Friday, April 12, 2013

It's all relative

  I just finished reading “Bossypants” by Tina Fey. I do realize I'm coming a bit late to it! I enjoyed it, laughed aloud more than a few times, and wished I had an audio version of the author reading it. But I was a bit…unsatisfied.
I wanted more insight into how she had made it all work and how she knew that being a comedienne was what she really wanted to do. The title implies that you will read about Ms. Fey bossing people around, perhaps doing a bit of clawing on the way to the top, and figuring out the whole ‘work-life balance’. Of course, she’s a funny woman, and the book is meant to be funny, not a how-to. I did notice a trend of diminishing her own work:

“In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”
- Tina Fey, Bossypants

  She makes a graph comparing her stress level to other professions. But it’s not just that being a writer on a show is hard (though not harder than being a soldier or coal miner, two things she uses for comparison), it’s that being a woman writer is harder than being a man writer (paid less, trying to have kids, cultural burdens). I figured out that’s what bugs me about the attacks on Slaughter’s article – detractors couldn’t believe that she was complaining about being a leader in her field compared to a woman cleaning houses. I think Ms Slaughter would agree that she has a good job – but it’s harder for her to do that job and have a family than it would be for a man. At every level, it’s harder to have a career and a family as a woman.

“This is what I tell young women who ask me for career advice. People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another. "You're up for a promotion. If they go for a woman, it'll be between you and Barbara." Don't be fooled. You're not in competition with other women. You're in competition with everyone.”
- Tina Fey, Bossypants
 ...and you're at a disadvantage.

  But even though I hoped for more from the book, I liked it, and will recommend it to friends. In the end, it's a funny book that promotes conversation about gender roles from a woman who dares to accept the adjective 'bossy' despite its connotations.


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