Mean Season

Dec 14, 2016 at 10:22 am
Mean Season

I knew we were in trouble when Sheryl Sandberg wanted us to #BanBossy. Sandberg is Facebook chief operating officer and author of the how-to-get-moms-to-the-boardroom-table-without-feeling-guilty book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” Her book offers women a recipe for success, including forgiveness, if they couldn’t manage to “have it all,” after all.

If Sandberg is to be believed, the work/family-balance struggle is real even if you earn six or seven figures and are a figurehead for the “Bitches Get Stuff Done” brigade, from “Saturday Night Live.” Two years or so after the book came out, and an election result that took many people by surprise, it turns out being bossy isn’t the problem. Maybe being too nice is.

For the ambitious liberal democrats among us, though,“Bitches Get Stuff Done” serves as a motivator and a truism, which makes Donald Trump’s win even harder to accept considering much of his success is attributable to Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager. Conway, who said women shouldn’t work at the White House/seek high political office if they prioritize their families, is, inarguably, a Bitch Who Gets Stuff Done. On paper, Conway seems like one of the white elitist educated women she so enjoys filleting.

Don’t be fooled, though, because her complete lack of empathy for women as we fight for equality contravenes the entire spirit of the Bitches Get Stuff Done ideology. She is not one of us. How then can we reconcile Conway’s version of Bitch with The Bitches Get Stuff Done Brigade? Will the real Bitches please stand up?

For Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who brought us “Bitches Get Stuff Done” on SNL, Bitches are the antithesis of Conway. Bitches are women who support each other’ highest aspirations. So when the president-elect admittedly grabs women’s genitals without consent because he can, his inaugural committee blocks a women’s march at the Lincoln Memorial before his inauguration and his nominees for cabinet positions reflect the oldest, whitest, rich man wet dream since Washington crossed the Delaware, isn’t it time to reconnect with our innermost, survival-of-the-fittest, eat-or-be-eaten Bitch who dwells within us?

If success is measured by Kellyanne Conway, yes.

Liberal Democrats may have become too nice. We don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or run the risk of being exclusive or elitist, thus in our quest to remedy all the wrongs, we got soft.

We erred on the side of caution. We weighed options before speaking. We didn’t name call. We didn’t advocate violence. We shamed those who would deny others their “otherness” as racist, bigoted misogynistic, backward xenophobes. We empathized. We Kumbaya-ed ourselves into a safe space and got caught in its netting.

Empathy and its effects on the election and electorate is the essay topic du jour. The most notable (to me) is “The Perils of Empathy” by Dr. Paul Bloom, which appeared Dec. 2, 2016 in the Washington Post. Bloom, a Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University, wrote that compassion, rather than empathy, is what we need to cultivate to convince others to hear our pleas. Whether our goal is to fundraise, get a politician elected or even persuade a jury, the key is to recognize another’s suffering (compassion) but not take it on as one’s own (empathy). According to the research, the latter finds us so mired in others’ plights that our own emotional response hampers our effectiveness.

To wit: “We are so concerned with appearing to be for every man that our voices have been demoted to pontificating the meaning behind Trump’s verbal atrocities and not using them to demand answers,” Julie Wilson said. Wilson, publisher of the now-defunct Story Magazine said Democrats failed to ask the right questions at the outset of the election. “What will make America great again? No one asked.”

A lawyer friend asked: Would Democrats have won had we lied with abandon, spewed propaganda and manipulated the non-college educated, tactics Trump used?

If we start implementing that strategy right now, Bitches, we will know the answer after the 2018 election.