Why I Think "The Secret" Is Dangerous To Women

A few months ago, before it became a NYT Bestselling book and appeared on Oprah (twice), my mother-in-law lent us a videotape of The Secret.

My husband and I sat down to watch it and at first, I was nodding my head. It made sense that strong, positive thinking is instrumental in accomplishing your goals. That’s what I did when I was trying to sell my first book, and continue to do with each and every book that I write and then promote. But as the movie progressed I started thinking, wait a minute…

There were two scenarios in which characters, based on real-life siutuations, used The Secret to change their lives. The first was a guy who was bullied by the local ruffians in his neighborhood and was struggling to get his stand-up comedy career off the ground. But then he changed his thinking and viola, the bullies slunk off and he was a hit at the same comedy club that booed him off-stage.

The second scenario was a young woman who was walking down the street and saw a dazzling necklace in the jewlery store window. She pined for it. But she could never afford it. So she used The Secret to change her thinking and viola, her boyfriend gave it to her.

That’s when I turned off the tape.

This is 2007 and I was appalled that this best-selling phenomenon is whispering a subtle message of passivity. The Secret showed the guy take action in changing his life. But the heroine? Oh she just closed her eyes, tapped her heels together and whispered, “There’s no place like home” until Prince Charming delivered love, security, and happiness in the form of a necklace.

As a writer of romantic comedy, I always roll my eyes when I hear literary critics tear down romance and chick lit as anti-woman when in truth, romance and chick lit portray women who actively pursue their goals. They don’t wait around for some guy to give them what they want; they demand it and if he doesn’t rise to the occasion (hee hee, get it?), she walks.

So I have an alternative to The Secret. Suze Orman just released a new book, Women and Money and after watching her PBS special, I felt inspired, hopeful and even more, empowered. Her message to women to create security for themselves is the kind of message I want my neice and all the young ladies in my life to hear as they grow up into young women.

But before I end this, I’ll admit that my husband has given me some fabulous jewelry that I cherish. But there’s no way to describe the pride of walking out of store with a piece that I bought myself with money I earned from selling my second book, thankyouverymuch.

Stay strong ladies!


Photo: Las soldaderas during the Mexican Revolution


8 thoughts on “Why I Think "The Secret" Is Dangerous To Women

  1. Great post, Mary. I use positive thinking and prayer and visualization, but it would never occur to me to think about someone GIVING me something.E

  2. I agree entirely. There’s a TV commercial on that the moment for broadband Internet/phone service (Comcast?) featuring a couple talking about how they use it. The man uses the Internet side to “zip” (be productive) and the woman uses the phone side to “yap” (talk — that word has such a negative connotation). I get apoplectic whenever it comes on. I’m so tired of gender stereotypes.

  3. Hi Erica: You and I are very much the same in that regard!Michelle: I’m so glad I’m not the only one who notices things like that on TV! Ever notice how cleaning commercials always show how easy it is to use their product for women? WE’re not the ones who have problems cleaning … they should be showing men!Mary

  4. Oh yeah. And then there’s the stereotype of the “hopeless husband” who just can’t gosh-darned figure out how to change a diaper or cook a meal. Who comes up with these lame ideas?

  5. Great post Mary. I have a bit of a problem with the “power of positive thinking” mantra. It works well when you do what you did, and you go about your goals logically, rationally believing that you WILL make it, and if you don’t at least you would have done your best. But what a lot of very “positive” people do is use that as a copout or an excuse for laziness… like there’s something inherently negative in planning for the worst. And yeah, unfortunately women are much more conditioned to wait for something good to happen to them rather than go out and get it.

  6. Michelle:Other men must come up with those ideas!My husband is offended by those images of hopeless, useless husbands because he does everything I do and sometimes better.

  7. Nadine:What always gets me about people with a strong sense of entitlement is when they complain how hard things are. Duh.

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