"My persuasion can build a nation
Endless power, with our love we can devour
As a booty-tastic proponent of girl's empowerment through social and interactive media, it pains me greatly to speak out against pseudo-feminist Beyonce's musical interpretation of the song "Run the World (Girls)." In these mind-numbingly catchy and vacuous lyrics, Beyonce sings that we are upon the age of girlhood and female power, hear us roar, we don't need no man, sexual independence, etc. However, despite the idyllic call to sisterhood, girls (and women) certainly have yet to run the world. Insulting stereotypes and preconceived notions rule the corporate world and bolster the glass ceiling in all walks of life. And some staff writers even pose questions as asinine as "Do Women Leaders Matter?"You'll do anything for me"
A particularly troubling issue for 21st-century feminism is how women in positions of power treat other women - sometimes analogized to quasi-pathological Stockholm Syndrome (where women buy into chauvinistic frames of reference and believe that they have succeeded by adhering to traditionally masculine standards and so must ensure that other women continue to adhere thusly), or a more misanthropic paradigm (I suffered back in my day from all of the rampant sexism and reigning social order, so you must now also suffer before being allowed to enter the sacred space that I fought to gain admission to).
A recent Times article focuses on the "scorched-earth offensive" that one woman in power has waged against the low-socioeconomic status women of her country and elsewhere.
Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina (pictured) has used her governmental authority to specifically target Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and famed founder of the Grameen Bank for microlending. Yunus pioneered microfinance - an small-scale lending system designed to help the poor in developing countries lift their families out of poverty. Because the vast majority of loan recipients are women, many credit Yunus as a champion for the economic empowerment of women around the world.
Prime Minister Hasina has ousted Yunus from his role as Managing Director of Grameen Bank, and has used governmental force to seize control of the bank from its 5.5-million-strong army of grassroots shareholders (almost all of whom are impoverished women). The reason most often cited for this attack is Prime Minister Hasina's alleged extreme jealousy that Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Secretary Hillary Clinton has risen to Yunus' defense in recent months and urged Prime Minister Hasina to halt her dismantling of the Grameen Bank.
The article further asserts that demographics like "girls' education and maternal mortality don’t improve more when a nation is led by a woman. There is evidence that women matter as local leaders and on corporate boards, but that doesn't seem to have been true at the national level." These findings bring us to a fundamentally disturbing question: does the existence of women in positions of power necessarily improve the plight of lower-SES, disadvantaged women in that society?
To frame this issue in a localized and more relatable context, I looked into a social science survey conducted by Dr. Michelle Duguid, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. This study, published in May 2012, attempted to shed light on why some female executives are preventing other qualified women from advancing into high-level positions at many U.S. corporations. Among Dr. Duguid's findings were 3 identified reasons for why women in senior executive roles are hesitant to help female newcomers in their industry:
My personal experience is not nearly as harsh. I have the strictest confidence that my female mentors are genuinely rooting for me and want to dispense truly valuable advice. However, as a pansexual woman of color who does not one day desire children, I do grow weary of the "when are you going to start thinking about having a family" and all of the obligatory for-my-own-good and heteronormative relationship advice that flies at me. Do you see any parallels between these research findings and your own professional experiences in the law?