Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Addressing Rob With My Keys

Alternately titled: Typing Replies to Rob *wink*

Rob, continuing our gender talk, wrote: "I'm not entirely sure women "study" men as much as you say. I think women are doing well, moving up and replacing highly placed men in many professions (especially communications). Nancy Pelosi is a good example - or Chile's Michelle Bachelet - Hilary may be another one. And without a doubt, gender roles are improving. However, until more women are absorbing Sun Tzu, Machiavelli or Clausewitz and fewer are talking about what "should be," I think it will be difficult for women to "gain permission" to advance from their male counterparts."

Gee Rob, reading that I get the feeling you're anti-women in the workplace. At the very least your words show a less than positive sentiment. Since you yourself admit to "youth" and its "passing" perhaps I can hasten this passing a bit? *wink*

First of all, women do study men. Perhaps not in the scholarly way that one might take the word 'study' to mean, but in the more subtle (and survival) sense of the word. As those in the lesser-than role, women (and others called minorities because we do not share in the power despite our numbers) must know not only our roles but all the players. We need to know the rules to obey them. If you think the know-to-survive is a bunch of whiny BS from some chick, then how about some normative conformity 101?

According to D.J. Schneider, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences at Rice University, normative conformity stems largely from the individual's desire for acceptance and belonging ~ and the fear of negative evaluation and social ostracism. (Schneider, D.J. (1976) Social Psychology. Phillipines: Addison-Wesley)

Conformity is not only a conscious act, it is very often an unconscious pressure. Dr. Andrew M. Colman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Leicester, testified to this very power/pressure during the South African Transport Services trial:

An alteration in your behaviour or opinions in line with other group members, as a result of merely knowing what the other group members' behaviours or opinions are... knowing does not mean continual conscious decision-making. In the initial phase of group membership, individuals are conscious of what is expected of them, but as the life of the group continues, conforming behaviour becomes increasingly automatic and hence unconscious. (Court Record, p. 2103)

But I digress... Onto my next point.

Second, there is biology to consider when it comes to (some) gender issues. In Why DO Women Talk So Much?, the author Deanna Dahlsad (a good friend of mine) writes of woman's need to communicate:

The many life-saving conversations among our female ancestors consisted of sharing the details of the day's work with other members of the group. This is also practical, since gathering is all about the details. You have to know each leaf pattern and shape, and not just what color, but what shade it is; because eating the wrong plant or picking the berry at the wrong time could mean death. What better time to educate the younger or newer members of the group than to with show and tell? These detailed training conversations are still alive among gathering societies today -- be it 'primitive' cultures or women 'gathering' at the mall.

...But there's another aspect to this communication as well.

Think about these groups of women relying upon one another to be trained in the subtle art of gathering. As they walk along, bent over, looking for signs of edible goodies, they are also listening to the voices of the group members. They are not merely listening for tips on spotting safe foods or cries of 'deep red ripe berries over here!' but for the
tone of voices. Does she sound alarmed? Does she sound too far away? Urc's been quieter than usual... is she sick? Again, they are paying attention to the details in the voices themselves. And they also listening for what is missing... Has Ug's voice been heard recently? Is she missing?!

If you don't accept this as fact, or at least consider it a very good possibility, then you will not be allowed later to point out any arguments regarding males as hunters. *wink*

Should we both agree (and I know I can count on you to let me know if we do not) that biology has some impact on communication and that gender has some impact on roles in the patriarchal society in which we live, then we move onto your point about women who you think spend too much time talking about what "should be."

While I agree that talk alone isn't much, it is a second step. First comes the realization, the thought, which is put into the action of communication. Surely more than talk must occur; more action is needed. But talk is important (which is what this blog is about, yes?)

Women, no matter their lot or roles, cannot create any change without talking and creating a mission. Instead of suggesting their talk is too wistful, whiny or otherwise wasted, consider yourself flattered to hear it. Even if it's a lecture. You, my friend, now have a choice to make: Are you part of the revolution, the change; or will you sit back on your privileged backside?

Yes, as a male you are privileged ~ don't kid yourself into thinking anything else ~ you have luxuries women do not have, just as I, as a white women, have benefited from the luxury of my skin more than my sisters who are not white. Now it's up to me to recognize this privilege and accept it as a responsibility ~ an opportunity.

So, dear Rob (who must by now feel like a whipping boy!), you have an opportunity ~ several actually. You can work towards equality and you can work towards our clean-up in aisle 12. Or not. It's up to you.

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Anonymous Rob Vagabond said...

Hi Marketing Whore,

Boy, you weren't kidding. You probably blogged a small book over this past week. I'm impressed. And I'm gonna be the first to give the thumbs up for the scholarly links. Good stuff. More links please!

OK, onto my point. I think my original comment about women studying war philosophy may have been a bit much. And you make a worthy claim that there are psychological, cultural and biological factors at work here.

All I'm saying is that when we're discussing power, whether it's wielded by men or women, there are forces that need to be considered and steps that need to be taken for individuals to obtain it. I made the war reference, because competition for power in the real world is like a war. The works of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli and Clausewitz address this human element.

I think women who are advancing to power positions - once held only by men - are adapting to this in competition. This explains why we see people like Margret Thatcher or Condoleeza Rice - and possibly Hilary - who have the stoic resolve that male predecessors displayed. These women are not representative of the female psyche, at least in a traditional and conventional sense.

Normative conformity explains conventional human behavior. What we've been witnessing is revolutionary, in terms of gender roles.

What does this mean for future generations of young, bright and motivated women? I don't know, but the external pressures from all directions tell ME that our world is changing. And gender roles are changing with it. Women are not better communicators simply by nature. They're better communicators, because their previous role and survival required it. This isn't the case anymore.

For the record, I am not anti-women in the workplace. I encourage women to work hard and for men not to sit back on their privileged backside. Men who do this are complacent, lethargic and spreading mediocrity like the plague.

All that said, the clean-up in aisle 12 is a matter for both genders to address.

Anyway, I'd like to comment on a few other posts on your blog. Thank you for keeping up and keeping it interesting.


April 13, 2007 9:26 PM  
Blogger Marketing Whore said...

Rob, you should get a blog ;) You have so much to say ~ always keeping me on my toes lol

I will reply, with a post, as soon as I can.

April 16, 2007 1:57 AM  

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