There’s this talk being held today, “Must women lead differently than men?” and I wanna talk a little about how this title frames the discussion and enforces status quo.
This title establishes “male” styles of leadership (I use the quotes because I don’t believe there is an innate “male” way of leading. I think anything we ascribe to “male leadership” is probably largely influenced by heavy gender construction throughout a person’s life. We teach boys and girls to behave differently through social conditioning and perpetuating gender essentialism.) as the standard against which leadership is measured. Is that correct? Is it appropriate? Is “male leadership” the bar we should all reach for? According to this title, yes.
What if we reframe the title and ask, “Must men lead differently than women?” Here the standard is set by women, and frames “women’s leadership” styles as the norm. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything other than things related to child rearing framed with women’s action as the standard.
This is bias. This is how we teach people that feminine is bad, or weak and masculine is good, or strong. This title doesn’t use the words, “Women are bad leaders,” but it certainly plants a seed of doubt. Because the title accepts that how men do something is what we consider normal. So if the norm is how men do it, however a woman does it must be wrong. People read this and, without even thinking about it, understand that men must be better leaders. And then figure this is why there aren’t many female presidents of financially powerful companies. And then offer up the “men are just more suited to positions of power than women” because —> leadership styles.
Bias y’all, it’s a thing.
I believe, fervently, that the language we choose to use has great implications for the things we find important, and hold valuable. I do not believe that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Words are used to convey hatred, and disrespect. They are used to hurt, and demean people. They are not harmless.
I’m really sick of seeing these words used to describe women.
Have any to add?
Really Cosmo? How to outsmart a bitch?
Cosmopolitan magazine isn’t a bastion of feminism, I know this. But I have so many problems with the word ‘bitch’ and to see it on the cover of a magazine that I read faithfully when I was in high school (Alongside Jane – Maude that was a much better magazine than Cosmo. Too bad Cosmo had the staying power while Jane folded.) (I can’t believe I just admitted that I read Cosmo. I was a loud feminist even in my teen years. HOW did I keep spending my money on that crap?!) disappoints me immensely. (The demographic profile on Cosmo’s website doesn’t account for their under 18 readers. Is that not a demographic advertisers are interested in reaching? I know they’re reading.) I haven’t read the article (it doesn’t seem to be available online, and I’m sure not going to BUY the issue – though maybe I should as a scientific endeavor. I can see what kind of crap passes for pop culture, AND check my blood pressure. Win!), so maybe the article is full of smart, helpful ideas for making friends, and appreciating that women are bonded through the oppression of kyriarchy. No? You don’t think so?
I assume the article is calling out certain behaviors that Cosmo editors decided were worthy of sexist name calling. (Yeah, I used ‘calling’ twice in the same sentence. My thesaurus brain is broken.) Which handily serves to create an us vs. them mentality. And at the same time reminds women who might see themselves embodying any of the mentioned characteristics, that they might want to tone it down. Lest they themselves become ‘bitches.’ No one wants to be a ‘bitch.’ Amirite? It’s insidious social control at its finest.
Dammit. Now I have to go buy the stupid magazine so I can find out if I’m right.
(h/t to @ClinicEscort for showing a pic of the cover from a newsstand in my Twitter stream a few weeks ago.)
Trigger warning – the video contains images of violence against women.
“Do we live in a post-sexist society?” is the question answered by this aggregation.