Newsweek has a piece on their website right now entitled, “How To Get A Raise: Stop Being Good” by Jessica Bennett. In it Bennett reviews a new book, Rachel Simmons’ The Curse of the Good Girl which is about how raising girls to be “good” can actually be, well, bad when it comes to their careers. The book sounds pretty great, though not necessarily surprising. (Guess what? Women are socialized to be too nice to be taken seriously in the workplace!) Still, it’s nice that Newsweek is addressing these issues for the not-necessarily-feminist set.
However, a lot was missing from the article, and a lot was there that frankly shouldn’t have been. For example, as a photo essay accompaniment to the piece, Newsweek gives us “11 Powerful Women That Make Men (and Other Women) Squirm”. While writing about the problems of the “psychological glass ceiling” that keeps many women from feeling confident in the workplace, isn’t Newsweek perpetuating that same shit by basically calling women like Hilary Clinton, Martha Stewart, and Anna Wintour (and yes, they are all white women except for Yoko Ono) terrifying?
Now don’t get me wrong. I think the women on the list are inspirational captains of industry (for the most part) and should be celebrated. (Though it would be nice to see a few more faces of color and differently-abled ladies in there.) It’s just that, right after an article that explains why women are thought of as total bitches if they assert themselves at work, Newsweek has cried “Bitch!” at 11 women who have asserted themselves at work. Not as progressive as they claim to be, are they?
In addition, at no point does this article include a cultural critique of men and the patriarchal norms that govern many workplaces. Perhaps part of the reason why women are devalued and asked to remain “good” and complacent has at least something to do with their male counterparts? And what about the notion that traditionally “feminine” characteristics like compassion and creativity should be rewarded in the same way that the “masculine” traits of assertiveness and bottom-line productivity are?
Sure, a step in the right direction is exactly that. But why does it have to include a step back as well? Why can’t we celebrate women who have achieved great things without simultaneously vilifying them? And why can’t we point out the “psychological glass ceiling” so many women face without simultaneously blaming them for not being masculine enough?
What did you think of this article? And what about the photo essay? Do you think they are on the money with their list of 11 powerful women, or do you have some of your own edits to share?