“Don’t try to be a man in a man’s world, be a woman”. Not too long ago, this became one of my favorite phrases. In its simplicity, it articulates one of the problems I’ve been having my entire life.
Growing up with two brothers and no sisters meant that I’d grow up trying to be “just one of the boys” most of the time, and simultaneously learning how to wear a skirt and a pretty smile when I needed to. My father made sure my brothers learned how to be tough and work hard, how to not take no for an answer, how to shake a hand firmly, how to negotiate, how to close a deal, and how to be proud of a life you earned yourself. My mother in turn, taught me manners, how to make an entrance, how to properly set a table, how to be a gracious host, how to not lose my shit in an emergency, how to insinuate, and how to charm my way out of any situation.
It’s funny, as a kid, I used both my mom and my brothers’ lessons equally. When I needed to confront a bully, I knew I had to stand tall and get my hands dirty. When we wanted our dad to take us to the toy store, my brothers knew I was the charming, persuasive, little lady for the job. As a kid, I could be as tough as nails, ready to handle my own problems, just as much as I could be a damsel in distress.
As I got older things started to change. Society does that a lot. It makes you question things you were once so sure about. In the adult world, it seemed like there were only two types of women: the independent woman, and the damsel in distress. It’s safe to say I rejected the damsel in distress narrative pretty vehemently. I treated everything my mom taught me like a plea to be taken care of, to beg for men to do things for me, and coerce them to do so.
I figured being polite and charming was an attribute of those who hadn’t learned the value of hard work, who didn’t believe in themselves enough to get things done, and had to rely on the coercion and persuasion of those who did. If we were living in a man’s world, I planned to run with the best of them, dominate them, and conquer the world head on just like the boys. Happily ever after...Right?
Not exactly. I soon discovered the worst thing a female can do is reject her feminine advantages and try to copy how men maneuver through their world. Let me let you in on something: being a female in the boys club is not as bad as it seems. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines trying to smoke cigars and hope they invite you to watch the game. Trying to play by rules that are rigged against you is a waste of time.
When I attended my first important meeting, and I was the only female in the room, I kept trying to hide that as much as possible. I hoped no one would notice; I wore slacks, put my hair up in a bun, spoke in a low register and kept my handshakes extra firm. Little did I know, the real power I had was actually in owning the fact I was the only woman in that room. It took me a while to understand that I had to begin to transform my weaknesses as my strengths.
The Divine Feminine
Let’s be honest, men and women are different. Some things usually come easier to men than they do to women, and vice versa. It’s no secret that men are usually more adept for grueling manual labor, seem to be generally inclusive with other men, and also seem to be more adapted to hiding their emotions. These things all help them maneuver through a world dominated by other men, and sometimes as women, we think that if we can’t mimic these things, and hide our own sensitivities we won’t succeed in their world.
I beg to differ. I think learning how to wear your womanhood on your sleeve with confidence is exactly what you need to succeed, especially in male dominated industries. Bit first, you have to change your perspective on yourself and other women.
Women are highly intuitive, and while men are known to be levelheaded problem solvers, women are known to be highly effective problem preventers. The type of nurturing and attention to detail that usually comes more naturally to women, is exactly what organizations need to prevent mishaps and maintain a competitive advantage.
I think knowing how to accept our divine femininities as strengths, rather than treating them as weaknesses, is a major key in female domination. I’ve seen women handle important business negotiations with the same passion that would make her a great head of a household, and a great mother. I don’t think you have to push the “I can run with the boys” or “I am just not like other girls” narrative to be taken seriously.
I think a lot of the times women ignore their natural talents involving intuition, persuasion and the art of insinuation, wishing they had the more masculine traits of muted emotions, social dominance, and aggressive persistence. I don’t think that’s necessary. In fact, one of my favorite feminine talents is the all powerful art of insinuation. That’s how you really get them to do what you want.
Mastering the Art of Insinuation
Dealing with obstacles head on is a luxury of men living in a man’s world. Sure, I’d love to have an equal opportunity at being heard, but the truth of the matter is, many times women find that their voices are not as important.
When men work together, they can relate to each other, they are inclusive with each other, they are more at ease...they joke with each other and they say things they wouldn’t say around women. It’s a special kind of boys’ club. The kind of club that has been solidified by thousands of years of male domination outside the home.
Within this boys club, men often have trouble distinguishing their experiences with women in their personal lives, from the women they engage with professionally. I always find that men find it more exhausting to find solutions to problems with women rather than men; negotiating can quickly feel like an argument when it involves a female, and close attention to detail is easily perceived as “nagging” when it’s coming from a female coworker.
So, what the fuck is the solution?
God gave us women a knack for insinuation. The art of insinuation is the art of influencing people indirectly, of making them feel like the things you want them to do are their own ideas.
Think of it like this, when you ask for something directly, people are immediately aware you are trying to convince them of something. Once someone is aware you are trying to convince them of something, their defenses go up. They automatically start thinking of ways to say no. It’s natural for humans to do this, it’s almost like a self-preservation reflex. When you suggest something rather than ask for it outright, you bypass this defense mechanism:
What distinguishes a suggestion from other kinds of psychical influence, such as a command or the giving of a piece of information or instruction, is that in the case of a suggestion, an idea is aroused in another person’s brain which is not examined in regard to it’s origin, but is accepted just as though it had arisen spontaneously in that brain - Sigmund Freud
In other words, I believe women are very good at inception. Instead of wasting time negotiating, and getting dirty with the boys, we keep our hands clean by making things happen indirectly, being patient enough to allow someone else to take credit for an idea, as long as whatever you need done, gets done. It’s having a chokehold on the unconscious decisions people make, rather than the conscious ones.
So how does it work? "You disguise a hint, a seed, in an accidental comment, a slip of the tongue. It works best when it tugs at some kind of emotion, maybe an insecurity, or something your target may be missing in their lives. You let that hint take root in your target's mind. When you take a jab at someone’s insecurities, or you incept an insecurity in someone’s mind, the emotional toll is so overwhelming, and the source of it soon fades from the target’s mind. When you feel enough time has passed for your seed to grow, you again suggest indirectly that you might hold the key to its solution" -Robert Greene.
You create the need and become the only one who can satisfy it.
You will never need to ask anyone for anything or play in the boys club if you master the art of insinuation. It is a special kind of influence which
I believe women are more keen to. We are more intuitive by nature, as we are usually highly sensitive to emotional cues.
It's about learning to use what society may have conditioned you to perceive is your weakness, as your strength. That’s where power begins.