Friday, August 3, 2007

Anger at Work Double Standard?

This article claims there is a double standard at work, where angry men are tolerated more than angry women. I just have to chalk this up as another thing I just don't get. Why would ANYONE tolerate angry behavior from ANY gender? To me, getting angry at subordinates and yelling or otherwise expressing it is unprofessional behavior that just makes you an asshole, and not someone I would ever want to work with. Putting a penis on a person who acts that way wouldn't alter that conclusion.

Why oh why would anyone tolerate an asshole or think being an asshole at work is acceptable, ever? That would be my number one rule as an employer - if you're an asshole, you're GONE. Bye bye. Go be an asshole in the unemployment line because you're not working for me.

14 comments:

Ashi said...

It's got to do with what is considered more "deviant" behavior. Women who kill their partners and are convicted receive much harsher sentences than men who do the same because it's perceived as much more "deviant" for a woman to do that than a man. Stupid isn't it?

DBB said...

Still makes no sense to me. And are you sure about women receiving harsher sentences for that? I thought as a general rule, when it came to criminal convictions and sentences, women were much more likely to be acquitted, much more likely to be charged with lesser offenses for the same conduct, and much more likely to get shorter sentences for men for the same conduct. Or is killing a partner an exception to that general rule? (I do know that it has been speculated that a lot more women get away with murder because of the method used - women are more likely to use poison, for instance, and often that is mistakenly considered to be natural causes so there is no murder investigation at all).

But yes, if what you say is true relating to the article, it is terribly stupid. I guess you could call that a strange penalty for the general demonization of men by society these days - if it means now people expect that men will just be assholes as a matter of course. What is the rationale then? If you get rid of an asshole man and replace him with another man, odds are, the replacement man will also be an asshole, so why bother? While women are somehow considered less likely to be an asshole, so if you get rid of a woman for being an asshole, a replacement woman will likely not be an asshole?

Why can't we all get together and agree not to work with assholes. ;)

Ashi said...

That's a good question, I read it in a magazine in an article about battered women who went and killed their husbands (I think they all shot them, though I read this last summer so my memory is a bit fuzzy.)

You're the lawyer so you'd probably know the big picture more but the article was referring only to the killing of spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, ex-lovers, etc.

I totally agree with the male demonizing thing, especially in cases of divorce. My uncle is going through one and his wife is absolutely psycho (this may come off as biased but believe me it's true.) But she gets away with everything because she's beautiful and flirts with the so-called "Children's interest lawyer" and starts crying all the time. He's met so many men in this support group whose wives have deliberately lied about things like being abused just to get the upper hand.

I think a lot of these laws were made with the right intentions (look at divorce laws in third-world countries where some women can't even INITIATE a divorce). They are just so easy to exploit though, and very unfair to the large amount of women who actually DO suffer from abusive husbands, etc.

armagh444 said...

Part of what's at play here is that there is still a meme running through our society that holds that it is more acceptable for a man to be aggressive than a woman. Also, the line at which aggressive becomes angry is set higher for men than it is for women.

I know that sounds somewhat odd, especially to someone from the Midwest, where gender stereotyping has comparatively less power, but this is a phenomenon that does exist and has very real consequences, as I have learned from personal experience.

I went to law school down in Virginia, and while I was there, I was a member of the school's Moot Court team. One of the most startling parts of that experience was the way judges reacted to my style of argumentation. I am a forceful person, and when I argue a legal position I tend to do so in very unambiguous terms. Having said that, there really wasn't much difference between how I argued and how most of my male colleagues argued, and yet, I almost always received comments about being angry. Significantly, none of my male colleagues received such comments.

This, incidentally, was not something that was just a matter of my perception. When I first noticed what was happening, I talked to a couple of my more experienced male teammates, and they said that they had noticed the same thing, that it happened to every woman who argued with the same force as the men, and that the only thing they could advise was gentling things up a bit.

A female teammate, who had dealt with the same drek, suggested that I start wearing pearls.

Want to know the funny thing? The advice worked like a charm. As long as I was "properly demure" while making my points, I avoided reprimand, but if I ever strayed into the strength of voice that my male colleagues used, I was again told I needed to watch my anger.

Anonymous said...

My experience seems to be the opposite. It appears more acceptable for a woman to be angry.
If a man is angry someone will say "im scared when he behaves like that" and he will get fired. But a woman being angry is tolerated...

DBB said...

I don't doubt that some people do this, I still just don't understand it. Maybe I just grew up in too liberal a town.

Incidentally, I did a little bit of moot court. I'm not much of an orator. After I was done, I was told I should have shown more passion and one of the judges asked me if I intended to practice corporate law. The argument in moot court was over a criminal matter. Lol. I guess I was too even in my tone. Part of my problem was too little preparation as well, I'm sure (had a pretty busy schedule in law school). My partner was very strong in tone and she got way more points than I did and was in the finals. So I guess the whole tone thing isn't universal. Or I was penalized for not being angry enough.

ballgame said...

ashi: What you're referring to sounds an awful lot like this article. As I noted over at Our Descent, I suspect that the comparison being made is simply not 'apples to apples'. To evaluate, one would need to know the actual circumstances of the partner killings, the percent that were brought to trial, and the percent that resulted in a conviction. It's theoretically possible that the figures cited could even be consistent with a bias against men, if it turns out that male perpetrators tend to be convicted in 'manslaughtery/self-defense' type cases where female perpetrators are either not charged or not convicted.

I did think it interesting to see that in the five instances the writer of the article I cited was using to demonstrate 'indifference to violence against women,' one of them involved a man killing another man. Heh.

All of which is a bit of a digression from the OP, I suppose. I do think that men — or, to be much more accurate, powerful men — have greater license than women (or 'un-powerful' men) to express anger. But I think women have greater license than men to express all other emotions.

DBB said...

That is an interesting point, considering the license to express emotions other than anger. I never thought of that before.

hedera said...

I believe the defense of "battered woman syndrome", which California now calls "intimate partner battering", has only been recognized in the last 10-15 years. Before that, a woman who responded to repeated abuse by blowing her man's head off could expect to spend many many years in jail. In a pleasant change, California is about to release a woman who has been in jail for 21 years for exactly this crime: check out the article here for a real life example.

hedera said...

By the way, I absolutely agree with DBB that angry assholes shouldn't be tolerated; but they are...

armagh444 said...

DBB, I'm presuming you went to law school in the North, which probably goes a long way toward explaining the differences in our experiences. Which is not to say that things are perfect up here, but there's a reason I moved back to the Midwest. Misogyny is a lot less of a problem up here. This isn't to say, of course, that the Midwest doesn't have its own version of the Old Boys Club, but it's substantially less in your face, and a woman up here isn't as likely to get the "ball-buster" rep if she's as aggressive as the men.

DBB said...

Hedera - yes, there has been some difficulty with the BWS cases because classic self-defense doesn't allow you to claim it if you wait and ambush someone or kill them in their sleep absent extreme circumstances.

Armagh - I haven't experienced the south really, either in Law School or in life, thougH I have been through the area. I guess I'm sad to hear that it is like that down there. I went to Law School in Michigan. Perhaps part of the disconnect with people on gender issues is because of geographical differences - maybe mysoginy is really bad in places and non-existent in others. I can't claim to know much about living anywhere outside the central beltway of Michigan.

armagh444 said...

While I would agree that misogyny is definitely more subtle and manifests in less onerous ways in the Midwest than it is in the South or in the Southern Plains, I don't think anyone can truthfully say that there is any state or region in this country where one could honestly say that misogyny is non-existent.

Your comment spurred a series of thoughts for me, and I decided to ask my husband about misogyny, specifically querying as to whether he felt there was any part of the country in which misogyny was non-existent. I did this for two reasons. First, as a woman I am sensitized to misogyny, and likely to respond to instances that others might find arguable, and for the sake of this discussion I wanted to be sure that we remained in the realm of what everyone would agree upon as misogyny. Second, my husband has lived in, well, enough states where it's easier to list the ones he hasn't lived in than the ones he has, so he has a wider sphere of experience from which to draw. His response to my question was that, based on his experience, there is no where in this country where misogyny is non-existent. (He's not one to alter his opinions or observations to suit my predilections either; if he were, we wouldn't still be arguing over capital punishment.)

Now, that being given, it's a lot easier to deal with the misogyny that exists in the Midwest than it was to cope with the nonsense I dealt with in the South.

DBB said...

When I speak of non-existence, I'm not talking large swaths of geography (well, unless they are empty) I'm speaking more of one's immediate surroundings. Like me, I pretty much spend almost all of my time either at home with my toddler (and wife when she gets home) or at work. I really have very little time to do anything else. So in my limited sphere of exposure, when it is just me and my toddler at home or just the family, I can safely say there isn't any mysoginy in the immediate surroundings. And when I'm at work, I think I can also say the same, working in a small office with I think rather exceptional people. So in my limited sphere, I really don't see any mysoginy, and that is not just because it is very subtle - it probably has more to do with my limited exposure to the world, in general.