Why Women Should Rule the World by Dee Dee Myers was first recommended to me by a smart businesswoman who I met at a PR event. She said that it was a fun read and full of interesting facts about the nature of women and that all women should read it.
I didn’t get around to reading it after she recommended it last year, but it was on my radar. And then two things happened: I noticed that it was being released in paperback this spring, and my husband and I renewed our love affair with the West Wing television series.
Dee Dee Myers was a consultant on the show, and she confirms in this book that she used many of her experiences as the first female press secretary at the White House as storyline suggestions for the fictional female C.J. Cregg who holds the same position in the Bartlet White House.
This book is fascinating. It’s well-written and a fairly easy read, considering the scientific/social data included. I wish that there had been more insider information about the Clinton White House (or for that matter the Bartlet White House), but this is not her memoir. This is a look at the role of women and the positive effects of integrating women fully into all facets of business and political life.
However, she does deconstruct the problems that were inherent to her being the “first woman” press secretary. While Clinton did give her that role, many of the powers that other press secretaries had were stripped from Myers (perhaps due to her inexperience in some areas). The result is that she had the position, but not the power, which resulted in her inability to do the job well.
Just last week, I heard an NPR interview with the first female astronaut to make a shuttle mission. She said that NASA knew that the press could burden “the first woman” with many questions and interview requests, and so they insulated her from that before the mission so that she could train and prepare along with the men who were making that trip. She said if they had not done that, then she would have gone up as a token, yet unqualified, woman — due to training that was denied to her as she attended to the press. I loved hearing that, and honestly, I probably would not have put together the importance of how “first” women are treated and perceived and the unfair demands placed on them if I hadn’t recently read Myers’ book.
She uses examples from prominent business and political leaders, including a block of women Senators who have been successful in some bi-partisan efforts, due to the relational style that many women employ.
Why Women Should Rule the World is not a feminist “I am woman hear me roar” manifesto. In fact, what I like about it is that Myers really does seem to support the idea that women can do anything that they want to. If that anything is stay at home for a few years (or a lifetime) and raise children, that’s fine, but as she recounts in the opening of the book, women should also not be raised thinking that all they can be is a nurse, a teacher or a mother.
Men and women are different. Acknowledging that is not going to put the women’s movement back. If anything, working within our strengths will help us advance — not only as a gender, but as individuals.
This review is linked to Semicolon’s Saturday Review of Books. Add your own reviews each month, or click over and read the reviews from around the blogosphere (indexed by title).