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生活目标:√结婚、√生子、成为总裁、√挣更多钱、摆脱贫穷、√绚丽多彩、拥有豪宅、 √成为性感女神、青春永驻、√完美……!

On Having It AllThrow Out That List!



- by Debora Spar 


Why being a woman of impact does not mean being a woman who does it all.


Think for a moment of the most successful woman you know. She might be a friend, or a colleague, or someone you’ve idolized from afar. Think big, of someone you truly admire and respect.

Now take this Wonder Woman, the most successful female you know, and run her through a quick perfection counter, the kind of checklist we regularly assign to women we encounter. Is your most successful woman in a perfect relationship with the partner of her dreams? Does she have perfect children, born at carefully arranged intervals and each now ensconced in an Ivy League university? Is she at the top of her career? Is she earning serious money and investing it well? Has this woman saved the world yet, or at least made a significant contribution to ending poverty, fighting hunger, or combating global climate change? Is she fulfilled? Thin? Unwrinkled? Did she get straight A’s in college? And does her home look like Martha Stewart’s, complete with hand-crocheted table runners and organic chard growing in the yard?
I didn’t think so.




‘We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, by pulling back when we should be leaning in.’ --Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In (Pascal Lauener/Reuters, via Corbis)


In the genteel days of the early 20th century, young women were expected, really, to follow only one path: to marry as well as they might and bear children shortly thereafter. Or as Lady Mary, the upper-class heroine of the BBC hit Downton Abbey, confides, “Women like me don’t have a life. We choose clothes, and pay calls, and work for charity, and do the season, but really we’re stuck in a waiting room until we marry.” Lower-class women, of course, faced even fewer options in the early 1900s, confined to a social order in which marriage was essentially their only choice.    


I came of age, in the early 1970s, when revolution was in the air and young girls were being urged, for the first time, to be whatever they wanted to be. Yet quietly and pervasively, girls of the 1970s were still hearing the contradictory lures of an earlier age. Be pretty. Be popular. And never let the boys know how smart you are. The women of my generation barged across the gender divide on the shoulders of the feminists who had fought for us. Greedily we grabbed the power that they had bequeathed. But, surrounded still by more ancient expectations and stubbornly ignorant, as many of us were, to feminism’s central cry for collective action and social goals, we promptly forgot much of what they had struggled for, choosing instead to focus on our own careers, our own children, and our own intricate pathways to some sort of success.


One of the most invidious results of that forgetting is that women today spend an inordinate amount of time attacking one another. Just look at the uproar that has surrounded both Sandberg and Mayer this past year。Women in the workforce quietly whisper that female bosses are the worst; women on the playground indelicately dissect other mothers’ choices to return to work. In my own experience, female students are liable to be particularly tough on female professors, and female professors, especially in mostly male environments, to be particularly critical of their younger female colleagues. Whenever I relate one of these stories to my husband, he sighs and offers the same remark. “This,” he says, “is why you people will never take over.” Slightly sexist, I know. But also probably true.
这种遗忘带来的明显后果是今天女性们花过度的时间攻击对方。仅看看去年桑德伯格和迈耶    的纷争就可知道。女同胞们在职场上总是在嘀咕着女老板的恐怖;在运动场所毫无顾忌地剖析着谁家母亲又重返职场的行为。从我自己的经验中感受到,女教授对女学生要求更为严厉,对年轻的女同事更求全责备些,尤其在大部分都是男性的环境中。每次当我把这些故事讲给丈夫听时,他总是叹了口气,发表相同的评论: “这就是你们永远都无法占主导的原因。”轻微的男人至上主义色彩,但说的是实话。

To some extent, this attack-and-compare mode stems from the harsh reality that there are still so few of us in positions of power. As any woman who has ever sat around a mostly male table can attest, the presence of only one or two women around that table leaves them highlighted as “the women.” Their voices are seen as representing “the women’s position.” They are looked upon when issues of diversity arise, or when the softer side of something needs to be addressed. And, most invidious, they are implicitly but constantly compared. Did Ann speak more eloquently than Beatrice? Was Beatrice nasty to Ann? As a result, Ann and Beatrice find themselves jostling, whether they mean to or not, to become the woman at whatever enterprise they serve. And women behind them on the ladder similarly scramble to take their places, subtly aware that there are only two slots. The result is more competition than is warranted; more of a buried sense that women must fight, not just for men’s jobs, but among themselves.


Today young women have opportunities that would have confused and confounded Lady Mary. Heirs now to 50 years of feminist advocacy, they can finally run companies like Facebook or media organizations such as Time. They can serve on the U.S. Supreme Court or direct the International Monetary Fund. They can apply to any college or graduate program in the country and, as of this year, even hold combat positions in the U.S. Army. Thanks to the pill and the patch and Roe v. Wade, they can control their sexual and reproductive lives, choosing whether and when to have children, and with whom.


‘To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.’ --Marissa Mayer, in a Yahoo internal memo (Laurent Gillieron/EPA, via Corbis)
Moreover, even before today’s young women move into the world of marriage and children, they are bombarded by a storm of competing expectations about how to get there. The good news, once again, is that the choices are virtually unlimited: women can marry whomever they want, whenever they want, crossing lines of race and class and even gender. They can have babies without husbands and sex without commitment. The bad news, though, is that it’s not clear that all young women really want to embrace the carefree lifestyle promoted in Girls or Sex and the City. Some of them want boyfriends, now an apparently endangered species. Most want, eventually, to marry. And not all enjoy the hookup culture of casual, often even anonymous, sex. Yet these are the peer pressures that surround them. Just go to pretty much any Internet dating site or campus blog. Women are supposed to be actively sexual, skilled in the range of activities that their partners are watching online. They are supposed to look like models, drink like fish. Women of earlier generations were almost certainly frustrated by the long list of romantic options—affairs, divorces, same-sex partners—that remained forever out of reach. But women today face an upside-down problem: the expectation that in love, as in so many areas, they are somehow expected to have, and do, it all.


Recently one of my very best students came to see me. She is delightful and accomplished already at age 22, juggling classes and internships and three competing offers from high-tech firms. But as she reminisced about her high school and college years, she was struck by a bout of melancholy. “I have never really spent a whole day just sitting and reading on the lawn,” she confessed. “I never spent that night you’re supposed to spend in college, drinking coffee for hours and talking philosophy with my friends. In fact, I’m not sure I really ever got to know my friends that well at all.”

最近,有个我喜爱的学生来找我。她性格开朗刚过22周岁,在上课和实习期间忙碌,获得了三家高科技产业公司的邀请。但是当她回忆起高中和大学的时光时,她陷入了深深的忧郁中。“我从未花一整天的时间在草坪上坐着看书,”她承认道. “我从没有一个晚上呆在学校里,喝着咖啡同友人讨论哲学。事实上,我不清楚自己是否有去真正地了解我的朋友们。”

So what, then, does it mean to be a woman of consequence in the 21st century? And what does it take to become one?


To begin, it’s crucial to recognize—and underscore and shout from the rooftops—that being a woman who matters does not mean being a woman who does it all. On the contrary, building a life of consequence demands a certain narrowing of vision, a commitment to excelling in one area, perhaps, but not all. Men do this all the time, and we applaud them for it. We know that these men have lives beyond their jobs; we know they have children and spouses and lawns that occasionally need mowing. But we don’t question their manhood when we evaluate their careers, or pry too deeply into the inner workings of their homes.


Women need to employ this same kind of focus—this same narrowed lens—when we think about both our lives and those of other women. Rather than expect Marissa Mayer, for example, both to save Yahoo and to advance workplace equity, we might allow her to concentrate on her job and then judge her for that. Rather than condemn Adele for a few extra pounds, we might just revel in her extraordinary music. (Does anyone care what Jay-Z weighs?) And rather than hold ourselves to unrealistically broad expectations, we might try to narrow our vision, identifying our individual strengths, nurturing our particular skills, and not devoting too much time or energy to things that fall further afield. There are millions of women (and men) who live lives of consequence every day. They are teaching vocational classes to at-risk teenagers; starting small businesses in rural areas; bringing hot meals to the neighbor next door. They are not famous, most of them. They are not perfect. They do not do, or have, it all. But they are building lives that matter, honing skills and nurturing talents that touch the lives of others. Which is in the end, perhaps, the best we all can do.