Lionesses Hunt Together

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Almost five years ago, my good friend and a sparring partner at exercising our grey cells gave me a book by Terry Pratchett; since then I have become seriously addicted to his creative work. The genre this author is writing in is generally defined as social fantasy though I personally would call it travesty satire: only a coat is left here from trolls, werewolves, and leprechauns. And all the other political, economic, social, geopolitical, spiritually-oriented processes of the human civilization are so recognizable. Among them are those referring to gender equivalence. This is what the book “Monstrous Regiment” is about.

I do not want to spoil the pleasure of my bookworm brethren. That is why I will not retell the plot, I will reflect on the underlying message in the “quotation – comment” format. On a “simple-to-complex” basis.

On “family values” and dress code
“I don’t want to put any trousers on because then I’d be a woman dressed up as a man”
The skirt and the trousers used to be articles of clothing for the opposite sexes in different countries at different times. But in the European civilization’s tradition the skirt (except the kilt) has archetypically established itself as a female garment and the trousers have come to stay as male ones. And a woman in the world of business often dresses the same way a man would do under the circumstances. Not understanding that clothes do not constitute a gentleman. At the same time, male clothes generate vigor and motivation to behave more relaxedly, to take risks easily, to attack more aggressively. This implies both a quasi-male style of management which is so popular with female bosses and which is not always efficient because of its artificial nature.

On gender stereotypes
“To be frank, the problem here is not that you are women. As such, that is. But you persist in maintaining that you are. You see? We can’t have that”
It is convenient for men to deal with a “quasi-male” woman: she is playing on the others’ territory and to the others’ script.
It is customary and pleasant for men to see a woman behind a senior official – a Venusian woman attentive to compliments and inclined to carry on intrigues.
It is horrifying for men to meet a woman who is a person knowledgeable in their rules of the game and who has made up her own as well.

On female bosses
“– And you promoted them, did you, if they was as good as men?”
“– What do you take me for? I promoted them if they were better than men.”
So why is the majority of female bosses so reluctant to help their sisters-in-gender climb the career ladder? Even though I cannot but repeat that on the road and in business gender identity does not matter, I am surprised. There must be some subconscious arrogance: “I am unique, I have cut my way through legions of sexists, overcome/used harassment, I am genius. I don’t need women-followers. Here I am together with men on this Olympus.” This is something prehistoric, deep, brutal – something that prevents numerous women-bosses from carrying out a balanced gender policy. And even in this respect they act like men.

On “female waxworks”
We weren’t soldiers, she decided. We were girls in uniform. We were like a lucky charm. We were mascots. We weren’t real, we were always a symbol of something. We’d done very well, for women. And we were temporary. Kisses don’t last.
I am incredibly irritated by all sorts of feminist ratings – of wealth, influence, business achievements. Because they include a lion’s share of ladies shining with bouncing light of their fathers – husbands – brothers – boyfriends – patrons. Who serve as a cloak for somebody else’s capitals. Who were put on parties’ lists like an eye candy or a flower arrangement. Who mean nothing and are of no importance despite the influence attributed to them. The eternal choice of to be or to seem to be in the world where “to seem” is easier and more profitable. In the country where the only really influential “mommy with balls” is, generally speaking, on the sidelines.

On female career
‘I . . . expected better of ‘em, really. I thought they’d be better at it than men. Trouble was, they were better than men at being like men. So . . . whatever it is you are going to do next, do it as you. Good or bad, do it as you.’
The greatest enemy of every woman is she herself. Her inner complexes, her apriori and subconsciously accepted lack of freedom, her habit of slavishly conforming to discriminatory social norms. Or her ingeniously rebellious wish to turn from an oppressed one into one of the oppressors. No master is worse than a former slave.
You know about lions? Well, the lion is a big ol’ coward, mostly. If you want trouble, you want to tangle with the lioness. They’re killers, and they hunt together

On the image of the enemy
The enemy wasn’t men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just bleedin’ stupid people, who came in all varieties. And no one had the right to be stupid.
Other enemies are not men by any means, they are traits of the human character that have no gender. You simply have to detect them with a naked eye but not through a gender filter where professional and personal behavior of potential female rivals looks less attractively than the same kind of behavior of males suitable for versatile use.
My comments on Pratchett are not a guideline to follow. They are just notes on the cuff. That is why here is another thought for the dessert. We are living in the world where the woman got her suffrage only 120 years ago. And we should accept the world as it is – as it has been made by biological and social processes for thousands and thousands of years. But it is within women’s power to make it more comfortable for ourselves if we want to – keeping our authenticity, showing solidarity and pooling our efforts. We don’t have to be either feminists or “femens” – we should be just sensible decent people who understand that competing cooperation is more effective than a centuries-long “intergender” squabble.

“Life was a process of finding out how far you could go”
© Terry Pratchett, “Monstrous Regiment”

Tags: Gender equality; Leadership; Success