It really irks me when Donald Trump accuses Hillary Clinton of playing the woman’s card. What is the woman’s card anyway? Being a woman and being supportive of other women? And it’s not as if being a woman has been much of a help in the business or political world. How many women CEOs head up Fortune 500 companies? 22 as of October, 16, 2015 or a little over 4%. How many women are in Congress? A little over 100, just under 20%. So when The Donald makes the woman’s card sound like an unbridled asset he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Nicholas Kristof, op-ed writer for The New York Times, wrote about how worthless the woman’s card tactic really is in his May 1 column. Kristof cited research showing the obstacles that women face in the workplace and the unconscious bias against women that exists among both men and women. He noted that a patriarchal attitude is absorbed and transmitted by men and women, which is “one reason women often aren’t much help to other women.” Esther Duflo, an economist at M.I.T. who has studied gender issues told Kristof, “Women aren’t particularly nice to women.”
The key obstacle, as Kristof points out, “is that it’s difficult for women to be perceived as both competent and likeable: If they’re seen as competent, they’re grating nags, while if they’re perceived as nice, they’re airheads. There’s no such trade-off for men.”
So what does all this talk about how women are perceived have to do with friendship? Well it’s my contention that some women and girls gravitate towards the men and the boys with power, hoping it will rub off on them. They perceive themselves and other women as weaker and look to male friends and mentors to give them a boost. As a result they may unconsciously avoid deep and lasting friendships with women. They may deny that sexism exists in the workplace or the Washington power corridors. But they are wrong. And they are also missing out on the extraordinary benefits that having a close female friend brings to women. A female best friend has your back and is there to help you when your life is in shambles or cheer you on when you are victorious. She’s there in the middle of the night if you need a shoulder to cry on. She understands your need to talk. She doesn’t judge. She listens. She’s just there for you. If that’s playing the woman’s card count me in as a card-carrying member.