I was just talking to one of my friends about this. Even my most feminist friends admit to occasionally using certain tactics to “handle” their husbands, which is an easier way to get what you want without pissing anyone off (except you, getting mad at yourself for the subterfuge). But I have to think that if most men understood the extent to which women feel compelled to manipulate them, and how resentful they feel about feeling forced to resort to it, they would be shocked. After all, who really wants to be infantilized as some sit-com joker?
One of the things I like about middle age is, personally, I just don’t give a fuck anymore. Oh, you don’t like me telling you what I think? That’s so sad. (As in, sad that your ego is so very fragile.) I was thinking about this after reading an essay by a black activist about how much the idea of white fragility dominates their thinking when dealing with white allies. Isn’t that crazy? I wish we could all just talk to each other. But to do that, we all have to be willing to give up whatever power and position we’ve carved out for ourselves:
In a powerful essay for Lenny Letter, a new email newsletter from Lena Dunham andGirls producer Jenni Konner, Lawrence writes about how frustrated she was to learn that her male American Hustle co-stars were making more than her.
But Lawrence doesn’t just rail against Sony; she rails against the systemic sexism that made her afraid to speak up in the first place:
When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.
…But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.”
She goes on to detail how her need to be “likable” taps into years of social conditioning for women, who are often punished for being more aggressive in work situations — especially when it comes to negotiating for higher pay:
A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.
And finally, Lawrence says she’s had enough of trying to maintain her “likable” reputation while pursuing equal treatment:
I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable! Fuck that.
You see what I’m getting at here? Tons of research validates this: A woman can say the exact same thing, the exact same way as a man — but when it comes from a woman, it’s a declaration of war. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just talk to each other?