Originally published March 26, 2014.
Revised and republished January 10, 2016 after a web host transfer.
Background On Inequality Between Women
Inequality between females is more common than equality between females. Females create inequality for other females through words and actions of betrayal.
In 1988, I watched Oprah Winfrey betray a female guest on her talk show. I couldn’t understand how Oprah could betray another woman. By that time, I already felt regret for the way I had treated a number of girls and women in my life, but I had never asked myself how I could betray another girl or woman. To figure out why Oprah betrayed her female guest, I wrote my masters thesis about women as television talk show hosts. What I learned from writing that thesis is that every girl in this country grows up learning how to betray other girls. As women we just keep doing what we grew up doing, betraying other women. Betrayal between females creates inequality between females.
I watched every talk show hosted by a woman for about five years (starting before I earned my B.A.). Most of the topics discussed on the shows fell into four repeating themes. I now call those themes the cultural themes of betrayal between women:
Women as mothers
Women and their appearance
Women as deviants
Teenage girls as threats to society
For more details about each of these themes, see Girl Grit.
As young girls, we learn to judge other girls according to these cultural themes of betrayal. As women, we continue to judge each other according to these cultural themes of betrayal. Even girls who grow up to become politicians judge and betray other women because that is what they learned to do.
Every time a female betrays another female, she betrays herself as well. Every time a female holds another female back, she holds herself back as well. Every time a female judges another woman according to the cultural themes of betrayal, she invites other females as well as males to judge her by the same cultural themes. It’s time for female politicians to learn to stop judging and betraying other females so they can begin to create equality for both constituent females and themselves.
Once I understood that I judged other females based on these cultural themes of betrayal, I rethought all of my relationships with girls and women. I wanted to find a way for all girls and women to stop betraying each other and start supporting each other. I found the way when I read Dr. Reg Williams’ four steps for new recruits to be more successful in the Navy. I adapted his steps, then added other steps as I realized their significance for females. Together they are the 12 Girl Goodwill Steps to Success & Equality:
1. Look other girls and women in the eye and say hello. *
2. Focus on what you have in common with other girls and women. *
3. Create connections between girls and women to help them
recognize what they have in common.
4. Ask questions to understand differences when you must
5. Avoid judging other girls and women *
6. Avoid making assumptions by asking questions to
7. Listen to any other side of the story.
8. Ask other girls and women for help, but avoid expecting
more than they can give. *
9. Speak words to give other girls and women confidence.
10. Take action to help other girls and women shine.
11. Make room for other girls and women to share in success.
12. Speak what you want to hear because boys and men will
deny equality to girls and women as long as girls and women
deny equality to each other.
* Adapted from Dr. Reg Williams
Former Professor of Psychiatry and Vietnam veteran
I read Dr. Williams’ advice for Navy recruits in a Good Housekeeping magazine early in the second Iraq war. The article is buried in a box somewhere in my house. I will post the citation when I find the article.
In an effort to spread the word about girl goodwill, I set up a Facebook campaign where girls and women could tell stories about helping other girls and women succeed. I told a few stories from my own life. Thankfully, I had a number of stories to tell, easing my guilt over the far greater number of times I betrayed other females.
One story is about a woman I had been in a class with during college. She became a television reporter. I emailed her to ask if I could use her name in a girl goodwill story about how I purposefully paid her a compliment early in her career to help her feel more confident. She said yes, but wanted to have a phone conversation before I wrote the story. Before we could have that conversation, the television station let her go, probably because the station managers decided she had gotten too old and/or earned more money than they wanted to pay. I wrote the story without using her name. The former television reporter accepted what I wrote and published on the Girl Goodwill page without requesting any changes.
Unfortunately, Facebook changed my administrative email address attached my original email address to a different page. I do not know the new email address, so I can no longer administer that page. Facebook has ignored all my requests to give back my ability to administer my Girl Goodwill campaign.
Background On One Female Politician
I had briefly worked with a woman before she decided to go into politics. We talked about the ingredients for spectacular success and she found them useful. After her successful first election, I sent her an email, reminding her of the ingredients for spectacular success. She said she would remember them. Months later I sent her information about dream team formulas and pointed out which formula would be most appropriate for her to use as a politician. This was her response:
“Thank you so much for your kind words and very helpful thoughts on how I can work effectively for the district. I truly appreciate your words of wisdom and can’t wait to get to work!”
After I launched my Girl Goodwill campaign, I emailed the politician, explaining my campaign and asking if I could use her name in a story about giving her information to help her succeed. This is the response I received from her female assistant:
“Unfortunately, Wisconsin State Assembly ethics rules prohibit the use of any legislator’s name for marketing purposes.”
Marketing: the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
I emailed the assistant back, requesting an explanation of how asking women to tell stories about helping other women succeed and telling my own stories about helping other women succeed was marketing. I received no response.
I felt the female assistant had misrepresented me to the politician. If the female assistant was capable of misrepresenting me, the female assistant was capable of misrepresenting other constituents. The politician could lose votes in future elections. I sent an explanatory letter to another female politician. I never received a response. When I ran into the first politician at a public event, she exuded anger at me.
How did this politician go from appreciating my words of wisdom to deciding I was making an unethical request? The cultural themes of betrayal got in the way.
Note: It might be common for women in positions of authority to see unethical intentions in other women to justify judging them as deviant. See Girl Growl Backfire: An Editor gives Herself an Unprofessional Image.
If you are female, you know a female politician is judging you by the cultural themes of betrayal when she makes a decision about you without asking questions to understand differences, without asking questions to understand intentions, without listening to every side of the story. Two female politicians and at least one female assistant judged me without asking any of those questions. All of these women judged me according to the cultural themes of betrayal. If those three women judged me according to the cultural themes of betrayal, they are capable of judging any other female constituent according to the cultural themes of betrayal.
When women judge other women according to the cultural themes of betrayal, they treat them as unequal. When female politicians judge constituent women according to the cultural themes of betrayal, they treat the women they are supposed to be representing as unequal. What sort of equal representation can constituent women expect from female politicians who use stereotypes to judge them as deviant?
If a female politician judges you as deviant, the questions below will help you let the politician know that you expect her to treat you as her equal. They are my questions to the politician who gratefully accepted the information I provided to help her succeed. I expect her to treat me as her equal.
The questions are based on the six basic questions to ask politicians. Adapt the questions to your situation. You may not need to use all six of the basic questions.
What criteria did you use to determine that stories about women helping other women succeed is marketing for profit?
How did you determine the accuracy of your criteria before you used them to judge me?
Why didn’t you ask for more information about the Girl Goodwill campaign?
Why didn’t you visit the Girl Goodwill Facebook page to see what kinds of stories women tell about helping other women succeed?
Why didn’t you ask to read the story I wanted to write about you?
These are the subjects of the current stories on the Girl Goodwill Facebook page:
Speaking four words to a little girl in a laundromat
Introducing upper class women to lower class women in
a way that gets them talking to each other
Letting a businesswoman know that breakfast meetings
attract more potential clients than dinner meetings
An offer of help after sudden bereavement
Preventing young workers from taking credit for an older
female worker’s insights
Giving a television reporter a boost of confidence
Turning an unemployed woman’s life around by answering
her question honestly
Refusing to continue the cultural themes of betrayal by
using girl goodwill with a woman who intentionally betrayed
Giving a woman information to help her succeed in her
Now that you know what the stories are, what product or service does each story market?
What is unethical about my wanting to use your name in a story about giving you information to succeed when the information I gave you is free on my website, with free instructions for how to use it, with more free information about the importance of situational ingredients in creating success?
What am I marketing with free PDF downloads that say nothing about any product or service I offer?
Where will I get equal representation as a voter now that you have judged me as deviant?
How often do you judge female constituents as deviant?
Female Politicians Are Equal Only When Their Constituents Are Equal
When social status changes — including when someone wins their first political election — the new politician’s brain can change. Their social status and wealth grow compared to most of the people they associated with before their election. Their new status and increasing wealth can change their brains. Empathy for the people they saw as equals before the election will disappear if they no longer see those people as equals. Neither female politician felt empathy for my efforts to improve relationships between women. That is evidence that their brains have changed. They do not understand that my equality ensures their equality.
In spite of the judgmental response from the female politician, I told the story on the Girl Goodwill Facebook page anyway. I took out all identifying details. I initiated the action in the story so it is my story to tell. I do not market anything on the Girl Goodwill Facebook page or in my story about giving information to the politician. I told the story because I want girls and women to learn multiple ways of helping other girls and women succeed. Giving step by step information plus real world examples is one way to help other girls and women succeed.
I want the female politician I briefly worked with to succeed. All women should admire her for deciding to make a difference and succeeding on a difficult path. Just as success for any woman makes eventual success for all women more likely, equality for any woman makes eventual equality for all women more likely. The success of the politician makes my success more likely. Her equality in politics makes my equality as a citizen more likely. What all three of the women who judged me fail to understand is that success and equality for me makes success and equality for them more likely. It’s time for all female politicians to create equality for all female constituents, because equality between men and women will follow equality between women.
My Girl Goodwill Advice To Female Politicians With An Invitation For Male Politicians To Pay Attention
All politicians need to be aware of the potential loss of empathy for their constituents. All politicians need to take steps to keep their empathy intact. Follow these steps before making decisions about your constituents, both male and female:
Talk to people before you make decisions about them.
Ask questions to make sure you understand circumstances and intentions.
Investigate other opportunities to gather information about people and/or issues.
Constituents have the power to hire you, which means they also have the power to fire you. Staying hired means making decisions that give your constituents reasons to keep voting for you.
Do you, blog reader, see any marketing in that girl goodwill advice to help female politicians succeed?
“As for Empathy, the Haves Have Not”
The New York Times
December 30, 2010
“How Wealth Reduces Compassion”
April 10, 2012
Paula M. Kramer
Resource Rock Star (See websites below.)
All rights reserved.
Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks.
Standards For Success Posters
Resource Rock Star Details