Faith Frank Quotes in The Female Persuasion
Greer Kadetsky met Faith Frank in October of 2006 at Ryland College, where Faith had come to deliver the Edmund and Wilhelmina Ryland Memorial Lecture; and though that night the chapel was full of students, some of them boiling over with loudmouthed commentary, it seemed astonishing but true that out of everyone there, Greer was the one to interest Faith. Greer, a freshman then at this undistinguished school in southern Connecticut, was selectively and furiously shy. She could give answers easily, but rarely opinions. “Which makes no sense, because I am stuffed with opinions. I am a piñata of opinions,” she’d said to Cory during one of their nightly Skype sessions. She’d always been a tireless student and a constant reader, but she found it impossible to speak in the wild and free ways that other people did. For most of her life it hadn’t mattered, but now it did.
Then, beside her, in the pew, Zee’s arm went up too. Of course she had a real question, a political one; she probably even had follow-ups. Faith nodded her head in their direction. At first it was unclear which of them she was calling on. But then she saw Faith seem to zero in on her, specifically her, Greer, and Greer looked quizzically at Zee, making sure she was reading this right. Zee gave her a quick, affirmative nod, as if to say: Yes. This is yours. Zee even smiled, wanting Greer to have it.
Greer got busy cutting a perfect cube and then spearing it. To eat meat when you hated it and when you hadn’t eaten it for four years was an aberration, nearly a form of cannibalism. But also, she told herself, it was an act of love. In eating this, she was being someone Faith would want to continue to confide in and listen to and rely on; someone she would want to cook meat for […] Goodbye, cow, she thought, picturing the distant green blur of a meadow. She swallowed hard and forced herself not to cough it up. The steak went down and stayed down.
“Yum,” Greer said.
“I do what I can,” said Faith. “I do it for women. Not everyone agrees with the way I do it. Women in powerful positions are never safe from criticism. The kind of feminism I’ve practiced is one way to go about it. There are plenty of others, and that’s great. There are impassioned and radical young women out there, telling multiple stories. I applaud them. We need them. We need as many women fighting as possible. I learned early on from the wonderful Gloria Steinem that the world is big enough for different kinds of feminists to coexist, people who want to emphasize different aspects of the fight for equality. God knows the injustices are endless, and I am going to use whatever resources are at my disposal to fight in the way I know how.”
Faith thought that she didn’t have to like them all, but she also recognized that they were in it together—“it” being the way it was for them. For women. The way it had been for centuries. The stuck place. She sang along with them, her voice coming out in a loud quaver. But it didn’t matter that you quavered; it only mattered that you made yourself heard.
In bed Emmett smiled lazily, opening his arms and enclosing her. “Come here,” he said, as if she weren’t already right there. But he wanted her even closer, wanted to be inside her at once, an idea that she thought she understood in that moment, because she not only wanted him inside her, she wanted to be inside him in some way too. Maybe even to be him. She wanted to inhabit his confidence, his style, the way he walked through the world, which was so different from the way she did.
Faith traveled easily among radical women, among housewives, among students, wanting to learn, as she said. “What do you stand for?” a very young interviewer from a student newspaper once asked her.
“I stand for women,” Faith said, but while early on this was a good enough answer, later it sometimes wouldn’t be.
By now it was clear not only that Loci hadn’t kept up with all the galloping changes in feminism, but that the way it presented itself was also a reason for vilification. Loci was doing good business, and naturally people were writing things on Twitter like #whiteladyfeminism and #richladies, and the hashtag that for some reason irritated Faith most, #fingersandwichfeminism.
The day after Greer Kadetsky had fallen asleep at work and then expressed her work frustrations, Faith had called a meeting in the conference room. They had all sat around the table and she listened as one by one they told her why they had originally come to Loci, and why it felt different there now. They told her about their worries that the summits were elitist, that there was a kind of feel-good feminism in the air.
“I recognize that feminism can’t only be ‘feel-bad,’” said one of the newer hires, “but there’s too much of an emphasis on how everything feels, and less on what it does.”
Greer wondered why Faith was giving her this gig. She remembered something Faith had said to the team once, early on: “Men give women the power that they themselves don’t want.” She’d meant power to run the home, to deal with the children, to make all decisions about the domestic realm. So maybe Faith, like one of those men, was giving Greer something she didn’t particularly want. Maybe Faith had no interest in giving this speech, and so that was why she was giving it to Greer—passing the power on to her in order to get rid of it.
Now Faith appeared like some foil-headed Martian, taking calmly about staying on at the foundation under the aegis of ShraderCapital, which had no problem pretending it was overseeing a nonexistent charity on another continent. “Maybe it’s not moral to keep working for ShraderCapital,” Greer said, actually lifting her chin slightly higher.”
“You think this is just about them?” said Faith. “Don’t you think I’ve had to make compromises before? My whole working life has been about compromise. I didn’t have access to real money until Loci, so I’d never seen it on a big scale. But it happens. All the people who work for good causes will tell you this. For every dollar that’s donated to women’s health in the developing world, for instance, ten cents is pocketed by some corrupt person, and another ten cents no one has any idea what happens to it. Everyone knows, when they start out, that the donation is really only eighty cents. But everyone calls it a dollar because it’s what’s done.”
“And that’s acceptable to you?”
Faith took a second. “I always weigh it,” she said. “Like with Ecuador. I’m ashamed of what happened. But those young women are free. I have to weight that too, don’t I? That’s what it’s about, this life. The weighing.”
“These are not shy-person actions, Greer, I’m just saying. They’re something else. Sneaky, maybe.” Coldly, Zee added, “You really know how to act in the face of power. I’ve never put that together before, but it’s true […] You went to work for Faith Frank, the role model, the feminist, and I didn’t. But you know what? I think there are two kinds of feminists. The famous ones, and everyone else. Everyone else, all the people who just quietly go and do what they’re supposed to do, and don’t get a lot of credit for it, and don’t have someone out there every day telling them they’re doing an awesome job. I don’t have a mentor, Greer, and I’ve never had one. But I’ve had different women in my life who I like to be around […] I don’t need their approval. I don’t need their permission. You want to know how often I think about the fact that I didn’t get to work for Faith Frank? Almost never.”
“We were all put on this earth to row the boats we were meant to row,” she said. “I work for women. That’s what I do. And I am going to keep doing it. I have no idea if this Ecuador story will ever leak. If it does, it will be an embarrassment, and perhaps it will shut us down. But the bottom line is that I’m not going anywhere.”
“It must be a burden to you to be the most important person to people who aren’t all that important to you,” he said.
“I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation. I get a lot from them too, remember.”
“What do you get?” he asked. “I’m curious.”
“Well, they keep me in the world,” she said, and that was all she wanted to say.