From nothing to something : Anonymous women sequel

As the economic crisis is going from strength to strength, it’s worthwhile to mention some other important social issues that are happening the same time because of that, in a quite paradoxical way. Heterosexuals distance themselves from the institution of marriage giving space to the homosexuals to indulge themselves by tying the knot with their partners. And the foremost weaker sex, the women are  getting ahead with their own issues by moving their campaign to a step further than that of equality and  equal opportunities in the work environment…

In the Western world,  during the month of October, there is a widespread campaign about promoting the issue of Unknown-2women’s leadership. Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook CEO and author of the book ‘Lean in’, has brought the issue on the surface and supports it in every opportunity. Around the globe and in various educational Institutions, there are a lot of happenings, conferences, lectures about  the same topic  “women as  leaders”.

It is obvious that women are learning and moving slowly and steadily to the area of being competitive rather than shuffling around the notion  “just being nice to each other”.

Interestingly, while women are getting ahead and get some important positions, (eg. Lagarde, Merkel) in some industries they are still in the stage of being anonymous. One example is the publishing industry which is traditionally populated by women and targets a bigger audience.

It was quite a long time ago that I was thinking about this phenomenon, but recently an article about Alice Munro sparked Unknownmy interest once again. It was titled “From  a quiet housewife to a Nobel Prize Winner”. As we are saying from “Rags to Riches”, the most appealing topic for storytelling  in the history of  humanity.

Looking more closely at Alice Munro’s biography, it’s worth mentioning that she has started her career as bookstore entepreneur and has continued  by having more than 30 books under her belt and  numerous awards and prizes. But all the above were details for the journalist, he had to assign to his article an attractive title.

Another example is  J.K Rowlings. Her full name was dropped intentionally by using only her initials. Insinuating that  Unknown-1John is more able and acceptable to write a blockbuster best seller fantasy fiction for children but not Joanne.Unknown-3

And another, E.L James who has raised a lot of eyebrows all over the world with her “different” shades … Ho, ho, ho, what a surprise! Who would’ve thought a woman can write another blockbuster “erotic” series of novels. Let’s put only her name’s initials and classified her as housewife, avoiding  her long and established career as producer in the BBC- to enhance audience imagination and inspired them with the idea “from nothing to something”. It goes well with all the marketing package.

Good old Penelope- at least she had an established full name from the start of her career- still  has long way to go!

Lean In

Lean In is the title of the new book of the wonder woman of the Facebook Sheryl Sandberg. In her book and new website, she urges women to create a supportive circle among them, in order to move forward in their career, their life and even to get help with their problems.  A concept that in many ways,  women and people in general, who are in a weaker and underprivileged position have already adopted it in order to carry on with their everyday life.


The first time I came across  a very sound supportive circle of women was the  Georgian women in Greece. After the collapse of their country’s financial system, many  women came alone-most of them without husbands and family- from Georgia to work, either as cleaners or looking after elderly people in Greece. They created a supportive cluster among them  by sharing apartments, finding jobs to each other, replacing each other in their shifts when a problem was arising and generally being supportive physically and emotionally to each other. Since I have quite a few acquaintances among those women,  I’m watching their way of life all these years and I noticed that they are getting happier by being altogether and trying to support their families back to their country.

51bRawVMdcL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_Another example of a supportive circle of women that I came across, this time in a novel, was in Elis Shafak’s (turkish writer) book  “The Bastard of Istanbul” . The theme mainly is based on a circle of women  living  in the same house. After the death of the men in an extended family, the women decided to live the same house  and support each other. At the beginning, I found a bit unbelievable the story but when I asked my mother, who has extended family in Turkey and she has experienced their way of life, she reassured me that it is not at all strange in this society, for women to live together or at least to have a very strong supportive circle among them.

Living in Kazakhstan lately, I realized that the above phenomenons are not limited to the female circles. Everyone , in some way, depends on  each other for carrying out everyday tasks. The oxymoron is that despite the widespread reputation of Kazakhstani being corrupted, the common people really support each other. It took by surprise the fact of how easily trust each other. An illustrative example is the way of finding a taxi : simply by raising one’s hand to stop the first car that passes  – the way we are doing hitchhike in the West. When I asked my Kazakhstani friends, how they  trust a totally stranger to drive them , they responded by shrugging their shoulders -meaning that it’s a common practice for them.

Perhaps the West  has  to adopt  new ways of thinking and practice the “Lean In” concept to get through during  the hard times of this never ending recession. The Thatcherite era of individuality and independency -with her own words “there is not such a thing as a society”- may have come to an end for the time being.


In the background, woman stops a car in a main road of Astana.