Take a deep breath. That is what I kept telling myself after my last post, which was titled “How To Avoid Saying The Wrong Thing… To Women.” I may as well have called it “How To Say The Wrong Thing To Men” because before I knew it, I was in the midst of a volatile comment exchange and in the line of fire of a few outspoken men.
At times the comments felt like it was a men vs. women debate. I wasn’t surprised the article got a lot of attention because I know comments and opinions will fly when you hit a hot button.
What a hot button it was. And not just for the men. Some women felt my suggestion to replace the word “help” with “support” wasn’t something they could identify with.
Men challenged the validity of the data and quite a few were personally offended with my suggestions. They seemed to apply all their feelings about third wave feminists, and feminism in general, to the content of my article. Some of the women who commented were called four-letter words and one woman was told to shut up. It was a comment moderation marathon!
I was puzzled to say the least. What did I write that struck such a strong chord? I re-read my article, then I circulated it to men I know and trust and asked them what they thought caused such volatile and passionate responses. They had no idea.
Finally, it dawned on me.
The headline set the tone. It created an expectation of me as a feminist criticizing all men. What came after the title really didn’t matter. From the headline alone, my article was the perfect outlet for pent-up frustrations.
Now I get it.
As a believer that life lessons are the best lessons, I thought about this for days.
Have we really arrived at a time and place where the discussion is actually men vs. women and about which is the better gender?
Just today, I read an article that Vanity Fair published about how late night television has never been funnier. Conspicuously absent are…women. All the featured hosts were men. Wait, are there are no funny women? That seems to be the obvious conclusion, right?
But before jumping to conclusions, let’s look at some data. In education, for example, the data says women make up 60% or more of those graduating with higher education degrees in big cities. Meanwhile, the numbers for men are falling. (Download my Insights Paper to see the data.)
On the flipside, corporate data shows that on average only 2% of board positions and 20% of executive positions are filled by women. More women holding degrees does not equate to more women in power positions. Hmm, interesting. Not surprisingly, the tech sector fares the worst. (As a side note, most of the negative male comments on last week’s article came from men in the tech sector.)
Let’s pause for a moment.
Do you really think it is possible that women graduate in higher numbers but lose their knowledge, skill, and qualifications for advancement in just a few years? That would be ridiculous.
What else could be the cause?
“Ah!” I hear my critics say. “Beate, it is very clear to me. Women don’t WANT to be in power positions. Most women want jobs only until they are ready to raise families. That’s where a woman’s real happiness comes from.”
In some cases, this may be entirely correct. We do have biological clocks and many of us wish to be mothers, even if that means putting aside career aspirations. And exactly this scenario is what will go down in history as the big work-life balance struggle of our times.
What is more important to a woman: long-term career goals or a happy family? Can she have both?
Raising a family and being a stay-at-home mother means a woman could be out of the work force for 10-20 years. The workplace does not wait for us to return; re-entry is hard.
If we want both (and most of us do), we end up adding the second shift. We now have two full-time jobs—one at the office and the other at home. Is there any wonder we are stressed out?
Of course, many women settle somewhere in the middle so they can somehow satisfy the demands of both work and family. Unfortunately, according to a recent happiness study, 64% of women report they have never been less happy.
And men aren’t exactly thrilled with their situations either. Their lives have gone through radical changes, too. The jobs that used to offer security and adequate pensions are gone. Many over 40 are considered too old to be hired. Men have had to figure out how to deal with stressed or dissatisfied women, which all too often leads to costly divorces where their every move is under the magnifying glass.
Divorce rates are out of control. Communication is in the toilet. There is a lot of hostility on both sides. If you don’t think so, just read the comments on my other article, or turn on the TV, or look at the data. If you don’t agree, you’re not paying attention OR (and I hope this is true) you are one of the very few who has it figured out. Bravo and congratulations.
(Read this before you comment: For the sake of political correctness, let me add that I realize not all women want a family and a job, not all men have communication issues with women, and not all couples get divorced. Please allow me to have a point of view—my own, based on what I see around me and how I interpret the data.)
So, what should we do?
As the creator of The Women’s Code, my mission is to help women lead their lives and careers better. I start with what I know, and that is based on my own experiences, what my clients tell me, and what I learn from the data. To fix our current state, each of us must start from within and make changes and adjustments in our own lives. Awareness, the first pillar of The Women’s Code, is about taking control of our lives.
The second step is to find support. The next is to improve collaboration. Support and Collaboration are the second and third pillars of The Women’s Code.
Now, let’s put the spotlight on men.
Have the men gone unheard? Yes, and here is why. Until women are at 50% of the jobs at executive and board levels, and 100% of same pay for same job, we can’t afford to give any attention to any cause that diverts women from our goals.
At the same time, can we afford not to pay attention to our men at home and at work? Will there a price to pay if we don’t?
And here is the battle field—our ground zero. This is the level of the game that few of us have advanced to, and even fewer have mastered. This is what I am interested in.
- True partnerships with mutual respect and support.
- Men who understand the feminine and help their women shift into it.
- Women who understand the masculine and support their men within it.
If men do not figure this out, the war on women will continue. Men will still think of feminism as the enemy. Some of them will look for trigger words said or written by women so they can vent their frustrations while asserting that their opinions are logical and methodical solutions to emotional issues. (If you say emotional issues can’t be addressed logically and methodically, read the book Happy Woman Happy World.)
If women do not figure this out we’ll end up spending a lot of time in our masculine energies looking for men who will embrace strong woman. We will very likely continue to attract men who are all wrong for us and we may miss out on all the girly fun that comes with feeling cherished like a woman.
And just what makes me the authority on this subject? I thought you’d never ask!
I am a successful alpha woman, one who likes to push the envelope very, very far. Yet, I have always enjoyed being feminine. It all came together for me once I finally reconciled how to shift from masculine go-getter energy into feminine without losing my sense of self or pandering to what I thought my partner wanted me to be. I’ve done the research. I’ve listened to both sides in an effort to find understanding. I teach men and women how to work together better and support each other more based on our innate traits and preferences. It all started with my own awareness of what I saw in my life and the lives of those around me. I know we can be a happier as a whole, and I want to help make that happen.
This is the goal of The Women’s Code. And now you may share your comments…