Post No.: 0330
It’s utterly, empathically and categorically indisputable that behind every great man there is a great woman!
…But would it be even better if more women were in front – in more leadership roles and in power? Would it make for a more peaceful and harmonious world?
Well peaceful protests put the women in front because they are less likely to start a fight and others are less likely to start a fight against them too. So this is one compelling reason why we need more women in front and as leaders.
However, this sometimes isn’t the case, and peaceful protests themselves sometimes don’t work either and occasionally evolve to become violent in order to become more effective – for ultimately better, such as women fighting for women’s suffrage, or worse. Protests that wreck stuff and disrupt services/events, maybe with an iconic moment, have worked before, and continue to make a difference in the world today. The 2018 Mouvement des gilets jaunes against French tax reforms, and the 2019 Hong Kong protests against an extradition bill, showed that disruptive, non-peaceful protests can achieve, or partially achieve, their desired outcomes. They may initially only involve violence against property but they can escalate when authorities push back with force. (The latter was really targeted against China too i.e. communist governments face survival pressures too, not just democratic ones via elections. Indeed, many dictatorships in the world have been overthrown so nothing regarding life – including taxes – technically escapes selection pressures that are considered natural or otherwise. Death is probably still inevitable though, even though it can be delayed!) One person’s terrorist or rioter is another person’s fighter for freedom or some other cause – again for better, or worse, especially if it’s seen as rewarding violence to give in to demands facilitated by violence.
Yet it’s partly a function of hormones, brain development and culture as to why it is no surprise that most aggression and deadly conflicts start and persist with males.
But women sometimes pick up arms and don suicide vests as well. (Post No.: 0298 explained how women play a role in terrorism and foreign fighting too, although in far smaller numbers than men.) And Cleopatra is an example of how many people can die under a female leader. Aung San Suu Kyi is also a female leader with a chequered CV/résumé. So just having women in charge isn’t necessarily the perfect solution to peace.
They can also contribute under the surface or behind the scenes to instigate actual harm and violence (both psychological and physical). Women can provoke men into violently fighting back against others i.e. taking revenge, by accusing those who don’t as being ‘weak’ and ‘not real men’, or by ultimately not selecting the physically submissive as mates. This is part of the culture of ‘toxic masculinity’ that can promote or perpetuate violence indirectly.
So they may not normally be the ones conducting the actual physical violence but they play their part in building or perpetuating expectations, suspicions, fears and propaganda that can lead to divisions and direct violence down the line. Men are certainly also guilty of all of this – but women who gossip and trust in mutually-agreed hostilities towards outgroup members as a result of ingroup hearsay and rumours can create and spread so much prejudice and hate too, and this feeds into the unfounded fear and paranoia that cleaves rifts between groups.
Even though men tend to be more overtly aggressive than women, women can be very passive-aggressive and can escalate divisions in other ways. This is all generally speaking and again not exclusive to women. Arguments may be escalated needlessly i.e. when arguing about one thing, something irrelevant is suddenly brought into the argument to make an initially small situation a very large problem that is beyond proportion.
So maybe on balance, women in charge will result in fewer armed conflicts or violence, although maybe not fewer disputes, other conflicts or negotiation impasses. Plus we must note that leadership can sometimes attract certain types of particularly aggressive and assertive women (and again men), and situational factors can change people too – immense power can corrupt anyone.
Indeed, women often face unfair prejudice in leadership roles – leaders are expected to exhibit traits like assertiveness, decisiveness and other traits typically associated with ‘masculinity’ – but if they do exhibit such traits then they’re often criticised for being bossy boots, temperamental, power hungry or not feminine enough(!) There are therefore double standards!
It is apparent that in some male-dominated contexts, such as in corporate business, women seem to need to behave more like the men around them in order to personally succeed. But emulating behaviours that are more associated with males isn’t going to bring out the benefits of more ‘feminine qualities’ (e.g. sensitivity and empathy) – it’ll only reinforce those ‘masculine attitudes’ (e.g. taking risky gambles) within an organisation or industry. Whether those women who succeed in these contexts are naturally more ‘masculine’ or had to adapt to become more like that – it’s not going to change but continue to reinforce the culture of that organisation or industry. It’s thus a catch-22 situation for women – how can more females become leaders to bring more traits associated with females to leadership positions in these places unless they behave more like males? Unless they fool everyone then suddenly flip personalities once they grab the reins perhaps?! It therefore needs the cooperation of the incumbent males to get more women into leadership positions. And once we see more women in such positions, it inspires girls of the next generation by showing them what’s possible for them too.
Of course, not all ‘masculine’ associated traits are bad (e.g. assuredness) and not all ‘feminine’ associated traits are good (e.g. neediness). And there is so much individual variation and overlap between the genders too, so some women are more fierce and even physically fur-ocious than some men, for instance! There have been ‘stubborn’ women and ‘gentle’ men in leadership roles. The average statistics may show that men are overall more cruel, egotistical and obstinate than women, but these summary statistics don’t apply to every individual as individuals – hence we must judge people based on themselves as individuals rather than on their gender stereotypes.
So it’s not really about female versus male leaders but about how the particular individual is. The gender should be completely irrelevant. And one loathed female leader doesn’t mean that all female leaders will be bad, any more than one fantastic male leader doesn’t mean that all male leaders will be great.
So all in all, we shouldn’t be sexist by discriminating people – whether negatively or positively – according to their gender. We should put the right persons in the right jobs, whether they’re female, male or some other gender identity. Meow.
But this arguably should mean, on the face of it, that leadership and management roles should be roughly half-filled by women and roughly half-filled by men – or at least far more women should be in leadership or management roles than there currently are! It should be more equal than it currently is.
In business, one woman on a board or in a team can appear token, yet it’s better than none. Two women might clash if they compete against each other. So three or more women appears to function better. It’s however not enough to just recruit a diverse team – we must support the members as they navigate the organisational politics they’ll likely face for being ‘different’. It’s beyond mentoring – it’s more like being their sponsor. We’ll need to actively back them and present them to our own bosses for promotion opportunities and so forth.
Achieving a better balance or diversity of almost all kinds is important for garnering different perspectives, insights and ideas. Whether it’d make a positive difference if more women were in congress, parliament or in government is not completely certain, but having more women in positions of power, such as presidents, prime ministers and CEOs, is, in my own fluffy opinion, an experiment probably worth trying.