Our culture still isn’t comfortable with women and power

Ida Lupino directing

Working as a director in the 1950s, Ida Lupino commented,”You don’t tell a man; you suggest to them.”

Ally Acker writes in her bio, “The back of her director’s chair read, ‘Mother Of Us All…’, a nom de plume that Ida Lupino solicited, encouraged and used fully to subversive advantage.

“It was her armor against a time when women needed to be sexless to be effective in a man’s terrain.”

[More in my article Women in Film : Identity and Power.]

While we – both men and women – may enjoy current female screen characters with potency and attitude such as Jennifer Garner in “Alias” and Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada,” Arianna Huffington says in her book “On Becoming Fearless” that in real life, women are “still required, first and foremost, to be sweet and adorable.

Arianna Huffington-Facebook“A man who doesn’t toe the line is not only tolerated but even hailed as an appealing scamp or rogue, but an unconventional, self- assured woman is far more likely to be seen as a ball-busting bitch… who needs to drink more decaf.”

[A comment Arnold Schwarzenegger told Huffington in a debate when they were running for governor in 2003.]

She notes, “Our culture still isn’t comfortable with powerful, visible, outspoken women.

“We equate power with maleness, manliness, dominance – even ruthlessness – all of which happen to be traits that women fear being identified with because we know we will be called ‘pushy,’ ‘shrill,’ and ‘strident.’

“The epithets strike right at our femininity – as if the very notions of power and womanliness are mutually exclusive.”

“No wonder women are often afraid to stand up, take the lead, speak out. The result? A very uneasy relationship between women, power, and the traits necessary to be a leader.”

[From excerpt of her book posted on BlogHer]

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Cheryl Richardson [author of the book Stand Up for Your Life] says “Real power is the spiritual energy that comes from living with integrity, from aligning your thoughts, words, and actions with the deepest part of who you are – your soul.”

[More on my site page: power.]

Former pro athlete, now author and columnist Mariah Burton Nelson noted in her speech “The Courage to Lead from the Heart” that she “decided (finally) that it’s okay to talk about leadership, including my own.

“I gave myself permission… Though we may have been born leaders, we were not born into a society that welcomed female leaders. So we have to give ourselves permission to go ahead and lead.”

[From my article Women of Talent – Power and Leadership.]

But this self-permission to lead, to use power “out loud” can be a real challenge to our values, beliefs and comfort level – even for many of us of the male persuasion.

In his book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, T. Harv Eker talks about moving through our uncomfort zones to succeed: “Then you will have a new, expanded comfort zone, which means you will have become a ‘bigger’ person. The only time you are actually growing is when you are uncomfortable.”