Understanding the mixed messages in Mika Brzezinski's new advice book for women in the workplace
You're doing it wrong. This is a message most women receive from about age 6 until, presumably, death. After decades of learning that being ourselves is tantamount to inviting failure, whether in love, friendship, parenting, career, or overall happiness, we can only assume that we'll recline on our deathbeds and be informed that, over the course of our last few minutes on this mortal coil, we've been far too "clingy" (Not the best way to get people to mourn your passing!), yet much too "bossy" and "overbearing" with the nursing staff (You catch more bees with honey!), and also so "controlling" (Stop trying to influence how your children remember you! For godsakes, let it go!) and "neurotic" (It's just death, everybody does it. You're overthinking this!) and too "emotional" (Can't you see that you're making your children uncomfortable?) but also too "cold" (Seriously, when was the last time you gave your husband a blow job?) and too "vain" (I can't believe you're trying to hide your bed pan at a time like this!) but also too "resigned" (That hospital gown isn't doing you any favors!). We will say goodbye to our friends and family knowing one thing, beyond a shadow of a doubt: They're just not that into us.
In her new book, Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth, Mika Brzezinski, cohost of MSNBC's Morning Joe, urges women to ask for the raises they deserve. Although the book is well written and packed with pragmatic advice, it might just as easily be titled, You're Doing It Wrong Again, Dummy. Naturally we already understand the basic thrust here, and it appeals directly to some part of our lizard brains, the part that's been conditioned to sizzle and spark at the sound of certain words, words like "self-sabotage!" and "wrong!" and "bad!" We've heard these same directives over and over again during the course of our lifetimes, after all, sometimes with the derogatory tone, sometimes with a nurturing, hand-holding, ya-ya sisterhood tone in its place. From Women Who Love Too Much to Lies Women Believe to Nice Girls Don't Get The Corner Office, books about how women mess up their lives have crowded our bookshelves for decades. Brzezinski's missive combines the two messages common to these books: 1.) Stop being yourself, at all costs. And 2.) You go, girl!