Here’s a semi-political book I read in honor of the U.S. presidential election today. Now, if only women could rule the world!
Why Woman Should Rule the World isn’t just another cliché: rather, in her well-researched social memoir of women, Dee Dee Myers shares what she’s learned about being a woman, both from her experiences as the press secretary to the U.S. President and from a life time of being a woman. While only 10-15% of her book is memoir, the social history Myers shares and the interviews she conducts with other successful women (in politics and otherwise) support Myers’s argument for why women ruling the world could change the world.
I thought, at first, that it would be hard to engage in a social and historical review of women in leadership, but I was pleasantly surprised. Why Woman Should Rule the World was a quick read and an enlightening book that illustrated how women are different than men – and why those differences should be celebrated, not ignored.
About the Book
Because Myers is not a psychologist or sociologist (she’s political pundit and writer), her book was, I think, delightfully lighter and more approachable than it would have been. It’s not as technical as it could have been, but for that I’m incredibly grateful.
For some reason, I thought that I was going to read a memoir. I don’t usually choose memoirs unless I am already interested in the person writing it. Because I knew Dee Dee Myers’ name from The West Wing* and because I am interested in politics (from a distance…), I was attracted to this book regardless of the “memoir” label. I was surprised to find, however, that Myers’ memoir was not so much memoir as it was overall examination of the state of women in leadership around the world. I believe it is still a memoir in a sense: and yet, it is much more.
Myers organizes her argument under three parts, all of which have some of her experiences interspersed:
- Why Women Don’t Rule the World
- Why Women Should Rule the World
- How Women Can Rule the World
About Women as Leaders
As the first female press secretary to a president (Bill Clinton), Myers learned a lot about what it means to be a woman in the public work force, especially a woman with some degree of power. Much of what she learned was not pleasant. She faced firsthand the discrimination of lower pay for more work; more responsibility without the correlating benefits; and the challenge of speaking up to be heard. People judge a woman differently than they judge a man, and women have to do a lot more to be noticed.
I enjoyed the insights she shared. Myers’ argument is that women should of course be socially equal to men, but because women not the same as men, they need to stop trying to be like them: we should celebrate our strengths. And that is exactly how I feel about being a woman.
In her introduction, she clarifies:
This book is not an attack on men. It’s not meant to demean or marginalize them. … Truly, the list of man’s ( and I don’t mean “mankind’s”) accomplishments is so long and so profound that it seems silly to try to quantify it. But that doesn’t mean the world wouldn’t be better if there were more women in public life. … (page 11)
I didn’t get any sense of “man bashing” in this book; Myers respects the men in her life and those in power. She just thinks things could be nicer with more women leaders around the world.
What Would Be Different?
Here’s a humorous thought for you, courtesy Why Women Should Rule the World:
If the three wise men had been women, they would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, brought practical gifts, and there would be Peace on Earth. (page 102)
Now, that sounds cliché: believe me when I say that Myers’ book goes beyond the cliché. In her memoir, Myers shows us why woman can and should be leaders.
And as a woman, I can certainly appreciate her message. I guess I never considered myself a “feminist” until I read this book: she’s put in to words what I’ve always believed about the abilities women inherently have, and I’m all the more proud to say “I am a woman.”
What do you think would be different if women had the power (now or in the past)?
*Myers is quick to point out that it’s not that she is like C.J. Cregg, the fictional presidential press secretary on The West Wing: C.J. Cregg is like Dee Dee Myers. Since I was only a teenager when Myers was on C-Span and CNN, I admit that I am more familiar with the character C.J. Cregg than I am with Myers. I knew the name “Dee Dee Myers” only because she’d worked as a consultant for The West Wing and therefore she was in the “Special Interviews” section of the DVDs. Oops.