Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Too Sweet, Or Too Shrill? The Double Bind for Women.

hidden-brain-imageA couple days ago, the Hidden Brain podcast had a fascinating episode on how sexism affects women in leadership.  You can listen to it HERE.

Here is the transcript from the episode, as provided on the NPR page (emphases mine):

Fewer than 1 in 5 members of Congress are women. At Fortune 500 companies, fewer than 1 in 20 CEOs are women. And if you look at all the presidents of the United States through Barack Obama, what are the odds of having 44 presidents who are all men?

If men and women had an equal shot at the White House, the odds of this happening just by chance are about 1 in 18 trillion.

What explains the dearth of women in top leadership positions? Is it bias, a lack of role models, the old boy’s club? Sure. But it goes even deeper. Research suggests American women are trapped in a paradox that is deeply embedded in our culture.

When Moseley Braun was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, she achieved a powerful first. She was the first female African-American senator. And in her race for office, she assumed that racism would be a more daunting obstacle than gender bias. But she says, that wasn’t the case.

“I think in some regards the gender biases are more profound and more central to our culture than even the racial ones, and that to me was the surprise.”

One moment in particular still stays with her, more than 20 years later.

“There was a cartoon from one of the newspapers in the state that showed me as a puppet, with my campaign manager’s hand up my dress,” she says. “And the idea that I was a puppet of this guy that who was managing my campaign was shocking to me.”

But shortly after Braun won her race, she says she confronted a second trap. One day, she made an impassioned plea on the floor of the Senate. But she says, all her colleagues could hear, was a shrill black woman.

Her experience is one that researchers have described as a “double bind” — a set of assumptions that get at our implicit assumptions about men, women and leadership.

“The female gender role is based on the stereotype that women are nice and kind and compassionate,” says social psychologist Alice Eagly. By contrast, she says, “in a leadership role, one is expected to take charge and sometimes at least to demonstrate toughness, make tough decisions, be very assertive in bringing an organization forward, sometimes fire people for cause, etc.”

So what’s a woman to do? Be nice and kind and friendly, as our gender stereotypes about women require? Or be tough and decisive, as our stereotypes about leadership demand? To be one is to be seen as nice, but weak. To be the other is to be seen as competent, but unlikable.

Connie Morella served for 16 years as a Republican congresswoman from Maryland. Like Democrat Braun, she says at times she struggled to be heard.

“In a committee room, when I wasn’t chair of the committee, I would respond to a question or comment on an issue, [and] they’d say, ‘Thank you, Connie, that was great.’ And a little later Congressman Smith would say the same thing, and it was, ‘Oh, Congressman Smith … that was fabulous, let the record show …’ and I’d think, ‘Gee, I just said that.’ ”

How can we tell, with scientific certainty, whether women like Morella and Carol Braun were the victims of bias? When we look at a female leader who appears incompetent or shrill, how do we know if we are seeing reality, or just seeing the world through the lens of our own unconscious biases?

That’s where researchers like Madeline Heilman come in. She’s a psychology professor at New York University who focuses on gender stereotypes and bias, particularly when it comes to leadership. In one study, Heilman asked volunteers to evaluate a high-powered manager joining a company. Sometimes volunteers are told the manager is a man, other times they’re told it’s a woman.

“When the person was presented as a high powered person, who was very ambitious, we found that the person was seen as much more unlikable when it was a woman than when it was a man,” she says.

In these studies, the high-powered male and female manager are described in identical terms, down to the letter. The only difference is that one is said to be a man, and the other is said to be a woman.

Heilman says that the double bind arises because our minds are trying to align our stereotypes about men and women, with our stereotypes about leadership.

“We have conceptions of these jobs and these positions and what is required to do them well, and there’s a lack of fit between how we see women and what these positions require,” she says.

The biases Heilman describes aren’t just held by men. They’re held by both sexes, which explains why many female leaders encounter derision and suspicion from men and women.

“We have very strong feelings about how men and women are, and that leads to this dislike when they go over the line, when they tread where they are not supposed to be.”

The good news, says psychologist Eagly, is that our culture’s views are always changing. And that includes our views on women, men and the meaning of leadership — whether in elected office or the workplace.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Carol Moseley Braun was the first African-American U.S. senator. She was in fact the first female African-American senator. An initial version of the podcast episode with the same error has been corrected.

The Hidden Brain Podcast is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced Maggie Penman, Jennifer Schmidt, and Renee Klahr. Our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, and listen for Hidden Brain stories each week on your local public radio station.


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Your Guide to Voting as a Beautiful Kingdom Warrior

If I had to sum up Your Guide to Voting as a Beautiful Kingdom Warrior, I would give you three points to bear in mind:

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This is what the Lord requires of us.  

Yeah, this post is more about how to be a faithful Christ-follower during the Presidential election and less about how to vote.  And I am preaching this post to myself, friends.

Walk Humbly – adj. “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.”  As much as any of us may read up on this election and the candidates’ platforms, we cannot have a perfect grasp on the issues and we cannot predict what will happen in the coming presidential term.  We are all handicapped by biases, ignorance, and limited perspectives-not only our own, but also those of our sources and community of influence.  Humbly listen to others, considering them better than yourself (Philippians 2:3).

Love Mercy – n. “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”  Be merciful especially to those who will be casting their ballot differently than you.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Do not call names.  Do not slander or malign others.  Be slow to anger.  Try to understand their perspective and be charitable, loving and kind.  Hate any speech that is unmerciful.

Act Justly – n. “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.”  Vote your conscience.  There is much that is broken in our country that needs healing, redemption, and justice.  Consider what is best for the “least of these,” the most marginalized and voiceless members of our society – certainly that includes unborn babies as well as those living in poverty, those caught in the pipeline to prison, those without adequate healthcare, unequal pay, refugees seeking asylum from war, and the list goes on.  There is abounding injustice to dismantle.

I would also add, Do not be afraid.  We have been told over and over that there is much to be afraid of and that the outcome of this election could trigger the End Times.  Enough pandering to fear-mongering!!  Place your trust in Jesus alone and do your best to faithfully follow Him, leaving the rest up to Him.

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This election season has been fraught with controversy and emotion.  It is critical to remember that as Christians, our battle is not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers (Ephesian 6:12).  We must pray for discernment while maintaining our allegiance to one King only, our Lord Jesus Christ, and His coming Kingdom.  We cannot place our hope in a political candidate or party to save us.  God is making all things new, He is redeeming His creation and has invited us into this redemptive work.  We are to be His ambassadors of peace.  And that starts with loving our neighbors.

As an advocate for gender equality here at The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors, I am going to post links in the footnotes to relevant articles and Tweets from recent days.  I do not want to diminish my point that as Christians, though, we are called to be the hands and feet of God’s love.  Let’s be respectful and kind to others when we are talking politics.

Regardless of our political views, we must remember to walk humbly,
love mercy and act justly.  


Here are some articles I’ve posted to our TBKW FB page:
Petition: A Declaration of American Evangelicals Concerning Donald Trump

Evangelicals Are Supporting a Sexual Predator.  It’s Not the First Time

I Just Had to Explain Trump’s Pussy Comments to My Sons

Many men talk like Donald Trump in private.  And only other men can stop them.

Excellent Tweets responding to Trump’s “locker room banter” about assaulting women:

Saeed Abedini bares his misogyny for all to see

Early this morning (around 3 a.m.), Pastor Saeed Abedini posted an anti-Hillary rant on Facebook that centered around his personal views on male headship and women’s submission to that authority.

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Those were the pictures I took around 10:30 this morning.  Since then, Saeed has edited the second-to-last paragraph to emphasize the point of his message:

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Not surprisingly, this post has incited some lively discussion.  In the past 22 hours, there have been 182 reactions, 154 comments and 44 shares. And just now, as I am typing this, I tried to look at the post again and see this:

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Evidently, I’ve been blocked!

There were some really lovely comments made by egalitarians in response to Saeed’s post, and now I wish I had captured more screenshots.  Marg Mowzcko, the scholar behind the egalitarian exposition of Scripture at newlife.id.au, left several powerful comments.  This was my favorite:

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The Chiasm in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

And Debbie Folthorp made an important observation:

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AG – The Role of Women in Ministry

I replied to a couple comments and left one of my own:

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I am hopeful that others are also responding to Pastor Saeed’s incorrect and damaging views on women in leadership.  It is important that examples of blatant cherry-picking of Scripture and patriarchal interpretation be publicly refuted and challenged so that those who may not otherwise hear another view may perhaps question these teachings.

If you are unfamiliar with Pastor Saeed Abedini beyond his 3.5 years of imprisonment in Iran and the powerful movement among Evangelicals to have him freed, Spiritual Sounding Board and A Cry for Justice have many excellent posts and links to articles explaining his history of marital abuse and questionable character.  We also posted about The Courageous and Wise Naghmeh Abedini and abuse in marriage, which is important for the Church at large to be educated on, as victims of abuse are almost always further victimized in the process of protecting the celebrity figures and reputation of the organization at large.

May we continue to pray for healing in the Abedini family.


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