How women would articulate historic quotes by famous men
Jennifer Lawrence recently penned a letter about the gender wage gap for Lena Dunham’s “Lenny,” a recently established feminist newsletter. She discovered through last year’s Sony hack that she earns significantly less than her male counterparts, and blames herself for not being a stronger negotiator.
Lawrence expresses fear about being perceived as “difficult,” and recounts a story in which she stated her opinion at a meeting in a no-nonsense manner. The response she received was unexpected:
The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.
Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post attributes the reaction to Lawrence as the actress neglecting to speak in a way he would have understood — what Petri calls “Woman in a Meeting” language.
To demonstrate, she took famous quotes from men throughout history and translated them to the way a woman would articulate them in a meeting so as not to be seen as threatening.
Ronald Reagan’s challenging, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” instead becomes:
I’m sorry, Mikhail, if I could? Didn’t mean to cut you off there. Can we agree that this wall maybe isn’t quite doing what it should be doing? Just looking at everything everyone’s been saying, it seems like we could consider removing it. Possibly. I don’t know, what does the room feel?
And it’s a good thing Moses was a man because otherwise his assertive “Let my people go” might become the less convincing:
Pharaoh, listen, I totally hear where you’re coming from on this. I totally do. And I don’t want to butt in if you’ve come to a decision here, but, just, I have to say, would you consider that an argument for maybe releasing these people could conceivably have merit? Or is that already off the table?
You can read Petri’s full list of quotes at the Washington Post.
Of course, at Fortune we like women who speak their mind. Check out what Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly said at our recent Most Powerful Women Summit about taking on Donald Trump: