The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Tuesday, November 10, 2015
By Todd D. Giardina, PH. D

November 13th is Sadie Hawkin’s Day. This seems like a silly tradition to continue, in this day and age. Sadie Hawkin’s Day (and related dances) used to be a clever, fun, or arguably important time for gender role reversal – the girls asked the boys to the dance. And while sock hops of olden days don’t really persist, this theme does somewhat – see the latest dating app, Bumble. With this app, the Sadie Hawkin’s rule applies – the girl makes the first move in initiating contact and conversation, and there is a time pressure element.

But with gender equality gaps lessening (though noticeably still present), this antiquated tradition seems outdated. Women are CEOs of major, multibillion dollar corporations (see Yahoo, GM, Xerox, Lockheed Martin, Pepsi, etc). The sexual revolution has happened, no longer requiring permission for social and sexual assertiveness – women can buy vibrators from now! Casual sex is spoken about openly in the media, by women (e.g., Sex and the City, Amy Schumer, etc), without immediate negative backlash.

Though, of course, the biggest selling “romantic” novel in recent years was Fifty Shades of Grey, which romanticizes the dominance of women (albeit consensual, and arguably the female character retains the power in the relationship, regardless of who holds the whip). And women, even in top positions, still make less on average than their male counterparts. In the dating world, women who make advances on men continue to be labeled in a derogatory fashion, by those they pursue as well as their female peers.

So it makes sense, come to think of it, that Sadie Hawkin’s Day is still on the calendar. Societal rules don’t yet fully allow for every day of the month/year to be a day of female assertiveness. But that doesn’t mean women should sit back and wait for permission. One of the more popular nonfiction books of late is “Lean In,” encouraging women in business to speak up in boardrooms, as their male peers do. The author of this book (Cheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook) has a point – no one is going around handing out money, jobs, dates, or privilege just because you seem nice or deserving.

Seek out supportive peers and coworkers (of both genders) to champion your ideas at work. Demand, through word and deed, that your paramours share your values and standards.

Don’t settle. Don’t expect to be given permission. Don’t wait for someone else to change the rules.
And if you need help finding your voice, consider therapy as a sounding board and a safe place to practice. (Oh, and men, you are part of the problem here too. Challenge your beliefs, and whether you act as a feminist or just talk the talk. And be kind to the woman who asks you to the dance – you might not assume it, but she may be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company).

Dr. Todd Giardina, is a licensed psychologist with the Coral Gables Counseling Center and a staff consultant at University of Miami Hospital. Dr. Giardina aims to educate patients and empower them to take charge of their lives and take responsibility for improving their own, individual situations. Dr. Giardina teaches coping skills, largely using cognitive behavioral techniques and mindfulness. You can contact the Coral Gables Counseling Center at 305-445-0477 to schedule an appointment.