Dee Dee Myers

March 20, 2008

So, I just saw Dee Dee Myers speak at Politics & Prose bookstore. For those of you who don’t pay attention to politics (and I used to be one of you), Dee Dee Myers was President Clinton’s Press Secretary at the beginning of his administration. She was the first woman to hold the post of Press Secretary of the White House. She was only 31. When she left that position she went on to collaborate with Aaron Sorkin as an adviser on The West Wing; she also worked with Vanity Fair; she contributed to political television shows as host and pundit; and she became a mother, writer and general all-around awesome example to women everywhere, but especially in politics.She was at Politics & Prose for a stop on her first book tour, stumping for her first book, Why Women Should Rule the World and she spoke for a half hour about the women and sociology and politics. It would be challenging to summarize her message mostly because I think it is one that many women can understand on some level, so I’m not going to just outline her main points. I felt that her thesis for her book which she described as an examination of women and what could be possible and challenging if women ruled the world. I realize that sounds a little brief and a little vague but it was a complex outline that I think requires I actually read the book before I try to lay down the main points coherently. (And it’s a new book so I don’t feel guilty about not reading it before I actually went to the talk.)Ms. Myers took questions at the end and I got to ask her if she had any advice or words of wisdom for young women entering the political arena now. She talked about the importance of mentorship and claiming our accomplishments which I think are both such important aspects of success inside and outside of politics. She talked about how many women she knew would talk about amazing mentors they had or that they didn’t have a mentor and how important it is to remember to step up and say, especially to other women, “I’m really interested in this issue/policy/idea. Do you have any advice? Can you help me?” It’s a question that I often find myself asking and one I get one of two reactions to. On the one hand, I meet people everyday who are incredibly helpful and often thrilled that I’m excited about something they are excited about and want to learn from them. On the other hand, I am told to “fake it ’til you make it” and to not ask that question because people will know that I don’t know. It’s particularly interesting to me because I get these answers from both men and women. In fact, I get the second answer more from women than from men but feel I get the first answer frequently from both. Did I mention that I ask a lot of questions – and I mean a lot? Because I do. I love to ask questions.I was inspired by her advice to own our successes. She talked about how there are often projects we complete and competitions we win that we quietly say thank you and go home to shelve our award. Women need to stand up and say, “Thank you! I really worked hard but I knew it was worth it and I knew I could do it.” We need to remember to say that to other women and to praise the efforts of our friends and co-workers. Both are actions I know that I do not take often enough and wish I did more.So I walked away from this talk with renewed inspiration in the idea of politics and the power of women. And a really cool inscription in my freshly purchased copy of Why Women Should Rule the World.

-Rachael Berkey

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