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What I’m going to write isn’t going to be easy even though it’s the truth. I’ve experienced it time and again in my own jobs, and I feel it’s important to give it a voice. It’s something women live unconsciously, giving their all to their families, households, and jobs.

In my mind there is a 30%/100% percent rule, a double standard which applies to women. 

The rule is this: men are expected to give 30%, and when they give 50% they are heroes; women are expected to give 100%, even 120%, and when they deviate by even 1%, dropping to 99% they’re lambasted. I have plenty of example of this, but a simple one should suffice.

I know of a female hospice doctor who was very responsive and doing a good job. She told me that she had been called multiple times by nurses who hadn’t been able to reach their covering doctor - a male physician. Each time they called her they would tell her that they hadn’t been able to reach him for hours and then state with real concern and compassion, “This isn’t like him; I pray that he’s ok.”

This same female physician, who prided herself on responding quickly and comprehensively, was simultaneously accused by a nurse of not responding quickly enough - simply because she had been in a meeting and had gotten back to the nurse an hour late for a non-critical issue. The nurse had rapidly escalated this complaint all the way up to the top. She’d had to defend herself against a fabricated narrative although she had virtually always performed above and beyond.

It struck this person as morosely funny, that when the male physician repeatedly didn’t respond it was viewed with compassion and concern, was he okay, and when she hadn’t responded (in a much briefer time), it was viewed as an issue. How dare she perform less than 100%?

Why are we not viewing women through the same lens as men? Why are we not as compassionate with women as we are with men? Why do we cover up for men for subpar performances or behavior? Why is the standard for women - in child rearing, taking complete care of the young and old, maintaining our looks to never age, running the household to keep everyone clean and fed, and working an outside job - held so impossibly high, and men much less?

It might be an uncomfortable truth to hear, but many men are given a free pass in underperforming - in their behavior, their relationships, and their jobs; especially now that their prior "real" work of hunting and farming and provision of shelter has been outsourced. There appears to be a robust global tradition of holding women to the high standard of doing without fail a majority of the remaining real (unpaid) vital labor of living, and letting many men slack off, create false busyness, and remunerate themselves better for doing so.

It’s high time that we have a discussion about the nuances of what really constitutes work; and of why we - all of us - are unforgiving with everything women do, while turning a blind eye to the failings and shortcomings of men. Really, we need to raise everyone better: there shouldn't be a double standard with compassion and tolerance.


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