Ever notice how anger helps a man command a room, but it often has the opposite effect for women?
While the former comes off as passionate, the latter is often remembered as emotionally erratic, an outcome predictable enough to make any woman angry. (Can someone say vicious cycle?)
But there may be a way out, if a new book by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut is any indication. In Compelling People, the authors posit that what makes individuals captivating is their ability to communicate both strength and warmth, but they recognize that it's a fine balance—and that balancing act is trickier for women.
When Ragen Chastain learned that Michelle Obama was appearing on The Biggest Loser to promote the show's contestants as role models, she felt she had to do something. " I e-mailed my friend Darryl Roberts, filmmaker of America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments. We wrote a well-researched article pointing out the problems with Mrs. Obama endorsing the contestants as role models," she says on her blog, Dances With Fat. She continues:
It wasn't meant for this blog, but it's now been turned down by three major media outlets. Not because they disagreed with us, in fact all three said that they agreed with the article. It was denied in all three cases because the White House wouldn't like it, they were worried about damaging their working relationship with the White House, and it it made the First Lady look bad and out of touch.
The most boring exhibit I ever saw in any of the Washington, DC Smithsonian museums was, without a doubt, the gowns of the First Ladies. Oh, how I could not have cared less. But my mother preened over them like she'd just found some rare bird egg sitting under her window. Helen Taft? Grace Coolidge? Elizabeth Monroe? I didn't care about their dresses, and I certainly didn't know who they were as women. On top of that, weren't First Ladies just... housewives in a really nice house?
The leaders of the [women's suffrage] movement trembled on seeing a tall, gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban, surmounted with an uncouth sunbonnet, march deliberately into the church, walk with the air of a queen up the aisle, and take her seat upon the pulpit steps. A buzz of disapprobation was heard all over the house, and there fell on the listening ear, 'An abolition affair!" "Woman's rights and niggers!""I told you so!" "Go it, darkey!" . . Again and again, timorous and trembling ones came to me and said, with earnestness, "Don't let her speak, Mrs. Gage, it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition and niggers, and we shall be utterly denounced." My only answer was, "We shall see when the time comes."
--First-wave feminist Frances Gage, reflecting on the occasion of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech
During the '08 campaign season, I cringed at comments made about former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s “hotness” and at the idea of the porno “Nailin’ Sarah Palin”--even though Palin's politics, her demeanor, and pretty much everything about her, made me throw up in my mouth a little. And to be sure, if Palin had become vice president, continued objectification of her and ongoing commentary about her of sexual nature would have bugged me to no end--even as I packed up and headed to Canada. And yet...