The Gaslighting

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I evidently was using this term wrong. I was curious of the exact meaning of the word and got sucked into several literature reviews and articles. And then stuck in old memories.

Evidently, it’s a tool of psychological warfare.

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-signs-gaslighting-in-relationship

Some signs of gaslighting include:

  1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
  2. You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.
  3. You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
  4. You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.
  5. You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  6. You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  9. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  10. You have trouble making simple decisions.
  11. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  12. You feel hopeless and joyless.
  13. You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  14. You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend; daughter.
  15. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/gaslighting-definition-techniques-and-being-gaslighted/

Having been a victim of this type of psychological abuse is that you don’t see what is actually happening until you have distanced yourself from the person doing the abuse.

I literally did every single one of those things almost every day for almost 10 years while that person was in my life. I was terrified of being “too sensitive”, “wrong”, having to lie to cover for that person, feeling hopeless and depressed, hiding things from friends and loved ones, thinking that I’m the crazy one or I’m the bad one. Hell, I was afraid to talk to my therapist about the abuse, when the abuse was the whole reason I went into therapy. Like I said, I was the crazy one. But I was petrified to even mention that person to my therapist lest get back to him.

And on it went…

And then it stopped. And I realized I wasn’t.

I was very damn sane.

And some of the tactics used:

1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. 

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition. 

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identityis to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

4. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

5. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. 

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

7. They know confusion weakens people. 

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

8. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

9. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-signs-gaslighting-in-relationship

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The Statistical Trust and Why Folks Should Question Everything

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Math With Bad Drawings

I can manipulate data to say anything I want. So can you. So can CNN, Fox News, BBC, USA Today, CDC, NASA… etc.

And it’s not outright lying, either.

Since starting Keto, I’ve been doing a lot of medical research in my free time — about metabolic systems, cholesterol, good vs bad fat, diabetes, brain function, etc…

And all this research provides conclusions differing from long held medical and dietary beliefs. And I’ve always wondered, where does this come from? Who was the scientist/nutritionist/wizard who said dietary fat makes you fat?

I mean fat = fat. Makes sense? Yeah?

But the more research I do into the body’s metabolic pathways, and I realized how completely bad sugar is for you compared to dietary fat.

I read a really awesome article on how Keto, referred to as Very Low Carb High Fat (VLCHF) diet, actually causes you to have more good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases bad cholesterol (LDL) as well as “changing” LDL into HDL cholesterol. And I know to the lay person, the word cholesterol invokes images of crusty arteries and heart attacks, but your body needs cholesterol to make hormones.

The article gets way more sciency than I have time to go into.

But “people” say that upping fat and lowering carbs is bad.

Who are these people? The government? Your mom? Your ancient primary care doctor who hasn’t done any nutritional research since 1980?

Science proves to the contrary.

But on the topic of bullshittery, when I was in undergrad and grad school, I’d always write my papers at the 11th hour. And make A’s on them.

Because I’m awesome like that.

But I could pull the most random data from anywhere to prove my point and cite it. It could have been a study on amoebas and I could turn it into something about recidivism in adult male populations.

Well, maybe not that far fetched… but you get my drift.

I would go onto a database like Jstor, and do a search, look through abstracts and find what data I needed to prove my point. Add some fancy quotes and voila.

And because I know I’m not the only one who does this, If I see a recent scientific study, until I personally read their sample sizes, methodology, etc… I don’t trust it.

And neither should you.

I mean, people don’t have a lot of time to invest in what is “truth” and “fake truth”. The lay person probably doesn’t know how sampling methods can affect outcomes or different methods of statistical analysis that can be used to skew data. The lay person doesn’t have the time or urge to actually go out there and research.

I mean, in the age of the internet and wikipedia, people do have information on demand. But, who posts this information? What’s their agenda?

In my first research methodology class, my professor asked, “Why do murder rates and ice cream sales rise at the same time?”

Or something like that.

Two seemingly completely different things, that both saw a rise during the same time period. Are they connected? Do they have a correlation? Is it statistically significant?

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Murder and ice cream have nothing to do with each other other than the rates of ice cream sales and murder rates both rise in the summer.

Magic, right?

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The Curly Hair Appropriation Offense

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**Sigh**

Why?

So, I have curly hair. Like a lot of curly hair.

And I was tormented throughout middle and high school for my hair by everyone. Black, White, Hispanic, even the strangely large Hmong population.

In seventh grade, some White girl wrote in my yearbook, “GO BIG BUSH, GO!!!”

The Black girls loved to rag on my short curly hair — it was literally a past time of theirs. They would bully me incessantly, call me Big Bush, say my hair was nappy or frizzy… just it was bad. I repressed a lot of it.

My dad has curly hair, but because he’s a dude he can shave it off. Same with my brother.

My mother, however doesn’t. And mom are generally the ones tasked with doing their little girl’s hair. My mom didn’t have any experience with coarse, curly hair… so she cut it all off. I had a bowl cut for a long, long, long time.

When I started learning to do my own hair in middle school (required a lot of experimenting), I was allowed to grow my hair. And I about killed it with the flat iron and chemicals, trying to get that perfect, straight hair look that would stop the tormentors.

But nooo…

Since becoming an adult, I’ve really embraced my curly hair in various styles and lengths. I’m currently trying to grow my hair out from a pixie cut.

 

But, folks, evidently my hair is racist and cultural appropriation and I have to be mindful of how I wear it lest it offend someone.

I have a hard enough time managing my damn hair and now I have to worry about being racist for my hair doing whatever it wants. My hair is a honey badger. It doesn’t care about cultural norms or historical context. It does what it wants. I can only try to control it.

But everything now is “problematic”, and evidently hair is a big hot topic. Especially curly hair. I had no idea my hair was politically incorrect and problematic:

“Black Twitter” said it once, but let’s say it again: It is not cool for white women to wear black hairstyles. It is not cute. It is not flattering.

When white women wear black hairstyles, it’s a slap in the face to black women.

There are so many reasons why it’s not okay for white women to rock styles traditionally worn by black women, including Afros, braids (no, not French braids, calm down), dreadlocks, and baby hairs. Black hair is not just hair. There’s history and context tied to these styles that cannot be ignored, a historical legacy forever linked to the ongoing cultural remnants of slavery and institutional racism. A white person who wears these styles dismisses that context and turns black hair into a novelty, a parody, a subtle form of blackface.

Box braids and cornrows can be traced all the way to ancient African civilizations. The practice of loc-ing hair (which, no, doesn’t entail simply not washing the hair for several months) has religious ties to Rastafarianism.

Black women have had our hair mocked and degraded, we have been called “nappy-headed-hoes,” and we have been socialized to believe that our hair is “bad” because it is not straight. When we do rock our natural hair, it’s called unkempt and unattractive.

So, finally, no. No. When Black women straighten our hair, or dye it blonde, we’re not “appropriating white hairstyles” — it is not the same thing. The word you are looking for is assimilation. White hair is the norm. It is the default. It is the societal ideal. There are many reasons why black women today wear their hair either natural or straightened, but for the most part, the practice of straightening black hair came from a real necessity to conform and survive, and to better emulate societal beauty standards that oppress women of all races — standards that just happen to be based around white beauty.

It’s important to remember that when black women call out articles like the one featured in Allure, or criticize white women like Kylie Jenner or Rita Ora for wearing black styles, it’s not simply out of this need to deny access to something simply for the sake of it. To you, white women, it’s just a cool hairstyle. To us, it’s something we’ve fought to be able to fully embrace. There are other ways to admire or celebrate black hair without coopting it. But understand — black hair can be deeply political, deeply spiritual, and deeply personal.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/its-a-slap-in-the-face-when-white-women-wear-black-hairstyles_us_55c0c153e4b0b23e3ce3f27b

And I get it. There are historical and cultural significance to Black hair. I’m not denying it. To be completely honest, I absolutely adore Black hair. Mad props to Black women who go natural. All the lengths they go through to keep their hair healthy and beautiful is amazing and astounding. I am in awe of you.

But saying that a person, because they have a specific skin color, CANNOT wear a hair style is… well… you know. And evidently, even making a hair style up and wearing it, not knowing that it holds some significance to someone about something is bad juju.

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And I get it — a lot of people really identify themselves with their hair… it’s who they are and because of that it’s deeply personal to them. My hair is a very personal topic to me. I don’t like people randomly touching my hair, I only let people who have curly hair (that looks healthy) cut my hair, I’m picky about products and my routine, and I struggle so much with making my hair do what I want it to do.

And yes, I do buy my hair products from the “ethnic” hair care aisle, and I get strange looks for doing it. I love and swear by Shea Moisture products. I follow a bunch of curly hair sites and get tips and advice, regardless of if it is a site meant for “ethnic hair”.

But to have HuffPo and Buzzfeed call my hair racist because it does what it wants and I just so happen to be white person… it’s patently absurd. Then being told I have to watch how I wear my hair, or I’m racist.

*Sigh*

I can’t win for losing. I just can’t.

But at the end of the day, wear your hair how you want to. Life’s too short to worry about this kind of crap. There’s more important stuff in life to give attention to.

Update: Did a bit more research — not just HuffPo and Buzzfeed, but there is some real vitriol and disdain for white women with curly hair out there.

Because I was born to a mom with straight hair, and had no idea how to take care of my own hair, I’ve relied on a lot of hair health tips from Black hair gurus/experts/mavens/goddesses and they are so spot on.

I mean, first white people need to be “educated” about Black hair and what is copacetic, because we are “ignorant”, but when we try to understand and appreciate, we are scolded for being in their “spaces”. And I don’t understand it. I just wanted to know how to take care of my curly hair.

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Comments from the post from naturallycurly.com

I mean, I get it, hair is a tetchy subject.

But it’s like, “okay. I’m listening.”

Then I read something like this and I’m just dumbfounded.

The title of this post sums up what I’m going to write about here. Twitter is abuzz about a post on Curly Nikki, featuring a Q&A with a white woman named Sarah talking about how she has learned to embrace her curls. This seemingly innocuous post features this woman musing about how she’s learned to accept her texture, and doing everything from co-washing, hoarding products to sleeping in a satin bonnet to protect her texture.

Sounds familiar?

So a site that was started by a black woman as a guide to help other black women with natural hair or those who were transitioning to natural hair decided to once again (I’m told it’s not the first time a white woman was interviewed) feature a white woman discussing her curly hair. What’s more offensive is they didn’t even alter the questions to account for the fact that Sarah never transitioned or “went natural.” However, Curly Nikki is a lot different than what it used to be. It’s now a brand owned by TextureMedia, a company that offers “dynamic social platform that empowers & engages a multicultural community of female influencers – the largest in the world of haircare.”

Oh…

Anyway, I am beyond exhausted of seeing white women propped up in spaces traditionally reserved for black women as a way to add credibility to our issues. I’m tired of seeing the use of white women employed to appeal to the masses, as this does nothing but silence and eliminate the experiences and voices of black women. I’m sick of white women coming into black women’s spaces, with what they call an attempt to learn and create solidarity, only to use their privilege to take over and ignore our plight as they work to bolster their own brand.

White women and their hair stories do not belong in spaces that cater to black women with natural hair. The term ‘natural hair’ has always been connected to black women and our hair stories, not that of white women. White women, while they can have curly hair, can not refer to their hair as natural without engaging in some form of cultural appropriation. This white woman did not start wearing her hair natural nor did she transition. She simply wore one hairstyle while growing up, and later decided she would wear her hair down. That decision by this woman featured in this blog post can NEVER compare to what black women face when we decide to transition from chemically relaxed to natural hairstyles.

The faux struggles curly-haired white women face when they “embrace their texture” is nothing like the social, political, personal and economic fallout inflicted upon black women when we shun the relaxer. Curly-haired white women don’t know what it’s like to have your boyfriend (or girlfriend) flat out say he (or she) prefers your hair to be straight (because of that whole white Eurocentric beauty brainwashing thing); when you family asks you, “You going to keep your hair like that?” Or “What do you plan to do with it?”; when white women ask you all kinds of ridiculous questions about your hair routine (because we can’t possibly use the same shampoo and conditioner as them, right?); when people are so brazen and arrogant to believe they have the right to ignore your humanity and run their grimy fingers through your coils; when your boss comes up to you and tells you how unprofessional your Afro is and that it does not belong in the workplace; when fellow black women talk about how brave you are to go natural, to embrace your kinks and wish they can do the same; when you spend hours upon hours on YouTube watching self-appointed natural hair stars demonstrate their tips on how to get the perfect twist out (because having a frizzy twist-out is not cute, apparently).

I’m sure there are some who couldn’t care less about Curly Nikki featuring this white woman in her Q&A. I know there are some of y’all who believe appropriation by white folks is flattery; that this is a nonissue and black women will find anything to be upset about. This white woman’s appropriation of the natural hair community’s terminology and framing those experiences as comparable to what she went through in her “journey” is indicative of her and Curly Nikki’s disregard for black women and our humanity. It ignores the gritty and sobering issues black women who wear natural hair face — those issues white women can bypass and brush off because they are, well, white.

Furthermore, the use of this white woman and her hair story further perpetuates the trend in natural hair circles to center experiences around women who have a looser curl pattern or, for those who are obsessed with hair typing, the 3a, 3b, 3c, etc. Black women who have tighter coils, kinks and naps — 4a, 4b, 4c, etc. for those keeping score — are constantly told through marketing campaigns that our texture is not the kind of natural hair we should embrace. It’s not a coincidence that we see an abundance of curl enhancers/definers being peddled towards black women who aren’t yet comfortable with rocking their frizzy undefined afros. Obsessed with chasing the ever-elusive curl, black women spend countless hours on YouTube and blogs such as Curly Nikki looking for ways they can make their 4z texture appear more like a woman rocking 3c curls. Some of us spend hundreds of dollars each year on hair products that promise to give us curly, defined styles. We spend hours each week twisting and stretching our hair to make sure we don’t wake up the next day looking like Don King’s shrunken down Afro. But we are supposed to look at this Q&A featuring this white woman and feel inspired to embrace our naps because her curly hair experience is just like ours!

We should not want or need white woman and their loose curl patterns in natural hair circles for black women. We should not promote white women picking and choosing which parts of blackness they can mold into their life experiences while simultaneously erasing and invalidating the lived experiences of black women who can’t leverage white privilege to make our journeys easier to navigate.

http://newblackwoman.com/2014/06/29/white-women-dont-belong-in-natural-hair-spaces/

Shit I can’t make up.

To hell with it all. I’m going to wear my hair how I want to.

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The Lit Review — WSJ: Woman-on-woman workplace bullying

 

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I borrowed this WSJ article by Dr. Drexler — it is an interesting statistical analysis and break down about Queen Bee syndrome and bulling in the workplace.

The Tyranny of the Queen Bee
By Peggy Drexler, Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2013

Women who reached positions of power were supposed to be mentors to those who followed—but something is amiss in the professional sisterhood.Kelly was a bright woman in her early 30s: whip-smart, well qualified, ambitious—and confused. Even a little frightened.

She worked for a female partner in a big consulting firm. Her boss was so solicitous that Kelly hoped the woman—one of just a few top female partners—might become her mentor. But she began to feel that something was wrong. In meetings, her boss would dismiss her ideas without discussion and even cut her off in mid-sentence. Kelly started to hear about meetings to which she wasn’t invited but felt she should be. She was excluded from her boss’s small circle of confidants.

What confused Kelly was that she was otherwise doing well at the firm. She felt respected and supported by the other senior partners. She had just one problem, but it was a big one. One of the male partners pulled her aside and confirmed Kelly’s suspicions: Her boss had been suggesting to others that Kelly might be happier in a different job, one “more in line with her skills.”Tina Brown talks with Kelsey Hubbard about how she has survived and thrived through the ups and downs of her career and the importance of women friendships and how she’s managed to keep “beating” the boys at their own game.

I met Kelly while I was conducting research on women in the workplace. She was trying to puzzle through what she had done wrong and what to do about it. (To protect the privacy of Kelly and others in the study, I refer to them here by first names only.) I wasn’t sure Kelly had done anything wrong, and I said so. As I told her, “You might have met a queen bee.”

Having spent decades working in psychology, a field heavily populated by highly competitive women, I had certainly seen the queen bee before: The female boss who not only has zero interest in fostering the careers of women who aim to follow in her footsteps, but who might even actively attempt to cut them off at the pass.

The term “queen bee syndrome” was coined in the 1970s, following a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan—Graham Staines, Toby Epstein Jayaratne and Carol Tavris—who examined promotion rates and the impact of the women’s movement on the workplace. In a 1974 article in Psychology Today, they presented their findings, based on more than 20,000 responses to reader surveys in that magazine and Redbook. They found that women who achieved success in male-dominated environments were at times likely to oppose the rise of other women. This occurred, they argued, largely because the patriarchal culture of work encouraged the few women who rose to the top to become obsessed with maintaining their authority.

Four decades later, the syndrome still thrives, given new life by the mass ascent of women to management positions. This generation of queen bees is no less determined to secure their hard-won places as alpha females. Far from nurturing the growth of younger female talent, they push aside possible competitors by chipping away at their self-confidence or undermining their professional standing. It is a trend thick with irony: The very women who have complained for decades about unequal treatment now perpetuate many of the same problems by turning on their own.

A 2007 survey of 1,000 American workers released by the San Francisco-based Employment Law Alliance found that 45% of respondents had been bullied at the office—verbal abuse, job sabotage, misuse of authority, deliberate destruction of relationships—and that 40% of the reported bullies were women. In 2010, the Workplace Bullying Institute, a national education and advocacy group, reported that female bullies directed their hostilities toward other women 80% of the time—up 9% since 2007. Male bullies, by contrast, were generally equal-opportunity tormentors.

A 2011 survey of 1,000 working women by the American Management Association found that 95% of them believed they were undermined by another woman at some point in their careers. According to a 2008 University of Toronto study of nearly 1,800 U.S. employees, women working under female supervisors reported more symptoms of physical and psychological stress than did those working under male supervisors.

Something is clearly amiss in the professional sisterhood.

Erin, another participant in my own study, was a food writer at a glossy magazine. Her supervisor, Jane, seemed out to get her from day one—though never quite to her face. Jane liked playing hot and cold: One day she would pull Erin close to gossip about another colleague; the next she would scream at her for not following through on a task Erin hadn’t known she was expected to perform.

Erin eventually found out that Jane was bad-mouthing her to mutual contacts in the food and restaurant industry. Jane would casually slip barbs into business conversations, telling others, for example, that Erin had engaged in an affair with a married man (she hadn’t) or was giving more favorable reviews to restaurant owners who were her friends (she wasn’t).

Jane’s campaign against Erin wasn’t much more than mean-spirited gossiping, but Erin felt that it caused her peers to think of her differently and certainly made her professional life more difficult. But how could she lodge an official complaint? “What would it say?” Erin asked me. “Jane is talking about me behind my back?” At various points, Erin thought the only way to fight back was to play along and start trash-talking Jane. But was that really the solution?

As the old male-dominated workplace has been transformed, many have hoped that the rise of female leaders would create a softer, gentler kind of office, based on communication, team building and personal development. But instead, some women are finding their professional lives dominated by high school “mean girls” all grown up: women with something to prove and a precarious sense of security.

What makes these queen bees so effective and aggravating is that they are able to exploit female vulnerabilities that men may not see, using tactics that their male counterparts might never even notice. Like Jane’s gossiping about Erin’s personal life. Or when Kelly’s boss would comment on her outfit: “Who are you trying to impress today?” Or not-so-gently condescend: “Did you take your smart pill today, sweetie?” Their assaults harm careers and leave no fingerprints.

That is one reason many victims never see such attacks coming—and are powerless to prevent them. In Kelly’s case, she had assumed her female boss might want to help foster her growth out of some sense of female solidarity. Erin had specifically sought out working at the magazine because she admired Jane’s writing and wanted to learn from her. Why wouldn’t Jane be eager to teach? It is women, after all, who are hastening the table-pounding male bullies toward obsolescence.

But both Kelly and Erin’s superiors seem to have viewed the women under them not as comrades in arms but as threats to be countered. In a world where there are still relatively few women in positions of power—just 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 16% of boards of directors, as noted in Deborah Rhode and Barbara Kellerman’s book “Women and Leadership”—it is an understandable assumption that the rise of one would mean the ouster of another. One for one, instead of one plus one.

Though it is getting easier to be a professional woman, it is by no means easy. Some women—especially in industries that remain male-dominated—assume that their perches may be pulled from beneath them at any given moment (and many times, they are indeed encouraged to feel this way). Made to second-guess themselves, they try to ensure their own dominance by keeping others, especially women, down.

The result is a distinctive strain of negative leadership traits—less overtly confrontational than their domineering male counterparts but bullying just the same. Comments on appearance or dress are part of their repertoire—something that would be seen more obviously as harassment when coming from a man—as are higher, sometimes even unreasonable, expectations for performance. Women who have risen in male-dominated fields may want to tell themselves that their struggle and success were unique. As a result they sometimes treat the performance of females who follow as never quite good enough.

It cuts both ways, though: Women aren’t always the best employees to other women either. Female subordinates can show less respect and deference to female bosses than to their male bosses.

Queen bees are less overtly confrontational than their male counterparts, but they are bullies just the same.

A 2007 Syracuse University study published in the Journal of Operational and Organizational Psychology found that women are critical of female bosses who are not empathetic. They also tend to resent female bosses who adopt a brusque and assertive management style, even as they find it perfectly acceptable for male bosses. And so they question and push back, answering authority with attitude.

One woman I encountered in my research, Amanda, faced this problem when she began a new job as a vice president at a Manhattan ad agency. The role was her first in management and included overseeing three women who were her age or younger. She knew she was qualified for the position, but from the very first day, Amanda had a difficult time feeling that she had their respect, or even their attention. Though deferential and solicitous to her male colleagues, they openly questioned Amanda’s decisions. They went above her head, made comments about her wardrobe and even refused to say good morning and good night. She felt like she was back in high school, trying to break into an elite clique.

Amanda tried various tactics: being overly authoritative, being their “friend.” Eventually she stopped trying to get them to respond or encouraging them to do their jobs as directed. Instead, she fired all three.

Queen bees are creatures of circumstance, encircling potential rivals in much the same way as the immune system attacks a foreign body. Female bosses are expected to be “softer” and “gentler” simply because they are women, even though such qualities are not likely the ones that got them to where they are. In the more cutthroat precincts of American achievement, women don’t reach the top by bringing in doughnuts in the morning.
Men use fear as a tool of advancement. Why shouldn’t women do the same? Until top leadership positions are as routinely available to women as they are to men, freezing out the competition will remain a viable survival strategy.

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Dr. Drexler is an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and the author, most recently, of Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers and the Changing American Family.

Wall Street Journal

Source: WSJ: Woman-on-woman workplace bullying