American author and journalism professor Katie Roiphe, who wrote an essay entitled Elect Sister Frigidaire about the strange antipathy so many women feel for Hillary Clinton, suggests that we may like to imagine strong women but that we don’t actually like them. As much as women complain about the differences in salaries, support quotas, pay lip service to breaking the glass ceiling – when a woman actually makes it big, for many the reaction is not joy – far from it in fact – many women are downright miffed.
Instead of being inspired and motivated by the success of other women, it seems to be perceived as a direct attack on their own life and to provoke comments that cut the successful woman down to size.
The phenomenon is that much stronger if the standout woman is not only successful in her career, but is also a mother – and God forbid attractive as well! Any mother working full time who makes an effort with a group of full-time moms – maybe even brings a cake she baked – knows the feeling, and how hard it is to smile through the dire looks all the moms are exchanging about her…
Men and women behave very differently when it comes to recognizing status and hierarchy. Gender researchers say that men have no problem with pecking orders, whether it’s on the soccer field on in the boardroom. They recognize the top dog, who occupies second and third place, without envy (mostly) and everything about their seating and speaking order at meetings, body language, status symbols, bear witness to this. That doesn’t mean of course that they won’t compete for better positions. And they usually do this by emulating the top man and copying his strategies. And when they make it to the top, they see no reason to play that down.