Monday, January 27, 2014

Do Women Undermine Each Other?

I have been an ardent feminist since I first read Simone DeBeauvoir’s, “The Second Sex” around 1966. So, it took me many years of being a low-level lackey in the capitalist pecking order to come to the contradictory realization that male bosses tend to be easier to work under than female ones.

This makes sense only in the illogical world of exploitation. Yes, it is a hoop we have all grown accustomed to jumping through and by hoop I mean Heritage of Oppression. As Bob Marley sang: “they take the chains off your body and put the chains on your mind,”Clearly once our minds are conquered, the rulers no longer need actual chains.

Women as bosses are usually harder to work for, especially for other women. They tend feel less secure in positions of power to begin with, so, when they get there, they exert more of a need to prove themselves. Being hard-nosed and to-the-letter strict is a natural outgrowth of this attitude.

I have experienced this with women physicians who have been to say, modifying a prescription slightly to make it more affordable and cost effective, while the male doctors I have gone to don’t even blink at suggestions like this. Of course, men are subjected to a lot less personal scrutiny and are inclined to possess a indefatigable sense of entitlement.

As women we have survived by learning to read the small print of other people’s psychology. Because marriage was the goal for our gender for so many years, we learned, Darwin style, to master the art of passive-aggressive manipulation. While your average heterosexual man, may be a bit thick and a bit of a buffoon, there is a what you see is what you get quality to him that allows, for example, male lawyers to vehemently argue two opposing sides of a legal case in a courtroom and then go to the gym and play racket ball together as though it were the most natural thing in the world. For women with conflicting views, it is more likely that they would dismiss each other coolly when passing in the hall, than to even consider going out for a drink together.

The other huge problem is that everyone is raised to think less of women so both women and men prefer men. Just as every person is socialized to prefer straight folks, and all races conditioned to prefer white people, women consciously or unconsciously assign more status, more credibility to men even when they don’t particularly like them. Female bosses are inclined to be harder on women employees, often subjecting them to a different standard or infantilizing them with micromanagement pettiness that they are embarrassed to apply to males

Sometimes simply the potential friendship model just gets in the way. When I worked at the library, I had a boss who was a part of several communities of which I was also a member. We had been equals in the lesbian community but when she was appointed to head the Gay and Lesbian center at the library, all traces of our human connection vanished.

Of course my boss had to prove herself. And when it comes to love, war or livelihood, fear is firmly in place. Yes, we have to humanize the way we live and it must begin in the family and move to the workplace, an environment in which we spend so many hours of our lives. 

We are not all that far from the world of the 1950s in which I was raised. It was a place where women were sexualized and our opportunities for employment were severely circumscribed. The legacy of our history persists in spite of our best efforts to change it.