by Katherine Leicester 7/22/14
The article in the Sunday July 29 Seattle Times newspaper by Kyung M. Song, “Cantwell and DelBene Lecture Tech Giants On Gender Equality,” uses a typical passive-aggressive (an indirect expression of hostility) writing style that I find increasingly annoying.
Part of my annoyance is because I prefer my hostility undiluted. If you’re feeling hostile just tell me, don’t run around behind me and whisper because I won’t hear you. Also, rather than reading a complete series of facts describing what happened, I have to decipher a list of contradictory and incomplete allusions to some belief or other that’s so understated it’s impossible to decipher.
The other reason I find articles written with this diaphanous meme is because I dislike cowardice. Passive-aggressive behavior, including writing, is cowardly. And lazy. And annoying. (In case you thought I was passive-aggressively alluding to cowardice and annoyance.)
But, because this style of writing is more common than not, I’ve determined it’s time to do the heavy lifting that should have been done before the article was written. In order to understand the article’s message we must first distil it to the belief system that informs the writer. The result is known as “bias,” which is fine as long as you’re clear about it, and as long as you restrict your bias to the opinions page and not try to pass it off as “reporting.”
Under the guise of reporting “just the facts, ma’am,” the article is in fact the manifesto of the Female-Statist Belief System (FSBS), affectionately referred to as FemBull by many of its critics. To wit:
- The corporate world—in today’s article exemplified by the tech industry—deliberately creates working environments that are at best hostile to women.
- Women are natural leaders.
- Women are better qualified to control organizational culture, because women are more ethical, and because they are women (see #2 above).
- Because corporate culture prevents women from pursuing their full potential (see #1 above) the only reliable way to recreate corporate culture is for the State to mandate it, creating such rules and conditions as they deem necessary for enforcement.
- This is for the good of all. See #2 and #3 above.
Read the article with this belief system in mind, and see if you don’t come to the same conclusions. Take this idea of distilling what you’re reading down to its belief system and much of what passes for reportage will become glaringly clear.
Kathy Leicester is a blogger, writer, and speaker living in the Greater Seattle area. She blogs about courage and leadership in all areas of life at Jet City Leader.