And the Oscar goes to...
The reviews are in and it appears this year’s Academy Awards Presentation was a success. Red carpet fashionistas raved on the actresses gorgeous designer gowns, their hairstyles, and exquisite jewelry. The men actually jazzed up their attire by adding subtle color to their jackets, and many of them received praise for bringing their mothers as their dates.
I did find it to be a little reminiscent of 1973, when Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor for the Godfather. He chose not to attend the Awards and instead had a young Indian woman, Sasheen Littlefeather; take the stage to decline his award. She stated, "Marlon Brando ... has asked me to tell you, in a very long speech which I cannot share with you presently—because of time—but I will be glad to share with the press afterward, that he must... very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reason for this being... are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry… excuse me… and on television in movie re-runs, and also the recent happenings at Wounded Knee. I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening and that we will, in the future…our hearts and our understanding will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando."
Not since 1973 have I seen so many political and social positions presented from the Oscar stage. Like many of you (and Meryl Streep), I was struck my Patricia Arquette’s comments on equal pay for women. It took me back to my early hotel career when I replaced a man as the Director of Sales. I knew about what his salary was and when I questioned why my new salary was not, comparable to his I was told, “Well he’s a man, and he has a family to support.” That statement, made some 30-years ago, still angers me!
I have dealt with the equal pay issue by becoming an Oil Operator. I quickly learned that an oil well does not care if the operator is male or female, but it has more to do with the acumen used to produce it. I think you could also say it is brains over brawn! That makes for a very fair playing field. Sure, there may be other prejudices to overcome with financial institutions, agencies, and some service companies, but those too are vanishing. So why are more women not building their own oil companies? Perhaps Gloria Steinem summed it up when she said a…”women's total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage.” Perhaps she has something here, as I am not married.
For women to control our destinies we must control the conversation. By that, I mean we must be in control of the "well." We bid the work, arrange the financing, and produce the product. When playing the same game as the men do...in ANY arena, we control the conversation. Only then, will we control our financial destiny and have the ability to bring other women with us. The pettiness placed on our shoulders from past eras' must disappear and we must help other women move up the corporate ladder. Interestingly Hilary Clinton quoted Madeline Albright in a speech last week saying, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." Just as those who profess random acts of kindness suggest you pay for the coffee order for the person behind you in line, I challenge women to do one thing each day to help another woman take a step forward to growth and independence. Then we will control the conversation.