My Part of the World: Temptation, Opera and Women at Work

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    This past week was full of activities that I want to share with you. I went to Tyler Perry’s house after a private screening of his new movie, “Temptation, Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.” I saw a world premiere opera by the Capitol City Opera Company “The Secret Agent.” And, I heard a panel of women talking about the challenges of balancing work and family courtesy of the YWCA.

    And through all three of these vastly different experiences, I came away with the same feeling: women have a hard row to hoe. Between the movie and the opera, one wrong move can ruin your life. At the real-life YWCA event, the women agreed that the “do all, be all syndrome” is a constant struggle and generally a losing battle.

    Now I don’t want to ruin your movie experience, (Tyler Perry’s newest opens the end of this month) but I will say he has no mercy for his character. She knows she’s about to make a bad choice, but makes it anyway. At the screening, Perry said he wanted us to be ambassadors for the movie. He added that he wanted us to carry the message of the movie. Even if you make a bad choice, you always have a chance to redeem yourself.

    Thank goodness for that. But in his right vs. wrong world, it can be terribly difficult to come back from the abyss.

    I will say I enjoyed watching the stunningly talented Jurnee Smollett-Bell navigate her way through hell and back. I also think Vanessa Williams had the best line of the movie. Madea could not have said it better. But Lord, the women in this movie definitely had a hard luck life, all dependent on men who let them down.

    Then, there were the real life experiences shared by a panel of executive women including Rabbi Analia Bortz, also a medical doctor; Nita Sardana, vice president of American Cyber Systems; Alvetta Peterman Thomas, president of Atlanta Technical College; and Jannet Walker, vice president CH2MHill. The panel was moderated by Monica Richardson, managing editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    In response to a question about barriers to leadership for women, Atlanta Tech’s Thomas said the job she has now would have been too demanding to do and raise her children at the same time. “Women get ill because of stress,” she noted. “It will kill you.”

    As a woman, she said she has learned to say no to things and, “give my best when I do say yes.”

    CH2MHill’s Walker added that in some cases, the “glass ceiling” that keeps women from breaking through has given way to the “sticky floor,” – including self- imposed barriers like picking family over career.

    And finally, the opera premiere had a lot of wonderful voices, but there was a very bad end for the lead woman. She was a devoted wife, sister to a special needs brother, but ultimately got played for a fool by her husband and an almost lover. It was classic operatic tragedy.

    So to all my girlfriends, keep your head up and be careful. It’s rough out here.

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