IT’S NOT THE WOMAN’S FAULT!

Mika Brzezinski

Today’s discussion on “Morning Joe” focused on Mika’s new book, “Knowing Your Value.” You can find excerpts from here and here. Listening to their arguments, I observed the omission or limited discussion of some vital issues and perspectives as a result of my research–ones that will bring different points of view which I believe are extremely important in the process of intellectual stimulation. They are as follows…

The guests posited that Women and Men may be different in their DNA-that they are made differently, I propose while a part of this may be true, the results of my research would address the theory of Socialization as an important issue to be studied as well.

There was NO real discussion of marginalization and the role it plays in women’s lives.

I propose, from a marginalized perspective, the argument this morning focused on why women are still not getting paid equal salaries in comparison to men….

The CENTRALIZED argument (which falls under my working theory) would be, “Hey! There is no argument or debate. Pay men and women equally. Period. And if not, the ones in power must defend their discriminatory process. Additionally, I would argue that the practice of inequality should be illegal.

Another argument was, women flirt, which they say isn’t good. Some would and did say men intimidate and threaten or can be intimidating and threatening from a position of power. Scarborough argues, “don’t tilt your head, bat your eyes” etc. Because it will basically get you nowhere.

The Centralized argument would be, why not?  So what if you have a charming way about you and you get the job done all at the same time? Men do it all of the time. Difference-Men are described as being “charming.” Women, as you can see, are described as flirtatious rather than charming.

Research question—why do women have to change who they are to please the “crowd” comprised of mostly individuals in power. Why can’t they be their feminine and/or masculine selves and ask Others to change? (sneak peek answer-they are operating from a marginalized position-I would also argue that when women change to become more of something that they’re not is when data reveals concerns of issues of femininity vs. masculine-their change is not authentic).

How is it that men still play a MAJOR role in female leadership and play a major role in deciding for women what is best when women have been effective, formidable leaders inside and outside the home through the centuries? (Again, marginalization fall out). However, I would also argue that women have not received the recognition or credit for being leaders, in general. There are sprinkles of instances here and there in specific forums and venues- women’s studies, gender studies, history, politics, etc…but again, sprinkled. Should there not be books on leadership that are published for the masses (including men) written by women that are not viewed and analyzed as simply books for women-only? Again, because this is not the case most commonly found, women and their agendas continue to be marginalized.

From a centralized point of view, How do you ask for a raise? Just ask while presenting your evidence of support and put the responsibility on the “Boss” to prove why you don’t deserve one.

The argument that women don’t seek raises, etc…research has shown that this form of behavior occurs mostly in situations where the woman feels she has no support system-professionally and personally, but especially professionally. Hence, the importance of mentors.

General question, why aren’t women in a better position today? Possible answer, because oppression is real and to solely ask the victim to come up with the solution without challenging the system is not only dangerous and counterproductive, it also fails to hold the oppressor and the oppressive system accountable.

Issues of vulnerability-Mika alluded to the opinion that once Hillary Clinton showed her vulnerability, she made great strides in her campaign. Another female politician stated that when she was simply a “leader” the response from her constituents were less than favorable. So she “strategized” and revealed her vulnerability (she cares about her family and children like the rest of us) and things changed.

The problem is how this argument was genderized instead of just being a humanistic value. Additionally, to use it as a strategy challenges the integrity of not only the message but I would argue, the individual. Furthermore, it teaches young women that they again, need to show how their “soft” before they are accepted as formidable leaders without apology. Why not let the vulnerability manifest itself naturally? If we don’t, isn’t it like saying, “I’ll show my weaker side or my more “vulnerable” side so that you will feel more comfortable. Does this not form an unhealthy codependent relationship?

Why can’t women, who feel they are marginalized, stand firm and allow change to happen. If we continue to change ourselves and re-invent ourselves, not only will we not recognize our true “selves,” we will be unrecognizable to others, plus, this form of made-up behavior will be hard to sustain and will women may be hurt, personally and professionally, at the end of the day or their career.

The results of my research are similar to the argument of entitlement argued by Donny. But to have entitlement, women must be willing and supported to move from the margins.

Question – What makes men the “authorities” on leadership? Is it because they’ve been given more opportunities, sometimes even discriminately? Is it because men are better leaders than women? A portion of the data gathered from my research of college students reveals that men believe women can be GREAT leaders, but because there was no observation of any Transformational Leadership qualities and actions, this positioning becomes merely as an argument of “potential.”

I applaud Mika and her efforts and her courage to share her experience so that others can learn. Of course there will be the question of whether or not this show was to promote her book, the show, herself, even Joe…but all in all, it’s important to re-engage in this important discussion.

Final thought, the question that was asked repeatedly during the show, “why don’t women know their value?” I propose this answer- It’s because women and their contributions are not and have not always been valued across multiple platforms, including the core. I further assert that there should be a discussion about important issues such as this one on a systemic level rather than simply on the individual level of blaming  the victim.

Key words-socialization, marginalization, self-empowerment, sense of “Self”

A sip of knowledge.

Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 6:43 PM  Leave a Comment  
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