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August 25, 2009


Thanks for writing about this. I never would have seen it otherwise!

Warning: My comments, like the article, will be full of broad generalities and sweeping presumptions.

1) What caught my attention is how much the author needed to stroke the male reader ego throughout the article, much in the same way we women need reassurances such as, "Just because you have a career doesn't mean you are not feminine or don't want to be a mommy!" or "Just because you ask for what you want doesn't mean you are mean and selfish." The author kept reassuring the men, "Don't worry, you are still a man if you choose another metaphor besides war to increase production!" or "Just because you make friends doesn't mean you are weak!" I wonder if we are so identified with our gender mold that we struggle opening ourselves to other ways of being and identifying ourselves. Both sides are missing out.
2) I can learn from men a) how to ask for what I want without apology b) confidence in what I offer to the world. I recently contracted someone, who is male, to help me market my company and these were my 2 takeaways from observing his work. After he completed his project with me, I offered to keep him on to give me periodic "wake up calls." I appreciated his gutsy, yet respectful, approach. (I also attribute these skills to the fact that he is a man.)

Conniff's stroking of the ego I think was essential to his message being heard. Know your audience, find common ground, then take them where you want to go.

I do think we are very much tied to our gender identity. I remember being told when I was 13 or 14 years-old that I looked like a boy. The fact that I remember this stray comment -- and where I was when it was said -- tells you how much it stung. We want to be a womanly woman and a manly man.

Yet to become fully ourselves, women need to learn from men and men from women--in the Jungian tradition. For women it's a bit easier because our society values strength. For men, who have been taught ALWAYS to be strong, showing softness is weakness and vulnerability. It's a real double bind which only something like a he-cession can potentially give them permission to unbind.

As for learning from men. I learn all the time, especially when it comes to negotiating. I tend to want to give up too much, too be nice, as you mentioned in point B. I did it just this week when I was negotiating with a potential sub-tenant on a lease. My initial ask was 30% less than we eventually got once I discussed with my male colleague. 30%. Yikes. So much to learn.

I guess we all need a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down! :)

Another idea that the author is playing with was the concept that strength comes in many forms.

Loved the quotes, and loved how the author used them. I thought the point about treating others well, and like they mattered as people was an important one. When I was teaching in my own classroom, I made sure I knew which custodian was assigned to my room. I wanted to make sure I understood how to teach the kids to leave the classroom so their job cleaning the room could be as simple as possible. It doesn't take long to get to know people - especially those that support you in doing your job well.

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About this blog

  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.


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