Posted on | May 16, 2014 | 46 Comments
Women, particularly ambitious women, often feel like they’re in a no-win situation when it comes to climbing the career ladder. They’re told to “lean in” and stop being afraid to ask for what we want. They’re told they’re holding themselves back because of a “confidence gap”, and that all they need to do to get ahead in life is to start acting as bold and confident as men do. They’re told they don’t make as much as men because they don’t demand higher salaries. Or worse, that they’re “choosing” to make less than men by applying themselves less at the office.
But what happens when women follow all this advice to lean in, hold their heads high, make demands, and fake it ‘til they make it? Well, a lot of women rightfully fear that they’ll be considered bitchy shrews. Women know that the very qualities that cause so many to see men as “powerful” look like, well, pushiness when they manifest in women. In fact, research confirms this fear: Following all that advice to act like a man can backfire and cause your boss to apply misogynist stereotypes to you that you will never get past. So the lame advice women get is to be pushy and confident sometimes and demure and retreating at others. How to tell the difference? Sorry, no one can help you there. You just have to know. Good luck, ladies.
Do ambitious women “often feel like they’re in a no-win situation”? I’m certain they do, just as I am certain that the advice they receive on how to deal with this situation is confusing. I am likewise certain that in their career competition with men — having chosen this competition themselves — these women expose themselves to the known ferocity of men in situations where a man’s ambition puts him in a posture of rivalry toward others who seek to ascend the same career ladder.
Ambitious women, I’m sure, encounter the kinds of attitudes and behaviors that Marcotte describes. There is no argument here, you see, with what Marcotte says the reality is. Rather, the question is about what ought to be, and in that question, Marcotte expects her readers to choose sides. She expects women to believe that ambitious men should just step aside and restrain their own competitive instincts, and let themselves be eclipsed by female rivals, merely because these rivals are women, for the sake of an ideological abstraction, Equality.
OK — but why?
Please tell me why, in such a situation, any man should be expected to act this way? Why should a man be less competitive toward a female rival than toward a male? Why must a man accept that his own individual ambition must be thwarted for the sake of Equality?
You’re crazy if you expect men to “play nice” in that context.
Grant that, within organizations, all employees are rightly expected to cooperate for the well-being of the whole organization: Teamwork. But when it comes to the individual’s desire for advancement within the organization, the ethos of teamwork will give way, and people will fight for that which they think they deserve.
To tell women that they are entitled to be promoted, to tell them that they are victims of discrimination if they are not promoted — which is what feminism tells women — is to guarantee that the conflict between ambitious rivals within organizations will be even more damaging to a spirit of teamwork than it would otherwise be.
If women believe that a preponderance of males in top management necessarily indicates that women are being treated unfairly within the organization, demoralization will ensue. Qualified and effective managers are hard to find, and if the company can’t find enough women managers to make it seem “fair,” to meet some quota dictated by concerns about Equality, this does not mean that women on lower rungs of the ladder are doomed never to be able to advance. Yet the unfairness experienced by women is really no different than the unfairness experienced by men who, seeking to advance in their careers, are subject to envious backstabbing and sabotage by rivals, just as are women.
Feminism is thus exposed as a sort of special pleading, by which women claim entitlement to certain benefits, demanding that the world be rearranged for their benefit, simply because they are women.
And yet the question remains: Why?
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) May 16, 2014
— I M Madd (@RaginCelt) May 16, 2014
— Pat Boldosser (@pboldosser) May 16, 2014
Never expect consistency from a feminist. And if you point out their blatant hypocrisies and paradoxes, you’re a hater.
(Hat-tip: Donald Douglas at American Power.)