Forget Leaning In, It’s Time For Women To Push Back

Good news: You’re the boss. Bad news: You’re the boss

My promotion was cause for celebration for everyone but me. Friends clinked glasses at happy hour, and though I smiled over martinis, I felt dread. I’d worked so hard for my new title, but I already crammed my art into the nooks and crannies of the occasional free evening. For a (very) mild pay raise and resume-fattening responsibility, I’d be giving up more time and energy to do work that frankly bored me. Saying so aloud seemed like spitting on my privilege.

Only one person in my life understood my ambivalence: my father. The first in his family to go to college and land a gig that required pressed shirts and briefcases, he’s prone to waxing nostalgic about his college construction job, the one he took to pay off the tuition that was supposed to give him a “better” life. Laying bricks left his body sore and his mind unfettered; he missed knowing that when he put his hammer down for the day, his life was his own.

Being “the boss of your own life” is the kind of you-go-girl platitude embraced by Lean In and its brattier kid sister #GIRLBOSS. Like a lot of working women in the “grind ’til you own it” era, I’ve been a disciple of both Sheryl Sandberg and Sophia Amoruso, but these narratives couple empowerment with earning power, trapping millennials in the same patriarchal structures that boxed “company men” like my father in cubicles for decades. There’s no shortage of cultural handwringing about millennial women like me burning out too young; in an infamous article for Forbes, Larissa Faw proposed that either we never learned to relax, or we’re harboring unrealistic fantasies about everyday workplace drudgery. I think there’s another possibility: that both men and women are eager to punch out of the old standards for success to seek personal satisfaction.

Yet how we answer that old question, “What do you do for a living?” remains as relevant as ever—embedded in hip-hop braggadocio or the swag surrounding TV heroes like Peggy Olson, Mad Men’s ingénue-turned-executive strutting down the halls of McCann-Erickson, cigarette dangling from her lips. “Mainstream media is a reflection of its times,” says Monique Anair, assistant professor of media studies at Santa Fe Community College. And these are the times of the 24/7 hustle. As journalist Dan Lyons laments, “There is no need for work-life balance because work is life, and life is work.”

My father’s exemplar of corporate high-life was Gregory Peck in the 1956 film The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit—a good-looking fella who takes early trains into the city on his way to becoming a V.P. Forget Peggy—her boss Don Draper was the perfect deconstruction of this archetype, grabbing each end of the tug-of-war rope in the center of his chest, pulling equally hard toward stability and freedom. Artist Nairobi Collins says, “We were shown men who [rose up] corporate ladders to be successful. You work, you earn, you succeed.” Collins “tried to go corporate and failed.” Today, he focuses on creative projects and keeps himself afloat through odd jobs. Once I was on the other side of an office door with my name on it, I discovered that plenty of my peers were forging less conventional, if rockier, paths. Entrepreneur Jon Mazzetta got tired of “taking the lead” in his 9-to-5 jobs: “I decided to actually take the credit and do it for myself instead of making someone else rich.” Yet, he says, that first step was steep: “There wasn’t really any support structure or financial help. I just held my breath and dove in.”

I want to be like Collins and Mazzetta—to trust in the power of my off-hours hustle and make an earnest go at freelancing so I can head out to artists’ colonies. But I’m trapped in a Sisyphean circle jerk of paying down student loans and keeping steady footing on economic ground rocked by the recession. I suppose I’m too afraid the earth beneath my feet will never be solid, and my father’s good-on-paper life is the only model I’ve ever known. For all his grumbling, he strikes me as a satisfied guy.

Still, I’m glad to see new models in pop culture. From Louie to Broad City, male and female characters are “leaning out,” prioritizing restlessness and self-discovery over traditional success. Perhaps Wild’s Cheryl Strayed, sweaty and alone on the Pacific Crest Trail, can be my guide instead of Sheryl Sandberg. Yet it seems these intentional hot messes arrived in the world fully self-actualized, totally comfortable choosing life over work. My heart is with Don Draper when he stands up in the middle of that meeting, eyes on the blue sky outside the boardroom window, and simply walks out the door—off, if only for a moment, to race cars and meditate and roam the country. To be someone, anyone, other than the man in the gray flannel suit.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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