Mrs. Brzezinski has a new book coming out, All Things at Once. If that title is any indication of what's inside, I'd say it's the reason in recent studies that women were found to be less happy than men. In her kickoff posts at Huffington Post, Brzezinski focuses on one main aspect. The importance of having it all, but going for it all early, particularly if you want to be a mom. Don't Forget to Have Kids -- Part 1, Part 2 were posted on Huffington Post. Here are two excerpts:
But let's talk about the greatest gift a woman can receive: being a mommy. For professional women, there simply is NO good time to have a baby. Putting it off only makes the challenges greater. Having babies after 35 increases medical risk and is, lets face it, exhausting. It is also trying on a marriage and a career. - Don't Forget to Have Kids- Part 1
But I am speaking to the women who DO want to have a family and consider a lifelong relationship valuable, rather than a badge of weakness or a sign that she missed the boat on the women's rights movement. I am not afraid to say my relationship with my man is important, even vital, to who I am as a person. A woman shouldn't feel the need to shy away from wanting to build a world around a man she loves and do whatever she can to make him happy and whole -as he should for her. - Don't Forget to Have Kids- Part 2
Now, I've actually been a relationship (and life) coach, "Relationship Consultant" to be exact, delving deep into the life of different women on their way to achieving their bliss. I've guided women, back in the day when personal ads were huge, on how to navigate the language of love to attract the right type of man. But it went much further. I then gave advice on how to choose who's right and ready to have a relationship. I took on The Rules and Dr. Laura. I also received literally hundreds of emails and cards from people who met their match who became their lifelong mate, most of whom I guided along the way. It was an extraordinary experience for me, with what I learned about love and living in the modern era incredibly valuable, which I expanded on when I learned more and more about the sexual habits of humans.
However, when you bring modern feminist revolution into it, the one thing I learned a long time ago is that the majority of feminists I've known have never shied away from saying "my relationship with my man is important, even vital, to who I am as a person." It's what took women down the I Can Have It All path. After all, who can imagine a life without love?
So, Mrs. Brzezinski's whole premise is wrong. It conjures up an old-fashioned, even right wing version, of what feminism has meant from the start. That career women think a desire for a man equates to "her badge of weakness" is ludicrous. In the hundreds of women I have talked to over the years spent in the relationship and sex world, I never came across this claim.
This theory is so fundamentally out of whack it's hard to believe Brzezinski is actually running with it. Of course, she is Mika of Morning Joe, so she automatically gets the platform. Lucky for her, even if she's resurrecting a feminist line that was rejected back in the 1980s. She needed to do homework beyond her own life.
Mrs. Brzezinski might have simply started with the film He's Just Not That Into You. Or perhaps the Sex and the City movie or HBO series, which has enough variety of women, their struggles and the choices they make to have easily further educated her.
The conflict Brzezinski addresses isn't new. Trouble is her remedy isn't either.
One woman whom I coached had a great career, but what she longed for most of all was children, a family. She had been living with a man for years, someone who was never going to marry her, which I told her over and over again. Each time she broached the subject he'd warn her, but she just knew he'd change. After years of waiting, I finally got her to look at her choice starkly. Peering into her mid-thirties, which was over the horizon, helped. She broke it off and walked into what seemed at the time the scariest prospect of all. Having kids without a man. We had talked for months about what she wanted in her partner. One of the things was that he be a practicing Catholic. So, it seemed obvious that's where she should start. Long story short, she met a man in church, they fell in love, and even in her mid-thirties she had two children, whose timing was just right. It all worked out when she was ready and attracted her dreams.
Another woman was a big shot in advertising. She had loved deeply, but never found that right man. One day she did, in her mid-thirties, with marriage to follow. It wasn't easy, both pregnancies incredibly difficult. However, she just hadn't met someone in her early twenties that offered marriage for her. It wasn't as if she wasn't looking. She also had to work things out for herself, some of her own baggage that needed to be stored away. When she was done with that he entered.
A woman who had always wanted children, dated, loved, but just couldn't find the person she wanted to marry, after having one marriage that ended terribly. When she finally got married, she and her new husband just couldn't make a baby... but step-motherhood further filled her up.
I could go on and on.
Mrs. Brzezinski has a full life and she has her own experiences that no doubt are worth sharing. But her set-up on feminism, what it means, as well as the breadth of what women face today is stunningly sparse. Take it as one woman's experience, but reader beware. It also says something about the publishing world, that celebrity can sell something as deeply difficult to understand as relationships, without the person writing being armed with anything but her own life.
Then there is the obvious that's missed.
Feminism has never been about having it all or, as Mrs. Brzezinski puts it, All Things at Once, which I'm certain is a lot easier to do when you're making big media money. Of course, it does happen, but it's rare, which is another reason why the recent study revealed women losing on the happiness quotient. Expectations and unrealistic goals can defeat any fabulous woman on her way to happiness. In fact, if there is any rule that feminists like myself who are older have known since the modern feminist revolution began, it's that this is about having choices, but not necessarily choose "all of the above." Considering all of the choices possible for women, without thinking we are men, because as time has shown as feminists went through our paces, we are moored by our biology, though, thankfully, no longer trapped.
In fact, not being a mommy has become another choice, which women are also just as happy to choose. A woman choosing to be child-free no longer "her badge of weakness," to use Mrs. Brzezinski's words.
The greatest surprise and gift of my life is my husband Mark. He's taught me more about love than the thousands of people I've interviewed, because being in relationship is the biggest learning curve there is. But even as a confirmed career gal, I never ignored drawing a relationship into my life. I just didn't want marriage, as every long-term monogamous relationship always got down to the man not understanding the dedication I had to my work. But I also had to be ready for it or I might have missed it completely.
Feminism isn't about having it all or "all things at once," though it clearly is for Mrs. Brzezinski. It's about following your bliss to manifest your heart's desire and embracing them on the road as they manifest. It's about intending to attract those elements you want, while living your life.
I moved out of Los Angeles to launch my dream of having my own radio show. Twelve hours after I was in my new home this man walked in to turn on my gas. He ended up igniting my life. That wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been following the one constant thread of all my dreams, that of changing my little corner of the world. Being true to my bliss, never giving up even through the heartache, struggles and disappointments.
A woman shouldn't feel the need to shy away from wanting to build a world around a man she loves and do whatever she can to make him happy and whole -as he should for her. - Mika Brzezinski
If feminism means anything as the 21st century dawns, with women's independence for those of us living in the United States within our grasp, even as we fight anew to keep the rights won over a century so that our civil rights are not diminished. It is that no man can make us whole, any more than we can him. That's a fundamental point every person should embrace before they ever enter into a relationship.
Then start by asking for what you want. If you don't know what that is you're not remotely ready.
And if there is one thing that feminism didn't change and wasn't meant to touch, it's that no matter how well your career is going, love still makes the world go 'round. And you're most likely to attract it while you're living your own authentic life. Often when you least expect it.
Oh, and about that archaic bra burning talking point Mrs. Brzezinski hoists from history. Over 15 years ago I was writing about how modern women could wear sexy lingerie, while sporting a wicked smart intellect, without selling out their inner lioness. It's the 21st century and no one and I mean no one is burning their bras anymore.