Increasing numbers of women are speaking out, but other high-profile women who claim to be feminists, recently have been attacking women's views as not "serious" enough, not academic enough or just plain using ridicule and vitriol to stamp out a contrary view. What are your thoughts on how women can remain fearless in their voices when they feel attacked by other women?
The most important thing for assertive women is not to internalize the attacks on them -- whether they come from men or other women -- and to realize that any time they speak out against injustice or against the status quo they are going to have attacks leveled at them. Let's face it, our culture still isn't comfortable with outspoken women.
Even in 2007, it's hard for a woman to challenge prevailing orthodoxies and not be attacked and caricatured for it. We're still expected, first and foremost, to be sweet and adorable. If we assert ourselves, we're suddenly a ball-busting bitch. As Marlo Thomas famously put it, ""A man has to be Joe McCarthy to be called ruthless. All a woman has to do is put you on hold."
The best way to neutralize this kind of attitude is through humor and perspective.
How do you feel the purported "Mommy War" debate is hurting the ability of women to be fearless in their lives?
The decision whether to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom is -- and should be allowed to be -- an individual decision. I have chosen to be a working mother -- but I have just as much respect for mothers who are able not to work and have chosen not to. Either way, you will experience fear and guilt. It comes with being a mother. Indeed, I sometimes think that when the doctors take the baby out, they put the guilt in.
And, I have to say, this whole debate is rather elitist. Most women don't have the luxury of choosing whether they work or stay at home. They have to work. The key thing is that we, as a society, owe women equal respect for whatever choice they make. And, as women, we need to support each other in making this decision... not spend so much time pointing accusatory fingers at those who choose to follow a different road than we have.
What role do you see women bloggers having in the effort to get more women to speak out in a more public way on important issues, once they've gotten their feet wet in the somewhat anonymous universe of blogging?
Blogging is by nature very intimate, very personal, very passionate. And very addictive. So, yes, I do think the blogging revolution will encourage more women to express their opinions. Once they have, and once they start getting the immediate feedback you get with blogging, it will be hard to put the "speaking out genie" back in the bottle.
I think many women who blog enjoy the conversational nature of it, the way that it draws people in and includes them in the dialogue. It really does become a back and forth -- much more so than any other kind of writing I've done. And I think the personal nature of it is very appealing to women. With blogging, no matter what you set out to write about, in the end, you end up writing about yourself and the things you care most about. And this creates a close bond between blogger and audience.
You seem to be an amazingly fearless woman. In what aspect of your life do you continue to work on 'being fearless?'
You name it, I'm still working on it! It's an ongoing process. Fearlessness is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes -- and the easier it becomes to confront your fears and pursue your dreams.