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Feminizing power?

January 3, 2018

It makes sense, right?  If men are behaving badly, just replace them with women.

Thus Matt Lauer is replaced with Hoda Kotb at NBC’s Today show. Gretchen Carlson, herself a former Miss America in 1989, takes the reins of the Miss America Pageant. Al Franken is replaced by the female Lt. Governor of Minnesota, Tina Smith.

All of these replacements are accomplished women.  This isn’t about them or their qualifications personally.

It is about whether that’s just too easy a fix for a superficial symptom of a larger problem.

Leaving the visible indicators of gender aside, harassment, whether sexual or otherwise, is about abuse of power.

Any woman appointed or hired to replace a male employee has a lot to prove as well as a lot to gain.

No one, especially if they have worked in a business culture where women are still viewed as the king’s handmaidens believes that gender bias doesn’t exist.

Still, it is of no value to tar every business and every  man with the broad brush of sexual misconduct.

On one hand, many women may finally get their well-earned and rightful chance to perform the required duties of their jobs at the same level formerly reserved to men.

On the other, they could easily fall into the revenge trap.

It’s impossible to miss that element in the current 300-strong Hollywood liberal Times Up movement where a pat on the butt or a leering look is deemed worthy of the same punishment as rape.

These first women taking a man’s place  have to prove that they can function as fairly, dispassionately and free of gender bias as they want men to do.

That means knowing the difference between discipline and performance versus simply trading one power structure for another.

If all this is about true equality, then women have to be prepared to lose some of the perks resulting from their gender, as well as some of the drawbacks.

That means no more “woman-owned business” classifications and maternity leave becoming  just another absence from work, like having your gall bladder removed.

As one woman put it; “I’ll believe this is taking us to a better place when the Miss America contestants parade around in business suits or overalls and work boots instead of swim suits, and Hollywood hotties keep all their clothes on in a movie or on the runway.”

The first step in solving a problem is correctly identifying the problem. It’s not clear we have done that yet.

From → op-ed

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