It turns out that a friend managed to steal $223,000 from Nene King. How was this possible? Because Nene King was habitually high on cannabis and prozac and so didn't notice what was happening (according to her wikipedia entry she has also been addicted to prescription medication and has admitted using alcohol to "bury her problems").
The drug addiction struck me, because the last few women I've written about have all been powerful in the media industry and have all been addicts: the American feminist Elizabeth Wurtzel to heroin, the English feminist Julie Burchill to cocaine, another English feminist Suzanne Moore to heroin (I presume to heroin as she is described as a junkie), and now Nene King.
These women are living the highest dream offered to young women today, i.e. to be powerful working in a glamorous and creative field, and yet they have all needed drugs to get by. Isn't one possible conclusion to draw from this that career, by itself, is rarely enough to anchor our lives.
Nene King had husbands (three of them), but had no children:
Nene King, at her height considered by many the most powerful woman in Australian publishing, confessed to being ‘ruthless … would not allow anything to come between me and the magazines’.A career, by itself, does not make a life. And yet that's sometimes the assumption when liberals talk about people "making it" or being "self-made" or having equal opportunity to make something of themselves. For instance, President Obama in his victory speech last year said:
‘Power is an extraordinary thing,’ she confessed in Peter Fitzsimon’s biography Nene. ‘I didn’t want to be famous but I did want to be powerful.’
…Drug addiction and depression were part of a life that was too demanding.
‘Do I have any regrets? Of course. No children. Now, I can’t believe I went through with the abortions. I wish it was a different time. I would not have had an abortion. I hate abortions. I hate them with a passion. But I guess at the time that is what I had to do.’
I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you're willing to try.And from the same speech this:
We believe in a generous America...open to the dreams of ...the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president.The prize of life is assumed to be a professional career. And, in Obama's view, the "promise" of America's founding is to deliver such a prize to anyone who works hard, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
But what if you're the furniture worker rather than the scientist or diplomat? Does that mean you haven't made a life? How many people really get to work in a creative, high status, glamorous field of work?
And is it enough, say, to be a dentist? That's a well-paid and high status field in which you get to help people. But you're spending a lot of the day sitting in a chair drilling into the teeth of strangers. So does that qualify as a realisation of life and self in a liberal universe?
And it seems that even if you get to the very top of the liberal pile, and you "make it" in a well-paid, creative, powerful, glamorous field, that you can still be so unfulfilled that you turn to a lifetime of drug addiction to get by.
This is not to say that careers can't or don't provide certain kinds of satisfaction or fulfilment. But I reject the liberal assumption that they are sufficient to make a life.