Thursday, May 08, 2014

'The Confidence Gap' ...

You really must read this.

It's lengthy. Grab a beverage and settle in. If you're a woman or you've ever known a woman, I guarantee that you will find it fascinating, illuminating, and possibly many other -atings.

"Ruminating" springs to mind. ("Nauseating" does not count.)

Ruminating is what I've been doing since I finished reading the piece, so while one part of my brain is saying, "Go outside and cut the grass, Beth," another part of my brain is saying, "No, write this post. Write it right now while you know what you want to say."

You can see which part of my brain has won out. Also, it's supposed to be nearly 90 degrees today and the trees are not yet in leaf so there is almost nothing in the way of shade out there and so, well, screw you, grass, you can stay long another day.

The post in The Atlantic – which I linked to in the first sentence but I'm linking to here again in case you haven't yet clicked – look at how many words I am devoting to this hotlink; I really want you to read this article – I'm nesting thoughts set off by multiple sets of dashes, for God's sake – may as well be a mirror.

A very comforting mirror. I am not alone in my experiences. A goodly portion of my gender experiences the same thing.

The gist of the piece is that women lack confidence more than they should whereas men are often overconfident when they have no good reason to be.

The reasons, however, behind this reality are many and far-reaching, all the way back to our early childhoods.

Yes, the brains of men and women are different. Yes, we process information differently and store memories and emotions differently. "... women seem to be superbly equipped to scan the horizon for threats," for instance. The writers were speaking evolutionarily, but the trait remains. Now, however, women aren't noticing a wild boar charging toward men who are no doubt oblivious as they're too busy reciting every baseball stat ever recorded. No, now we womenfolk use our hyperkeen powers of threat-scanning to notice spiders when we walk into rooms.

Well, I do, anyway.

And it's a trait that never failed to amaze one of my brothers when we still lived under one roof. If there's a spider to be spotted, I'll spot it. But if there's a man in the room, spider-smooshing duty falls to him.

But seriously, the piece brought to mind many moments and instances in my life in which I've hesitated and others have balked at my hesitation. And those "others" have been men.

Which, having read the piece, now makes more sense.

Their brains are wired differently. They were conditioned differently. They don't experience the world the same way women do.

Relations between men and women can now make a quantum leap. Truly, this is important information.

Angelo once wrote to me, "No Someday. Now. Stop looking so hard. You're too talented and smart to keep waiting for 'inspiration' or something. Just do. Please."

It's very good advice. And I appreciate his encouragement. He's a very good encourager.

But those words resonate in a slightly different way today.

Of course that's his prescription. He's a man. That's how men think.

Women, for a host of reasons (presented so well in this article), proceed at a very different pace – if they proceed at all.

I'm also reminded of a salon visit to my beloved hair architect, J-D. I was in his chair. He was standing behind me. We were talking to each other in the mirror, the way stylists and clients do. He was suggesting a cut or a color technique that we hadn't tried before. I was pondering, even though I trust him implicitly when it comes to my head. He tolerated my hesitation for about 30 seconds before he looked at me in the mirror, shrugged, and said in a this-is-gonna-be-great tone, "Let's just do it!"

And so we did.

Mind you, this post is not meant to absolve me of all action. I know I still need to do.

But I'm comforted, having read the piece today (I'll refrain from linking to it one last time; you get the idea) that it's not just me. It's not just my hesitancy and fear and perfectionism.

It's a lady thing. A girl thing. A knowable thing. A changeable thing.

We really do need to start speaking to young girls differently. We really do need to dispense with the notion of girls being "bossy" and conveying to them that that's bad.

I was "bossy" as a child. "Mom, she's playing Mother again," was my brothers' lament.

I was mature for my age (and girls mature faster than boys). I was (and am) smart. I saw good ways to do things. Yes, I once corrected my 2nd-grade teacher. To her face. She was wrong. (Yes, that was a teachable moment for me about decorum.)

But I'm more than a little awed to sit here and think about how life might have been different if I didn't learn, as a girl, to tone things down, to know my place.

How might the world be different if that were true of women of all ages, everywhere?

I look forward to watching the next generation find out.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home