Linguist Deb Tannen
Identifies the Paradox
That's Haunted Hillary
'Women in authority are subject to a double bind, a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't paradox. Society's expectations about how a woman should behave and how a a person in authority should behave are at odds. If a woman speaks and acts in ways that are expected of a woman, she will be liked but may be underestimated. If she acts in ways that are expected of a person in authority, she may be respected but will probably be viewed as too aggressive. The characteristics that we associate with authority are also characteristics that we associate with men. This doesn't mean that every man possesses those traits, but if he aspires to, his path is clear: anything he does to fit society's image of a good leader will also bring him closer to society's image of a good man. For a woman the two goals conflict. To the extent that she fulfills the expectations associated with being a good leader, she violates those associated with being a good woman. If she meets expectations associated with being a good woman, she veers away from the characteristics we expect of a leader. That is the essence of a double bind: anything you do to serve one goal violates the other. And that is the vise that has Hillary Clinton--and potential voters--in its grip.'
--from Deborah Tannen's remarkable chapter in the new book, Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary--Reflections by Women Writers. We think the Georgetown University linguist, who specializes on the different ways men and women talk, listen and interpret the world, is one of the most consistently enlightening authors we encounter, and someone who wonderfully bridges the gap between academia's normally jargon-laden gibberish and clear writing for general audiences. We could use a thousand more like her. You can learn more about her here, and to check out all of her books, go here. UPDATE: Former Wall Street Journal book editor Manuela Hoelterhoff, now with the Bloomberg news organization, interviews the book's author, Susan Morrison.