As a young man I was annoyed by people trying to act smart or strong. My friends used to buy eye glasses at CVS and wear them to look smart. To this day, I dislike it when people wear glasses who don’t need them. I loose respect for people who are so desperate to appear smart that they feel they must put on a costume.
When I was in high school I watched a movie called the Big Kahuna where an accomplished salesmen (Kevin Spacey) advised a new sales rep how to spot competence vs someone who was full of shit. His advice was to realize that “if someone knows what they’re doing, they don’t have to act like they know what they’re doing”. I’ve noticed this to be true throughout my life. The smartest, most competent, most accomplished people I’ve met don’t act smart or strong, they just are. The people in flashy suits filling meetings with hot air via long winded speeches, those people are full of shit.
Feminism is often directed towards young, ambitious women and sometimes it sends a message that I think is a cancer, such as Pantene’s commercial:
They assert that women say they’re sorry too often, in an effort to be polite. They want women to say sorry less so they don’t seem weak. I’m not alone in really disliking their message:
But 13,139 likes is concerning when the message is to “be strong by being less polite”. These are the sort of messages that make me really dislike feminist movements. I don’t want messages telling women (or men) that success is about a business suit, about acting strong, about looking strong… about anything other than bringing value to the table and then demanding compensation for it. I am sure some men have succeeded by acting smart without being very smart but that’s a problem we want to get rid of, not add to.
Historically, being born a man has been an advantage. But people are kidding themselves if they think the male giants of the business world didn’t face endless challenges and hurdles on the way to the top. Many tycoons were born into dirt poor families. Others were underdogs that entered fiercely competitive markets and faced up against companies hundreds of times their size. Any message that tells young women that posturing is the answer is misguiding them. Holding undeterred, unrelenting perseverance as the key to success is the message worth it’s weight in gold.
Ellen Pao was an executive at a Venture Capital firm in Silicon Valley. She sued her firm when she felt she wasn’t promoted fairly. She asserted she was at a disadvantage because her male coworkers didn’t include her in afterwork beers and outings, because business would inevitably be discussed during those outings. But that’s the wrong message. It can’t be:
Sue your male coworkers for not including you in afterwork beers.
There’s no question, that is a disadvantage. But it’s insane to ask to make it so male coworkers can’t go out for beers without inviting the females, because otherwise they’ll get sued. That’s not a sane answer. The right answer is:
You’re a rich women in America. Grow a backbone. Take your small fortune, leave, hire and promote the smartest people regardless of sex want, and put your old coworkers out of business. That’s America.
For centuries capitalism, and not government, has put inefficient models out of business and given us progress. Relative to the rest of the world, women in modern America are one of the most advantaged groups in the world. The message cannot be that cancerous idea that they should act stronger. The message cannot be to look to laws and regulations for help. It must be:
You are strong. You are capable. If you choose to compete head to head, value for value, you can win.
I think that’s the only message that matters.