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Wide Awake: My Sweater Story
Sometimes you just have to do something

I was about to buy a really nice button-down black sweater. I’ve been looking for a really nice black sweater since before Christmas, but the “really nice” part has been holding me back. So it killed me when I said to the cashier, “You know what? Just cancel that.” But there was this book.

I was feeling pretty good when I walked up to the register, because I had actually found two really nice button-down black sweaters. Two. After almost a year of looking.

Joe was with me, and as I was handing the sweaters to the cashier, he said, “Huh. Look at that.” And he pointed to this little blue, hard-cover book. In really elegant gold lettering the title read, “How to be a Lady.”

“Is that a joke,” I said to him. “It has to be, right?”

I leaned toward the cashier – an older man – and I said, “Is that a joke?”

It wasn’t. And of course I should have known that, but it was so unbelievable. The man said it was a book about some things that people might need to know.

“It’s insulting to women,” I said. There was this uncomfortable silence, and I stood there as he continued ringing up my two sweaters. Then I had this fight inside my brain.

One side said, “Are you really going to give money to a company that sells a book like that?”

But the other side looked at the two really nice button-down black sweaters and remembered the months – almost a year – of looking for them. I mean, I can’t tell you how many stores I’ve been in looking for that sweater. And did I mention I had found two in this store. Two.

But then my brain reminded me that I believe individual people should step up, speak up, take action when they think something’s wrong, especially when it comes to women’s rights. My brain said, “This is it. You have to do something.”

So that’s when I said it: “You know what? Just cancel that.” I didn’t say anything to make a scene. I didn’t give a speech on what I really thought about the book. I just turned and left the store, but my money was still in my pocket. So maybe I did say something.

Over the years, I’ve been in a lot of conversations where women talk about all the times they’ve been belittled or held back or insulted or whatever, because they are female. (In fact, that comes up a lot at our Women’s Empowerment Series.) But in the past year or so, the conversation has changed, and a message has been added that we should all do more than talk. We should take some action, even if it’s small. I’ve been taking that in and trying to do my part. But it isn’t easy, even when you’re totally justified.

I stood in that uncomfortable silence wondering if I was overreacting. You know there are people who would say I was. Not to mention, there are people who think that book is needed. Some people buy it. I also figured that the two men behind the counter would roll their eyes and lump me in with women who hate men, which I don’t. (In fact, there is one I especially like.)

All of those thoughts made me question if I was really going to stop the transaction when it was almost finished. But that was kind of the whole point. The person who wrote the book would advise me to keep my opinion to myself, be ladylike and not cause any conflict. They were saying being a woman meant I was supposed to stay quiet. That’s why I spoke up.

Another woman who always stands up for herself is U.S. World Cup Champion Carli Lloyd. I hope you’ll join me on Oct. 7 at The Mansion for a one-on-one conversation with the soccer superstar. For information, click here.

October 2019
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