Posted by: katrinaasher13 | January 21, 2016

Behind Every Great Man…

The phrase that starts with ‘behind every great man’ can end in two ways.  The one I have seen more in the media ends with ‘is a woman rolling her eyes’ and the less common one I’ve seen ends with ‘is a great woman’.  The former ending has a negative yet comedic connotation as the way the media wishes it to be portrayed.  The idea behind that line is that a women has helped the man get to where they are in some fashion and may be rolling her eyes at their success or their mistakes along the way.  Sadly this connotation makes it seem that the women may have done a lot of the work for little credit for she is not given the same title as ‘great’.   The second ending gives more power and recognition to the woman, but it still seems that the woman may have done a lot of work for a lower status.  That massage is conveyed with the word ‘behind’.

In the chapter “Leadership, Authority, and Women: A Man’s Challenge” written by Ronald Heifetz writes about a discussion of how men can join discussions of leadership and authority in the context of women.  Heifetz says it is hard to talk about the topic from a viewpoint of a man for it is hard to get past differences.  Heifetz flips the conversation and challenges women to get to know the men.  I feel that this should be a challenge to everyone. The goal of relationships is, after all, to get to know someone.  Relationships includes friendships and colleagues.  This two way challenge is already taking the media by storm with the campaign HeForShe which encourages equality through communication.  Emma Watson said “Men—I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue too” at the the start of the campaign.

This relates back to ‘behind every great man..’ because the phrase should be seen as a relationship between the man and woman.  The phrase can also be flipped to say ‘behind every great woman…’.  With this connotation the ending should always be ‘is a great woman/man’.  The flipped phrase is already being seen in U.S. culture where the man is becoming the primary caregiver.  The phrase should no longer be given the power to be negative in any way and one day I hope that is the case.  I have seen too many times that people are afraid to join this conversation, but if everyone is open to the conversation it will become easier to include everyone so that one day the word ‘behind’ may be left out to become simply ‘for every great man there is a great woman.’

references: HeForShe





  1. Great post Katrina!! I am so thankful for your post and the ideas you brought to the table. One of my biggest concerns for this class was not taking men into account. I realize it’s a women and leadership course, however you have to account for the other half of the population. I loved what we talked about last class in reference to this topic: considering what men have to lose. One has to take into consideration how frightening it must be to have someone essentially say “We are going to come in and change everything you ever thought you knew about life and society.” That is basically what happens when you talk about incorporating women into more leadership and traditionally-male roles. Change is scary when you consider what will be lost. I completely advocate for equal rights. However, I do think it is important that we don’t assume we already know everything there is to know about men. The dialogue has to start from an open-minded and trusting situation. That can’t happen if we come out guns hot.

  2. This is a great post! I remember watching Emma Watson speak on the subject of gender equality and feminism and being taken aback by it; not that I was shocked that she included men, but that I couldn’t remember any other woman inviting men into the conversation. We spoke in class on how “feminism” is a word with extreme negative connotations because of how the word has been used by radicals (women have used it to put men down like they are inferior). The hope that one day “behind” will leave the common phrase would be great for the continuous fight for gender equality. Our discussion on if gender is still an issue brought up that our generation is still unqualified because we aren’t in high-level positions yet. The fact that we speak about the inequality in jobs shows that we can see the inequality but are still unable to run out of the labyrinth into the upper-level positions that we may be qualified for.

  3. I think what professor DeJong said today in class was very interesting, that she wouldn’t be able to achieve what she has achieved without the support of her spouse. Every relationship is a two way street, where mutual support and love is necessary for the potential of the couple to achieve more than either could do on her own.

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