Mama Grizzlies or Grizzly Mamas?

Meg Whitman tapped as the Republican nominee for Governor, Republican Carly Fiorina to challenge Barbara Boxer for her Senate seat, and Republican  Nikki Haley possibly becoming the first non-white female governor of South Carolina. All Sarah Palin endorsed mama grizzlies. Or are they grizzly mamas?

 It’s great to see women running for public office and winning support. The good news is that these women are restoring a broken link between women and leadership. But what kind of leaders are they? Do they represent an uplifting female model that restores the link that feminine skills like inclusion, empathy, collaboration, relational skills, care, responsibility are powerful, rather than touchy-feely? Or are they Amazons, women who have disconnected from their feminine side in order to be successful, like the mythical Amazon women who cut their breast off to be better archers and warriors?

  I’m sure that all these women have had their hard knocks to get where they are. But did they get hard in the process?  Given their successes, they certainly know how to play the game, but are they willing to change the game? It’s hard to gage what their leadership style is, in part, because the media is usually so unfair to women so you have to question if they are being slammed. Yet looking at past performance, aside from being female, there doesn’t seem to be anything different in their leadership than what we have been getting from privileged white men.

Carly is guilty of excesses of outsourcing, engaging in the hubris of a merger and acquisition with Compaq that failed to produce as most M&As do, and of laying off lots of people for the bottom line but willing to take 20 mill  in a severance package for herself when she was fired from the HP. Meg fell for the worst political habit of the wealthy that undermines democracy, buying her bid for office, much like Romney and Perot, and managed to spend more money on her campaign than any other run for governor. And if you are connected to your feminine side, you are connected to Nature and you would never say “create jobs, curb environmental regulations,” which is what Meg said. Nikki Haley doesn’t have much of a track record but shhe does oppose health care reform although she did call her party in state government to task by demanding their voting record be transparent, so everyone could see what kind of perks they were voting for themselves.   

     We’ll see what happens but being a CEO and a public servant are two very different hats.  Business sector should be only one sector of consideration, not the only one and it’s dubious if these women make that distinction.  Will these conservative women who are pitching to tighten government make life harder for working moms by cutting away at child care, health care, elder care, after-school care?  Are they mama grizzlies who will fight for women/children-friendly policies or are they grizzly mamas who perpetuate a system that historically subordinates women and undermines women’s economic growth and advancement?


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