Women in Leadership Series: Part III

Power“A great man once said, everything is about sex. Except sex. Sex is about power.” –Frank Underwood, House of Cards, #1.9

In modern socioanalytic theory, we like to focus on how we depart from Freud in our thinking. To Freud, everything was motivated by sex. To us, everything is motivated by status and power. Although we have to agree to disagree with the ghost of Freud on that one, lately I’ve been thinking he was onto something.

We face the constant over-sexualization of women in every aspect of modern life, from the media’s obsession with women’s appearances, to sexism in the workplace, to blatant rape culture. The vortex of attention on women’s appearances, bodies, and sexuality is so consuming and so seductive that even women talk about other women like they’re animals. Can we stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s hair? Seriously.

The oversexualization of women is rampant, and it’s hard to believe it’s not linked to women’s anemic presence at the executive levels.

Oh, Freud, late have I loved you.

You were right, Freud, it is all about sex, because sex is a proxy.
An excuse.
A distraction.
A Trojan horse.

Sex is a proxy for power. If we denigrate women sexually in the workplace, we aim to take away their power. It’s a diversion for the real issue: the crisis of power being in the hands of women.

Fascinatingly, when we look at women’s leadership derailers against men’s, we see two major trends. Women are much more dutiful, which means they defer to authority more and assert their opinions less. Women are also much less mischievous, the Machiavellian tendency, which means they don’t go pushing their own agendas. Women are conditioned to relinquish power, instead of taking it when deserved. Our constant belittling, sexualizing, and demeaning goes so far as to impact women’s personalities on a mass scale.

So think before you talk about one of your female colleagues, before you criticize someone’s appearance in front of your daughter (or, more importantly, your son), and before you click on an article about celebrity bikini bodies and give Us Weekly some ad revenue.