In the Huffington Post recently, Patricia Handschiegel has an article called “The New Power Girls Style: More Sneaky Tips for Balancing Work/Life from Entrepreneurs and Executives”. Before even reading the article, my two initial reactions were:
1. Girls? Don’t you mean women? Calling professional and successful adult women who are entrepreneurs and/or executives girls is condescending because it belittles their achievements and makes them seem less threatening because god forbid we have women in power.
2. Why “sneaky tips”? Can’t women just have honest discussions with each other about the balance between work and life? Balancing work and life is not an easy task, so shouldn’t it be acceptable for women to openly acknowledge that and talk about it, instead of keeping it on the DL and being all sneaky and secretive?
The article’s tips are not completely radical and revolutionary in any sense: making time for yourself to do the things you want to do, exercising, getting organized, getting enough sleep, making sure that you look good and feel good when you go out and off to work. (Does any of that sound new? No, not really. It’s not quite brand new information.) But want to know the real secret to balancing work and life?
“When a woman taps into and owns her femininity and all of the innate qualities that make her a woman, there is no stopping the rise of her star – in career and life,” said Cindy Yates, co-author of Cashmere Glove: The Feminine Approach to Business.
So by tapping into what society conditions us to believe, and what some of us end up internalizing and accepting, as feminine will help us women be successful? Hmm, and what does society ascribe to be feminine? Being passive, subordinate, demure, quiet, obedient, domestic… If only I tap into all that and owned it, then who knows how far I can rise in career and in life?!
What are the “innate qualities” that make women women? Saying that there are innate womanly qualities is very essentialist, and makes it seem as though “being girly” is just a natural thing to do if you’re a woman. Gender is a social construct, and we are socialized from birth into specific gender roles where we must obediently play the part.
Furthermore, why The Feminine Approach to Business? Is it because business is just for men? And women don’t belong in business, but if they do venture in then they must approach it in a “feminine” way? This kind of sexist thinking is what the women’s movement sought to challenge and overcome.