Thursday, October 9, 2008

Four Modes For The Working Woman

Nobody likes to be told what to do, and nobody likes to be criticized, and nobody likes to be told that whatever they're doing isn't good enough.

Men, it seems to me, particularly hate being told these things by women.

This means that any woman who has a job that involves telling men what to do and telling them when they're not measuring up will have a much easier life if she can develop a kind of "work persona": a mode of being that is related to, but not identical to, her true self, and that taps into one of the types of women that men don't mind being pushed around by.

As I see it, there are four such modes.

1) The mom.

Obviously, one major mode of acceptable bossing around comes from mom. The mom is warm, and easy-going, and always has your best interest at heart. She's doing this for your own good, and she'll give you a teaspoon of sugar to make the medicine go down. Much as I disagree with Sarah Palin's politics, I think she's doing the "mom mode" like we've never seen it done.

2) The bitch.

You'd think being bitchy would turn people off, and sometimes it does, but sometimes it really works. I think the trick is to make people feel, yeah, you're being bitchy to them now, but some day when the stakes are big, you're going to be bitchy on their side, and then they'll be thrilled to have you in their corner. Think Hillary Clinton.

3) The dominatrix.

This isn't necessarily sexual, though it can be. The dominatrix tells you what's what, beats you up a little psychologically, but makes it kind of fun, or at least kind of interesting. The big difference between the dominatrix and the bitch is that the bitch is emotionally hot, while the dominatrix is emotionally cold. The dominatrix delivers her orders and assessments with no anger and no smile. I'm thinking Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

4) The cute girl.

You might think, and I used to think, that the cute girl mode would only work for women who are relatively young and powerless. But it's a surprisingly versatile mode, and it can be effectively deployed in a variety of ways. The essential thing is you make your demands pleasant and fun to satisfy because, Hey! They make a cute girl happy and proud. I can't think of any public examples, but I assure you I have seen this in action.

I suppose it's telling that I have real examples for 1 and 2 but not for 3 and 4. Maybe these are more successful modes. I don't know.

In any case, it's not an exhaustive list. You can mix and match or create your own!
These are just, you know, suggestions.

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