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Being kind is not being a p*ssy. It’s being human

Luba Kassova | April 30, 2024
Being kind is not being a p*ssy. It’s being human Being kind is not being a p*ssy. It’s being human
I am addicted to Suits at the moment (I don’t know how I missed it when it came out, but I did). Its Shakespearean-style modern storytelling, filled with power struggles, betrayal, passion, love, hate, abandonment, quick-witted dialogue, tribal loyalty and drama that never spills over into melodrama, makes for utterly compulsive viewing. No amount of gender stereotypes, with which Suits positively oozes, can deter me away from stealing every free moment I have to lose myself in it.
Watching Suits has also offered a masterclass in viscerally conveying the feeling of what makes male-dominated work cultures in industries like law, investment banking, journalism, security, intelligence, tech and others, so challenging for ANYONE to thrive and be happy in. The biggest underlying problem is the globally-shared social norm that confines universal qualities like kindness and empathy to women and degrades them as inferior to competitiveness and unwavering drive.
Nothing illustrates this damaging belief better than this dialogue from series 4, episode 10, between the two main protagonists, Mike and Harvey. Here you can see that being kind is being associated with being a p*ssy, which signifies being weak.
“Men don’t do touchy feely” we hear often. In our relationships we frequently unconsciously diverge in how we move through the world: women feeling more, men competing more.
The compassion-starved and over-competitive cultural bedrock underpinning male-dominated industries, typically embraced by men and women alike, breeds burnout, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
The good news is that we can challenge that. To get over the win-at-all-costs overdrive hill to a more human-centred valley, we must start by acknowledging that kindness, empathy and compassion are universal qualities that transcend gender. Then we can train ourselves to see these qualities as attractive and cool, not a turnoff and dull. Until that happens, the #MeToo- fuelled equality train will continue to decelerate, as it has been doing in the last few
Let me leave you with a rather illustrative reflection that a very senior female news leader from the global north shared with me in an interview when I was researching From Outrage to Opportunity, describing the win-or-lose culture in journalism that so often lacks empathy.
“‘Are we winning? Are you losing? I don’t care how you feel, I don’t care that I worked you for a year and you haven’t been home - are we winning? Oh, we’re winning. Okay. We’re losing? It’s your problem.’
So, it was literally that one dimensional leadership versus three-dimensional leadership that understands that high performance goes with healthy minds and healthy bodies, and healthy home lives and healthy workplaces.”
Let’s bring more heart to our heads… it’s a win-win for all.

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