Friday, March 25, 2016

On Subtle Genderism

Kudos to Salon (a sentence I thought I'd never write). They have published one of the most insightful articles yet on that Clinton bugaboo-- "likeability." And big "thank-you" to

My Gen X Hillary problem: I know why we don’t “like” Clinton -

...And in that moment, as the young Iowan’s voice rattled around in my head, I knew I would support Hillary. Not just because we both have a uterus (thank you, Killer Mike). Not because I’m afraid of going to a special place in hell (thank you, Madeleine Albright). I’m supporting her because as a member of Generation X, I’ve lived through enough to understand that if Hillary were a man she’d be the front-runner hands-down. I haven’t suffered the overt sexism of earlier generations, but in its place has come a more oblique, more insidious variant. It’s the kind that makes you question whether the fault might lie with you and your abilities. It gives rise to questions about why people aren’t enthusiastic about you, why they didn’t like it when you took a strident tone with them and then, when you adjusted course, complained that you weren’t aggressive enough, or why there’s something about you that just feels wrong. In politics people call this likability. And the female politicians we “like” are few and far between, because they remind us of our mothers or wives or that girl you hated in gymnastics class. We don’t have a frame of reference for what it looks like for women to be running the show, so if she’s not a man, she comes across as all wrong. In the tech world people don’t talk about “likability.” Instead they say, “Mike is going to present to the client because he’s got a great style. But don’t worry, you’ll still have a few slides that you can really own...”

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