Tag Archives: Women

3 ways to heal post #election2016

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.

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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.

Key takeaways:

  • 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

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Fix You

In middle school I was involved in a casual dance troupe.  We were a hodgepodge of several Chinese girls brought together weekly to learn Chinese folk dance from a Taiwanese teacher in Ohio.  Before our first performance, as we gathered in the bathroom to change into our costumes, it became clear that the kids were also somehow in charge of their own makeup.  Most of us did not regularly wear makeup, but I was shocked to see a few girls take out makeup bags chock full of “ingredients”, presumably on loan from their mothers. My mother often proudly announced that the only day she wore makeup was on her wedding day, so she certainly did not own any, much less decide to hand her preteen daughter any makeup, stage performance be damned.  After my initial confusion, I gathered that the makeup was meant to be shared.  Everybody seemed busy applying war paint already, and given I had no idea what to do, I thought I’d start with the one item I had a shot at putting on myself.  I loudly asked, “Where is the lipstick?”  To which one of the girls chortled, “Lipstick is put on last.”  In a fumbling retort I muttered “Oh, I just wanted to know where it was.”   And then I watched in the giant mirror as my cheeks turned to the rouge the other girls were dabbing on.

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Beauty without makeup (photo credit daysforgirls.org)

Twenty odd years later, I’m only marginally more skilled at applying makeup and i’ve acquired my mother’s abhorrence for painting my face.  Yet it still strikes me that women have to do so much on a regular basis to look “put together”.  Underneath it all is pressure applied by women on women to have plucked and drawn eyebrows, long/curly/thick eyelashes, glossy lips with just the right touch of color, and not a speck of hair visible in places you aren’t supposed to have hair (but everyone does).  I’ve always held a possibly purely antagonistic view that makeup complements Western faces better and was made with them in mind.  This thought comes from peering into white faces and sometimes not being sure if their makeup is super light or if that’s the way they were formed.

Admittedly, I struggle with the idea that men can often look the way they were formed, possibly wearing the same white t-shirt and jeans throughout school and while finding startups, while the other half of the world obsesses about fine details.  As women become equal and prominent members of society rather than merely pieces of art, I sincerely hope and plead that we won’t remain a canvas picked apart because of lack of highlights or color intensity.   It’s sure to be an uphill battle; the billion dollar beauty industry is a tough machine to pull apart, and my annoyance with it is on par with my feelings for the tax/accounting industry.  How many productive woman hours are wasted on standards of beauty that feel like an arms race to the bottom?

These tweaks could not be less appealing than when it comes to our baby girl.  One of the songs we like to sing to her is Coldplay’s “Fix you”, for its soulful melody.  I don’t know enough of the words to know what the song’s about, but out of unfettered love we change the lines to: “And I will try…to KISS you (not fix you).”