Lately, Ms. hooks has joined the long list of public figures whose shine began to dull for me upon either closer scrutiny or the simple passage of time…. I still have immense respect for much of what she has put into the world, but I also struggle with many of her more recent statements.
I’m not sure what part of this Vogue article is the true singularity of patriarchy-approved packaging for a powerful, successful woman like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, but here are some contenders:
- The lead photo, in which Mayer lies upside down and prone on a chaise lounge, with flowing long hair and dead eyes, holding a tablet with an equally dead-eyed woman’s face on it.
- The first paragraph, beginning with Mayer rattling off numbers. You could be forgiven for thinking that she’s talking about something related to the prestigious job that she spent years earning, but she’s really just talking about her own age and her baby boy.
- The all-important “neg”: “On business issues, she speaks awkwardly, piling as many likes into a sentence as Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. But when she gets on to technology, she turns effortlessly articulate.”
- Juxtaposing Meyer’s “geek” cred with the breathless description of her outfit, coupled with the allegation that Mayer’s success is not her own, rather that “the paradox of being both glamorous and a geek” explains Mayer’s success as Yahoo’s chief executive.
- “Tonight she is wearing an Oscar de la Renta dress, with daubs of yellow, blue, and green on a white field, reminiscent of her most famous product: the Google home page. At some point, the guests notice that she’s vanished. She calls this her ‘CEO exit,’ disappearing upstairs without good-byes while the party carries on.”
- Evidence of Mayer’s dedication and perfectionism in business: “Mayer recently hosted an APM reunion at her house; she took time to write a personal note in each of the 200 commemorative photo books.”
- More evidence of Mayer’s dedication and perfectionism in business: “What might otherwise look like a crazed level of micromanagement serves a purpose.”
- The paragraphs dedicated to praising Mayer for “forgetting” she is a woman, which include such classics as: “I really had just been very blind to gender. And I still am” and “Mayer . . . was often asked how it felt to be the only woman on engineering teams. She’d answer truthfully: She hadn’t noticed”.
Wow, thank You, Vogue! You have taught me that I need only authentically disavow my womanhood, then I can become a CEO. Once I do that, I can transition seamlessly into being the Platonic ideal of traditional upper-class white femininity. I’ll rock designer outfits, keep myself model-skinny, host lavish parties, and outsource my childcare needs with the best of them. And, . . . AND! Because I know that sexism has never affected me, I won’t mind when the intelligence, dedication, and attention to detail that make me good at my job are described either as “crazed micromanagement” or filtered through my perfect feminine charms. I just know I can attain that perfect balancing act as soon as I shed this pesky feminism.