Successful women interest me. I have always been intrigued to get into the mind of those women, to learn more about how they did it, and how they balanced their careers and success with their family and personal life. After watching a matinee showing of “Evita” in New York, which portrayed one of two sides of the story about how she became successful, I had many questions. To learn more about the story, I would suggest looking at the entry on Wikipedia here and watching the musical, or reading about it here to see both sides of the story, which is what I did.
In summary, Maria Eva Duarte de Peron or “Eva” was born a bastard, the youngest of 5 children, whose mother was the mistress of a married man. Her father had abandoned them when she was only 1, leaving them with only the legal right to use his last name. Needless to say, Eva had a rough childhood as an outcast by society because of both her illegitimacy as well as her family’s poverty. However, she had big dreams, and at the age of 15, she left her town of Junin to the big city of Buenos Aires to pursue a career in the arts. Eva worked as an actress and model, finally becoming famous when she joined a popular radio drama, eventually co-owning that very same station. Financially stable, she began to pursue her political career.
Her fate was to meet Juan Peron (then Secretary of Labor) at a fundraiser gala. Peron took her as his pupil, mentoring her in the political arena. A year later, after Eva succeeded in organizing a protest for his release from prison, Peron left his wife and married Eva. With her help, he campaigned to become president and won by a landslide. The people of Argentina loved Eva, whom they began calling “Evita” as a form of affection, as she represented the idea that even “one of the people” can become such a huge icon in the country. Evita supported her husband throughout, cleverly managing his image, strategy and public relations. She always stressed that the people should come first, and began her own charitable foundation that helped thousands of people in the country. Evita died of cancer at the early age of 33.
Many people say that Evita “used” men to get what she wanted and move forward in her career, engaging in a scandalous lifestyle. The musical takes on that point of view, showing her as being involved with many men, pursuing a married man and causing his divorce, and never being satisfied with what he has, allowing the power, money and fame to get to her head.
Regardless, she knew exactly what she needed to do to get where she did in life; the question is, could she have achieved the same without having to sacrifice her principles? Did she take the “quick and dirty” road, rather than the longer more honest road? Did she truly love Peron, or did she pursue him for her own interests in power? Do the most successful people always have the toughest beginnings? Can we call all that she achieved “success”? Is it still “success” even if she became very sick and died at an early age? How do you define success? And do the means of success not matter as much as achieving the success itself?
I feel that a lot of sacrifices have to be made when you want to be successful, regardless if you are a woman or a man. Some of these sacrifices might be giving less time towards what is important in your life (such as spending less time with family); some sacrifices could be giving up on certain ideas, ways of thinking or even principles. Personally, I understand the need for sacrifice, but I could never go against my principles and values. In the past, I did end up sacrificing my time with loved ones, and even taking care of my health, for my career; but never any of my values. I did have to change the way I believed things should be done and the way I look at things, which was difficult at times. Success for me today is being able to balance all areas of my life while achieving the maximum of my goals, dreams and purpose of making a difference. To me, the means of achieving success is as important as the success itself, for if you are someone with a conscience, how can you enjoy the success if the means you pursued to achieve it was tainted? In addition, I am a believer that one can learn best from their experience, and going on the “longer” journey is a benefit to the soul.
Another controversial yet interesting aspect of it, is how do successful women handle and balance being both powerful and successful, with the natural ego of their men? It’s true that this issue is not as widespread today as it was in the past, and we do find some examples where the woman is more successful and powerful than the man; however, to what degree do those men really not care about that? I have a feeling that even if men claim not to be affected by it, they actually are, whether consciously or subconsciously. Evita cleverly played her role in the background, always putting her husband at the forefront; yet, for any careful spectator, they could see that she was a big part of his success and power.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.