And now for somthing a little provocative
Below are some excerpts from and summary of a new book. I don't agree with much of it. but it is interesting. Before I make a longer comment, I am interested in what you think...
Why Women Should Rule the World
a new book by Dee Dee Myers
Dee Dee Myers served as Bill Clinton’s press secretary and now does political commentary on various news shows.
“Women tend to be better communicators, better listeners, better at forming consensus”. In the competitive and divided society in which we live, Myers believes women possess the kind of critical problem solving skills that are urgently needed to break down barriers, build understanding and create the best conditions for peace.
She speaks of the informal group of women Senators, who get together to discuss current issues. They have managed to get beyond the partisanship that has infected much of Congress and forged political alliances on issues where they agreed.
Her book first talks about the problems women have in succeeding in a male dominated society. One example as quoted by Pauline Frederick, “When a man gets up to speak, people listen, then look. When a woman gets up to speak, people look, then if they like what they see, they listen”.
“When a man drives a hard bargain, he knows what he’s worth and by God, he’s going to get it. When a woman does the same? She’s a pushy broad and no one wants to work with her.”
Voters are more judgmental of women if they make a mistake than they are of men. Voters assume men are tough enough to be elected to public office, but women have to prove it. That is why Clinton was more criticized for mistakes than Obama was.
Even a woman’s name can cause problems, as Hillary Rodham Clinton found out. She took much heat when she only used her maiden name as well as using both maiden and married name; she finally succumbed to only using Bill’s last name. Then when she ran for president she simply used her first name. That had the advantage that it distinguishes her from her husband; the disadvantage is that Hillary has less stature than Senator McCain or Senator Obama.
Male candidates can cry, but female candidates generally cannot. John Edwards, when he was running against Clinton for the nomination, said that if she couldn’t survive the campaign without crying, she might make a weak commander in chief.
There are just too many ways women candidates can lose. Either they are too female or not female enough or not male enough or too male.
Another example of double standards for female candidates: Many are voting against Senator Clinton because “she is too much of an opportunist” as if no male candidates are opportunists.
Both Bill Clinton and John Edwards had news reports about their hair. He waited on the tarmac holding up air traffic for his haircut and Edwards received a $400 haircut. For men it was about the process of getting hair cut. For Hillary and other women it is the style, too short, too long.
If women are not judged by their appearance, then often they are simply invisible. How many women have made a suggestion in a group of people and no one seemed to even hear it? Then a few minutes later a man will say the very same thing and all of a sudden, it is a wonderful idea. Myers has a good way to deal with the situation. “Joe, its so great you thought my ideas was right on target. I like the way you’ve reworded it and you are exactly on the point I was on and so (then speaking to the group) what do you think about implementing my suggestion that Joe just articulated so nicely?”
Myers indicates that when Fortune 500 companies have a high percentage of women on their boards, the companies do better financially. One interesting example is the Revlon Corporation, a company that makes products for women. Want to guess how many women are among their senior managers? None.
Myers talks about her children a lot in order to prove some point she is making. They were all playing house. The boys indicated that there was an intruder in the house. The girls didn’t want to play that way. The boys left because if they didn’t have an intruder to shoot to protect family, they weren’t especially interested in playing that game. Girls tend to want to play cooperatively; the boys are more likely to play games, which are competitive in nature.
Tests prove women are better able to read body language than men are.
Men think about sex more often, according to some surveys, as much as every minute. Women usually about twice a day.
Women and men use humor differently. Men love Three Stooges and women hate them. Men laugh at slapstick and flatulence jokes. I love slapstick, but flatulence jokes are poor taste.
Men and women listen differently. Usually women, when talking to other women, will face each other. Usually men, when talking to other men, will both face forward with little if any eye contact.
Women do think differently than men. What if the Three Wise Men were the Three Wise Women? They wouldn’t bring gold, frankincense and myrrh. They would have “arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, brought practical gifts and there would be Peace on Earth”. Well, sorta.
She quotes Dianne Feinstein. “Women are accustomed…to cleaning up after men. In a sense, its one of the reasons I think women make very good mayors and governors. Because they are very management oriented. They know things have to be managed, that you have to stay the course. You have to see that it’s done every day, that you lay out your checklist, and you go through it. Women are accustomed to that from the managing of the house”
Rwanda has a Minister of Gender. Though their constitution mandates 30% of the seats in their congress are reserved for women, the voters usually elect more.
She studied countries and how they spend their money and found that when a country spends more on its military, the more likely it is to go to war. “More women mean fewer wars. Maybe it’s not that simple. Then again, maybe it is”. “Women often bring a different point of view and different priorities to questions surrounding war and peace. And that perspective can be crucial to ratcheting down the violence, creating opportunities for reconciliation, and beginning the process of rebuilding”. Sally Field, in accepting her Emmy for Brothers and Sisters (excellent show by the way), said, “Let’s face it. If mothers ruled the world, there would be no …wars in the first place”.
During talks in Northern Ireland, the men who were part of the negotiation team, walked out leaving the women. They kept the conversation going and resulted in the Good Friday Agreement ending a conflict that had lasted for decades. “Men are stubborn. Women are more comfortable seeking compromise. They see it as a strength not a weakness” said one of the women negotiators.
Myers reports on studies I have seen before where female students who were asked their gender before taking a math test, did poorly. Studies where African Americans were asked their race before taking a test did poorly. When asked to take the test without mentioning race or gender ahead of time, students did much better. Women and African Americans when reminded of their race and gender think subconsciously, “I am not supposed to do well”
Myers concludes women generally seem more interested in consensus. More women in Congress would change the partisanship that now permeates in Congress. Therefore, more women in leadership positions would make our world a better place.
Unfortunately, it appears we will not be able to see what a difference a woman makes in the presidency for many many years.
I definitely agree about the problems women face. I also believe that the strengths part can be true (though it's largely cultural)when women feel secure. Security is pretty rare, however, and women who feel threatened are every bit as cut-throat as men, although I really try to raise my daughters to be sisters to other women instead. I've found other women to be more difficult to deal with than men professionally, because it is so hard for women to get ahead that the really successful women have had to be fierce competitors
I am wary of people who paint with a broad brush--even though I fall into the category the author feels is better suited to run the world.
Perhaps the world would be a better place if humans could get together and create societies in which the gifts of each are used in ways that make life better for all.
OK, I'm a dreamer--but I like that dream.
Sorry, I'm not buying it. Women are no better than men in power. Building consensus, working for peace, nurturing each other are things we're all capable of. So are domination, aggression, a take no prisoners approach to conflict. Because women have not historically had much power to dominate, we've learned to listen and build consensus more than men (as a general rule), but once we achieve the power to dominate, we're just as likely to use it to achieve our ends as men do. Each of us, men and women, need to find the better way.
I don't think women should run the world. I think women and men should run the world together. I would love to see what the world would look like after a few decades if every government tried out having a maximum gender imbalance of 40:60 for offical bodies and committees and so on.
Margaret ThatcherPost a Comment
I'm not sure I agree with anonymous that these women prove that women in power are just as misguided as men. It may be that these women rose to power in a male dominated environment because they adapted to that dominant, aggressive paradigm. As more women find their way into high office, the less need they may find to "adapt" in this way, as the example of the female senators finding common ground across the aisle demonstrates. It also may be that as men become more exposed to a collaborative approach, their aggressivness will become more moderate.
I do agree with anonymous to the extent that this is something for all of us to work on. I'm not sure that handing over the governance of the world entirely to women is anything more than an interesting thought experiment (at best). But surely the participation of women in "running the world" holds promise for many of the reasons Myers cites.
Links to this post: