Warning! This is a theory I have unsupported by any research. In other words, it’s an opinion. I believe that, and I think you find this in the workforce and this is particularly important for women, although if you’re a man, it might be useful to you too, there’s really three generations of women.
There is the pre-feminist generation of women and they’re kind of dangerous for other women. Why? You see the pre-feminists tended to view other women as adversaries. In the grand competition for getting the attention of men and being able to influence men, women tended to see other women as adversaries and competitors. This is where the concept of the frenemy came up, you know, somebody who appears to be your friend, but really behaves like your enemy. These are the people who are delighted when something bad happens to you or they want to knock you down if you’re up. I remember myself when I was much younger working for an organization, a youth development organization and I showed up at this meeting where I had to make a presentation. I thought I had looked really good, I was really well prepared and my boss came up to me and she looked down at me and she said, you know, Shelle, your button looks like it’s about to break off. I realized that what she was trying to do was sabotage my confidence because I’m like, hey, I’m looking great. That would be the act of a frenemy, somebody from a pre-feminist generation.
Then there are the feminists and in the feminist generation of women, women see other women as sisters and we need to support them. Now one of the dangers of the feminist generation is sometimes we support each other because we see the enemy is out there. It’s not like the truth is out there, the enemy is out there and that maybe going a bit too far. But the feminist generation did a lot of fighting and they had a lot of battles to win and even today, I mean I think we’re going backwards in terms of the number of women represented in leadership positions and this is something I think we really need to support, getting more women in leadership positions. But the feminists were good at fighting those battles and supporting each other through those battles and they come from a different age group than the pre-feminists, although sometimes pre-feminists can be young or old. It’s not necessarily always according to age.
Then the last generation of women, these are the younger women today that are just growing up. They’re in their late teens, 20s, and even in their early 30s and I call them the post-feminist generation of women. You see, they weren’t around when their mothers and their aunts were fighting all those battles just to be heard and be taken seriously. They get the benefits of some of those battles that we had to fight frankly in my generation. What’s important to the post-feminist generation of women is to be independent and decide for yourself and express yourself. Now, although this generation of young women like to communicate with their friends, they don’t necessarily think about the impact of what they do. These are the women who show up at work with cleavage showing. You don’t want to see that particularly if you’re a woman of my age. But the reason people really shouldn’t be showing their cleavage at this age is –and this is what I teach women when I’m teaching presentation skills is if there are breasts in the room, nothing else can occur. I mean even me, I’m not a lesbian and I can’t take my eyes off a good cleavage. But can you hear what someone’s saying if their breasts are in the room? I don’t think so.
So the post-feminist generation of women are busy expressing themselves, they’re not great at supporting each other. They tend to be very independent minded and they don’t tend, and I’m making a generalization here, to pay attention to the impact of what they do and what they say. You know what, I think these three generations of women each have lessons that they’ve learned about what to do and what not to do that if there were more dialogues they could each help each other. I hope this was an insight for you.
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