I Love Feminist Warren Buffett

I’ve always loved and admired Warren Buffett and one of the greatest pleasures in my life is having had the opportunity to meet him a few times. In an exclusive essay for Fortune magazine that just came out he explains why women are the key to America’s prosperity (and of course the world’s prosperity). I think it’s brilliant and I hope you read it. Side note: it does depress me that it takes a man to do this…I wish that weren’t the case.

In the flood of words written recently about women and work, one related and hugely significant point seems to me to have been neglected. It has to do with America’s future, about which — here’s a familiar opinion from me — I’m an unqualified optimist. Now entertain another opinion of mine: Women are a major reason we will do so well.

There’s nothing I love more than a man who is willing to acknowledge privilege…but when the third richest man in the world does it, I feel compelled to share it with the world. I particularly love that he said his floor was his sister’s ceiling.

The moment I emerged from my mother’s womb, however, my possibilities dwarfed those of my siblings, for I was a boy! And my brainy, personable, and good-looking siblings were not. My parents would love us equally, and our teachers would give us similar grades. But at every turn my sisters would be told — more through signals than words — that success for them would be “marrying well.” I was meanwhile hearing that the world’s opportunities were there for me to seize.

So my floor became my sisters’ ceiling — and nobody thought much about ripping up that pattern until a few decades ago. Now, thank heavens, the structural barriers for women are falling.

What he describes as Katherine Graham’s “brainwashing” I call gaslighting.

Among the scores of brilliant and interesting women I’ve known is the late Katharine Graham, long the controlling shareholder and CEO of the Washington Post Co. (WPO) Kay knew she was intelligent. But she had been brainwashed — I don’t like that word, but it’s appropriate — by her mother, husband, and who knows who else to believe that men were superior, particularly at business.

When her husband died, it was in the self-interest of some of the men around Kay to convince her that her feelings of inadequacy were justified. The pressures they put on her were torturing. Fortunately, Kay, in addition to being smart, had an inner strength. Calling on it, she managed to ignore the baritone voices urging her to turn over her heritage to them.

I LOVE this metaphor of a “fun-house mirror” (you’ll see me use it in the future).

I told Kay that she had to discard the fun-house mirror that others had set before her and instead view herself in a mirror that reflected reality. “Then,” I said, “you will see a woman who is a match for anyone, male or female.”

As much as I hate change to come about because of people’s self-interest, Buffett is dead-on….

So, my fellow males, what’s in this for us? Why should we care whether the remaining barriers facing women are dismantled and the fun-house mirrors junked? Never mind that I believe the ethical case in itself is compelling. Let’s look instead to your self-interest.

No manager operates his or her plants at 80% efficiency when steps could be taken that would increase output. And no CEO wants male employees to be underutilized when improved training or working conditions would boost productivity. So take it one step further: If obvious benefits flow from helping the male component of the workforce achieve its potential, why in the world wouldn’t you want to include its counterpart?

Click Here To Read The Full Essay


I hope you will join me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and check me out on Instagram.

Click here if you want to be notified about my upcoming book Who Does He Think He Is?

Send to Kindle
Avatar of Yashar

3 Responses to “I Love Feminist Warren Buffett”

  1. Avatar of JacquelynJoan
    JacquelynJoan May 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    The “fun house mirror” thing reminds me of Melissa Harris-Perry’s “crooked room” from her excellent book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.

  2. Avatar of Barbara Kunkler
    Barbara Kunkler May 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    Great article! It makes so much sense and how wonderful that a man like Mr. Buffett will make this case for women. He is right though, there should be many more women (and men, to my way of thinking)that believe the same way.

  3. Avatar of theJoygal
    theJoygal May 3, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    This article is great – and the underlying principle of why I am developing my own class called Practice Joy Dance Therapy (www.practicejoycoach.com) specifically to teach women about the history we were never taught – highlighting a book I recommend to all to read (women AND men alike) Creation of Patriarchy. In her book Gerder Lerner ends up outlining several preconceived notions that 4500+ years of patriarchy have endowed upon the human population that we can still trace beneath the fabric of our culture today. This is why brilliant women like Kay and so many of us have a hard time shaking off the inferiority complex. But it CAN and WILL be done…but I don’t know if it will be done based on/how Buffet talks about.

    In my work I share that this step for women cannot be something led by men…but has to be led by the women. And it starts with STOPPING the race to make women equal to men. We are not equal to men…we are very different to men with very different gifts and when the focus is on trying to make us equal – we try to make women, our bodies and our brains into something that resembles men. This step of racing to train and use our “other half” is more of the same – more of the masculine driven energy that is driving all of us into the ground. And women will ALWAYS feel inferior to men if being equal to men is the standard. How can we not? Unless we have a sex change – and even then – we are STILL women.

    This step of trying to make women and men equal is killing women – and our world – literally and figuratively. In order for America or the world to get back to a healthy balance between the sexes – women must learn about our differences, learn about our cycles and the innate power of intuition we are gifted with and how to cultivate this power of cyclical patterns back into our own lives, the lives of our families and the lives of our communities once again. Women must learn how to function in the world as the feminine souls we are – souls that are the nurturers, made to nourish life with their own bodies, creators of life through our own bodies, souls that have highs and lows each month and that would do well to learn how to use them instead of trying to ignore or level them out. We as women cannot continue to be women in a man’s world but learn how to carry forth these feminine essences of women into a world of balance of the two essences of masculine and feminine.

    As a woman in the midst of this change herself, I do believe women will and are changing the economic forecast of America – and thus the world. Yet, I believe if we want to be truly successful at what matters most – which is not a Gross GDP of so much, etc. – women first need to learn from WOMEN who they are and what they are. Then they must learn to approach life, love and business from this perspective…then I think we will see a world that will and can live in harmony, in balance, in Peace and Love.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image

You must be logged in to post a comment.