When Geoffrey and I were “running” a division of his Dad’s companies we were involved in legal proceedings of various types. During one lawsuit that we had to bring against two individuals, I had to sit in on an assets review. What struck me most, other than how humiliating that process was for the individual being sued, was the answer one of the two, an attorney, gave when he was asked what were his most important assets. He mentioned his grandfather’s watch and then said, other than that — he was a successful attorney and businessman, mind you — he considered his college and law school degrees to be his greatest and most treasured assets.
That comment has stayed with me for many, many years. No matter what I have accumulated in my life whether it is closets full of clothing, drawers loaded with jewelry, expensive cars and costly homes in affluent neighborhoods, my college degrees are among my most prized assets. I have four degrees from two schools — very good schools. I had to work hard for those degrees and compete with male counterparts at a time when still, shockingly, women’s intellect and professional viability were underestimated and disparaged, even in academia.
They still are today. Women can be highly educated, experienced and skilled, articulate and assertive, calm and energetic and hard working and still we are often dismissed to the point that we are routinely paid only 75 cents to every dollar that an equivalent man is given, and expected to be good about it too. When we get older, we are considered even less valuable than when we were putatively nubile and fertile.
The best way one of us can deal with the lifelong underestimation of our abilities is to have strong adaptable personal assets that can be applied to a multitude of situations and challenges including a realistic and robust sense of self-worth. Naturally, the place such an asset is founded is in the home during early childhood. The importance of those early years for establishing a useful and positive supply of values and practices to carry one forward throughout life cannot be overemphasized. I have spent my life studying and attempting to raise awareness of this critical period in our individual development.
Women are a large and influential cohort, 51% of the world population and yet, we still have to battle this misperception that we can be reflexively patronized and will accept it as the way things rightfully work.
I said I would not write more about our upcoming elections in November of this year until after they are over and I will stick to that in terms of telling you what I believe is going on and how I feel about it in any specific way.
However, now that we clearly have two candidates running for the White House, and one of them has assumed a mephistophelian posture of unprecedented proportions, I feel I must at least talk about gender politics, if for no other reason than to let those of you in my community who live in other countries know where an educated, self-esteeming, calm and analytical woman stands on what is about to take place. If I were living anywhere else, I would think this country has lost its collective mind. It may have.
Up to this point, the women who have volunteered to be President — only two of them — have already had to run the gauntlet of sneering, contemptuous, sarcastic, belittling men on both sides of the aisle. One of them has been falsely dissembled and slandered for decades. Both of these women have stood their ground and fought back, calmly and forthrightly. I am a lifelong fan of one and not the other, but I give them both tremendous credit for having prevailed and flourished despite these degrading experiences with men who should know and behave better. The seriousness of this election should preclude the kind of junior high school tactics and rhetoric that has been and will continue to be employed in what I hope is a vain attempt to derail this historic achievement.
The very fact that it has taken over 240 years to have even one woman POTUS is appalling and indicative of how entrenched this male-female inequality is, to this day. As we move forward, I expect the adolescent conduct to accelerate. What is even more outrageous is the fact that women on one side of the political equation contribute to the imbalance and injustice by convincing themselves that their party is fair to women, when it has been notoriously exploitative and suppressive instead. How can these people not see it? How can any woman be complicit in this injustice?
In any event, my education (and my upbringing by two intelligent, educated, caring and enlightened people) and its consequent residue of self-assurance have given me the tools to navigate this hominid world, dodging pitfalls, curve-balls and verbal bullets along the way. My mother and father both had good educations and strong careers. At times my mother made more than my dad. They were and are equals and treated me and each other with respect. And like every career woman, my mother kept up long hours, managing home and office, multitasking long before it had its own label.
Both Geoff and I got the best education available and that has armed us with the tools we need to carve out an independent, aware, progressive path for ourselves that we have applied in all the challenging circumstances we’ve encountered. Not without setbacks, errors, mistaken judgments, but enabling us to withstand the barrage of slavish group-think to which many in this country have apparently succumbed.
I credit the two women thrust to the forefront of this current race with having similar assets. They have come to diametrically opposed positions as a result. But they are both strong, persistent, calm, articulate, fierce advocates for their beliefs and values, both of them show stamina and fortitude and no shouting hyperbolic boor is going to take them down.
That’s what portable assets do for you.
Next up: the Star of the See
Images: Chez BeBe assets: Port Hueneme