Or how naughty beats nice…
Sorry guys, but this post has a female focus this week – as am out and about speechifying for International Women’s Day. Teenage sons here are horrified by this, declaring so much progress means we don’t need feminism.
And indeed there has been progress. Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde indicate being a well-fed and well-educated women in a Western democracy is hardly a tough gig. But if we’re talking Somalia or Afghanistan…
So we should celebrate – but those 5 out a 100 Footsie CEOs also remind us there is still a way to go.
What most interests me is how women get their voices heard and why they don’t.
Psychologist Carol Gilligan found that around about age 12, many girls become preoccupied with fitting in and being ‘good’. Incredibly, their actual voices go higher – just when the boys voices are starting to crack and deepen.
Other research, like that of Deborah Tannen, has shown how female conversational styles revolve around seeking connection and intimacy, whereas men generally focus more on positioning and independence. Most of us can recognize the difference between the emotion-sharing style of women and the problem-solving style of men:
Her: ‘Eurgh…had a terrible meeting with Gordon in accounts today.’
Him: ‘I’ve told you before. You should make an official complaint to HR about him’
What nice means for many girls can be perfectionist standards, unexpressed opinions less they rock the boat or antagonize people, and great solicitude to others – assuming these folk are as sensitive as they are. In worrying about fitting in, and being ‘attractive’ and ‘appropriate’ they can lose sense of who their ‘selves’ are completely.
And to do what they really want to do, and be who they really want to be may involve feeling isolated, unacceptable and wrong : a badass.
Experimentation with naughtiness is called for.
What Beryl the Peril – and role models like her – know, is that naughty means:
- knowing our own minds and speaking them
- not worrying about being unattractively bossy, or messy, or task-focussed…
- not always feeling that it is our responsibility to make social relationships run smoothly. Men are mostly capable of this too…
- knowing what we love doing and seeking as many outlets for this as possible..this positions us best to help others do well, too..
- having adventures, taking action and saying the dreaded ‘I want’. Rather than ‘Would anyone mind if…’
- understanding that anyone who sticks their head above the pack to do something, will get attacked by the less brave
Carol Gilligan and team discovered that the concern a 12 year old girl has with fitting-in, is much to do with fear of being abandoned by her mother, and her notions of ‘appropriateness’.
My voice never went up at 12, benefit (extreme positive thinking here) of being mothered by someone in mental turmoil, with no sense of appropriateness.
I just became a total badass woman and took up smoking instead.