These are what the men in my life gave me for Christmas this year.
Do you think I should "read" anything into these gifts, as it were?
Nobody would ever accuse either of these strong characters as being "Little Women".
I've already devoured Stormy's account and am now well into Michelle's.
Full Disclosure first
When I asked @wesleybeckza why he gave it to me, he said, "I thought you'd enjoy it." Hang of a good reason for giving a gift, I say.
I have to say, I really enjoyed "Full Disclosure", and here's an extract from it which, although it might be a bit fruity for some tastes, rather sums up Stormy Daniels' voice in the book. This was just after she'd done an interview with Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes as well as a feature article in Rolling Stone, and she was under considerable pressure from a number of directions.
[Trigger alert for sensitive readers - skip the quote if what happens in porn disturbs you]
I tried to relieve the pressure by batting at some of the trolls who came at me on Twitter. When someone tweeted asking if I was worried I was going to go to hell for taking so many dicks, I had some fun. "Does heaven have a maximum dick-taking number? More importantly, does hell have a minimum? Just want to make sure my quota is on track."
"Pretty sure dumb whores go to hell," some guy named Scott wrote.
"Glad I'm a smart one," I answered.
A woman's response blew my mind. "A very smart one," a girl named Stephanie wrote. "I wish every woman had the confidence you do and the ability to not take personally people's lame insults. Whether you're an adult film star or a teacher or whatever, if you're a woman, you'll be called a whore one day. Let's not let that lame insult affect us."
Okay, for the record, I've never been called a whore (to my face at least), although one former colleague proved he had the ability to get the company's IT department to jump when I read an e-mail thread in which he called me a "fokken vrou" (the translation shouldn't be too hard) on my phone while travelling and within 15 minutes his e-mail had disappeared. Not retracted. Disappeared. I did wonder what else those guys from Pretoria got up to discussing about me when I was introduced to a new fellow running the Namibia office and the first thing he said to me was, "Oh, you're the one so-and-so got disciplined for because of what he said about your boobs!" Fascinating...the guy's new in the company, and this story, which was a nonsense to me anyway in the face of the systemic discrimination they refused to do anything about but made a huge show about something silly some large fellow said when he was drunk, had made it to him before he'd even filed his first timesheet!
So yes, much of Stormy Daniels' book resonated with me. I found her much gutsier than I was, but like me, hadn't even considered victimhood as a life choice. Mostly, she "owns" who she is and sends a message of being a grounded, smart, well-rounded (getcher minds outta the gutter) and likable person with an unfolding story to tell.
On to Michelle Obama's "Becoming"
Having devoured Stormy's story in a few hours, it's been on to the hardcover "Becoming" this afternoon. Fun fact: @tim-beck and @wesleybeckza nearly both got me this one. Then @wesleybeckza went for Stormy, and I now have the chance to enjoy the personal stories of two powerful women this holiday.
I'm still in the first of four parts, Becoming Me. This will be followed by Becoming Us, Becoming More and an Epilogue. Michelle writes engagingly about her happy family life growing up, and in some ways it goes towards answering the question for me - "What does a happy family life look like?" (Spoiler alert on Stormy's life - her early family life was not happy. She goes to great pains to explain that the neglect she experienced as a child didn't "damage" her and make her go into porn, though.)
I've gotten to Michelle's teenage years, and what we've seen of her so far is she was driven to succeed from an early age, with a highly competitive nature combined with plain old smarts. She also had a delightful extended family and learned much about what it meant to be black in the US over history by having descendants of slaves in her family (which makes her a descendant of slaves, but she didn't put it that way).
Here's a quick extract from the preface which reminded me that we're all multi-dimensional and complex beings.
Since stepping into public life, I've been held up as the most powerful woman in the world and taken down as an "angry black woman." I've wanted to ask my detractors which part of that phrase matters to them the most - is it "angry" or "black" or "woman"?
Maybe fokken vrou? I suspect that desire to reduce a woman to "hateable" components has a depressing universality to it.
In some ways her putting this in the preface reminded me of how Stormy Daniels dealt with Twitter trolls...but because of the public role she occupied and public persona we got to know so well, none of us could imagine her flaming Twitter trolls. Ah, how times have changed, along with the dignity of public office.
When I've finished them, where am I going to put them?
In the biographies section?
Or with some of the classics?
You tell me.
Regardless of where they go, they'll stay with me as the stories of two women who found their powerful voices and who masterfully (mistressfully?) own who they are.
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