Putting on the pants.

February 15, 2015 § 2 Comments

Suffragettes on the march.

All we’ve ever wanted are the same opportunities men are given just because they wear the pants (one reason we fought to wear pants too).

We want:

To be taken seriously.

To be given the opportunity to use our talents.

Equal respect.

Equal pay.

But getting out of the shadow of father, husband, or boss has been a struggle because, traditionally, our strengths have been perceived as weaknesses—those on top always create the yardstick that measures worth.

Marchers for N.O.W.
In a male-dominated world, the things men do best are valued while our strengths are seen as qualities that make us good “helpers.”

We like men, and they like us, but the assumptions made by them about us, and by us about ourselves, have perpetuated our struggle.

Our attempts to come up for air range from the merely symbolic, like our right to wear pants or sling a leg over the back of a horse, to the substantive, like the right to vote and equal pay for equal work.

Until now we have fought this battle as if we were the same as men. Notice the use of the words “fought” and “battle” in that sentence.

Business attire.

Our attack on that male-dominated bastion, success, fails to acknowledge that we are different from men.

Much of the time a man’s strategy for success is based on gamesmanship, beating out the competition, dominating. Men are comfortable with clear-cut winners and losers. Men admire the go-it-alone guy, the slam dunk, the hail Mary pass that saves the day.

Wanting in on that game we yelled loudly, went into the arena of work dressed like them (looking a little silly), and day after day, we strove to prove we were steelier, smarter, more dominant. In short, better men, than they were. Some of us could do it.

But most women possess a more nuanced kind of strength. Where men pride themselves on the quick sprint, women run the marathon. We endure.

Where men tend to dominate, women negotiate.

Women are collaborators, nurturers, supporters. If those who are setting the rules of engagement favor clout and domination, clear-cut winners and losers, our traits seem weak, or at best, the ap that plays in the background of the real competition. We shake the pompoms while the men score points.

But with the growth of the invisible world of the internet the traits associated with women are fast becoming the ones that produce results.

Women have always been the note-senders, the group-formers, the collective workers. Our new connectivity is not about scoring a decisive win, it is a steady exchange of knowledge, thoughts, assistance. Women build webs of friendships. They provide help that may not have an immediate payoff, but which will, down the road, be reciprocated, the whole thing as easy and natural as drawing in a breath…then letting it out.

It is amazing that a change of technology could do what marching and petitioning and writing fiery polemics and and manning-up could not.

But then there was a time when being physically strong equaled a top spot in the social order. Now we have machines for that.

If the age of competition and domination is sunsetting in favor of collaboration and cooperation, women will do very well.

Everything is changing–fast. We all have to be more agile than ever to run the rapids of daily life. Perhaps men will learn from us, just as we have learned from them.

And in a demonstration of just how accommodating women are, we’ll cut them slack when it comes to putting on the skirt.



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§ 2 Responses to Putting on the pants.

  • craig reeder says:

    it is absolutely true that in today’s business environment, collaborative skills are more valuable than ever before, and that is one reason why women are succeeding so prominently in the upper echelons of business in recent years. i guess we men are now on notice!! I will try to internalize that lesson as I go out on my solitary hunt to bring back meat for the table. 🙂


  • KM Huber says:

    Next week, I am participating in “Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV” with mostly women and some men (at least one that I know of). It is about the beauty of women as the women they are. Once again, the issue is the same but with all of its “current” names. As I work on my post for the blogfest, I cannot help but think of all the women who came before me as well as those who come after. Each generation was close; my hope is that this generation is there.


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