When I gave this talk at a Professional Women’s Networking Roundtablein 2008, I really didn’t anticipate the message being so enthusiastically received. I opened the talk with my “acid test” question. This is a question I frequently ask someone who I am considering working with in some capacity. I have found their answer speaks volumes about their attitudes.
When you answer the question, it is important that you stick with the first answer that pops into your head. No editing allowed. Clear your head. Wait only for the question and remember to stick with the first answer. The question is:
Write down your answer before reading further…
The number one answer from both men and women is “he leaves”. Number two, “he gets angry and leaves”. Number three, “he cheats”. In other words, most people believe that once a woman achieves success, she is no longer a desirable partner. More disturbing answers are “he beats her”, “he slaps her”, “he undermines her”, and “he sets out to destroy her”. Surprisingly, these answers rarely come from men. Women who have these types of answers are likely to subconsciously self-sabotage because they believe their success will result in a physical or social attack.
I have actually had men, but never a woman, answer “Why would a woman’s success make a guy feel inadequate?”, which is the answer we should all have. Curiosity about why so many women believe their success will be met with hostility led me to research and compile The Truth About Women, Power and Money. I sincerely hope it helps you understand belief systems that may be getting in the way of the health, wealth, and happiness you or someone you love deserves.
Part 1 – Why We Don’t Ask For More
Women earn less in every major industry tracked by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. A 2007 study by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation found that Women make only 80 percent of the salaries their male peers do one year after college; after 10 years in the work force, the gap between their pay widens further. 10 years after college, women earn only 69 percent of what men earn. Even after controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to affect earnings, the study found that one-quarter of the pay gap remains unexplained. Why is it, after decades of struggling for equal pay, women have yet to achieve it?
About 10 years ago female graduate students complained to Linda C. Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University, because all their male counterparts were teaching courses on their own whereas women were only working as teaching assistants. When she took the complaint to the dean, she learned there was a very simple explanation: The dean said each of the guys had come to him and said, ‘I want to teach a course,’ and none of the women had done that. Linda said. “The female students had expected someone to send around an e-mail saying, ‘Who wants to teach?’ ”
The incident prompted Professor Babcock to begin her studies in the wage gender gap. She first devised a study using graduate student volunteers who were told they would be paid anywhere from $3 to $10 for their time to play Boggle. After playing the game, each student was given $3 and asked if the sum was okay. Eight times more men than women asked for more money.
A later study by Linda Babcock, Hannah Riley Bowles, and Lei Lai found that women’s reluctance to ask for more was based on an entirely reasonable and accurate view of how they were likely to be treated if they did. Both men and women were more likely to subtly penalize women who asked for more. The perception was that women who asked for more were “less nice”.
Hannah Bowles concluded “What we found across all the studies is men were always less willing to work with a woman who had attempted to negotiate than with a woman who did not. They always preferred to work with a woman who stayed mum. But it made no difference to the men whether a guy had chosen to negotiate or not. This isn’t about fixing the women. It isn’t about telling women, ‘You need self-confidence or training’. They are responding to incentives within the social environment”.
In one large scale study of 46 meta-analyses conducted over the last 20 years, it was found that most cognitive abilities and psychological traits showed little or no average difference between the sexes. In studies where gender norms are removed, researchers demonstrated how important gender roles and social context were in determining a person’s actions. Psychologist Janet S. Hyde, Ph.D who performed the study suggested best-selling books and popular magazine that articles assert women and men can’t get along because they communicate too differently may be wrong. She suggests that maybe the problem is that they give up prematurely because they believe they can’t change what they mistakenly believe is an innate trait.
My corporate career was in male dominated fields in male dominated industries. I worked side by side with plenty of alpha male pack dogs. My sport of choice is mixed martial arts – a sport with too few women. I train heavily in Jiu-Jitsu, mostly because I usually have an injury that prevents me from training in striking arts. I find it the most unboring, demanding workout around. It is an endless challenge for mental and physical excellence against your greatest competitor – yourself.
I can tell you this with all certainty. Men and women explicitly do not communicate differently. Men in the dojos and cage fighting schools do not communicate with each other by grunting and scratching themselves. They have meaningful dialogs and are generally very supportive and nurturing of each other. This reflects what I have observed in the business arena. Men are typically very willing to mentor each other, especially younger men that remind them of themselves when they were younger. Men want women to approve of them and like them. Just as women like attention from men, men like attention from women. Men (and women) will usually respect boundaries you clearly set and consistently enforce. When they don’t and you call them on their conduct, they almost always get back in line immediately.
One of the meta-analyses that showed gender difference was the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) survey. The survey found that in decision making, about 60% of the women preferred to make decisions based on feelings and about 55% of the men preferred to make decisions based on thinking. Another difference is spatial ability. Men tend to outperform women with mental rotation, the ability to visualize how a 3-D object would appear if rotated in space. So what we really have are some partially innate gender differences. These slight gender differences are reinforced and exaggerated by stereotypes.
A stereotype is a belief about an individual or a group, based on the idea that all people in a certain group will act the same way. Stereotypes reflect cultural roles. Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences, a collection of academic papers written by Social Psychology researchers, found the scientific evidence is that the primary function of stereotypes is what researchers call “the reality function”. That is, stereotypes are useful tools for dealing with the world. Confronted with a snake or a bunny, our immediate behavior is determined by generalized beliefs, stereotypes, about snakes and bunnies. Stereotypes are, in fact, one aspect of the mind’s ability to make generalizations without which everyday life would be impossible.
Where do stereotypes come from? They are a reflection of cultural social roles. Social roles are sets of connected behaviors, rights and obligations that define expected behavior in a given individual’s social status and social position. Those who do not act in a socially acceptable manner (do not conduct themselves within the parameters of accepted roles) receive social disapproval. Social roles are required for an orderly society. We, as human beings, can not escape stereotypes.
The problem is that in the United States roles for women, reflected in stereotypes, still have not progressed much since the introduction of rigid gender roles after World War II. Women who venture from “traditional” roles still tend to receive social disapproval. During the 2008 election campaigns, both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin were very harshly criticized and even attacked by the press.
Role models are people who serve as examples, people whose behavior is emulated by others. Many of the female role models who do receive social approval (are not harshly criticized or attacked by the media) are by in large are moral degenerates who dress provocatively or not at all, actively engage in substance abuse, and are openly promiscuous, even adulterous. Where do these antiquated, limiting stereotypes and morally degenerate role models come from?
In the United States, the media permeates our cultural programming. The average American girl will watch 5,000 hours of television, including 80,000 commercials, before she starts kindergarten. A 2005 British study found most of the 12 most frequent celebrities appearing in the pre-adolescent magazines were publicly known as having mental health issues such as eating disorders and substance abuse. The press is so obsessed with women’s physical appearance that Oprah Winfrey gaining weight actually warrants a news flash.
Can you think of any role models in the media that portray smart, competent, capable, ethical women? What about smart, competent, capable pretty young girls? How about men as loving, devoted fathers who share household chores and child rearing responsibilities (there are more of these than you might think)? What about men who find the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton revolting (there are more of these than you might think)? Have you ever seen a woman portrayed favorably in command at an executive level?
In January 1995 Star Trek Voyager aired the first episode. I was a project manager at Mobil corporate headquarters at the time and was personally struggling with refining my management style. The only management role models I had ever had were male and while I could adapt some of their style into mine, it was challenging because, well, I’m not a guy.
As I was watching this first episode of Star Trek Voyager, I was absolutely blown away. I realized that in all my years in DC Beltway offices, that I had only witnessed men, and never a woman, in command at an executive level. I watched that show religiously, not so much for the Scifi (I am a junkie), but to observe and integrate Captain Kathryn Janeway’s command style into my own. To this day I credit Kate Mulgrew’s character for much of what I have found to be an effective leadership style.
During the 90’s there were a few other powerful women on television. There was Buffy the Vampire Slayer who always managed to look unscathed. There was Xena Princess Warrior which made me cringe, but I let my daughters watch anyway because it portrayed a woman in a leadership role. After the Bush Administration entered office, they all stopped airing.
Did the Bush Administration have anything to do with it? Unknown. However the Reagan Administration did have a big hand in the “man shortage” crisis of 1986.
Part 2: A Brief History
When you hear the word feminist, what do think of? An angry, man-hating, militant lesbian? What about the term women’s liberation? Where did feminism and the women’s liberation movement, the movement that brought women so many rights and much freedom, get a bad rap?
The Women’s Rights Movement actually started on July 13, 1848 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She invited four friends to address the fact that the revolution had been won 70 years before, and despite taking tremendous risks during that time, women had not gained freedom. The group picked a date and a venue to host a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.
During the convention 68 women and 32 men signed a Declaration of Sentiments which contented that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Some of the points in made in the declaration include:
- Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law
- Women were not allowed to vote
- Married women had no property rights
- Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity
- Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women
- Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned
- Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law
- Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students
- With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church
- Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men
In 1920, when my grandmother was bearing children, women were finally given the right to vote by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
From 1941-1945 during World War II, unprecedented numbers of women entered the ranks of factory workers, helping American industry meet the wartime production demands for planes, tanks, ships, and weapons. Women moved outside their traditional roles and took positions in jobs usually reserved for men. “Rosie the Riviter” promoted the idea that it was patriotic, not unfeminine, for women to work in non-traditional jobs. “If you’ve used an electric mixer in your kitchen, you can learn to run a drill press” urged an American War Manpower Campaign.
The Women Airforce Service Pilots, also known as WASP, was the pioneering organization of civilian female pilots employed to fly military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Forces. Women were employed as mechanics, welders, tank drivers, air raid wardens, plumbers, fire engine drivers, ambulance drivers, ship builders, and more. During World War II women at home and in the military proved that they could do “men’s” work, and do it well.
Once the war was over, federal and civilian policies replaced women workers with men even though statistics showed that a large percentage of both married and unmarried women wanted to continue working. A cultural backlash ensued that strictly limited women to jobs that fell within very rigid gender roles. Those that remained in jobs other than secretaries, librarians, and teachers, faced incredible sexism and were barred from joining many labor unions.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s gender imagery in Dick and Jane readers (I learned to read with them in 1965), advertisements, educational films, and television shows projected feminine, stay-at-home moms cleaning, cooking, and taking care of children while masculine dads left home early and returned late each weekday, tending to their designated roles as lawnmowers and backyard BBQers on the weekend. This is how the belief that a man’s worth is based on his ability to provide for his family and if a wife makes more than her husband he is less than a man became rather permanently entrenched in American culture.
In More Work for Mother, Ruth Schwartz Cowan wrote that psychiatrists, psychologists, and popular writers of the era critiqued women who wished to pursue a career, and even women who wished to have a job, referring to such “unlovely women” as “lost”, “suffering from penis envy”, “ridden with guilt complexes”, or just plain “man-hating”.
In 1963, when my mother was still bearing children, Betty Friedan published a landmark book, The Feminine Mystique, which describes the dissatisfaction felt by middle-class American housewives with the narrow role imposed on them by society.
Also in 1963 Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for employers to pay a woman less than what a man would receive for the same job. Case in point that just because it’s law doesn’t mean it’s enforced.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race, religion, and national origin.
In 1968 it became illegal to place help wanted ads that specified gender.
In 1972 Title IX in the Education Codes made equal access to higher education and to professional schools law.
In 1974, when I was 15 years old, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed which made it illegal to discriminate on the basis race, marital status, age, nationality, or gender. At the time a woman could not get a credit card in her own name or a bank loan without a man to co-sign.
The January 1976 Time Magazine cover story said “They have arrived like a new immigrant wave in male America. They may be cops, judges, military officers, telephone linemen, cab drivers, pipefitters, editors, business executives—or mothers and housewives, but not quite the same subordinate creatures they were before. Across the broad range of American life, from suburban tract houses to state legislatures, from church pulpits to Army barracks, women’s lives are profoundly changing, and with them, the traditional relationships between the sexes. Few women are unaffected, few are thinking as they did ten years—or even a couple of years—ago. America has not entirely repealed the Code of Hammurabi (woman as male property), but enough U.S. women have so deliberately taken possession of their lives that the event is spiritually equivalent to the discovery of a new continent”.
The 1976 Hite Report on Female Sexuality shocked many by revealing that women had a far from passive view of sex, many cheated on their husbands, and that women felt generally unfulfilled in the bedroom. In the 1981 Hite Report on Men and Male Sexuality almost no men said they had been or were close to their fathers. Men usually need close paternal relationships to have non-stereotyped or non-compensatory relationships with women. (Shere Hite’s research methodology was brutally attacked in the media. She even received death threats. The public attacks were severe enough for her to leave the United States, renounce her American citizenship, and become a German citizen).
The mid-1980’s was the first time a whole generation of women had been so educated, so financially independent, and delayed marriage for so long. Just in time for Valentines Day in 1986 the news hit. According to a new, then unpublished study, the “Harvard-Yale Study”, a single, college-educated woman over the age of 30 had only a 20 percent chance of ever getting married. By the time she was 40, the study concluded, she had only a 1.3% chance.
The media latched on with a vengeance targeting unmarried and/or professional women. Newsweek claimed that a woman over 40 had a better chance of being shot by a terrorist than finding a husband. It also said unwed women are “hysterical” and crumbling under a “profound crisis of confidence”. The New York Times reported that childless women are “depressed and confused” and their ranks are swelling. Health advice informed: High-powered career women are stricken with unprecedented outbreaks of stress-induced disorders, hair loss, bad nerves, alcoholism, and even heart attacks.
Dr. Srully Blotnick, a Forbes magazine columnist and self-appointed media “expert”, concluded that based on a 25 year groundbreaking study, success at work “poisons both the professional and personal lives of women”. No one questioned his methodology, in ironic contrast to the ferocious attacks on Hite’s research methods. Blotnick was later terminated by Forbes when it was found that he would have had to start collecting data for his twenty-five year study when he was seventeen years old and the “Dr.” title he had adopted was the product of a mail-order degree from an unaccredited correspondence school.
In the aftermath of all the press, a panic ensued. Women had to find a man, maybe any man, and settle down before their time ran out. Dating services that gave away memberships to women were now flooded with applicants. Therapists chairs were filled with women who panicking because they had ruined their lives by not getting married and were afraid they would never have children. Women who a few months before had been very happy with their lives.
The problem with the Harvard-Yale study was the numbers in the then unpublished unfinished study weren’t true. According to Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Susan Faludi, a Census Bureau demographer named Jeanne Moorman recalculated the study’s figures. Moorman found that at the age of thirty, a college-educated woman who hadn’t yet married had three times the chance cited by the Harvard-Yale report; at the age of thirty-five, her odds of getting married were seven times higher than those predicted in the study; and at forty, her shot at wedlock was twenty-three times higher than the study had indicated.
When Moorman started talking to the press, Reagan administration officials literally ordered her to quit speaking to the press about the marriage study because it was “too controversial”. She was told to work instead on a study the White House wanted about how poor unwed mothers abuse the welfare system. Reagan spokeswoman Faith Whittlesey declared feminism a “straitjacket” for women in the White House’s only policy speech on the status of the American female population entitled “Radical Feminism in Retreat”.
According to Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, surveys of real-life women also contradicted the incomplete and unpublished Harvard-Yale study findings. The 1985 Virginia Slims poll reported that 70% of women believed they could have a “happy and complete” life without being married. A massive study of women’s attitudes by Battelle Memorial Institute in 1986, which examined 15 years of national surveys of ten thousand women, found that marriage was no longer the centerpiece of women’s lives and that women in their 30’s were not only delaying by actually dodging wedding vows. A 1986 national survey commissioned by Glamour magazine found a rising preference for single women in their 20’s and 30’s – ninety percent (90%) of the never married women said “the reason they haven’t [married] is that they haven’t wanted to yet”.
The power of the media prevailed over truth. The masses vilified feminism and ceased working towards progressing women’s social status and legal rights. According to Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, in a 1986 Los Angeles Times story, therapists reported that after the study’s promotion, single female patients became “obsessed” with marriage, ready to marry men they didn’t even love, just to beat the “odds”. In 1988 Jib Fowles, a University of Houston professor of human sciences, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in which he lauded the drop in women’s age at first marriage, the first in 20 years, as a resurgence of the conventional family by the year 2000 that would be good for American industry and a rise in supermarket sales due to women returning to homemaking.
The Reagan Administration used the power of the media to further its own political ends. The media in this country does not report news as much as they create it. The media is full of stereotypes that tell us how we are supposed to be. Young girls are bombarded with images of sexuality, often dominated by stereotypical portrayals of women and girls as powerless, passive victims.
The media persists in presenting us with acceptable role models via stereotypes of the femme fatale, the super mom/soccer mom, the sex kitten, and the nasty corporate climber. (The GLOW Project Movie, produced by e-Women Network, does a wonderful job of debunking the nasty corporate climber stereotype. The movie makes it clear that women who achieve high level corporate positions are women of integrity and heart who have overcome tremendous personal and professional challenges to achieve their positions).
Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society which campaigns for sexual equality, said stereotyping was more important than female rivalry in holding back women’s careers: “Stereotypes about what is an appropriate role for women are still very strong in people’s minds and there is still a cultural barrier to women making it into senior positions”.
Part 3: Where We Are
How many of you have witnessed 6th grade girls behave utterly viciously towards each other? Phyllis Chesler in Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, said “groups of women tend to espouse an ‘illusion of equality’ and uniformity in which variations from the norm are seen as dangerous betrayals. Any expression of anger or the introduction of a tabooed subject may result in the group’s scapegoating of one or two of its members. Because one of the biggest taboos is against any overt display of female aggression, these attacks are invariably covert, indirect and maddeningly unexplained — which makes them especially devastating. Most women have a repertoire of techniques with which to weaken, disorient, humiliate or banish other female group members. Because women tend to place tremendous value on belonging, they can experience exclusion from the group as a kind of death”.
Phyllis goes on to say that “young girls learn that a safe way to attack someone else is behind her back, so that she will not know who is responsible. This tracks girls and women into lives of chronic gossip and rumor mongering…. Girls may use social manipulation to dominate or express anger because they have learned to do this from their female role models: adult women”.
Some women compete indirectly with other women and have disharmonious relationships with men because they have not learned how to recognize and articulate their desires, feelings, and goals. (Don’t get me wrong – men can have the same problem – women are just more inclined to be conditioned to behave that way). Women need to take the risk of social disapproval and put what they want into words, to ask for it directly, not to wait for someone to guess what they want. If you can’t get what you want, don’t pout, blame yourself, give up, disconnect, or become enraged (this goes for men too). For heaven’s sake, grow up. You can get what you want another day or at another job or with another (better) person.
Most women seem to be unaware of their engagement in oppressive acts toward other women and the ways in which they contribute to this oppression. Almost all female genital mutilation is actually performed by women. Bride burning in India for insufficient dowry is often performed by the mother-in-law. Infanticide of baby girls is a crime primarily committed by women. Baby girls in China are referred to as “maggots in the rice”. In the movie The Color Purple, when Harpo complains to Celie that his wife does not obey him, Celie advises him to beat her. Why do women participate in their own oppression?
It’s called Social Justification. Social justification theory is the tendency among people in low status groups to internally regard the high status group more favorably than their own. They internally justify an oppressive social system to reduce the dangers of social conflict. Women are taught to fear conflict. It’s part of the “niceness” training. Women are taught to smile when they are angry, never to say anything that is “not nice”, sacrifice for others, maintain relationships at all costs, not to complain, not to make waves, and not to ask to be paid more. Because women world-wide are second class citizens, because women are taught to fear conflict instead of how to manage it, women are particularly susceptible to using social justification (turning on each other) to avoid social conflict.
Are women aggressive? An early chapter of the book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman is devoted to primate research that suggests that aggression among females can be as ferocious and even as murderous as the aggression shown by males. Author Phyllis Chesler repeats accounts of hair-raising and occasionally tragic power struggles among female apes — chronicles of dominance, exile, infanticide and sometimes even cannibalism, all part of a relentless battle for survival. A 1992 University of California study found that women’s aggressive behavior is widespread and displays regularities across societies. Rivalry, cruelty, and competition among women may have a biological basis.
In the 1990’s pheromone perfumes hit the market. One of the first women I had ever had on my team wore it to a weekly staff meeting that was held in a conference room smaller than usual. When she walked in I could smell it and instantly disliked it intensely. After 20 minutes I had a headache, felt irritable, and felt uncharacteristically aggressive. I actually ended the meeting early because I found the unexpected and certainly unacceptable physiological reaction a little too overwhelming. I found the experience fascinating.
So is it right to allow ourselves to be reduced to being driven by our animal instincts? No. Absolutely not. We need to keep our moral identity in check. Our moral identity is comprised of the standards by which we define a morally worthy and acceptable individual. It is a self-regulatory mechanism that is part of our social identity. It is what makes us choose what is right over what is easy. It is what gives us the courage to refuse to be silent when injustice occurs. Unfortunately, as a society our moral identity has been eroded to corruption.
When you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. When you put a frog in cold water then turn on the heat, it will boil to death without knowing it. That’s what the media has done to us. Violence and sexual exploitation, especially of children (12 year old models in provocative clothing, suggestive Disney underwear, string bikinis for toddlers, July 2008’s S&M Barbie), that would have caused outrage 40 years ago barely raises an eyebrow today. We need to fix our moral identity, including the stereotypes we allow.
We need to reject the myth that women aren’t good problem solvers and aren’t good leaders. We need to reject the myth that strong women are cruel and self-serving. We need to reject the myth that women are not aggressive and are never fierce. Most women would kill to protect their children.
The media repeatedly sends a misleading message that men’s achievements lead women’s fortunes. Reality TV shows such as The Bachelor, For Love or Money, and Average Joe boost their ratings by showing attractive women in competition for one man, one man’s money, or both. On a “quest for true love” these women quickly devolve into a pit of back-stabbing, manipulative, conniving vipers. The millions of Americans tune in each week for more don’t realized their being programmed to find both the premise and behavior acceptable when in reality, both are an appalling disgrace.
Through fairy tales we’re still taught we’re princesses, someday our prince will come, we’ll be swept off our feet, carried off into the sunset, and live happily ever after. Marriage has nothing to do with love, sex, or security. Marriage is about commitment. Security is an illusion. Marriage is about working through problems, loving each other, and serving each other, regardless of whether you feel like it or currently can’t stand to be around the person you married. A good marriage is a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice. And with regard to security, you never know when you might end up having to support your family.
I have lost count of how many times I’ve been asked what’s wrong with me because I’m not married (it’s called the You’re Nobody Unless You’re Mrs. Somebody syndrome). I’ve been married, I respect the institution, but you know what – I’m busy. I found moving my passion from my groin to my heart incredibly rewarding. I love my work, my hobbies, my friends, and my now grown children. I have a very good life. You do not need a man to be happy.
We need to reject the outright lie that women are superior to other women just because they are physically more attractive. In a commercial for a diet pill a woman bragged, “I am now smaller than the woman my husband left me for”. Did she think she deserved her husband’s infidelity and abandonment because she was overweight? Shows like The Swan and Extreme Makeover showcase female contestants who insist they need a new nose, teeth, or bigger breasts to have better self-esteem. The tragedy is that women who watch these shows are not aware that they are programming themselves to believe physical beauty will bring them all the happiness they haven’t been able to find in themselves.
The media floods us with images glorifying anorexic women. The media portrays being extremely thin as the standard of beauty for women which represents success, happiness, and self-control. The average model is 5’10” and weighs 110 pounds. The average woman is 5’4” and weighs 145 pounds. I have seen some models with no body fat and no muscle, literally skin and bones, that look like they have been living in a death camp. Anorexia is epidemic in our teens. In 1995, 34% of high school age girls in the United States thought they were overweight. Today, 90% do.
During the Reagan Administration, women traded feminism for victimism. It is a discouraging reality that women have been and continue to be victims of sexism, male violence, and discrimination. 25% of girls are molested, mostly by fathers, step-fathers, and uncles, and it is usually ongoing. For boys it’s 16% and more often a one time incident. 25% of all women have been raped (under reporting makes the real number much higher). 78% of the time women are raped by someone they knew and trusted. From 1998 to 2002 males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers. During that time 84% of spouse abuse victims were women.
In victimism women are powerless to affect the victim status by which they are primarily defined. In victimism, women are not responsible in any way for their problems. It is all part of our “natural” differences. In victimism, women are absolved of the political responsibility to act to change their own condition. Victimism implies that women are helpless and must accept the circumstances in which they find themselves, however unpleasant or unfair.
A Publishers Weekly review of Hating Women: America’s Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex said “From the Internet to reality TV to Girls Gone Wild videos, Boteach observes, popular culture portrays women as ‘Greedy Gold Diggers’, ‘Publicity-seeking Prostitutes’, ‘Brainless Bimbos’, or ‘Back-stabbing Bitches’ epitomized by the likes of Paris Hilton and the ‘vulgar and crass degenerates, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera’. Boteach blames feminism-not for demanding equal rights, but for toppling femininity from its position of dignity, refinement and presumed superiority over masculinity and for proclaiming a ‘farcical notion of equivalence’ that pushes women to be as gross and callous as men while depriving them of the moral authority to admonish and correct male loutishness. Because ‘in a world without ladies there cannot be gentlemen’, the result is a ‘crisis in manhood’, as men feel licensed to exploit women and, numbed by pornography, become unable to cherish real women in committed relationships. The author calls for boycotts to punish lewd and degrading depictions of women as well as female celebrities who pose or appear nude, and for a sexual counter-revolution in which women collectively refuse all premarital sex and confiscate their husbands’ porn stashes”.
“But the nefarious archetypes don’t stop with women; they breed and encourage four equally offensive types of men: the Crotch-Scratcher, the Harem Gatherer, the Selfish Spouse, and the Porn Addict. Misogyny, in the guise of entertainment, is reaching a fever pitch, and we are on the verge of a social crisis”. “There are strong consequences,” writes Boteach, “in a world where men have no respect for women and women have no respect for themselves”.
According to Tony Robbins, the strongest force in the human personality is the need to remain consistent with how we define ourselves. The reality is every day you choose how you define yourself, even if you’re not aware that you do. Every day you choose who you are. Every day you choose what cultural programming you allow or reject. Every day you choose to evolve, devolve, or stagnate. And your choices add up.
So what is the truth about women, power, and money? Money is power, plain and simple. If you have enough of it you can do what you want. It doesn’t get more powerful than that. If women having power (money) violates the confines of accepted cultural roles and associated stereotypes, do they put themselves in a position of social disapproval (attack) if they have power (money)? You bet.
If you assert yourself and maintain fair and reasonable personal boundaries, there will be people who will believe you are violating allowable behavior in accepted cultural passive female roles and they will act accordingly. If you insist on being paid what you’re worth, some people will believe you are violating allowable behavior in accepted cultural passive female roles and they will act accordingly. Twice in my corporate career male peers found out I made more than they did (and rightfully so – I was a consistently outstanding performer, neither of them were). Both attacked viciously.
If you choose to reject rigid gender roles and their stereotypes which hinder both men and women in achieving their full potential, if you choose to assert yourself as a smart, capable, competent woman who is well paid and worth it, you will likely encounter social disapproval. There will be people who will challenge you for being a woman who doesn’t “know her place”. You will likely be ostracized in some circles. You will offend people whose reality is limited to confining stereotypes and they will make sure you know it, often harshly and even viciously simply because you challenge their social order belief system.
Is asserting yourself as a smart, capable, competent woman, no less one who is well paid and worth every penny, really worth all of the inevitable social conflict? For me personally, the alternative is unthinkable. What about you?