Changing the World

I saw the meme below on Facebook some time ago and it made me chuckle. And then I thought, is this really funny? Why would I automatically find it funny? Could have been the person who posted it or could have been the context.

I believe the concept behind this meme, strongly.

Here in the United States, I think that we women are placed in a socially constructed box where we are held to a different standard. While I practiced law, this different standard was applied to me in a variety of ways. I don’t play games well. If I don’t like someone, they usually know it. I don’t always package things diplomatically, preferring a direct approach to an emotional one.

These preferences often meant that I found myself not quite comfortable with my male or female colleagues. They probably didn’t know quite what to do with me. Also, the fact that I didn’t much care about their opinions didn’t resonate well, especially since I doubt they missed my lack of care.

The women who challenge the patriarchy, in whatever way that makes sense, are labeled. Rather than assertive, we are called aggressive. Rather than a leader, we are called a bitch. Rather than evaluating us on the merits of our talents or our experiences, our clothing and appearance are picked apart.

I’ve experienced this.

I’ve also experienced discrimination from other women who made different choices than I did. When I was focused on pumping breast milk while litigating after my boys were born, it was the female judges (some of the them) who were harder on me than the male judges. I lived this and I had to advocate for myself, my children, my choices.

I know other women who did this, who paved the way for women like me who came afterwards. I know women who I felt were my sisters in arms, women who worked harder and longer and smarter. Women who put up with slurs and being treated differently to rise to the top.

These experiences are not restricted to the legal field. Women are treated differently everywhere. Women make the choices that are right for themselves in terms of how to challenge whatever system they choose to participate in. I respect the various choices I’ve seen made and followed.

But.

What I do not respect are the women who behave like mean girls, who bully others to get their way, and use disrespectful personal attacks to get their way. Using these tactics to harm others, to get what they want, that’s not honorable or admirable.

The meme above doesn’t apply to people who behave badly, who do not do what’s right, who don’t build some bridges, who make no effort to understand another’s position. The meme above applies to women who do speak out, speak up, lean in, present the reasonable arguments, the facts, and simply do it better. We women are better when we support each other and don’t tear each other down.

We all need to do better, especially those who have been placed in positions of leadership.

15 thoughts on “Changing the World

  1. Sad but so true. I think we have made some meaningful progress over the last few decades, but we still have a very long way to go. Even if we have (somewhat) deconstructed the formalized and institutional barriers, getting people to accept the deeper changes necessary on an individual level is far from done.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Exactly. We’d be so incredibly powerful in evening the playing fields if we could just at least support one another. The law firm I worked at had a great ratio of people. But what I noticed time and time again was the women working way harder, putting in more time, perhaps to prove themselves. Hopefully things will evolve, quickly. And hoping today finds you doing as well possible. 🌸

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  3. Doing what’s right VS what will get you ahead disguise wile as intelligence, and some flat out lie to another person’s detriment to simply get what they want. Worse, this behavior simultaneously aligns with using their sexuality as a form of innocence.

    After 28 years of hard work, doing the right thing, partnering rather than plundering to find a path to success, the women who jealously clawed at me still sit in their offices making snide remarks and hurting individuals at will. But what they can’t see is their behavior deflates the hot air ballon women who sweated to earn their equity and get the balloon to fly higher so the future women workers could fly without as much sweating instead of taking the hits. Alas the slings and arrows still sting in my back. I wonder if they say I deserve cancer. It causes me great embarrassment to tell anyone in the field I was so prevalent within that I had to retire early because of stage 4 cancer. A few keep in touch and truly care a lot about me but none, not a single one is a woman. Go figure. I will someday tell the story of a young woman who was an employee reporting to me but lied on her application for her MBA from Chicago. I was about to fire her and she told my manager – an officer of the company which is public, a sordid lie and said I took credit for work only she did and I was using her to cover up my laziness. She then had a former boss of hers write her recommendation letter, lying on her application for acceptance. I follow her and expose her everywhere she goes. She was investigated by U of Chicago because I got an anonymous email outlining the entire event as she was bragging about her dirty tricks and her classmate was sick of her – she used the same sycophantic strategy to climb her way there too. I even wrote a letter to the CEO of the finance firm she was hired at out of school. Even with undeniable proof these sociopaths still get ahead.

    That was the Beginning of the most stressful point in my life and what began most likely my slip into metastatic breast cancer. I hope that one day she experiences something like she put me through and she deserves it. And I hope all women like her wind up finding out someday that lying and cheating and stealing or not the way to get to the top because once you get there you have to have a crystal clear conscience in order to be good enough to help others to succeed in their lives. That’s what true leadership does.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. I suppose we’ve all taken our share pre diagnosis…retirement seems kind, comparatively. But I still miss my role and clients and all the high praise for my work. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

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