Women on Top

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“Times are changing for women in this country. We’re putting up with less. Standing up for ourselves more. And making strides some never thought possible.”
~ Megyn Kelly, Settle for More

Behind every successful woman is herself.”

There is something about being an independent woman that makes you feel powerful. This independent feeling is as potent as the endorphin rush after an intense workout. More specifically, to have your own finances and career makes you feel on top of the world. I feel like I have spread my wings and flying. After so many years of women being made to feel inferior to men and scrutinized against, the barrier has finally been broken. We are no longer living in the World War II era- a world where all a woman’s worth was to raise children and be subservient to a man.

Vladimir Putin and Megyn Kelly

Vladimir Putin and Megyn Kelly

Then out of nowhere, the rug was pulled out from under them because their husbands were drafted into a war. All of a sudden us pipsqueaks were given the heavy load of providing for our children by going into the work force-with the stress of raking in enough dough to feed mouths and keep a roof over our head. Inevitably, when the war was over and the men returned home we were all sent back to our insubordinate duties with no accolades for keeping the ship afloat. The only praise women received after World War II was by helping contribute to the name of the generation of the early 1940’s, making babies when their husbands returned home from war, hence the baby boom generation – and that is pathetic.

Female millennials no longer need Rosie the Riveter to make posters flexing her biceps to help prove to the male race that women could work too. We are more than that. We are no longer being raised in the baby boomer generation with no potential, no worth other than to barely finish high school with the goal of finding a man to marry so he could support us while we cater to his every need like a Stepford wife. We are no longer type-casted as the housewife who has to stay at home, raise the kids and keep the house spotless. The man a.k.a. husband is no longer deemed the breadwinner. Women are now delaying having children to build a career for themselves. They are embarking on many years of education and working their way up in the corporate ladder in order to feel settled first. There is a whole new trend of women freezing their eggs to delay motherhood and ensure fertility once they feel financially settled and where they want to be in their profession. A lot more women these days are making more money than their spouses and a lot of their husbands are now staying at home and playing ‘Mr. Mom.’

So many industries that were always dominated by men are now being transformed. A medical doctor is the first profession that springs to my mind. Do you remember going to the doctor’s office as a child and the office was always filled with male physicians? Most of which were also older? That’s because at the time they attended medical school female med students were unheard of. Women doctors were unheard of. The closest that women got to being immersed in the medical industry was playing the quintessential nurse. Which brings me to my next revelation: So many stereotypical professions make the hottest costumes for Halloween. You might notice it around October when all the stores are flooded with costumes divided by gender norms. The one I think of first is the doctor and nurse stereotype. All of those years celebrating Halloween I could never forget about one of the hottest choices women could choose in order to be “sexy.” A tight white buttoned down dress so short that the girl’s rear end & cleavage sticks out, accompanied by white thigh highs, a stethoscope, nurses hat and stripper heels. Of course, the doctor costume was always modeled by men… Well, no more gentlemen.

I feel wonderful knowing that I was the one who bought my sneakers I wear to exercise and my new snow boots for the winter. I am elated that I control myself and can’t be told what to do. No one could threaten me with much when I make my own money and could support myself. There is little room left for threats and ultimatums. It feels like a superpower to not have to tolerate being mistreated and telling people to go screw themselves and walk away. The goal is to live life on my own terms. All the strife and hardship is worth it knowing that everything around me such as my apartment, food, entertainment and the size of my bank account is the result of my own hard earned money. I’d rather clean toilets and scrub floors with a toothbrush than have to bow down to a man in order to be supported. Every time I walk down the street on my way to work on Park Avenue I see all these dazzling men in their suit and ties. They look debonair and sure of themselves as they walk and conduct business on their cell phone or congregate with their other colleagues as they enter their corporate building. When I see one passing by it is a reminder to never give them control of my life. Any man who is not seeking an independent woman who has her own empire is either possessive and wants to control her purse strings or feels intimidated by such a strong and assertive female; I call them ‘man-boys.’

I am much more than a feminist. Even if I wasn’t a woman I would still speak about female inequality. I fight and speak my mind against any kind of adversity, prejudice, injustice, religion, etc….I like to refer to myself as a humanist because my views encompass all unfairness the world faces. I don’t know about you, but I worked very hard with blood, sweat & tears to attain these two degrees I have framed and I would not let it go to waste. I knew (know) this would be a stepping stone to creating myself a bright future ahead. When I first began graduate school, something that always stuck was the day I went in to register for classes. As soon as I sat down to pick the first of my education classes my adviser said to me, “You know men expect their wives to work.” That struck a chord with me ever since.

Whether you like to believe it or not, a woman who does not have or gives up her job/career once she settles down and raises a family I strongly believe in creating an invisible disparity. Even if the man she marries is a great catch, perfect gentleman, family man, he will always feel superior and feel he “wears the pants” in the family because he is the one who brings home the bacon. It does not matter that she slaves day in and day out to raise the children full time, keep the home immaculate and take care of her husband, and believe me I know it is a thankless job but if you’re not making any money and not working any kind of proverbial 9-5 job, then sweetie, it does not matter, because at the end of the day if you are unhappy in your marriage or just want to exercise freedom and feel powerful & independent that will not cut it. In a more grim reality, and I am speaking realistically here and not negatively if a woman marries a man who is not ideal (speaking mildly) well then she already starts off financially dependent on him that snowballs into an avalanche.

She cannot leave so easily for obvious reasons. She has to figure out how she is going to pick up & start off fresh with no disposable income and any kind of job to speak of. And in order for her to start this new life, she has to make sure she receives enough money from her soon to be ex-husband and make sure she could even afford a good attorney and win enough alimony in court in order for her near future to be secure in any way. If she had children with him, well that is a whole other battle in itself. This would probably explain why that during the baby boomer era there were MUCH fewer divorces than there are now, along with other reason(s) of course.

The answer is YES! You could have it all and it is being done as we speak! These are one of the many reasons why growing up I knew I was going to graduate from college and embark on a career to make something of myself and feel free of needing to depend on ANYONE, especially a man a.k.a. husband for anything along with feeling respected, confident and proud of myself as a woman. For any of you that do not agree/believe what I say, get your head out of the sand! Anyone that really knows me knows I am not one to sugar coat anything (as if you couldn’t tell by now). I am very direct and brutally honest. It is true, and if you beg to differ, well then to each their own! As long as you’re happy living in LaLa Land that is fine by me!

The glass ceiling still exists but it is great to know that there is great progress and slow progress is better than no progress at all. I am writing this because I feel very passionate about this topic especially given the breakthrough we as women are making one new statistic and news article at a time!

A success story and inspiration for all us women is Megyn Kelly. Her book, Settle for More exemplifies International Women’s Day. Every page I read permeated with testosterone although it was actually written by a woman. Settle for More sets the stage for the premise of her book. I have never read a book where the author’s title was used to define the content of their book. In every chapter of her story, Megyn made sure to fully explain how she began to settle for more and how each instance that occurred in her life she remembered to implement her settle for more mentality. She even orchestrated the book to guide others to improve their lives and how they can settle for more in order to make their dreams come true. Out of all the books I read, this one will always stand out in my mind.

Megyn Kelly ended up conquering the male-dominated field of law. She worked tirelessly through law school paying her way with odd jobs to become one of the most prominent attorneys in New York. She nailed her first junior associate position at Bickel & Brewer in Chicago. Her initial salary was a whopping $85,000. I don’t know if Megyn did this intentionally, but her style of writing implied that she was determined to rise above adversity and become a powerful attorney in a male conquered field. Here’s an excerpt from her book where she directly touches upon working with mostly male lawyers: Pg. 101-102. “Your ego gets tied to being a lawyer. Mine was. I thought it was the only way to be taken seriously, especially by powerful men. The people I dealt with all day-judges, my bosses, clients, were almost all men…My legal training gave me several skills, but knowing how to handle men in positions of authority was easily one of the most valuable…I endeared myself to them by working incessantly and by figuring out what made each of them tick… Every day is fraught with peril. When I started out in law, I felt insecure and was angered by these guys. I’d play into stereotypes about ‘hysterical’ women.”

It’s a good thing that she underwent these challenges in order to develop a thick skin as she described it because towards the end of the book her strength was tested once she struck fame – a price to pay for being in the spotlight. Anyone that watches the news knows all about her Year of Trump and the sexual harassment scandal of the late Roger Ailes, (the two monumental stressful events she underwent) as she phrased it, she thought she was reporting the news, not in the news. She sets the record straight to all the haters not agreeing with her and tells her side of the story of how she felt her actions were justified (all public information that caused national attention). A lot of her book touches upon issues women face in the workplace from sexual harassment (Roger Ailes), motherhood and the stigma attached to working mothers.

She goes into explicit detail of how she feels there needs to be more support for women when they go on maternity leave and what other women should do if faced with sexual harassment themselves. She believes that America does not provide enough time and are not supportive enough of women employees working and raising children – she opens up on how she felt about when she had her three children. She was afraid that her superiors would not be happy that she had an increasing family and took hiatuses to go on maternity leave – she was afraid that the show would take off without her and not want her back. That is what I loved most about this book and about Megyn Kelly – she bares her soul by chronicling her personal experiences in such a way that is raw and thought-provoking.

She writes it in such a way as if she is an average person and not a nationally, critically acclaimed celebrity, you get to know her as a person and she too is just like the rest of us, with the same fears, insecurities like the average person and how she learned to conquer them and how we can too, and for that my respect and love for her just kept growing and growing throughout the book. She explicitly delves into her personal life as being a working mother and making more money than her husband does as well as her familial beliefs. She adds in how she cherishes her roots and at the end of the day when all is said and done it doesn’t matter if her career tanks because she has a loving family that she adores and is grateful to have – another anecdotal quality she emphasizes in order for you to understand that she is not all about glitz & glamour – quite the contrary, she is humble and knows love from family will always prevail over materialism and praise as result of being a workaholic.

Megyn pours her emotions on every page about how important it is for her to find time to balance being a ‘career mom’ by excelling in her dream job and equally being there for her husband and kids. She ties this into debates she helped debunk and crusades she had to fight with other public figures to prove them wrong on air (men’s perspective on motherhood, etc.) – anyone that watches her reporting has seen it. She always makes sure to reiterate how she fights for what she believes in and refuses to be kicked to the ground, hence settle for more. She even makes sure to set the record straight that although she doesn’t agree with some boisterous people who say insane and immoral things, she believes in the power of the first amendment and feels that Americans should feel free to exercise their right to use it – that’s what she’s defending, not the actual psychobabble itself.

She self-discloses her aversion to the word “feminist” and why she doesn’t want to be put in that category- I found that quite unique as well. She commends Dr. Phil and Oprah for being the inspirations that also influenced her to develop this attitude.

It is no surprise that this woman is one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women and Time magazine voted her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

She ended up learning how to handle the intimidation and years later grew tired of it. She also grew tired of law itself. After nine years of being a litigator, she realized she hated the profession. She was working 18 hour days and had no time to breathe. She ended up becoming so run down and exhausted that she describes it by saying “her mind felt disconnected from her own body.” She had slaved seven years for a profession that although provided her a comfortable standard of living, she couldn’t enjoy it because she felt suffocated. She also details how her dream was always to be a journalist and envied other reporters when she would watch them on television. She was about to make partner at Jones Day when she realized she had to bolt out of law; she was a shell of herself. Everyone around her was shocked.

She was so good at what she did, in her book, someone referred to the law as being “her highest calling.” She didn’t care though. She was so miserable that she felt it was worth losing all that money so she could start living again. Megyn ended up deciding she would pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a reporter. Let’s just say with determination and hard work the universe granted her entrance into the world of news. She didn’t realize until later that it wasn’t only her passion to go into journalism but discovered she was also talented. Even though Megyn Kelly took a major pay cut by starting a whole new trade, she said it was worth it because she had her life back and she loved it; it was everything she dreamt it to be. She also took a risk by leaving such a thriving career in order to begin a new profession that she didn’t know would takeoff.

It was serendipitous that I finished her book just in time for International Women’s Day. I had no idea that this book would be apropos to include on this honorary day. It was almost as if Megyn Kelly wrote this for this holiday too because as you get to the end she emphasizes the great strides and improvements the workplace is in so far, what she has experienced firsthand and even offers sound advise about what she feels needs to be changed to help protect female employees regarding sexual harassment (she hit all the main points & incentive of what International Women’s Day stands for).

However, I speak for myself because I don’t think Megyn Kelly would want to classify her memoir under the same subject as “feminist” rights/issues since she lawfully objects to being in a “box” labeled feminism and other like terms. I just mean how could it not hit home for me? I just finished a groundbreaking memoir detailing what is going on with many issues today, a great chunk of it coinciding with the whole incentive of what International Women’s Day is about told from a woman whose incentive is also to reveal the issue(s) women are still facing today (as well as being in the center of it all). How could I not hear bells go off as this holiday approaches us?

As if you can’t tell by now it is hard for me to control my enthusiasm. I could quote this whole book and never stop expressing my admiration and awe at such an incredible woman. I just have to insert this last quote that also left a lasting impression on me. The balls this woman had to demand the salary she wanted and not be afraid to risk losing a whole new job floored me. I hope I could gain this attitude she has. I wonder how long it took her to adopt such a sure way of thinking or did she always knew her worth once she began law school?
This part of the book is after she got her interview at Fox and the agent she hired was dissuading her from demanding the salary she knew she deserves, hence the name of her book, SETTLE FOR MORE. I will leave you with this. Then please read the book yourself.

Pg 123-124: “Now that I had an offer, it was no problem finding an agent. I told him the number at which I wanted to begin. It wasn’t a big number-after all, I had only been a journalist for less than a year. But it was respectable for someone with nine years of legal experience under her belt. The job wasn’t about the money for me, but I knew what I was worth. The agent told me I’d never get it. ‘Just ask,’ I said. ‘A million girls would kill for this job,’ he said dismissively. ‘Just take what they’re offering.’ Well. As you might imagine, that pissed me off. I wasn’t a girl, first of all. And I wasn’t like a million others. This wasn’t some casting-couch moment where the ingénue is given a chance she has no business getting.

I’d been a high powered lawyer for a decade, on my feet arguing in front of juries and some of the best and brightest and sharpest judges in the country. I’d also spent ten years working harder than just about anyone else they could be considering-an ethic I would clearly bring with me. ‘Demand more.’ I told him. ‘You’re going to lose this offer,’ he said. ‘Do it,’ I said. ‘If I lose it, I lose it.’ Sure enough, Fox paid the number I requested. It’s not a bad lesson for young people starting out; trust your instincts. Sometimes even those who are supposed to be looking out for you can underestimate your value. Often you are your own best advocate. I wound up firing the agent right after I started.” Applause, applause, Megyn Kelly.

Her first break reporting for a local news station ended up catapulting her to becoming a household name. If you didn’t read her book I suggest you do, it is a life changer. My genre of choice has been memoirs and I have read my fair share before hers but nothing that struck a chord with me until I read this one – I will never forget it. If this memoir doesn’t motivate you to chase your dreams and aspirations, I don’t know what will. Bravo Megyn Kelly. You are a paragon of women empowerment.

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