Politicking aside, this election has brought gender wars to the forefront which is of great interest to parents. Having worked in male dominated industries most of my life, I’ve found myself uniquely aware of differences, both assumed and unassumed.
In the Atlantic’s “Fear of a Female President” Peter Beinart, contributing editor, highlights the disproportionately aggressive and personal reaction to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Campaign propaganda “Don’t be a p*ssy. vote for trump”,”Trump that bi*ch”, “Life’s a b*tch: don’t vote for one” underscore a provocative and gender based undertone to attacks. Hillary’s possible ascent to leadership is triggering gender backlash that is unlikely to recede even if she’s elected, just as research suggests Obama’s election may have led to greater acceptance of racist rhetoric.
Psychologist professor Lisa Feldman Barrett has studied a classic phenomenon in Hillary Clinton’s Angry Face, that people perceive emotion differently in men’s and women’s faces. Women are more likely to be perceived as having emotional responses (caused by something internal), whereas men are likely to be thought of as responding to a situation. In other words, “She’s a b*tch, but he’s just having a bad day.” However scientists have not discovered gendered hard-wiring for emotionality/rationality or a gender based difference in emotional experiences.
- Look inward.
Awareness is the only way to fight biases. When dealing with others ask yourself, if this person were a man instead of a woman (or vice versa) would my reaction be different?
- Break through stereotypes.
Stereotypes serve to limit both men and women. As Emma Watson urged in her UN speech, both men and women should feel free to be sensitive or strong.
- Remove the gender filter.
Judgements often come with a gender focused lens, even for toddlers. For the active girls: she acts like such a boy. For the shy boys: He’s acting like a little girl. Realize that these are human traits, not gender traits.
After an increasingly antagonistic election, America’s biggest challenge will be unifying a divided nation, especially along the gaping divide of gender. It is mostly perceived differences that provoke the greatest disagreements, but we have to be able to convince ourselves of that.
ChartedWaters worked over a decade in finance, traveled to 54 countries on 6 continents, and now blogs as an expat mom in Hong Kong. Charted Waters is currently taking the Social Media Marketing Specialization with Coursera. Connect on twitter @charted_waters