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Now That You’ve Got My Attention


Much has been discussed throughout and since this election season about the ubiquitous nature of sexism and misogyny in our society, with the majority of attacks being leveled at Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.  Up until now, some of us were actually lulled into believing that maybe,…just maybe…the playing field was leveling out.  However, taking a cast iron pan to the back of the head would’ve been more subtle than the wake-up call I’ve since received.  The culture in our country remains steeped in sexual bias.  This bias is clearly more entrenched than racism.

So, where do we start?  How can we address this issue and make meaningful change in the cultural perceptions that guide this bias?  Quite a few of us here at the Confluence have been asking that question for a while and I am committed to keeping the subject at the forefront of our discussion.  I’d like to start by exploring and sharing some of the available research on gender bias and leadership.  Leadership is an essential component of any organization.  Leaders are not just those who have been appointed or elected to positions of leadership, they are also those who provide leadership throughout an organization by virtue of their actions and influence.  Gender issues are an important consideration when developing leadership potential and represent an interesting perspective for understanding the gender bias and obstacles that women face every day in their personal lives and as a result of culturally ingrained ideas.

When making a standard comparison between men and women as leaders, it’s important to start with expectations.  While these are general culturally developed expectations that you may or may not disagree with, they tend to be the norms revealed in research studies about gender and bias. When evaluating these general cultural expectations about leadership and gender-appropriate behavior, men clearly have the upper hand and research reveals that men are judged as more effective leaders even when all else is equal(1).  Let’s explore why.   Researchers have found that both men and women have expectations about leadership that include such personality traits and behaviors as strength, assertiveness, decisiveness, directness, competitiveness and task-oriented focus.  These traits also happen to overlap and coincide with general cultural expectations of the male gender.  For women, there are cultural expectations that include socio-emotional focus (nurturing), softness, feminine voice, dress, and appearance.  Some of these traits may appear to conflict with expectations about leadership, resulting in women being judged as less effective than a man, even when behaviors, skills, knowledge and expertise are identical.  An example we’re all familiar with is when a woman who is direct and assertive is considered “bitchy,” “ bossy,” or unacceptably aggressive, while a man acting in the same way is considered both “manly” and an effective leader.  Or, the softness and femininity of a woman may be interpreted as a sign of weakness – resulting in a faulty sex bias against her without regard to equal qualifications(2).

hillary-clinton-rightHillary Clinton was initially called all of the sexist labels associated with a woman who dares to be assertive, directive and/or task-oriented: “bitch,” “cold,” “shrill” or “bossy.”  As she moved through the campaign however, she “found her voice,” and balanced her impressive confidence and wonkiness with softness – while still maintaining her assertiveness and directness.  This evolution through exposure helped to garner the respect of many who had previously dismissed her.  When considering this outcome, it does appear that many times women may be trying too hard to “be like men” in order to achieve equality.  This is not necessarily the most effective means if we are working within a culturally biased society.  Following Hillary’s lead and remaining confident in your leadership abilities, demonstrating your capacities with assertiveness, yet still embracing your femininity and strengths in both task-oriented and socio-emotional areas can be a huge plus.  This is because, over time, persistence in doing so has been found to reduce gender bias, which leads me to the next topic: exposure as a means of reducing gender bias.

In many of the same studies I’ve read, even those women who were initially seen as less effective leaders despite equal qualifications, have been able to erode perceptions of sexual bias over time(3).  When people have an opportunity to experience the leadership abilities of a woman, their perception of her effectiveness can be elevated to at or above the male previously considered “more qualified.”  These findings are true for both men and women exposed to an equally qualified female leader.  Therefore, the good news is that gender bias is not a fait accompli’.

So, in light of the above, what are some real action steps we can begin to take as individuals and as organizations struggling for an identity and role in the future of women in society and politics?  I’ve identified four areas to start with: Balance, Exposure, Evidence and Information, and Validation.

Balance – Don’t buy the hype that your ‘softer” side is useless and counter-productive in attempting to attain equality in the workplace and/or society.  These traits and a socio-emotional focus can be honed into skills that are well regarded and valued for their effectiveness in developing organizational relationships, conveying a sense of team-centered collaboration, and establishing women as the choice for effective leadership.  If we can learn to use the best of the feminine and the best of the masculine to our advantage, our leadership skills will continue to gain recognition and the domination by the male gender will erode in areas of work and politics.  This is the one area where Hillary has become the master.  She is assertive, directive, focused, and yet soft, feminine and nurturing – and she has the respect of millions throughout the world.  She is an effective female leader and strong role model for all women.  Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild is another excellent example of a strong female leader who embraces her feminity as a positive.  Anyone who has had the opportunity to see Lady Lynn on TV has witnessed her strength and agility in the rough and tumble world of public relations and politics.

Exposure – Women are already more than 50% of the electorate but we suffer from a gender bias that defines us culturally as less effective leaders.  We need to actively promote role models that defy these cultural expectations and expose our culture to the vast levels of knowledge, experience, skill, and leadership that women can bring to the table.  Sarah Palin was a beautiful woman and skilled leader with a strong history of success in leadership positions.  Unfortunately, the MSM chose to build a narrative about her around the “bimbo,” “stupid,” and “beauty pageant winner” stereotype.  This type of sexist attack hurts all women.  Only by effectively and persistently highlighting the strengths of effective leaders like Sarah can we offset these generic first impressions about beautiful women and overcome the stereotype that they cannot also be strong, effective leaders.  We need to seek out women who are powerful leaders and TRUE women’s advocates to represent our interests in the public forum.  They must be in the public eye as an illustration of what women are truly capable of.  There are many of these women out there.  Beautiful women.  Smart women. Powerful women. Nurturing women. Analytical women. Creative women. These role models have the power to actively transform the negative stereotypes for our daughters and granddaughters. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and Heidi Li Feldman are all strong role models for women –  leaders who stepped up to the plate and represented us well throughout the election season, exposing our society to positive female role models on a regular basis.  Keeping Hillary in the forefront of our government as either a Senator or Secretary of State is one of the best things to happen to women’s rights and progress.  Her feminine, nurturing side is as important as her strong, intellectual, decisive side.  We must continue to seek this type of exposure. stephanie-tubb

Education and Information – Not only do we need to increase public exposure to strong leaders like Hillary and Sarah, we need to educate the electorate about their goals and accomplishments in CLEAR and CONVINCING ways.  If we are to be successful in a “30% Solution” initiative, we must be prepared to vet all of our chosen candidates and be able to speak clearly, forcefully and effectively about their records of accomplishment.  Promoting a woman simply because she is a woman can have an adverse affect on our progress.  If a woman does not support women’s issues, or has a weak record overall, we may find ourselves promoting the same weak stereotypes we are fighting against.  Even if the “backroom deals” (h/t to myiq2xu) and MSM bias made this election an uphill battle, we were many times defending against sexism instead of crafting positive narratives.  Instead of explaining what we are not, we should be describing what we ARE.  The first step is learning about these candidates and WHY we endorse them.  Controlling the message and forcing it into the public sphere will help bring about these new paradigms of gender equality.

Validation – We can help to change stereotypical perspectives by continuing to trumpet the accomplishments of women everywhere.  “A woman’s abilities will be rated more favorably if one is exposed to success stories about other women in similar circumstances.(4)”  All of those adorable little girls – and their little brothers! – watching Hillary and Sarah in a contest for the highest political offices in our country was an important lesson in social gender roles.  There are many other successful women we can boast about.  WHO are they?  What are their stories? How can we promote their successes?  It’s time to change the stereotype by challenging it with stories of women who lead with expertise, confidence and grace.

We have an opportunity before us…a challenge if you will…to begin to erode the underlying cultural perceptions about women that fuel and permit the level of sexism we witnessed this election.

We Miss You Our Dear Friend Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

(1)Staley, C. (1988). The communicative powers of women managers.” Women and Communicative Power: Theory and Research and Practice. pp. 36-48. (2) Baird, J.E. and Bradley, P.H. (1979). “Styles of management and communication: a comparative study of men and women.” Communication Monograph, 11. pp. 50-65. (3) Rice, R.W., Instone, D. and Adams, J. (1984). “Leader sex, leader success, and the leadership process.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 69. pp. 12-31.(4) Heilman, M.E., and Martell, R.E. (1986). “Exposure to successful women: Anti-dote to sex discrimination.” Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 37. pp. 376-390.

The NYTimes misses the point- again.

The latest noise on the Hillary for SOS from the New York Times includes the kissy-kissy stuff about how Hillary submitted to her defeat gracefully and said, “Please sir, may I have some more?”

Mr. Obama, who was in the first steps of what would become a strategic courtship, called afterward to thank her. By then, close aides to Mrs. Clinton said, she had come to respect the campaign Mr. Obama had run against her. At the least, she knew he understood like no one else the brutal strains of their epic primary battle.

By this past Thursday, when Mr. Obama reassured Mrs. Clinton that she would have direct access to him and could select her own staff as secretary of state, the wooing was complete.

“She feels like she’s been treated very well in the way she’s been asked,” said a close associate of Mrs. Clinton, who like others interviewed asked for anonymity because the nomination will not be formally announced until after Thanksgiving.

I don’t know whether this is true or just more propaganda.  It’s like the Obama campaign are trying really hard to say, “See?  We were nice to her and she bought into our plans and it’s all hunky-dory and you damn wimmin can shut up about it now.  Get off our f*%^ing case.”

No so fast,  You @$$holes didn’t give Hillary the finger.  She’s a politician.  She knew what she was getting into.  She deserves an apology from the superdelegates who abandoned her.  But if you think we, the voters, are going to let you get away with what you did because Hillary and Obama have kissed and made up and she acknowledges him as her better, you are completely wrong in every way.  We will remember now and for the rest of our lives how Barry nullified the primaries and used all of the Republican dirty tricks to deprive voters in his own party of their self-determination.  And now that he has pretty much accepted that the perks that the Bushies gave the executive branch are good enough for him too, we will be on our representatives backs to repeal them quicker than spit.

It is not over.  It will never be over.  We will be out here watching and planning and looking for every opportunity to call you and your army of sycophantic droogs on every bit of nasty consensus reality you plan to create.  We are going to be knocking holes in it every chance we get.

And the first hole is that we are going to go along with this amicable detente because Hillary now admires Obama.  She’s only in this position because the superdelegates screwed us over.  And if Barry screws up, we will hold him and them responsible.  Hillary will do what a brilliant person with thousands of hours of practice does best- succeed.  The rest of you have yet to prove yourselves capable of anything other than the brutal tactics of a corrupt campaign operation.

You may have a working relationship with Clinton but with the voters you screwed over in the primaries you haven’t gotten even one inch closer to detente.

Hillary Secretary of State Open Thread

Clinton 2008

There has been a controversy here in recent days over the prospect of Hillary Clinton being nominated and accepting the position of Secretary of State in Barack Obama’s cabinet.  I’m not going to rehash all the arguments for and against the idea, but if you want to discuss it here is your thread.

The usual rules governing comments still apply, and keep in mind that we are all Conflucians, and this is an emotional issue.

I am moderating this thread and I expect you all to behave.  If you don’t want to discuss this topic, find another thread. 

Thank-you in advance for you cooperation

How Can They Hate Her If She Goes Away?

Why David Shuster hates turkeys

Why David Shuster hates turkeys

Palin Derangement Syndrome has gone from being vile and disgusting to inane and puerile in less than three weeks.  It also appears in some unusual places.  But yesterday we saw proof that both Sarah Palin and PDS will be around for long time.  Take misogyny, elitism and hypocrisy, wrap them up in stupidity and you have “The Great Turkey Massacre.”

Misogyny is the mother’s milk of Obamanation, and they refuse to be weaned from the teat.  This past week was an encore performance of the He Man Woman Haters Club, as they unleashed their hatred of both Senator Clinton and Governor Palin.  The easy way to spot a misogynist is when they proclaim some variation of “I don’t have anything against women, just that woman.”  That statement is often followed with “And that one.”

Governor Sarah Palin is an intelligent and savvy politician.  True, she isn’t Albert Einstein, but then who is?  She made it to the governor’s office in Alaska on her own merits, not because of her father or husband.  Those who claim she is not intelligent depend on a caricature of her that is based on edited interviews and false rumors.

So I was quite surprised to see these phrases and statements about Governor Palin posted at Shakesville of all places:

Continue reading

Saturday: While We Wait…

The New York Times is still reporting that Hillary is going to take the job of SOS although there is no official word from her office. Unlike Tweety Matthews, I’m not reading anything nefarious in the tea leaves regarding the delay of this announcement. Powerful people can set their own terms to some extent and she is probably working out the details that balance what is right for her with what is right for the country. It is as appropriate for Hillary to do this as it would be for any man. You don’t accept a job offer if you’re not going to advance your career and the best time to get what you want is at the beginning. She’s not being stubborn, capricious or exercising her feminine prerogative. She is acting on her best behalf, but with considerably more credibility on foreign policy than Tom Daschle who has suddenly discovered his passion for healthcare reform after decades of work on intelligence matters.

So we wait.

In the meantime, here are some other items that might sthwike your fancy:

  • John West of 300 Delegates wrote a moving piece about what he witnessed in Denver as he was trying to accumulate those delegate signatures.  In Fair Reflection’s Absence, John writes:

    NOT ONE PERSON who voted for Hillary during the primaries/caucuses in American Samoa, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont and Delaware had their vote reflected in the roll call tally by the delegates they elected for this sole purpose. The pledged delegates for Hillary in these states unanimously changed their votes from Hillary to Obama believing they did the voters right by supporting unity and following Hillary’s lead. Was this a fair reflection of the sentiments of the voters when they cast their ballots for Hillary during their primary/caucus?

    To this day, I can’t think back to that moment in Denver without intense anger when my governor took MY vote and the votes of millions of New Jerseyans who voted overwhelmingly for Clinton and gave them *unanimously* to Obama.  If he thinks my white hot anger over that is going to fade over time, he’s sorely mistaken.  Obama and his droogs thought of only one thing during the primaries: winning the nomination away from Hillary.  Obama is not about changing anything.  He is about maintaining the status quo for the Villagers.  That is what Jon Corzine rewarded with our votes.  Honestly, I have never seen a governor behave so disrespectfully towards his voters in the years I have lived here.  Even Christie Todd Whitman was better than this.  But Corzine is a Goldman Sachs guy so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised as to where is interests were, ie, not with his state’s residents.  Well, I intend to bring this arrogant smack to our face up every time Obama screws our state over in the next 4 years.  And for us, that’s going to start happening pretty soon because many of us work for the financial industry that is shedding jobs like crazy these days.  When the townships start hurting for money that is funded almost exclusively by property taxes on those houses of unemployed MBAs, I’m going to be right there, reminding our Governor that he handed our votes to a guy who took off for Berlin during the summer instead of planninn to do something about the financial market that showed signs of an imminent collapse.  If you want to blame the severity of the upcoming recession on someone, look no further than Jon Corzine.

  • Heidi Li recently attended an event at Baruch College in October called Politics, Pundits and Polls: Election 2008.  I haven’t viewed this video of the event yet but it should be interesting.  Check it out.
  • The New Work Times writes about how difficult it is for consumers to analyze costs versus benefits in this new economic landscape in Failing Home Economics.  The lady with the cauliflower dilemma has her own blog called EconoWhiner with helpful hints, plus tea and sympathy, for surviving the recession.

Worst Horror Movie Ever Open Thread

This movie was so bad I was rooting for the monster to kill everyone so that there would be no sequels.

“Gee Sis, it looked like he was dumping bodies down a pipe.  Let’s go back and look!”

What’s your pick?