Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Instead of "who does she think she is?"

You might've said she should have used a paper text instead of notes on her hand. You might disagree with her words. But in all the furor over Sarah Palin's notes written on her palm--for an interview and for a speech--if you put all that aside, there was still one more layer of negative reaction: Who does she think she is?

That's a criticism often leveled at women speakers, publicly or (more often) privately.  Does she think she's better than anyone else, getting up there in front of a crowd? Speaking her opinion? Seeking the limelight?  How dare she! We have all sorts of ways to discourage women from speaking in public, be it a meeting, a small-group conversation or a formal speech, but the criticism that suggests a woman speaker is somehow out of line for getting up to speak is one of the most insidious.

That may be why I was so pleased that First Lady Michelle Obama gave us another model for how to react. When Larry King tried to get her to comment on the Palin brouhaha, she said, "I think it's wonderful to have strong female voices out there," declining to comment about Palin because she doesn't know her personally.

Can we all start saying that when women speak up?  What do you think would happen?

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