Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Long Live The Ride # 25

Long Live The Ride

November 18th, 2009

As last week’s article certainly divided many people and brought up many relevant topics, I thought I would do an add on article. English Roses clearly upset many people and I am not sure why. The Ride is my opinion and my opinion only. Much of it is meant to be taken with a grain of salt as any opinion should. I understand that many people who read it may not know me personally and thus my style of writing and choice of words probably come off as appalling and shocking rather than funny and banterish, which is how they really are in real life. But again, I don’t really understand why people got so upset. When we bring up exceptional women, of which there are numerous in the UK, we call them exceptional for a reason. I bet if asked, many of them do feel lonely at the top and would agree that they are times in which they feel somewhat isolated by their achievements.

When Jeremy Clarkson regularly announces his dislike and downright hatred for all Americans, I imagine he is referring to the gun toting, red neck, chicken fried steak eating variety whom have never set foot outside the USA. Do I, as an American living in London, feel insulted and think that he is referring to me? No. Why? Because I don’t fit his description of the typical American and thus must be the exception and not the rule. This is why I do not understand so many people getting so upset. If you do not fit the description of my version of a typical English girl, then you are probably not the rule in this case.

But the whole backlash to the article brings up a much more interesting topic altogether. A friend of mine, BF, who has spent a lot of time in the States but was raised here, brought up this point. She said that “different cultures breed diverse cultural differences, values and expectations” therefore it was near on impossible to apply the same set of rules universally to all women across the world. I must say that I agree. It doesn’t mean that I take back anything in last week’s article, because I don’t. But one of the benefits of writing these, is that it encourages discussion and allows me to see things from other peoples’ points of view as well. I think that if I look at successful women in the work place there will be a commonality across many of them, regardless of background. But I think their reasons for becoming successful and how they define their success will be fundamentally different across different cultures.

Being American, we like everything big, shiny and new. The American dream is still very much alive and well and I had no understanding of the class system that is very much engrained into the UK culture, until I arrived here. I did grow up in exceptional circumstances and do understand that. However, I also know many people who did not grow up with that safety net, who are incredibly successful and living their own American dream. Who is to say that one success is better than the other? Does someone with more opportunity’s success mean less because of their access to the opportunity? The book The Outliers, which I have mentioned before in this blog, is a good example of this. Access to opportunity is important in creating success and sometimes more important that we may want to let on. But does that mean we should diminish Bill Gates’ success? I would guess probably not is the majority opinion.

But, other than the class system, I would say that we gauge success in the UK very similarly as to how it’s done in the US. When we are reading about the great women of the UK, we are mainly reading about ones who are commercially successful or powerful. There will be the few who are heads of charities or unions or schools, but again many of those wield a large amount of power and influence over people and resources. So while I do believe that success is the Western world is based on similar criteria, I also now acknowledge that apart from the Western world, success can take on a very different meaning indeed and one that probably has less to do with money.

I would like to thank everyone who commented on last week’s article and especially those who took the time to form a valued and articulate opinion. I do think that many of the points brought up are incredibly interesting and ones that I had not seen until then. I do hope this week, that if anyone does have a comment that they will post under their name. It’s just not as much fun having a discussion with “Anonymous”. I do not mind the criticism or any opposing points of view, although being so viciously attacked was initially hard to take. In fact, I believe it makes everything that much more interesting. But, I don’t believe in blindly being attacked for my thoughts. I think it’s unfair and cowardly. I don’t write The Ride seeking mass approval or acceptance. I write it because I enjoy it. If you agree with it or don’t is up to you and will probably go a long way in whether you still continue to read it. But for those of you who continue to read this, I say thank you. These next 5 months while I am in between careers will mean that the topics I tackle will be less to do with work and more to do with life and I how view things. So long live The Ride.

Also, don't forget to check out Whiskey, Women and Gold in Here is the City, if you haven't already.


  1. I have done plenty of back pedaling, wishing I had not said or wrote things quite the way I did and also at times had no regrets for pissing someone off. I will never forget testifying as an expert in a trial where I was sitting next to the judge on the witness stand and I looked over at a small plaque at the edge of the judge's stand, angled just so the witness could read: Keep your words soft and sweet because you may have to eat them later...

  2. Just a thought: it is a very British thing to take offence to a general statement.

    On first reading last week's article I sat there feeling rather insulted considering we had worked together and therefore I believed I had been a part of shaping your opinions of British women. But then again, perhaps I wanted to be offended just to hear you say that I was an example of the exception not the rule! A cunning way of gaining a complement one might think? To be honest, yes I think it was.

    The reaction to last week's article I think sheds light on how well us Brits react to criticism. We are not a nation which complements one another on a regular basis, we are more accustomed to judgement and criticism. Therefore on reading last week's opinions I think many just saw it as another insult thrown their way.

    Your opinion on Women in the UK certainly has been food for thought (do feel I have worked much harder this week as a direct consequence!), but I do not take it personally by any means! I do disagree with you wholeheartedly, I think British Women are formidable beings, but then again, I do believe I have an exceptional bunch that I am lucky enough to have as my friends.

    Look forward to the next installment!