Women with power or bitches unleashed?

by | Jul 25, 2013

Women with power or “bitches unleashed”?

Women with power or “bitches unleashed”?

Why do women with power hold back?

I wrote a book about why are women paid less than men, focusing on women's own responsibility for this bad statistic. To precis those 160 pages, my point is that women very often don't ask for more in the first place. They underestimate themselves and demonstrate behaviours which are expected from them.  Mostly they act like maids not like bosses.

When asked,  I always say that women don't recognize how powerful and strong they are. I have never considered the female sex as the  prettier one and male sex as the stronger one. I have to admit that in my case,  I consider men more attractive and I have always felt very strong, despite being  female. My parents never tried to  "put me in place"  a legacy which is so important for our self-esteem. Sometimes parents act consciously, sometimes instinctively. In my case it was instinctively. I was not raised to become a feminist. I became one because I was free to choose who I wanted to be. This is the only and right way for all women,  regardless of whether they want to become housewives or astronauts.

Women and power mismatched

As an adult,  I noticed that people don't match women and power. Although it is something that is natural to men, if women were powerful they were mostly called bitches. Their role was to be pretty, nice, helpful and comforting. Not everyone is able to hold power with the respect and the responsibility that comes with it. How can you trust somebody with power who is  the designated diapers changer at home? Why would you give power to somebody who is reluctant to embrace it?

Men are raised and taught that power is something that leaves a sweet taste in their mouthes. Women are taught that powerful people are evil and that power is a very bad thing.  It turns good girls into frowning witches.

As a result we consider women to be weak. We hide their power from them and teach them that they are born to be soft rather than powerful,  because they wouldn’t know what to do with their power anyway. The fact is, mostly men hold  immense power and run the world, but very often they don’t have a clue how to handle this power. They start wars, commit genocide and cause pain to others, just to show that they can. Oh yes, I know that not all men are alike and not all women are angels, but these are just some facts from history books.

Acting like maids not bosses

At one point in my career I started to feel that my power showed. No, I didn’t  consciously show it, but it goes with climbing the corporate ladder and people start to refer to you as someone with power. Sometimes they even give too much credit. Of course there are also some perks that come with power. Car, bonuses etc. Nice, isn’t it? Or would you suggest it was not something one should enjoy? Really?

The truth is I noticed that women hold themselves back, diminishing their power. They were afraid to enjoy it, let alone to show off a little bit in the way that men would, such as spending a little bit more company money on a fancy lunch. This is something I mentioned in my book. In my ex company,  although all directors were entitled to credit cards with a very high limit, the bills of the women directors amounted to about 10% of the charges of our male colleagues. Why? Because they were designated to show and to enjoy their power, while we were expected to save the money for the company. No, it was not my boss who told me to save it - it was me acting like a maid.

Women hide their strength

So why are women trying so hard to hide their strength and their power? Is it because we are afraid to be called “bitches unleashed”  something I was called by a contractor after I had rejected his unattractive proposal.

Power is a good thing! You can do so much good if you have power  when choose how to handle the power you have been given correctly. You have all the right in the world to enjoy the power just as men do so naturally. No, it is not about expensive lunches although you should enjoy it too. It is about not holding yourself back,  because you were taught that only men can handle the power. Haven’t you had enough evidence that it is simply not true.

Woman-driverI always considered myself a strong kid, a strong girl and later in life a strong woman, I also had to learn how to enjoy and embrace the strength and the power I had,  without feeling guilty or not “invited.”  I remember the moment I was really truthful to myself for the first time,  admitting that I like the power I had. I was on a wheel of a big and powerful car driving south down the highway, it was a beautiful sunny day at the seaside and I suddenly realized why men are so much consumed with cars. More important – I liked it too. Oh yes, I did. And I liked the position and all the benefits and perks that came with this position. Yes, women like it too. And women can handle it. Wisely. And we should not care if somebody calls us “bitches unleashed”, because in my opinion in our society being a bitch is far from being a bad person. It is a term people use when they don’t have arguments or an alternative weapon to fight an intelligent and powerful woman,  who won't be pushed around like a doll.

There are hundreds of  thousands of women all around the globe who add priceless value and are indispensable to their companies.  Their governments are not aware of the power they have.  This is one of the reasons why women are paid less and appreciated less than men with the same capabilities and skills.

Once I heard a story that Cesar had a slave who, while Cesar was entering the city, stood behind his back with one single task – he had to whisper in his ear “Cesar, you are just a human”. So as long as you have this tiny little voice reminding you that regardless of your power you are just a human, you are entitled to flirt with your power, uncensored and unleashed. Even if you are a woman.

gfrgacic Subscriber
Human Resources Manager, with a background in languages, German and Polish, Gordana is a firm gender balance advocate and author of an acclaimed book which examines the gender wage gap in Croatia. "Zašto smo manje pla?ene". She is an active member of the Croatian HR Community and uses her position for promotion of gender equality. In her opinion women hold the key for the positive change towards gender balance.
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