Gender Politics: How Do We Talk About It

My husband showed me a great article on gender politics this week called Why Women Should Stop Trying To Be Perfect by Deborah Spar. Here is some thought provoking tidbits…

Even worse, we somehow believe that we need to do all of this at once, and without any help. Almost by definition, a woman cannot work a 60-hour-per-week job and be the same kind of parent she would have been without the 60-hour-per-week job. No man can do this; no human can do this. Yet women are repeatedly berating themselves for failing at this kind of balancing act, and (quietly, invidiously) berating others when something inevitably slips.


I am for women's connecting and supporting women
I am for women’s connecting and supporting women

We as humans need to learn to say no. We are striving to do it all and end up exhausted, diseased–ever teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. It’s time to simplify our lives (and our kids’s schedules). Take those expectations down a notch. And allow people to help us. We have this notion that we have to do everything all by ourselves. (I even fall prey to this sometimes.) But people are not independent creatures, we are social creatures, we survive by interrelating. If you think about it you’d realize that nobody really does much alone anyway.

As of 2012, women accounted for only 16 percent of partners at the country’s largest law firms and 15 percent of senior executives at Fortune 100 firms. They constituted only 10 percent of the country’s aerospace engineers, 7 percent of its Hollywood directors, and 16 percent of its congressional representatives. And they still earn, on average, only 77 cents to every man’s dollar.

I don’t know what to even say about these stats. They speak for itself.

…the problems we face are subtler. They come partly from the media, partly from society, partly from biology, and partly from our own vastly unrealistic expectations…We must instead forge partnerships with those around us, and begin to dismantle the myth of solitary perfection.All too often, women are scared of raising the topic of gender with men, thinking it will brand them as radicals or troublemakers, while men are terrified of saying or doing anything that might classify them as politically incorrect. The result, of course, is that no one says anything productive at all. 

I am included in this also. Honestly, I am afraid to raise the topic of gender politics to men. I do anyway and usually get socked in the gut. I cry and mope, but then I get back up and speak up again. I’m trying to find a way to speak productively- but I realize that the way I am speaking is not the only problem.

The only way that American women will ever fully solve the “women’s problem” is by recognizing the quest for perfection for what it is: a myth. No woman can have it all, and by using all as the standard of success, we are only condemning ourselves and our daughters to failure.  

Gender Politics

We have to try so hard to compensate feeling inadequate as women in a society that demotes us the account of gender, only. It would be great if at least women could commit to stop judging each other. Being against each other undermines our power. We are our own worst critic. To stop judging each other we have to learn to stop judging ourselves. A standard of perfection is not only unachievable, it damages us in every way possible. It separates us from people, makes us miserable, induces self hatred, weighs heavy on our heart, takes away our power to change the world, causes us to over do and under nourish ourselves, instigates anger, anxiety and sadness. Striving for perfection is a lose-lose scenario on every account. Perfectionism is the biggest cause of anxiety that there is.

Be OK being you. You are the best you there is.

What do you all think about the gender politics? How do you talk about it? 

Please share.

34 thoughts on “Gender Politics: How Do We Talk About It”

  1. Harleena Singh@Freelance Writer

    Wonderful Jodi!

    I wouldn’t really go into the details about politics but what strikes a chord here is how women treat themselves and allow themselves to be treated.

    Yes, I could also relate to a lot that you mentioned. We tend to take on much more than we actually can and we suffer in the end, either by the excess work load and it does show on the way we parent or how we juggle between our work and families. I wish more people would realize this and make a difference in their own lives .

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. We do try to hard to be perfect. Whether we are stay at home or working moms, we should all be a little easier on each other. I heard a quote the other day that I want to hang on a sign in my house, “In this house we don’t expect perfection. We don’t even allow it.”

  3. As a Man I am ashamed to admit that often Women have to work harder than a man to be considered either as an equal or even considered good at their job. This should not be the case.

    If I deal with a company on the telephone I prefer it that the person I am dealing with is a woman rather than a man, in my experience they are invariably more efficient and able to answer my questions I do what I require.

    My new dentist is female, actually she is also Latvian, she is courteous she is from what I have seen good at her job and I have even after just one visit great faith in her. But I would bet any amount of money that she had to work harder than any man during her training to be considered an equal by any of the other students.

    Over the years here in the UK stay at home mothers have by many been looked on as a drain on societies resources, whereas really they are mostly doing a job looking after children and a house that the majority of men would not do either through ability or desire.

    In my eyes women are equal which is how it should be, but some do really go overboard trying to prove themselves which is a shame as it should not be needed or required.

      1. Indeed women can be more efficient. Generally in business I would much rather deal with a woman than a man, it’s always easier to get things sorted and done.

  4. Great post! Sadly so much of it is true and sadly also we women are so very hard on each other. I was, even as I read, thinking how I need to be less judgmental of other women, then I came to the sentence asking me to be less judgmental of myself – isn’t it strange how hard that is?
    I was quite willing to work on my attitude to others, realizing that I need to start with my attitude to myself really slowed down my motivation.
    The work continues… with me first…

    1. It all starts within us. How we judge others is a reflection of how we judge ourselves. It works both ways. As we are gentler with others, we become more gentle with ourselves, and as we are gentler with ourselves, we are gentler with others. It is so connected. So very connected!
      Thanks for the comment! Welcome to my blog!

  5. Solid gold creativity

    Hi Jodi. I’ve changed my views on gender in the last few years. I used to see my life and those of other women through the prism of “it’s not fair” and it gave me a certain experience of life which was unhappy and full of resentment and anger.

    Nowadays, I think it’s important to be clear and specific about what doesn’t serve, as you do here — eg, the absence of equal pay for equal work — and then to get on with being responsible for my own life. For me, this “being responsible” involves recognising the conditions of the game (differential treatment of women) and creating anyway, as distinct from resisting the conditions.

    Thanks for a stimulating post.

    1. I think I am going in that vein also. I feel like it is not about holding people accountable. I think being able to stand up is kind of a step to feel self worth, and then that self compassion turns into understanding and compassion for others. And then being a model of love instead of blaming. Thanks for your input!

  6. Great reminder on how women try to do too much. On the other hand, also depressing reminder on how much we still need to fight for to break that glass ceiling.

    Yet, for all this, I am grateful to live in this country. We may not get a “fair” share, but it’s a long way from the horrors of Pakistan, the Taliban and their prohibition of education for women. My heart goes out to Malala, the 14 year old shot for wanting an education. This sort of violence has to stop.
    Monica recently posted..Race 2012 – How Can We Get Along if We Don’t Talk?My Profile

    1. Excuse me Monica but its not only the Talibans in Pakistan. There are many other good things which define Pakistan. I am from Pakistan I am postgraduate and i work. All my friends and me are independent and we have traveled a lot alone. many of my friends are studying abroad on scholarships. They are living there alone. Pakistan is NOT run by Talibans Pakistan is in war with Talibans. Its not like Afghanistan which was actually taken over by Talibans and they were the GOvt. there.

      In typical educated families of Pakistan girls are more loved and cared for. They are actually encouraged for education. we have Qouta for females in govt. jobs here. In universities the number of females student is more than boys. women of Pakistan are encouraged by Society and by Govt and by religion. we may have an enemy that is Talibans but they by no means defines PAKISTAN. I love my country and there is no such thing as different wages for males and females for per hour work. I was surprised to to see that in writing actually on the website for Canadian Immigration. I am a born Feminist and i am so happy living in Pakistan

      1. Huma,
        Thank you so much for giving us this perspective. It sounds better than what we have! As you have read, we are unequal here, too. And the worst is that we are so unaware, that everyone’s surprised.

      2. Sounds like you have it good, Huma. You say in typical educated families of Pakistan, education for girls is encouraged. Then, how do you explain what happened to poor Malala?

        In any case, all I’m saying is that the shooting of this young girl by the Taliban happened in Pakistan. isn’t that correct? And Malala is Pakistani, from what I understand. True? I’m sure that there are people in Pakistan who are grieving for what happened to this innocent child. The world has been shaken by this act by the Taliban.

        But, you shouldn’t feel defensive about what the Taliban did. If you were to point out that here in America, a country that I love, that there was a mass shooting last summer in a Colorado movie theater, that is another fact. I feel horrible about both, but they happened. And, both are horrific acts. Your government seems to support the Taliban, and my country supports individual right to possession of all kinds of guns. Frankly, I’m not sure either of them is completely in the best interest of our respective countries.
        Monica recently posted..Ohio, Meet Your Newest Resident!My Profile

    2. Our Greatest strength is our very much intact family system. so here if a women goes to job she is not only paid equal but also she can leave her children to her mother or her husband’s mother because typically we do not move out when we are 18 and live interdependently with our family members.

      1. I lament not living together intergenerationally. Sharing the working, supporting each other, would be so great! And such a relief! Thank you for sharing. So awesome to have you!

  7. Hi Jodi! Great entry! The gender wage gap sickens me. It’s been a prevalent topic in a couple of my recent college courses…”The Sticky Floor and the Glass Ceiling concept.” To clarify for anyone who is curious, here is a brief definition: “In economics, the term glass ceiling refers to “the seen, yet unreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements. They often work in the lowest paid and most precarious forms of employment, and experience the effects of the so-called “sticky floor”, on the bottom rungs of their occupations.” I’m sorry to hear that you have gotten so much flack for stating the truth Jodi. I hope you will continue to fight for justice and I will be your pillow to soften the blow when you get punched. Love ~Naila

    1. Naila, I have been thinking about you, Thank you so much for stopping by! You say the sweetest thing ever! Well, I am not sure I say the truth, but it is my truth. It makes you not want to say anything, but I do anyway!

      1. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts = ). I think whether you are speaking THE truth, or YOUR truth it doesn’t matter as long as you’re doing it with good intentions and for the right reasons and I know you have a check marks next to both of those things. I’m happy you say something despite not wanting to sometimes because silencing women is another way of suppressing our power. I just saw a video in class of how media portrays women in a negative light sometimes without us even realizing it! Posing with a finger in their mouth like a little girl, or with their head tilted down like they are shy and they make it look appealing to be silent. So don’t let anyone fool you because the truth should be heard! Love ~Naila

        1. Thanks Naila, was it Killing Us Softy? I love that! I saw Jean Kilbourne in Rochester years ago! Love her work! I like to be empowered in a way that doesn’t disempower others, you know what I mean bc you’re like this, too. Standing up doesn’t have to mean conflict. It’s more like joining. Others might protest but of we stay centered we can teach rather than turn away.

          1. Yep!!! It was Killing Us Softly. Good guess! = )So cool that you saw Jean Kilbourne! I too love her work. Your words are very humbling. I loved what you said about liking to being empowered in a way that doesn’t disempower others. Love ~Naila

    2. The reality is the glass ceiling and upper rungs of the corporte ladder have nothing to do with qualifications or achievements. This is a pardigm that causes women to work so hard…thinking that’s what it takes. It’s not about the work – it’s about that good ole boy network and the connections that you have…

      1. It is and we’ve come to expect and be used to men as leaders, we have to get unused to it. Bring awareness in. Create what we want and live it!

  8. Those statistics are sobering. I am going to reread this and and the comments, and give this further thought. I wanted to comment, but I’m still floored and I’m not sure what to say. You definitely caught my attention here!
    Galen Pearl recently posted..Mom Was Right…AgainMy Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      I know how much you want to be. We have to love people enough to believe in them. It is good for them, too. xxx, love you too!

  9. It is so true that no woman (or man) can be all things. We need to have balance–our own individual balance. My husband is better at this than I am. After working a hard week, he is able to prioritize enjoyment and relaxation. I can’t do that until I know everyone has clean clothes and a nice meal to eat, and I’ve posted on my blog, AND dealt with my to-do list.
    It’s partly that we’re psychically different; I enjoy enjoyment itself more if my obligations are done. But then, as a woman–they’re never done! 🙂
    Bravo to you, Jodi, for speaking up and not giving up on this dialogue!
    Lisa W. Rosenberg recently posted..Race 2012 Post #2: “A Like-Me Presidential Candidate”My Profile

    1. There will always be clothes to wash, food to prepare and people to help. We have to find our joy in the midst of it all. Like its not work time and fun time. It’s time. Be no matter what you’re doing!

  10. Living in my own little bubble as a government contractor, where the pay is determined by the role, it’s easy for me to downplay or ignore the pay disparity. And the same when I look at my wife’s situation as a teacher, where her pay level is determined by the role. It saddens/angers/disgusts me that such a disparity still exists in 2012 in “the land of opportunity.” As a man looking from the outside-in, I wonder how the feminist movement (the version that seemed to take hold in the 1990s) created such a horrendously unbalanced success yardstick. And I wonder if/when society will get to a point where happiness and contribution and character – in ANY role – are the yardstick for success. Thanks for pushing this conversation another step forward.
    Greg at Tiny Bit Better recently posted..A Tiny Bit of Real RealityMy Profile

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