Watching Ourselves Being Watched

woman w mirror sculptureWatching Ourselves Being Watched

Last week I delivered my “Top 10 Unwritten Rules That Can Sabotage a Woman’s Career” speech to the Austin chapter of Women in Communications. It was such a pleasure, because the WIC membership includes a lot of my favorite people.

Responding to rule # 7 (“Women are rendered invisible until they demonstrate otherwise”), one attendee asked me: “How do you put yourself out there on social media without becoming one of ‘those people’?”

Here’s the answer I gave at the time:

“First, you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing/offering, then get clear about your message. Take the risk to put your message out there, and experiment with various strategies until you develop the unique voice that fits your message and your personal style.”

Since then, I’ve further considered that question, and I realize that I missed a really important teachable moment. Here’s the answer I’d give now (if I could have a Q-and-A Do-Over!):

“That question bespeaks another important way that men and women are constructed to move through the world differently. Men take action. They don’t worry about how they’ll look. At least, it certainly doesn’t prevent them from putting themselves out into a public arena with as much power as they can muster. Women, on the other hand, are conditioned to approach action with a ‘double-consciousness.’ We don’t think just about what to do or say, but how it will ‘look’ to other people when we do or say it. To some extent, it’s a wise thing to understand how we’re coming across to others, but it becomes a crippling or diminishing thing when we are so concerned with ‘how will I look’ that we hold back from what we really think or feel. How can we let go of watching ourselves being watched?”

Photo by eisenbahner

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