Female empowerment is easy to fake superficially, like just about anything nowadays that once carried substantial meaning. Women augment their bodies with silicone, fillers and Botox; prance around on reality television shows; and collect big money for lending their names to parties in Las Vegas, all the while extolling the virtues of "independence." Will these independent women be remembered in five years? Will they have contributed any significant, lasting ideas? Or will they have wasted their life? I remember asking myself the same question when I struggled with showing my legs and cleavage every day on a national cable news network while largely muzzled from contributing anything meaningful. It was an empty existence not worth the money it paid. To say that is near-blasphemous and likely brands me as an ingrate in the eyes of many women in the industry who would have done anything to fill my stilettos. So be it.
On the same theme of fake female empowerment, it's not uncommon, particularly in Europe, to discover that women in various positions of power in business or government are there not for their abilities but because they are the wife, mistress, daughter or good friend of someone with power or influence. They're often extolled as proof of feminist advancement, yet they sure didn't get there via any kind of meritocracy. Do they really think people don't know the difference?
So, what's the solution? That's for every woman to determine for herself -- to decide whether "one's life must matter," as Thatcher would say, in a sense larger than herself, and whether that's something for which she wants to spend her entire existence striving. The Thatcher kind of success is so rare because, in part, the counter-pressures are enormous.
While sitting on a long-haul flight on New Year's Eve, the gentleman seated beside me asked what I did for a living. As I explained my career and ambitions, he replied, "Don't you have kids? Aren't you married?" I said that neither marriage nor kids has ever been a priority, and that I could take or leave both.
"No kids?" he replied. "What will you do with your life, then?"
Horrified by his implication that a woman's life ought to be only devoted to motherhood and its value relegated to a biological function, I told him that I plan to keep focusing on trying to make my life count for something more than myself, and that maybe someday when I'm well into my old age, I'll pay lip service to societal pressures and adopt a child soldier, preferably one who grew up in the jungles of Columbia serving with the FARC, who I then wouldn't have to train to choke fools who make such idiotic remarks.