If you caught Part I of the Female Double Bind series, chances are your blood is already up to a steady simmer. Being pushed into a limiting corner of Bad Mom or a Moocher is more than enough to piss off a stadium full of women -- but top that with a shameful personality, and you just got yourself up to a raging boil. Let's see why.
Personality: Thinking vs. Feeling
(The Weakling vs. The B*tch)
Whether you cheer for team nurture or nature -- or both depending on which article is having its five minutes of fame -- we can all attest that personality is essential. The amount of personality tests circling around the Internet is laughable (BuzzFeed: Which Teletubby Are You?). But one in particular jumps off the page due to its measurement of a certain personality spectrum that women have to deal with every dang day.
The popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a personality test that types subjects according to their preference of these four psychological spectrums: Extroversion-Introversion, Sensing-Intuition, Feeling-Thinking and Judging-Perceiving. Basically, after you finish taking a lengthy test, you are assigned four letters: one representing each of your preferred functions that no one ever remembers. For example, I am an INFP (Introversion-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceiving).
Out of the four spectrums, Thinking vs. Feeling is the only function correlated with gender.
The female population are 75.5 percent feelers and 24.5 percent thinkers (as opposed to 43.5 percent of men who are feelers and 56.5 percent who are thinkers). The rest pretty much match down the road. Also, did I mention that the "feeling" and "thinking" descriptions are eerily similar to the cultural gender stereotypes defining women and men? Read on my loves.
Regardless of gender, "feelers" prefer making decisions with their heart, and are naturally more sensitive, empathetic, warm and communal. Asking for promotions or putting themselves first ain't their jam. In contrast, thinkers prefer using logic when making decisions, and tend to value fairness, justice and reason. Considering others' feelings or embracing a sense of community probably isn't their forte. Sounds like the stereotypical descriptions of females and males to me.
The women who fall in line with the stereotypical gender expectations -- basically women who are "feelers" -- are super well-liked, but are seen as weak or incompetent. The female "thinkers" on the other hand are deemed as super competent, but aren't asked to sit at the lunch table (cue the words "bitchy," "bossy" or "domineering").
So ladies, line up and pick your poison: weakling or b*tch! Who's first?! Come claim your prize as a crazy-emotional, hot mess of a human or a nonsexual, boss hog.
Yay. Another gem of a choice. Except, wait a minute.
Even if we wanted to choose from those glamorous nametags, we don't really get to choose. This is our personality we're talking about. And how many times have we desperately tried to mirror society's expectations, only to fall short in a puddle of inauthenticity? It's exhausting and humiliating all at the same time. Oh, and as a side note, the MBTI has nothing to do with intelligence. Literally, nothing.
It feels like no matter what we do, we're labeled as incapable of making the tough calls or too bossy to be loveable. How the heck are we supposed to thrive at home, school or in the work place, if we can't even be ourselves?
In the heat of the anger, there are a few steps that can help us come closer to cutting off the legs of this giant double bind.
1. We can pay attention to our audiences' preferences (i.e. a feeler speaking to thinkers on a daily basis) and learn how to better effectively communicate our messages.
2. We can find positions that showcase our abilities while still exercising and developing on our weaker functions.
3. Above all, we need to support each other, even if we come from the opposite ends of the spectrum.
As women, we should applaud each other's strengths at home and in the workplace. A woman who favors fairness over community shouldn't be labeled as a man or a b*tch -- she should be labeled as a woman. Her personality is what makes her unique, capable and strong -- not a stereotype. Similarly, we must also support the women who embrace their sensitivity and prefer the subjective way of life -- she, too, is capable of succeeding and thriving in many different environments. She can be kind and competent at the same time.
Make a commitment and strive to understand your friends, coworkers, daughters and moms -- because they are being judged just as harshly for their intrinsic personalities. Let's work to be embraced by our choices, instead defined by our of limitations.
Stay tuned -- Part III of the Double Bind is heading your way. Get ready to rage.
Spoiler alert: catch the full article in all its glory here.