Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Who holds the power?

Power relationships really change how we look at things. For example, the term 'man-splaining' is not reversed as 'fem-splaining', because, according to Brook, the power in our conversations lies largely with men (6 June 2018). This is an interesting idea which I am not quite sure I agree with.

This idea of reversal as a mirror to our actions is useful, however. It is a good way to clearly see the power dynamics clearly. Consider what women with children are asked in job interviews: it is usually put as "how will you balance home life with your work?". Of course, this is code for "How will you ensure you are available when you have sick children"? Men are not asked this type of question, because regardless of our enlightenment, we assume that men have wives to do all the family stuff.

Companies tend to be masculine places which institutionalise a masculine approach to power: power over others (Marshall, 1984). To see if your organisation prefers a masculine power model, see what happens to those who try to negotiate and collaborate their way to solutions; to use power 'with' or 'through' others (Marshall, 1984).

We make generalisations that men compete and women collaborate (Brook, 6 June 2018). I wonder if we only see that because we are socially constructed to see it that way? Whether our own inherent bias makes us blind to men who collaborate and women who compete?

There are so many underpinning assumptions in our social construction, sometimes I want to be an alien so I can ask all those terrible questions which slap us in the face like a custard pie with the ridiculousness of how we have created - and how we go along with - the world.

And hold up the mirror to yourself next time you go to ask a woman how she will cope. And remember to ask the men as well.


Sam

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