There's No Such Thing as 'Acting Like a Man'

Getty Images

Much of the conversation surrounding the dismissal of Jill Abramson from her post as editor of the New York Times is about how she was punished for “acting like a man.” We really need to stop saying that.

The emphasis in each of these cases was on the perceived double-standard when it comes to female leadership, the he is the boss, while she is the bitch whole thing. This is absolutely a real problem, and one that merits much discussion. That said, we need to be more careful about how we talk about it.

In order for us to achieve this great dream of gender equality we need to not just deconstruct our notions of femininity, but of masculinity as well. When we casually repeat, over and over again, that Abramson was “acting like a man” we are doing the very opposite.

Just like women are punished for acting tough, men are punished for acting soft. She’s sensitive, he’s a pussy. It is just as important to get rid of that binary, as it is the boss/ bitch one.

Of course men don’t naturally act any one way. But we certainly reward them for acting one way, and that is the macho one. And so we are left with a culture that doesn’t just reward brashness with success, but often requires it to get anywhere in the first place.

By letting go of the idea that acting like a man means acting tough, we will open ourselves up to different ways of being and no longer will acting macho have the monopoly on what we interpret as powerful and competent. There is more than one effective way to leader, and both genders win when acknowledge this.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

There's No Such Thing as 'Acting Like a Man'

Thank you!

This article has been sent!