Powerful women know how to flip feminine stereotypes to their advantage.
There has been a lot of talk recently in the political arena about the likability trap for women: Women who behave in authoritative ways risk being disliked as insufferable prima donnas, pedantic schoolmarms or witchy women.
What you haven’t heard about much is the way successful women overcome this form of gender bias. I have interviewed about 200 women over the years in my research on gender and the workplace, and they all employ a similar set of strategies for escaping the likability trap. One former chief executive described hers this way: “I’m warm Ms. Mother 95 percent of the time, so that the 5 percent of the time when I need to be tough, I can be.” She embraced a stereotype that typically holds women back — the office mom — but flipped it around, using its momentum to propel herself forward. I call it gender judo.
Why do women need to do this? Even as women have moved into traditionally male domains, feminine mandates remain. More than 40 years of research by social scientists have shown that Americans define the good woman as helpful, modest and nice. In other words, as focused on her family and community, rather than working in her own self-interest. Meanwhile, the ideal man is defined as direct, assertive, competitive and ambitious.
This version of masculinity maps perfectly onto what we expect from leaders, in business and politics. Women in leadership need to display these “masculine” qualities, but when they do they risk being seen as bad women, and also as bad people. So savvy women learn that they must often do a masculine thing (which establishes their competence) in a feminine way (to defuse backlash).
Other research finds that women make a similar finesse while negotiating. Women who negotiate as hard as men do tend to be disliked as overly demanding. So they use “softeners” in conversation. (“It wasn’t clear to me whether this salary offer represents the top of the pay range.”) When Sheryl Sandberg negotiated for what no doubt was an outlandishly high compensation package at Facebook, she told Mark Zuckerberg: “Of course you realize that you’re hiring me to run your deal teams, so you want me to be a good negotiator. This is the only time you and I will ever be on opposite sides of the table.” She turned a salary negotiation (competitive and ambitious) into a touching testimony of team loyalty.
Isn’t this all a bit revolting? Here’s what works for men negotiating for a higher salary: I have another offer, and I need you to match it. Why should women have to do something different?
When women embrace feminine stereotypes like the office mom, they reinforce both the descriptive stereotype that women are naturally nurturing and communal, and the prescriptive stereotype that they should be. But sometimes what women need to do to survive and thrive in the world is exactly the opposite of what they need to do to change it.
For women who want to master this strategy, the first step is to behave as assertively as comes naturally and see what happens. If you find your effectiveness jeopardized because you being yourself triggers dislike, then you need to decide whether overcoming the backlash is worth the sacrifice.If it is, try doing something masculine in a feminine way. Think of femininity as a tool kit, and choose something that feels authentic to you. But don’t choose deference. One study found that women who used a submissive conversational style, apologizing and hedging, just undercut themselves.
The most common anti-backlash strategy I found in the women I interviewed was to mix authoritativeness and warmth. “I got feedback I was intimidating, so I would make sure that I got to know people, and before a meeting I would share something personal to make myself more approachable,” one woman, who is now a chief executive, told me.
Some women use metaphors to recode behavior that is coded as masculine. A woman responsible for winning new clients at a major consulting firm, where rainmakers were called “hunters,” told me she rejected that label. “I always said: ‘No, no, no, I’m a gardener. I grow things,’” she told me. Just another dame who loves to nurture.
Another tried-and-true move is what anthropologists call gender display. “For me, it’s pink lipstick,” one woman told me. She is the lone female member of the board of a public company.
In the most sophisticated form of this strategy, powerful women create an entirely new narrative, softening their hard-driving personas by highlighting that they are also communal, selfless mothers. A brilliant recent example is M.J. Hegar’s 2018 congressional campaign video. In it, a battered door — all that’s left of the helicopter she was shot down in while on an Air Force rescue mission — is tucked behind her dining table, where she sits contentedly with her family.
This is all a lot of hard work, and it’s work that men don’t have to do. Men, to be successful, just need to master and display masculine-coded traits; women, to be successful, need to master both those and some version of feminine-coded traits that do not undercut their perceived competence or authenticity. That’s a lot trickier.
What’s the solution? Organizations have to be vigilant about challenging the biases that force women to do this in the first place. The workplace is often structured in ways that reward behavior that’s considered socially appropriate in white men but socially inappropriate in women and people of color. This provides an invisible escalator for white men.
The goal is not to empower women to be as emotionally tone deaf and grabby as men are sometimes encouraged to be. Instead, we should work to make sure that both men and women are rewarded for displaying empathy or a willingness to put the common good above self-interest. These qualities have long been undervalued in work and in political life because they have been coded as feminine, and the world needs much more of them.
15:33viewers and listeners you know onelesson I learned when I was the editorof The Jerusalem Post is that the moststereotyped people in the world and I bystereotype people I don’t mean Jews orPalestinians I mean this kind of Jew orthat kind of Palestinian they’re alwaysgoing to font they’re always going tosurprise you if you actually practicejournalism you willgo and meet settlers who are also likehippie stoners and you know you think ohthe settlers they’re all theseright-wing fanatics but there’s always aflip side you will meet Palestiniansincluding Palestinians affiliated withradical organizations that also havetheir surprises and journalism at itsbest always has to make large allowancesfor the capacity to be surprised by thepeople that you are otherwise most eagerto stereotype I think where we go wrongin big ways is when we fall prey tothose stereotypes I mean why was forinstance the the story about UVA therape hoax at UVA why was that so readilybelieved because so many prejudices thatwe had or at least segments of the mediahad about white entitled frat kids atUVA behaving in certain ways all of themseem to be confirmed by that by thatnarrative so people jumped on and saidwell this has got to be right becausethis is the classic the classic UVA fratboy and this is how you might expectthey would behave and of course thisturned out to be one of the big egg onyour faces story that not only neverminddamaged the journalists in question orRolling Stone magazine I think damagedthe profession as a whole and it also bythe way damaged victims of rape becausethey would always have to live under theburden well you never know because therewas that there was that UVA story and Ithink this is this is true not simply asjournalists but as human beings youalways have to look at someone and sayI’m expecting this I have to I have tothere has to be some large allowance inmy mind that they will not be the peoplewho will conform to the stereotype thatI had about them and I might add goingto the times destroyed a great manystereotypes I had harbored when I was atThe Wall Street Journal good about thekind of people are at the times good youknow and to add to what Brett’s saying Imean some of the most stereotyped someof the most stereotyped people inAmerica by journalists are Trump votersandsome of the stereotypes hold true butsome Donen I mean I remember him it’sone of the reasons why it’s important toget out there I remember going to anearly Trump rally in South Carolina justbefore its primary and spending a coupleof hours there interviewing the voterswho’d come and each of those peopletheir take on reality wasn’t the same asmine it wouldn’t have been the same asBrett Caesar but each of them had aspecific and thought out reason why theyfound Donald Trump attractive and noneof those reasons fit neatly into thestereotype of Trump voters and I think Imean I’ve always been under the underthe position if we want to under if wewant to get beyond Donald Trump we haveto understand in a real way and not asuperficial stereotypical way what madehim so appealing to so many votersbecause we’re not going to reach thosevoters with someone else unless weunderstand that well sorry Brett you mayremember that when you were on BillMaher a year ago you responded to thispoint exactly that there is a kind ofliberal blue state prejudice about aTrump voter and that in fact there’sother ways to see them and understandhim and there’s the very point thatFrank is making I’m gonna get back tothat Innes and later hopefully I want totalk about what you think that the causeof Trump how he became our presidentwe’ll get to that in a moment but I wantto first go back since we talked abouttwo of your columns I want to get to oneof yours that just came out today wasn’tactually a column it was a much moreextended essay and and wanted I think hevery frequently read and because this isthe Y M H a people in this room mightcare about this essay in particular andthis is really about progressiveliberalism and the politics that is notunfamiliar to Frank and its obsessionwith Israel the deemed Immunizationdeluded the legitimacy of Israel and howthat oftentimes this kind of woke nestsprogressiveness also slides intoanti-semitism and why is it that thosepeople who are who feel most strongly
There is no way around it: President Trump lost.
He lost his gamble on shutting down the government. And though he will pretend otherwise, he has also lost his grandiose plan to build a border wall that most of the country does not want.
Trump walked away with nothing more than an assurance from congressional Democrats that they will sit down with Republicans for three weeks and try to come up with a border security plan that both parties can agree upon. There’s a reasonable chance they will come up with a solid proposal. But there’s just as much likelihood that Trump’s dream for a wall will die a quiet death there.
Nonetheless, this is the consequence of Trump’s obsession with satisfying the red-hatted, nativist throngs who chanted “build the wall” at so many of his rallies.
Not only do 6 in 10 Americans now disapprove of the job that the president is doing, but his party has also lost the 10-point edge it once held over the Democrats on the question of which party to trust on border security, according to a fresh Post-ABC News poll.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has shown that she better than Trump understands the art of the deal in Washington. She is the one who succeeded in building a wall — and Trump ran right into it.
Now, as Trump surveys the shambles that his greatest blunder has made of his presidency, the question is whether he and the Republicans learned anything from the five-week calamity that they caused. Will his party be as willing to follow him the next time he leads them toward the edge of a cliff?
If there is even a thin silver lining to the travesty of the longest-ever government shutdown, it is this: The Republicans’ slander of public servants has been exposed for what it is.
When the shutdown began, conservative pundits assured themselves that few Americans would notice or care, because only a quarter of the government was not being funded. By its final day, there was turmoil at airports, slowdowns at the Internal Revenue Service and countless individual stories of federal workers who were forced to find sustenance at food pantries and face agonizing choices between whether to pay for heat or medicine this month. In the Post-ABC poll, 1 in 5 people said they had personally been affected by the shutdown.
The stereotype of government employees as pampered, overpaid, Washington-bound bureaucrats has been around for many years. Republicans have long portrayed them as the enemies of reform and efficiency.
But Trump targeted them as no one did before. From his earliest months in office, he and his allies have portrayed those who dedicate their lives to serving their country as the corrupt, subversive “deep state” — the bottom-feeders of a swamp in need of draining.
As the shutdown began, Trump first made the absurd suggestion that 800,000 government workers were happy to give up grocery and rent money for a construction project on the U.S.-Mexico border that would stand as a monument to the president’s vanity. Then he contradicted himself in a tweet that declared it was largely his political enemies who were feeling the pain: “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”
Where a little empathy might have been in order as the shutdown continued, Trump’s team revealed a callousness that would have made Marie Antoinette blush.
Trump economic adviser
- Kevin Hassett said furloughed workers should be celebrating the fact they were getting time off without having to use vacation days. “In some sense, they’re better off,” he told PBS NewsHour. Commerce Secretary
- Wilbur Ross, a billionaire who pads around in custom-made velvet slippers, expressed bewilderment that federal workers would go to food banks instead of taking out a loan from a bank or credit union. And
- Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, dismissed their ordeal as “a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country.”
So it was noticeable that when Trump made his Rose Garden announcement Friday that the government was opening again, he began it by thanking federal workers who had displayed “extraordinary devotion in the face of this recent hardship. You are fantastic people. You are incredible patriots.”
On that point, Trump was absolutely right. Government employees have shown they are all that and more. Which is why they deserve much better than a chief executive who would wager so recklessly with their lives and their livelihoods.
Two years ago, the ESPN host Bomani Jones appeared on the network’s “Mike & Mike” morning show wearing a T-shirt that seemed, at first glance, to bear the logo of Cleveland’s baseball team, but, in place of the trademark cursive “Indians,” the shirt read “Caucasians”; the crude caricature of a Native American had also been altered to look like a grinning white man. The reaction was swift: ESPN demanded that he cover up the shirt while on air; many white people criticized Jones’s “racism” on social media. The point was easy to discern: Native Americans continue to be depicted in derogatory ways and relegated to a kind of racist stereotype in a manner that many white people would find intolerable were it directed at them. Stripped of context, the shirt appeared to be a needless racial provocation. Situated amid the dynamics that inspired it, though, the shirt becomes an attempt to undermine racism by forcing observers to think about the nature of the Indians’ iconography.
.. Jeong said in a statement that the tweets were intended to be an inversion of the racist and sexist trolling that had been a feature of her digital life—an attempt to fight racism by deploying its own language against it. She said, “While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers.
.. Jeong’s satire defense is, indeed, not entirely sound. Her words may well have been satirical, but they are a form of satire with a high risk of collateral damage. The most devoutly bigoted figures of our era, such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Donald Trump, have used the satire loophole as a way to gerrymander the boundaries of acceptable conversation to contain their most inflammatory comments.
.. Donald Trump has reaped incalculable political benefit by exploiting the apprehension that white people have become societal punching bags. In his rhetoric, Trump is not missing the context but deliberately erasing it, contriving a misunderstanding that is profitable on multiple levels for its architects. They understand the current debate around free speech and social media not as an attempt to create parameters of decency around public dialogue but rather as part of a board game in which each side attempts to remove valuable pieces from the other’s team.
.. The dishonestly named Project Veritas has attempted a number of outlandish schemes meant to entrap journalists or distort their words into some fireable offense.
.. But there is also an even greater effort at work, aimed to strip away the moral authority of people belonging to a vulnerable group, in order to make the spurious argument that they’re too compromised to hold anyone outside that group accountable. This is the off-brand cousin of Trump’s method of responding to the Mueller probe: strip away the credibility of those who are making the accusation, and you diminish the weight of the accusations themselves.
.. the conversation in the past week has focussed entirely upon Jeong’s reactions to racist and sexist assaults rather than the fact that she was subjected to them in the first place.
.. the idea of reverse racism serves as a blunt instrument to facilitate the actual kind.