pants….
There are a couple patterns that are emerging that I find troublesome:
Diet & Exercise
A lot of these books, especially the ones about the women in Hollywood, have at least one chapter devoted to diet and exercise and the pressures they face to look awesome. While all of these chapters in all of these books are written in a mocking-tone, they still are giving weight to this societal problem.
Wouldn’t a better way to mock this issue be to not give it any word count at all? Wouldn’t it be better to devote pages to how you kicked butt despite the size of your butt?
Motherhood & Relationships
A lot of these books spend A LOT of time on motherhood and/or relationships. Sigh. Like I said before, I haven’t read a lot of memoirs, or nonfiction, or business/self help/how-I-became-successful books, but I’m going to assume that most books written by men don’t have a chapter (let alone chapters) devoted to how to be a mom and a working person.
Or about how-I-met-this-guy. People work. People fall in and out of love. People reproduce. It’s not this aspect of these people’s lives that is overall unique or interesting (to me). It’s the other stuff. Like becoming a leader in your field and making millions of dollars.
Their success, and how they achieved it, is what makes these women unique and interesting. Let’s spend more time on that. Let’s encourage women to focus these books on work life. Men can do it. So can women.
This gets to the heart of my issue: lets pick up a similar story that a man has written about himself. Now, let’s compare word count on these issues. Why is it that these powerful women feel so compelled to dwell on looks and being a mom? Especially when men don’t. Is it coming from society? Their editors?
Another way to look at it, as a wise friend of mine pointed out, is that maybe men should spend more time talking about their kids and being a dad (not on the weight and diet stuff. We all need to move past this superficial crap.)
Okay, fine. That’s cool. It’s not what I’m interested in, but if that’s the way the wind is blowing, that’s good too.
It’s about equality in expectation. It’s about equality in how we, as women, represent ourselves.
Read our reviews of a few boss lady memoirs: