Saturday, July 16, 2011

Temper, Temper

"...they exercised the old middle-class male prerogative of being permanently in a most filthy temper," writes John Mortimer in his autobiography, "Clinging to the Wreckage".
I don't know whether he's writing re the 40s or 50s, but I certainly encountered it later than that:  men in senior positions whose bad temper swirled around and radiated from them, so that one approached them, on the most innocent mission, with trepidation and something close to obsequity.  Girlish deference, anyway.
Management is much more enlightened these days, I am told.  However, I read:  "Since when did displays of rude, aggressive behaviour get you ahead at work? .....according to research from the University of Amsterdam, people behaving badly often.....forge ahead in their career." (The Age. 4/7/2011). 
I was reminded of this this week when I saw the unaccustomed photos of Rupert Murdoch smiling.  Yes, I know that the files may be full of such, and the newspapers have chosen not to print them.  But, these were current.  I speculated as to whether the smiles were saying, "What, me worried?"  Or perhaps, "I'm a nice person, really."
I was reminded also of ex Prime Minister Paul Keating saying of him:  "He's a big, bad bastard and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure he thinks you can be a big, bad bastard too....the only language he respects is strength".
Then RP returned to the USA.   He announced that the crisis had been handled absolutely faultlessly.   The photo accompanying this story had his usual grumpy expression restored.  Whew!  Everything back to normal.

It's certainly true that some senior women have now perfected these techniques also;  taking them, I'm told, to a new level of viciousness.  What a pity.  They all need to learn to play nicely.


The Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes, much later than the 40s and 50s. And unfortunately yes I also came across women who had perfected the art of being bad tempered pigs. And Paul Keating was almost certainly right. When I met bad temper with bad temper a back down to a more reasonable stance was the outcome. Not the way I liked to work. Sigh.

Frances said...

You had more courage than me, Elephant's Child, (but I am still working on developing it...I sometimes think that it may not show up until my next life).

Relatively Retiring said...

It's frightening that a lack of self-control can be a matter of pride in young people, too. I know of a few young people who frighten their parents (and teachers) into submission by displays of filthy temper, and then boast about their achievements. Girls and women who do this seem more alarming than boys and men, but I don't know why - perhaps it is more 'expected' of males?

Frances said...

If our society says that aggression and rudeness are power, Relatively Retiring, then all that you speak of evidently follows.
As for the female bit...I agree.
I wonder whether there were "male rules", that in a way we mostly came to understand; but these girls don't know them, don't understand them, don't keep them, and frighten us all with their maverick behaviour.

JO said...

Francis - nothing to do with this - but I've blogged about your comment about terms we use for older women, and would really appreciate your thoughts.

Mouse said...

oh that brought back memories of people behaving badly at work and yes, now the women are worse than the men.

I blame power suits and air-borne testosterone!

Frances said...

I've been paying calls,Jo. Nice to see you here.

Frances said...

"Airborn testosterone", Mouse: I love the expression.
I am so pleased that you seem to be in a happier environment now.

Isabelle said...

Just popped over from Persiflage and wanted to say that I find your blog interesting. In my experience (in the world of teaching) those in charge are nice enough but they got on if they a) put themselves forward with confidence and b) drank coffee with the right people...

But that's not really the world of business.

Frances said...

It's so nice to see you here, Isabelle.
Although past retirement age, I'm still involved with teaching, and most interested in education.
I've seen a school - or, rather, its pupils - change very quickly when a principal who didn't get on with the staff was replaced by one who did.