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Combining compelling storytelling expertise and a sociological lens of qualitative analysis, Ladies Who Code co-founder Reshma Saujani gives a guide for girls of all ages (and the boys of their lives) on how you can depart the pursuit of perfection behind for what she calls the “bravery mindset.” With the assistance of tons of of interviews with women and girls from throughout the nation, Saujani breaks down advanced points like childhood conditioning and systemic influences on the psyche of a woman, in the end educating her to imagine that her value depends on the flexibility to be good, likable and profitable. Within the present wave of feminism, women are being reminded to be daring, take dangers and pursue the identical lives as their male friends. On the identical time, outdated cultural norms haven’t been reassessed. In “Courageous, Not Excellent” Saujani notes:
[Girls] must be good, but in addition fierce; well mannered, but in addition daring; cooperative however trailblazing; sturdy but in addition fairly. All this plus, in a tradition that lauds easy perfection, making it appear like they aren’t attempting a bit.
This “good woman” messaging wires unrealistic expectations and crushing strain in women, which turns into risk-aversion of their skilled, tutorial and private lives as adults. The position conflicts skilled by ladies have additionally contributed to escalating despair and anxiousness charges. “Courageous, Not Excellent” spells out Saujani’s plan for the way this code might be revised and rewritten to carry the facility again.
The timing of this e book is very poignant. With the COVID-19 world pandemic, now greater than ever, women and girls are experiencing setbacks within the workforce, academia and at dwelling with relations and companions. “Courageous, Not Excellent” gives a crucial reminder that these setbacks are a part of the human expertise, and never an existential declaration of anybody’s objective, skill and esteem (or lack thereof). Saujani’s e book gives her readers with a possibility to mirror on their very own setbacks, rejections and failures, and be courageous as they transfer ahead with these classes. Past embracing failure, Saujani guides her readers on tangible methods to say no and take away the behavior of “people-pleasing” by typically referencing the #MeToo motion. As readers quarantine, this e book could assist distinguish which acts of empathy are draining versus these which might be therapeutic, together with prioritizing self-health and aligning actions with a life objective.
[Read Related: Book Review and Interview: ‘Well-Behaved Indian Women’ by Saumya Dave]
The great thing about “Courageous, Not Excellent” is that though it may be learn like a self-help e book, the manual-like construction urges readers to actively interact with the content material. The bulleted sections, inner dialogues, number of tales, dialogue questions and index of phrases carry the phrases alive. Readers can flip to particular workouts, similar to ones that may assist them unlearn damaging ideas and empower themselves to be courageous. It’s an equally good learn for the busy 45-year-old mom after a protracted day of labor, for the 24-year-old driving the metro on her manner dwelling and for everybody in between. All in all, Saujani did a surprising job in regarding her readers and offering an understanding ear.
Moreover, Saujani superbly calls out her fellow ladies friends in no-bullshit phrases. She reveals deeply rooted insecurities and misunderstandings about our relationships with others. Regardless of the structural problems with dwelling in a gendered society that forces ladies to chase perfection, Saujani claims a number of of our duties on this course of—like, the necessity to enhance our skill to obtain important suggestions and assist fellow ladies friends. Tough conditions come up that check these expertise, and by utilizing our “bravery muscle groups,” we’re performing in resistance to eradicate our obsession with perfection.
One other particular facet of the e book is Saujani’s reflection on setbacks and acts of bravery that occurred particularly resulting from her Indian heritage. Relying on tradition, perfection could fluctuate enormously and sure acts of bravery is probably not as welcomed. As a South Asian girl myself, it is going to be attention-grabbing to see instruments particular to the South Asian expertise. For example, household, honor and disgrace, and naturally, our favourite reminder of household fame, Log Kya Kahenge, provides ranges to this discourse. As cultures dilute in various societies, it could possibly be useful to see acts of bravery in our South Asian historical past, tradition and faith. These examples could unite generations and shut cultural gaps in understanding the everlasting and unifying energy of girls.
On an identical notice, we can’t have a feminist discourse with out mentioning intersectionality, coined by civil rights lawyer Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and studied extensively by the primary Black president of the American Sociological Affiliation, Dr. Patricia Hill Collins. Intersectionality emphasizes the oppression and discrimination confronted by people with varied social identities. Acts of bravery look in another way for various ladies, and sure acts of bravery could have detrimental penalties for a Black or brown girl, thus justifying our anxieties.
[Read Related: Book Review and Author Insights: ‘The Impact Mind’ by Fareeha Mahmood]
There’s a normal critique of feminist literature highlighting feminist thinkers who could have pushed the needle for only a sure few forms of ladies, however who exclude most different ladies, together with ladies of shade, immigrant ladies, incarcerated ladies, LGBTQIA+ ladies, and poor ladies. Regardless of mentioning a number of influential intersectional feminist thinkers and the nice intentions of Saujani’s work, her mentions of Secretary Hillary Clinton, Caitlyn Jenner, and Winston Churchill are questionable. This critique could encourage writers to dive into bravery and perfection from a number of lenses, past a neoliberal feminist lens.
Alas—we are usually extra important (and loving) of those that are closest to us in id. As a brown girl, I’ve heightened expectations of one other brown girl, particularly one like Saujani, who’s a particularly influential position mannequin to me. Saujani’s program, Ladies who Code, has reached as much as 500 million folks worldwide. (You go woman! Stick with it. Thanks for this empowering piece of literature and for modeling bravery so nicely). As Saujani reminds us, we have now to look out for one another, critique lovingly and “publish up” for the fall-out when a sister takes a danger necessary for her development. she’s going to do the identical for you.
Properly, Reshma, I learn your e book, I took your recommendation. I’m constructing my very own furnishings, albeit with, a variety of frustration (and self-growth, if I’ve to confess). I additionally am writing extra freely and truthfully, because of you. If I discovered something out of your e book, it’s, what have I obtained to lose?
Bravery is a pursuit that provides to your life the whole lot perfection as soon as threatened to remove: genuine pleasure; a way of real accomplishment; possession of your fears and the grit to face them down; an openness to new adventures and potentialities; acceptance of all of the errors, gaffes, flubs and flaws that make you attention-grabbing, and that make your life uniquely yours.
sahare wazirali is a poet, group organizer, and analysis scientist. When she will not be curating Spotify playlists that solely she’s going to most likely hearken to, she likes to be taught and write about her Pakistani and Muslim roots, intergenerational trauma and knowledge, sexuality, politics, and religious success. Earlier than working in politics in Washington D.C., then Dallas, she studied neuroscience, in addition to social inequality, well being and coverage on the College of Texas at Austin, and is at the moment finishing a Grasp’s of Science at Tufts Medical Faculty. when life will get robust, one can find her sporting self-cut bangs and studying books on Sufism and sociology as a substitute of folding the evergrowing pile of laundry in her room.