What the Political Class Can Learn From Steve Jobs
The pursuit of perfection.
In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson dedicates a subtheme to what "actually caused" the computer revolution. In simple terms, Isaacson contends that Apple products were the result of the "intersection of the humanities and science." Isaacson writes that the genius Jobs exhibited was "someone whose insights come out of the blue and require(d) intuition more than mere mental processing power." On a larger scale, Isaacson maintains that the 21st Century innovation/computer technology revolution was due to the perfect balance of "poetry and processors" and "artistry and technology."
Fast-forward to Forbes article posted March 23, 2012 by Rachel Balik, titled “Women as Party Favors and Eye Candy: the Latest Tech Meme.” She writes, "The fun started when Sqoot, a daily deal API, advertised for a hack-a-thon in Boston and listed women as one of the perks (along with food, trucks, a gym, chocolate and a DJ). It was a man that pointed out the offensive language. In an apology, Sqoot tried to claim they were making a joke about how ‘tech is a male-dominated field.’” Once again, the technology community led. It seems that, as Balik put it, "no one bought the excuse and the event sponsors proceeded to pull out one by one."
Imagine such a scenario in South Carolina, where we rank last in the nation when it comes to electing women to office. What if our readers and publication sponsors acknowledged the power they hold? What if, when women are objectified or denigrated in their capacity as a candidate or elected official through social media, press or the Internet, they followed the example of Forbes? Until we reach a tipping point where it is unacceptable to use cruel words to shame and embarrass women, particularly when they offer themselves for public office, the status quo will remain.
Last week, Charlie Speight, a contributing editor and author of Palladian View's Connect, addressed Rush Limbaugh’s controversial comments about Sandra FLuke. In his article entitled “Words” dated March 14, 2012, Charlie wrote, "Lately, the media has been downright apoplectic about comments Rush Limbaugh made about a woman testifying before Congress. Although I understand and appreciate Limbaugh’s point, I cannot accept his choice of words. And, in fact, neither does he, as he apologized – twice:
“I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations to describe Sandra Fluke. It’s what we have come to know and expect from them, but it’s way beneath me. And it’s way beneath you. It was wrong and that’s why I've apologized, ‘cause I succumbed…”
“Don’t be mad at them or mad at her. Everybody here was being true to their nature except me. I’m the one who had the failing on this, and for that I genuinely apologized for using those words to describe Ms. Fluke.”
Charlie goes on to write, "The salient point here – as far as I’m concerned – is his (Rush Limbaugh's) comment “…it’s way beneath you." Charlie's contention was that no matter how wrong or right Mr. Limbaugh was in the merits of his claim, when he denigrated a woman by calling her a "slut" he nullified his position. Suffice it to say, of all the articles published by Palladian View, this article struck a chord with many of our readers. Whether they agreed with the underlying merits of Mr. Limbaugh’s comments or not, Charlie's contention that "disparaging women was unacceptable" was universally accepted.
In Isaacson's biography of Jobs, it was frequently noted that Jobs had an irreverent and caustic attitude toward any project/person that failed to (in his mind) hold perfection as the benchmark from which to strive. In his own words Jobs said, "My passion has been to build an enduring company, where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary." Jobs, with all his frailties and foibles, was viewed by many as one of the greatest executives of our time, placing him as Isaacson puts it "in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford."
The take away is simple - denigration of women might sell in some circles, but it does not elevate the content of the discussion or the stature of politics. Until we shift our focus to "making great products" (as Jobs did in business and as should be done in politics) as opposed to personal destruction of those in "the fight", we will be relegated to banal, inconsequential results in politics.
The first step begins with a conscious decision to disavow the publications that denigrate women in politics by withdrawing sponsorships, advertisement or affiliations of any sort. When words are used against women - or sanctioned by editors, publishers, partners or sponsors - in a purposeful way to marginalize their character or reputation through ridicule or shame, we cannot expect a difference in the political arena. Only when that issue is addressed, will qualified, competent women seek positions necessary for an excellent political system to exist.
-Palladian View is dedicated to spotlighting issues, promoting conservative women, and giving women a platform to see their voice.