When did you hear of a man running for president getting lambasted for “shouting”, or being “too ambitious”? Yet, we don’t bat an eye when these kinds of labels are applied to a female presidential candidate. In a powerful and succinct article in the Washington Post, linguistics professor Deborah Tannen puts the finger on the kind of double bind that Hillary Clinton and other women in positions of power have to put up with all the time: as leaders they are expected to be confident, ambitious and hard headed, but as women they are expected to be the opposite. Act like a woman should, and get dismissed as being too soft and incompetent. Act like a leader is supposed to, and risk being seen as aggressive and unlikable. It’s the kind of sexism that is so subtle and pervasive that most men – and women too! – are not even aware of it.
(cartoon: Tom Toles)