I was almost inclined to empathize with the much-mocked tabloid editor Bonnie Fuller when I read her profile in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle. Here's yet another driven, wildly successful woman labeled as "the Cruella de Vil" of her industry. Don't get me wrong, the tabloid magnate isn't working to end human rights abuses in Darfur, but how often are men villainized for having a bloodthirsty business sense?
Fuller's new book, "The Joys of Much Too Much," which Broadsheet noted before here, enters into the motherhood-and-work fray, arguing that women can -- and should -- have it all. She encourages women to pursue what they are passionate about, arguing that, for most women, that is through a career. "Not only is it doable, but it also is the road to the most happiness in life," she told the Chronicle.
As genuine as her cheerleading seems, when Fuller actually begins talking about her career -- which has included running Glamour and Cosmo -- I began to reconsider that initial tinge of empathy. Admittedly, she is quick to acknowledge the failings of such publications: "Women's magazines are service journalism, basically -- how to be better at everything." But then when she's discussing her most recent gig at the Star, she says that the magazine is a relief for both her and for female readers. A woman can "let her gut out, stop holding her breath" when reading the magazine, Fuller says. Never mind that Star mockingly publishes embarrassing photos of female celebrities doing just that. (Not to mention how this "relief" at viewing such photos actually feeds, and is fed by, self-hatred.)
If Fuller is taken as the example of a woman who has it all, it can certainly be inferred that having it all does not exclude angry vitriol from former employees who anonymously report on her boss-from-hell managerial style (or criticism from an off-put Broadsheeter). She may be balancing motherhood, a career and romance to her satisfaction, but that doesn't mean we have to like her. Is it possible to admire someone's cunning business sense and yet disapprove of it at the same time?