Some things in life are inevitable.
You will get wrinkles. The sun will rise again. Charlie Sheen will drink.
And of course the final inevitability: everything has to be examined from the gender angle.
I put if off for as long as possible, but Kate Reed in Fairly Legal has just made it too hard to ignore: women and men are actually not the same. (I am about to shamelessly stereotype here, be warned.) Different genders are better at some things and worse at others.
~Great at connecting with other men with sports analogies
~Great at splitting the difference (just hand them a calculator, tell them it’s a remote and they have to find the channel in the middle. har har.)
~Much as I hate to admit it, typically better at moving past emotions and cutting to the bare bones practicality
~We wrote the book on understanding emotions and interests
~Great at connecting with other women through stories (“When I was pregnant, …”)
~Much as I hate to admit it, women mediators in too many courtrooms and conference rooms STILL are viewed by OWM judges and OWM attorneys as a glorified secretary. I hate this. And would vehemently argue this point with myself if I hadn’t seen it happen so often.
The point of this post is not to get into the actual details of the different powers and weaknesses that often come with being male or female (if you are interested in that topic though, please check out Deborah Tannen and Nina Meierding. incredible and insightful work). The point of this post is simply to point out with different genders and different personality types come different types of power, and this power can be helpful or hurtful.
Helpful Use of Womanly Powers:
In a recent mediation Kate Reed met with one of her clients (Beth, the BBQ sauce creator) and inspired her to be strong. She used her female gentleness to befriend someone who was scared, and then used her quiet resolve to inspire her client to do what she knew was right. Thumbs up.
Hurtful Use of Womanly Powers:
In another scene, Kate Reed saw two men arguing over stealing a lunch. She sweetly walked up, well, she kindly strolled, uh, she, ok. She flirted and seduced two men into agreeing with her. She convinced them to agree with something, not sure if either men were truly happy or just distracted, she didn’t help them learn to communicate with each other, and then instead of inspiring them to be more mature, she taps them on the nose. Thumbs down.
Please, someone, tell me: when did seduction take the place of mediation? And when did other women just let it happen? I, for one, am incredibly proud of my skills as a woman: I’m a great listener, great talker, sympathetic, insightful, comfortable with emotions, and can inspire others (sewing, cleaning, dishes, laundry, not so good at. but I can talk til the cows come home!). So, dangit Kate, why not use one of the many incredible powers you have as a woman to build others up, further the profession, and bring peace to others?
Instead, she cocked her head, wiggled a little, and said, “Just do as I say, boys, and you’ll all be happy.”
To sum up: Mediation = Great time to listen, help, and heal. Bad time to belittle, manipulate, and seduce. Unless you’re on Cable TV.