Category Archives: Reviews

Phyllis Chesler, “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman”

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Reviewed by Femflection

 

Phyllis Chesler (born October 1, 1940) is an American writer, psychotherapist, and professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island (CUNY).

She is known as a feminist psychologist, and is the author of 16 books, including the best-seller Women and Madness (1972). Chesler has written on topics such as gender, mental illness, divorce and child custody, surrogacy, second-wave feminism, pornography, prostitution, incest, and violence against women.

 

Some “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman” quotes:

  • “Before I began research for this book I was not consciously aware that women were aggressive in indirect ways, that they gossiped and ostracized each other incessantly, and did not acknowledge their own envious and competitive feelings. I now understand that, in order to survive as a woman, among women, one must speak carefully, cautiously, neutrally, indirectly; one must pay careful attention to what more socially powerful women have to say before one speaks; one must learn how to flatter, manipulate, aree with, and appease them. And, if one is hurt or offended by another woman, one does not say so outright; one expresses it indirectly, by turning others against her. Of course, I refuse to learn these “girlish” lessons.”
  • “The idea that women’s strong attachments to each other are what make them so vulnerable is horrifying. I count my close friendships with a few girls that I know as one of the best things I have going for me right now. My love for them leaves me open to hurt, but … all love does, or at least that’s the cliche. Perhaps girls and women do come to love each other too quickly, or once they are trapped into appearing as though they love one another, they don’t want to back out of it. That is probably true. But a fear of confrontation in relationships is the downside. The ability to love easily is a positive.”
  • “For most women, being seen, having others pay attention to you, is imagined and experienced as more desirable and more powerful than commanding an army or seizing control of the means of production and reproduction.”
  • “That these girls avoid use of physical violence in resolving conflict, does not mean that these conflicts are resolved in meaningful and enduring ways. Girls might smile, give in, give up – and then continue the conflict behind their opponents’ backs. Girls might also smile, give in, make fatal compromises, because their need to belong (or not to be excluded) is more important to them than sticking to their principles.”
  • “ [As a result of internalized sexist views,] women unconsciously expect constant nurturing from other women, and this expectation is irrational. In reality, normal women are quite aggressive and competitive toward other women. Women have been taught to deny this. The denial leads to grudge-holding, rumor-mongering, slander, and ostracism. This sort of indirect aggression is painful to experience, since most women also depend on other women for emotional intimacy, friendship, and social approval.”
  • “One day, you think you’re part of a community, the next moment, you’re all alone, no one you used to know looks you in the eye, no one says anything specific, but you just never see anyone again. It’s like having your entire family get wiped out, only they’re still alive, and seeing each other. You’re the one who’s really been wiped out.”
  • “Calling another woman a “slut,” “crazy,” “difficult,” and “enemy,” is a way to get her out of the way, punish her, break her spirit, because you envy her… What might help is a commitment not to believe everything you hear, but in fact to disbelieve it, especially if it’s something negative about another woman. It is important that a woman develop the courage to stand up to a slanderer or a bully, knowing that she risks being the next to be slandered or intimidated… The women whom I interviewed about woman’s inhumanity to woman mainly talked about how other women had disappointed or betrayed them. Few were able to recall the ways in which they had disappointed or betrayed other women.”

 

“Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman” – The book:

This pioneering book addressed the subject of female indirect aggression, both in the family and the workplace, both in childhood and adulthood, and covered woman’s capacity for cruelty, competition, envy, and ostracism; the ways in which women, like men, have internalized sexist beliefs; and the importance of acknowledging the “shadow side” of female-female relationships, especially because such relationships are so important to women.

The book was reviewed in many publications, and the author was interviewed widely in South America, North America (including in The New York Times), Europe, and Asia.

It received a front page review in the Washington Post Book World written by Deborah Tannen.

Tannen wrote: “Chesler seems to have read everything and thought deeply about it….Along with social commentary and psychological insight, Chesler offers astute literary criticism….many of Chesler’s richest scenarios are drawn from the more than 500 interviews she conducted … many of Chesler’s examples have an unmistakable and heartbreaking ring of familiarity. The time has come to stop idealizing or demonizing either sex. Seeing women, like men, as capable of both courage and jealousy, of providing care, and causing pain, is no more nor less than acknowledging women as fully human.”

Most women have had some experience of disempowerment or out-and-out mistreatment at the hands of a woman. This largely taboo subject Is the focus of Phyllis Chesler’s book, “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman.”

Chesler has not lost her passion for women’s liberation; nor has she abandoned her analysis of patriarchy. It is still the case that most overt violence against women comes from men. But here Chesler is interested in how and why women hold each other back and put each other down. With its heady amalgam of research in psychology, anthropology, primatology, and evolutionary theory; interviews with victims of same-sex sexism and woman-on-woman aggression; mythology and fairy tales; psychoanalytic studies; feminist history; and personal narrative, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman examines every conceivable form of female-on-female injury, from destructive gossip to female support for sexual mutilation and “honor killings.”

When Phyllis Chesler conducted interviews for her book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, women “mainly talked about how other women had disappointed or betrayed them. Few were able to recall the ways in which they had disappointed or betrayed other women.”

How women view and treat other women matters. Are women oppressed? Yes. Do oppressed people internalize their oppressors’ attitudes? Without a doubt. Prejudice must first be acknowledged before it can be resisted or overcome. More than men, women depend upon one another for emotional intimacy and bonding, and exclusionary and sexist behavior enforces female conformity and discourages independence and psychological growth.

Why do girls and women engage in these kinds of direct and indirect acts of aggression towards one another? Why do we smile while stabbing each other in the back?

Chesler said she wrote the book so that women will learn how to treat each other more respectfully, which is certainly a worthy goal.

She urges us to look within, to treat other women realistically, ethically, and kindly, and to forge bold and compassionate alliances. This is a necessary next step for women, without which they will never be liberated.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

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Hermina Ibarra, “Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader”

41hqsgdhmklReviewed by Femflection

Herminia Ibarra is a professor of Leadership and Learning, the Chair of the Organizational Behavior department, and the founding director of “The Leadership Transition” executive education program at INSEAD. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council, and consults with a wide variety of companies around the world in the areas of leadership development and talent management, with a special focus on women and leadership.

Some “ACT LIKE A LEADER, THINK LIKE A LEADER” Quotes: Continue reading

Pat Heim, Tammy Hughes and Susan K. Golant, “Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business”

41k69z4ujnlReviewed by Femflection

The authors of “Hardball for women” share their insights into gender differences in the workplace and offer suggestions on how women can soar in male-dominated environments.

It teaches women to use the unwritten rules of business to get ahead in their careers.

The game of business is hardball, played according to the rules of the male culture. The book explains the different behaviors and mind-sets boys and girls learn and carry into their lives as adult men and women. For example, boys learn to compete; girls learn to get along.

Some “Hardball for Women” quotes:

  • “Before negotiating a raise, start collecting a file of evidence, showing how you have impacted the bottom line… Don’t believe there is no money in the budget. Don’t assume your boss knows how great you’ve been doing. Don’t threaten to leave – you may be given the opportunity.”
  • “Actually power is like money; neither good nor bad. Its negative or positive spin depends upon how we use it.”
  • “Simply stated power is the ability to get things done.”
  • “I Strongly urge you to consciously consider what success means to you. Instead of allowing others or society to determine when you win, you determine it.”
  • “Whether you’re moving to a new company or a new department within your current organization, I believe you’ll end up miles ahead if you shop for a boss, not a position. You may secure the greatest job in the world, but a miserable boss will turn gold into ashes…. In many ways, your boss maybe more important than the job.”
  • “Women lose sight of their goals by taking on extra responsibilities. We are virtual responsibility magnets. We don’t make these decisions consciously or deliberately but out of fear that if we don’t act on a need it will never get resolved. But we fail to realize that once we become responsible for something we might be responsible for it forever.”
  • “Studies have shown that the terms girl and lady have pejorative connotations: They conjure images of someone weaker and lazier; someone more nervous, afraid, dependent, immature, and inconsiderate; someone less sexy, intelligent, and certainly less charismatic than ‘woman.’ Indeed, the term woman is overwhelmingly interpreted as more favorable and is most often used to describe adult females who deserve respect.”
  • “Leadership doesn’t mean giving marching orders that others must follow blindly. Rather, it means causing others to want to follow. Successful leadership is personal.”

“Hardball for Women” – the book:

Each chapter begins with a summary of the hardball lessons boys learn and the house-and-doll lessons girls learn. It concludes with key pointers for playing hardball successfully. Concepts are illustrated with compelling real-life examples.

This constructive, straightforward and no-nonsense guide deals with how and why the two genders are different, how to make the best of one’s assets and how to be forceful without being cruel or overly aggressive.

It also addresses the issues of being a team player or a leader, using language and non-verbal cues powerfully, and setting goals and staying focused. Staying focused is especially important for women since women tend to back off and lose when others become aggressive.

Most of my career, I’ve worked in male-dominated fields.

Biggest take away for me from the book was that I can truly do something to place myself on equal standing with both men and women in the workplace. It all depends on knowing the rules of the game and find out how to navigate them effectively.

A while ago I took my 20 years old “Hardball for Women” edition down from the shelf and loaned it to one of my female friends who had issues with her male boss. She recognized herself very well in the description of the gender issues and they were so much applicable to her own situation that she bought her own 2015 edited copy.

If you have a career in any workplace – and it does not need to be a mostly male workplace – this book provides invaluable advice.

At the same time, it offers men considerable insight into the strengths and contributions of the female culture.

I highly recommend “Hardball for Women” to any woman who works.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Brené Brown, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are”

51eqedfzajlReviewed by Femflection

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent many years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

Brené is also the Founder and CEO of The Daring Way – an organization that brings her work on vulnerability, courage, shame and worthiness to organizations, schools, communities, and families.

Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 19 million viewers.

 

 

The Gifts of Imperfection Quotes: Continue reading

FREE OFFER – Mirror Mirror Team Assessment

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Mirror Mirror is a structured way of capturing how people perceive their team situation and understanding the diversities that exist between them, through interviews and assessments. The combined picture shows where the team is aligned and misaligned, where the issues and gaps are, and there may be new possibilities and ways to use the team’s diversity.

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