Sunday, November 28, 2010

The fiction of executive women and sex?

Back in the stone-age days of the early 80s, I worked for Redbook magazine. With circulation of over 4 million each month, it was one of “The 7 Sisters” women’s magazines (e.g., Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal) that together reached 80% of all American women. These magazines told women what they needed at home, marriage, and motherhood, while supposedly reflecting their lives in all their nuances.

Then in 1985 I moved to Savvy Woman magazine as its publisher. Savvy Woman was the magazine for the new woman executive—a phenomenon seemingly yet unknown in Western history…. (The editorial content was supposed to ease the pain of shattering the glass ceiling with our own skulls.)
Common to both types of magazines was the fact that none recognized either late singlehood or divorce. Whether a homemaker or a CEO of a public company, there was an assumption of happiness within the context of a husband and children. If those were absent from the picture, no one in the editorial departments mentioned this absence or the painful process that must have led to this sorry state.

In conversations with the editors at Redbook, I was told that it would be “a kiss of death” for a magazine to touch the topic of divorce, let alone custody battles. And in Savvy Woman magazine, we actually published a study that proved that executive women found time to be sexually satisfied. Only a couple of years ago, Wendy Reid Crisp, the then-Editor-in-Chief (and still my friend), blogged about the fraudulant way this study had been obtained.

At least when you read a novel, you know it’s fiction.

But wait. That does not entirely hold true for my novels, as they are set in real-world settings and circumstances. Only the specific events and details relating to the protagonists are fictionalized. The emotions are real. The time, place and historical context are real. I am fascinated by the way the human spirit rises above the forces that shape our lives. And that is the basis of a good novel.

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