The issue of female identity, how girls will get into relationships with boys or men before their own identity is formed (“when it needs to be the other way around: you become who you need to be, and then you find the person you need to be with”).
At a black-tie event a month or so ago, a major movie star of my mother’s generation sitting next to me told me, “If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t get married. And I say this as a happily married woman.” And also, I pointed out, saying it as a woman with an amazingly successful career. “Even so,” she said. “Your identity can still get subsumed.” But I digress. )
Identity has been on my mind lately, because everything I’ve been learning and blogging about in the past couple of years demands knowing who you are and what you stand for.
It demands not just a sense of identity, but a finely honed bladeof an identity to cut through the marketplace.
You can’t build a platform, start a movement, create a great personal brand, if you are a question mark to yourself. (You can, however, use the work of developing a platform, a brand, to soul-search and figure out some answers.)
When we were in Pasadena, this same young woman – let’s call her Kelly, it’s the name of a favorite character on the soap opera SANTA BARBARA I was addicted to in junior high — noted the fact that I am an obsessive reader (I was e-reading on my new cellphone, an Infuse 4G I chose partly for its massive screen) and asked me if I could recommend any biographies of cool women.
“Yeah, I love those,” I said. (I had just finished DANGEROUS MUSE, about Lady Caroline Blackwood: aristocratic, beautiful, brilliant, difficult, damaged, alcoholic.) I rattled off some of my favorites: books about Edna St Vincent Millay, Lee Miller, Coco Chanel, Catherine the Great.
Kelly said: “I want to read about women who were – you know – not just great and powerful and accomplished and everything, but knew how to rock being a woman. Who totally rocked being a woman.”
“Then you will love these books,” I said.
We moved on to other things.
But that phrase has lingered in my head ever since:
how to rock being a woman
because I thought it was interesting (especially in light of my previous post) that she had to specify that. Would a man say, “Yeah, Alexander the Great conquered countries and shit, but did he rock being a dude”?
But I knew exactly – on a deep, nonverbal, womanly kind of level – what Kelly meant.
So I was trying to take this gut feeling and articulate it. A certain savoir-faire, or je ne sais quoi…? No, not quite right. Being comfortable in your woman-skin…?
But I think it goes beyond that.
The overriding message is the same: we are moving into a new era (if not already in it) of what Daniel Pink calls “high-touch, high-concept.”
Empathy, ideas, connection, community, design and storytelling are the orders of the day: reaching people emotionally as well as intellectually.
It’s an interconnected world that demands authenticity + transparency because it runs on influence + trust. You are what you do, and not what you say you do, or pretend to be in public. Because somebody’s going to blog about it, and somebody else is going to share it, and people are going to compare notes, and discuss, and all this is going to happen in about thirty seconds.
The command-and-control power model doesn’t work so well here. There’s no center from which to rule. The ‘message’ is whatever the people say it is. What’s more effective is power to: empower and inspire and relate to each other in ways that change the game and move the needle. It is also an oddly level playing ground, where Goliath often finds himself outmatched by the quicker, nimbler David (and is still a bit confused by “the Twitter”).
By Justine Musk
This art piece from slay my art embodies all the above
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