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Ponderings: Beauty and the Beast {within}

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I read several things this week that really kept me thinking. One was an infographic from Karima-Catherine Goundiam on Women and Mentoring in the U.S. , the other a post by Gini Dietrich “Women Are Our Own Worst Enemies.” First, I send a #TiaraTip to both of these ladies, it's like a #HatTip but more sparkly.

Why, as women, are we running faster and working harder to get ahead in the world or more appropriately just to get equal ground? Betty Friedan wrote “The Feminine Mystique in 1963. She began the book with “the problem that has no name” ~ the widespread unhappiness of women in the 1950's and 1960's.  This powerful piece of literature sparked the second-wave feminism which addressed de facto inequalities, official legal inequalities and more. The first-wave feminism addressed legal rights for women to vote and own property.

“Men are not the enemy, but the fellow victims. The real enemy is women's denigration of themselves.”
― Betty Friedan

Why do women tear each other down instead of boosting and building each other up? When I had my first job at a bank years ago, I got promoted fairly quickly to the Secretary (yes, that was my title) to the Vice President of Something. The older women in the department had the opportunity to teach me and help a fellow woman be successful but that isn't what happened at all. Instead, I learned that even as grown adults, women will talk behind your back and look at confidential information on your desk. Lesson learned.

Another fabulous job at Merrill Lynch, super mean female supervisor and a host of sexual harassment from brokers who were the rain makers. Cornered in the cubicle by a post martini lunch, million dollar producer? “We'll talk to him and he won't bother you anymore Pegatha.” That was my nickname by the VP and Branch Manager. This was in the days before the sexual harassment laws and as a girl in your twenties, you just could not stand up “to the man.” Even today, with all the laws in place, women are raked through the coals if they speak up, they might get a settlement but another job? I don't know. Yes, I could have quit but I made decent money and yes, I moved on eventually. Lesson learned.

Much has been said about men taking over and dominating Google +, including this post by Margie Clayman “Is Google Plus a Men's Club?”  But I would assert that this is throughout the social media and blogging world. Are we giving the men the upper hand? Why after all this time do women still earn 20% less than men?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Our “Mean Girls” culture has continued into adulthood and is being amplified in social media. From Rosalind Wiseman, author of Odd Girl Out, “Social media may magnify emotions and facilitate cruelty, but it does not ‘make’ girls act a particular way.” Even in writing this, in the back of my mind I think, will someone just think I am an over-the-top feminist? My internal monologue tells me not to say it but this is another way that women hurt ourselves by withholding our opinions lest we be judged as a bitch.

Take back the power that we are so freely handing over! Mentor another woman, compliment someone on a job well done and give each other the props we deserve! Be supportive and help each other ~ be positive and encouraging from the heart. It is not a” if I help you, I won't be successful choice” – there are plenty of pieces of pie.

And if I want to be a sparkly, girlie-girl. So be it. It does NOT make me less intelligent or valid. I am who I am. I can still kick ass and take names. And I like me.

Question for you: How are we going to equal things out ladies? Love some thoughts from the men as well.

Some recommended reading:

Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons

Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman ~ The movie “Mean Girls” was based on this book and Wiseman's research.

Sidenote: Do you prefer the Pondering post format with thoughts from others as well as me? If have had people voice both opinions, what do you want to see here?

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Photo credit by nojhan via Creative Commons.

Article by Peg Fitzpatrick

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18 Comments

  1. I appreciate your support Marc. 

    Great questions. With age you certainly get perspective, right?

  2. Great thoughts, Peggy! Love that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. “Are we giving men the upperhand?” Great question. People will assume your power if you don’t take it for yourself.

    1. “People will assume your power if you don’t take it for yourself.” Exactly! See how men get that fact Doug? But as girls and women that is not our nature or expected role so it is much more of a challenge.Appreciate your thoughts!
      PEggy

  3. Just 10 years ago, I had a situation where a client was sexually harassing me. He would come to my hotel room and bang on the door at all hours of the night. He would call and call until I would pick up. He wouldn’t let me leave dinner without him. It was really bad. I tried managing it on my own, but he wouldn’t stop. So I came back from a business trip I’d been on with him and I told the CEO of the agency where I worked. You know what he said? “This client represents more than a quarter of our revenue. Can’t you just work something out with him?” I don’t know what that meant, now that I’ve had 10 years to reflect on it, but at the time I took it to mean, “You’re single. Why don’t you just let him have what he wants.” I quit not long after that and went out on my own. 

    But the point is, no matter if we’re being harassed by men or women, we need to stick up for ourselves!

    1. I reflect on that incident every once in a while and I think maybe our CEO thought I was overreacting. The problem is that I grew up with four brothers so it takes A LOT to get to me. I definitely was not overreacting and I didn’t like not being taken seriously. It could have cost them a lot of money if I had decided to sue.

      1. I think that not be taken seriously or valued as an equal player is the game exactly. Cute nickname, just have lunch with him….
        eyes up here buddy! Humpff

    2. So your situation was very close to mine, Gini: they make lots of money for our company and what’s the big deal? 

      Absolutely we need to stick up for ourselves! Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Hmmm, as a Dad blogger/advocate, I feel that women DOMINATE my space and my hand rising up and down seeking acknowledgement is a challenge. In the past, I do believe women suffered extreme discrimination but now I believe men suffer it more. Women have rightfully been allowed to choose career or parenting or so blend. In my generation of men, that is still looked at with disdain. Yes, it’s changing but I’d say women supporting women is on par with any men’s club that still exists. After all, most of them were banned!

    1. I think that your comment represents to me the flipside of the same problem Bruce. We have been changing roles from breadwinners to changing diapers to sharing chores and now that all the roles are muddled there isn’t a comfortable place for people. If you are a stay home dad, I am sure that you get judged for it. When you are a mother, you get judged if you work and if you stay home.

      I love how you have fully embraced the Dad blogger/advocate position and do see that the women who blog about parenting get much more press and accolades.

      How do we even things out so we are PEOPLE and not men or women?

      1. EVERY revolution tends to go to far at first…and then settle into its right place – in the middle. For now, the pendulum has swung a bit far AWAY from men after being so in favor of me at the expense of women. It will equalize in time…I hope during our kids’ lifetimes!

        1. I agree that the pendulum has swung. Maybe our kids will be able to have more equality and balance in their lives. I would love to see that.

          Men really get the tough end of the deal in court for custody battles. Gender alone should not determine the better parent. Thanks for bringing up the male perspective Bruce – I appreciate your thoughts.

  5. This is a great post!  I do think that women are their worst enemy at times.  It’s not to say that there aren’t some men who oppress them, but nothing is worse than having your own bring you down.  Excellent job!

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