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The Women Out There

Quick confession: I google myself fairly frequently. I didn't really do this - much - until last summer, when a friend emailed to let me know she had googled me and found that I popped up as an acrostic on some random man's website. That got me wondering what else was out there.

In addition to all the usual suspects - links to the articles I've written, my blog, this blog, to other work I've done - my name occasionally pops up in a couple of less-than-pleasing places: There's a "Christian" site that attacks both me and the company behind Gifted For Leadership for a post I wrote last summer about Harry Potter (though I have to admit, I got a smile out of their calling Christianity Today, "Christianity Astray." While I disagree with the assessment, I thought the word play was pretty good. I digress?) A search of my name sometimes brings up some rather troubling "spanking" sites - all because I once wrote an article called, "To Spank or Not To Spank" about disciplining your child. Never in my life did I think my name could be linked to some freaky fetish or porn sites, but alas, it is.

Finding these reminded me of something I heard a politician say at a charity fundraiser last fall. He said he thinks people hesitate to step up to the leadership plate for two reasons: One, they don't want to bear responsibility. And two, they don't want to put themselves "out there" - for criticism, mocking, skanky fetish site, what-have-you.

As a typical first-born, responsibility-loving person, I don't relate to number one at all. But number two? That I get. As leaders - in all our realms - we've all had times when we've had to make a tough call or say some tough words or show some tough love. None of it easy; all of it putting us "out there."

Men leaders, of course, go through this too (remember, the politician who said it was a man), but I've wondered since then what difference this out-there-ness of leadership makes for women. I've experienced it two ways - meaning experiencing it both worse and better, I think, than men have it.

Sometimes, I've gotten the feeling that I'm being treated with kid gloves because I'm a woman. Perhaps because it's not polite or gentlemanly to call me on the carpet. While other times, I've sensed being treated harsher because I'm a woman - daring to speak at all. And still more times, I think it may all be in my overly analytical and sometimes paranoid head. That it's simply what I've said or done and not the gender behind it.

So I wonder what your experience has been when you've put yourself "out there," making a controversial point or decision? Do you think women are treated the same as men in this regard? Do you see or treat controversial women the same as controversial men?

February26, 2008 at 8:13 AM

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