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shrinkykitten

"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.

9.27.2008

Humility

Even if you don't watch project runway, I'm curious as to your thoughts on this...

One piece of disturbing rhetoric that has come of late in regards to one of the contestants is that she is too full of herself and needs to be taught some humility. This contestant tends to believe that everything she creates is genius and innovative and should win. She is defiant when she gets criticized and refuses to adjust her designs. She's difficult and emotional and rigid in a way that doesn't help her craft.

But is she *too* full of herself? Does she need to be more humble? This kind of language disturbs me because I tend to see it applied to females and not to males.

Part of my reaction is that this is something abusive men use to defend their abuse - the woman was too "uppity" or too "stuck up" so she deserved or needed to be abused/hit/raped, etc. A woman like that needs to be "taken down a peg."

Clearly this context makes it clear that it's disturbing to think of confident and strong women in that way. But why are strong and confident women seen as needing to be taken down a peg even by men and women who would never use violence or abuse power? What is wrong with a strong and confident woman? And why is this NEVER leveled against a man? And why would we expect an artist to be anything but confident about their work - you have to be in order to think you have it in you to create.

There've been plenty of delusional, untalented, belligerent men on project runway - and to the best of my ability, I've never heard/read anyone use similar language. He may be called an asshole or he may be given a pass because he's a man.

And this irks me in real life too. Difficult men can get away with so much more than difficult women. One of my coworkers was complaining about having to work with women because they are so "emotional" - and yet quite literally the most emotional person in our department is a male - and we are all ruled by his moods. I spent much of yesterday anxious with a stomach ache because he was in the conference room yelling at his administrators for hours (this isn't my new job, btw - I start that in a couple of weeks).

But more to my original point - I feel like every time I start to feel okay about myself, start to feel like I am doing a good job, that I'm good at what I do - I get knocked down. My boss has called me overconfident at times (while simultaneously telling me I am so insecure that I need way too that she is forced to give me positive feedback, which is a huge drain on her) or put me down by saying that I thought that some task or other was "beneath me" (for the record, I have never said that to her or anyone).

A few weeks ago, I had an interview for my new job - and they thought I was great - that I had great skills and would add a lot to their department. I brought a portfolio of some of my work, and they all seemed very impressed. This really bolstered my confidence at a time that I needed it. Right afterwards my boss indicated that I had done nothing of value for her since January (incl. apparently the over 100k I've brought in since January), and on and on about how horrible I am as a person and as an employee.

I've cried every day since then and wonder how on earth I could even think of going to a new job and being able to do anything good there. I'll still be me - and me sucks.

I feel like part of this is a pattern - I start to feel good and confident - and then someone cuts me down. I don't know if I get to be really a complete pain in the ass to be around when I feel okay about myself - or what it is.

And more, I don't understand why it is *so* bad when women feel good about themselves. Why is this still seen as so threatening to status quo - even among other women?

3 Comments:

At 11:34 PM, Blogger dr four eyes said...

Hey, congrats on the new job! I read the earlier post where you mentioned it, but somehow it went in one ear and out the other.

I do hope the new environment is better, more welcoming, and more supportive for you. As someone transitioning from a very dysfunctional place to a normal/good place, it does take some adjusting. You absolutely should feel confident about your abilities and I hope you get the recognition for your good work in the new job.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger rented life said...

You should think of it as, how could you not go to a new job when your boss is so mean?

I struggle with the insecurity too. But I do think there's some value in some people being taught humility (because they aren't God's gift to us, and need to learn to work with others, or at least accept criticism because someone else might have a good idea too). But I never feel like I do a good enough job (if I did wouldn't they offer me a better position or more support or...)

I could go on but I'm new to your blog so I won't. But I think it's too sticky of an issue to make a generalization. The same sort of rhetoric is used on America's Next Top Model, but when you see how the girls react, I'd want to say the same thing of them--you're 18, what the hell do you know about the business and you're here to learn, so shut and just listen.

 
At 9:33 PM, Blogger Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I'm not sure if you've been at the same job for a while, but it seems to me that you started that job not feeling very good about yourself. Maybe your boss liked you that way because she felt she could push you around?

Once you started this job, you found your talent and came out of your low period -- but, she didn't like that because you weren't as easy to push around? Or, maybe she thinks she "fixed" you.

Now that you'll be leaving her, she feels hurt and lashed out at you --

 

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