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Gender as a Cutter in the Tall Poppy Syndrome

Doug Garland
Doug Garland
4 min read
Gender as a Cutter in the Tall Poppy Syndrome
"The Yellow Poppy Road." Composition by Brian Schwartz (AI Generated).

Table of Contents

You cannot reason someone out of something he or she was not reasoned into. Jonathan Swift
AI Narration

I shy away from the subject of gender as a cutter in TPS for many reasons even though gender along with color, ethnicity, and religion are common causes for cutting down. My philosophy follows the old saw, "Never discuss religion or politics with family or friends." Instead of an agreement, the discussion often ends in arguments, hurt feelings, bruised egos, and anger. Maybe even TPS! Not only do disagreeing readers immediately stop reading the blog but they may cancel it.

I have written both in my book The Tall Poppy Syndrome: The Joy of Cutting Others Down and in these blogs about women being cut down. I did not specifically name gender as the underlying genesis for their cutdown. Gender is often the big box checked by others because it garners familiarity, confirmation bias, headlines, and support. It may engender victimhood which I  do not wish to be part of or encourage.

Female victims often have other etiologies for being cut down besides gender. Many of these causes may be more consequential confounding variables and include the usual suspects such as one of the deadly sins, competition, hierarchy, etc. It is the latter cutters I seek which may be disguised by gender.

Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior where someone intentionally and repeatedly causes harm to another person, either physically, verbally, socially, or online. It often involves an imbalance of power, with the bully having more power or influence over the victim. Bullying can take many forms, including physical violence, name-calling, spreading rumors, exclusion, and cyberbullying. It can happen in various settings such as schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, or online platforms. The effects of bullying can be severe, leading to emotional distress, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and in extreme cases, self-harm or suicide.
Bullying and TPS are often confused especially in the workplace. The hierarchy with its imbalance of power and potential for repetition makes bullying more common in the workplace than TPS. Bullier and cutter have commonalities of low self-esteem and bad envy. The bona fide peer-to-peer TPS occurs when similars are vying for the same position.

The Wall Street Journal (5/8/2024) headline reads "Sexual Misdeeds, Bullying Found At FDIC." The investigating law firm is likely not aware of TPS.  Their report describes sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, and interpersonal misconduct by the perpetrators. Brazen abuse of norms and policies was attributed to executives who pursued or had relationships with subordinates.

My second reason for not discussing gender is that men and women view bullying and TPS differently. A study of high school athletes from Australia highlighted this distinction. When queried all female athletes indicated both sexes bullied them while none of the males acknowledged being bullied. Males believe bullying is pervasive and part of a normal rite of passage. Women consider it unacceptable behavior and feel it is everywhere in the workplace.  Gender viewpoints or biases may fog the TPS lens.

The Wall Street Journal (5/9/2024) small business story reads "I Grew Up Working In Two Hardware Stores: My Father Owned One. My Mother, the Oth
The author is a female and details how her married parents differed in their business approach even though they had the same items. I guess Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.

Often I see someone cut down as do others but they arrive at an obvious and biased etiology such as race or gender while I see varying reasons. For me to suggest a different etiology not only falls on deaf ears but initiates conflict. A female president may fired from a university. Many see gender as the etiology but I might perceive poor management.  

Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (RLANRC) is a renowned rehabilitation hospital located in Downey, California, United States. Rancho was established in 1888 as a county poor farm, but it eventually evolved into a hospital specializing in rehabilitation services. During the polio epidemic, it housed more than 3,000 patients.
The center specializes in various rehabilitation services, including spinal cord injury rehabilitation, brain injury rehabilitation, stroke rehabilitation, pediatric rehabilitation, orthopedic rehabilitation, and more. Rancho Los Amigos is well-regarded nationally and internationally for its innovative rehabilitation techniques and research. It has been designated as a National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.
Dr. Jacquelin Perry was a prominent orthopedic surgeon and researcher who spent much of her career at Rancho Los Amigos. She made significant contributions to the understanding of human locomotion and orthopedic rehabilitation, particularly in the treatment of polio and cerebral palsy.

Dr. Stu Green is a friend and a medical associate of mine along with the late Dr. Perry at Rancho. Dr. Green details the lives of two Tall Poppy female orthopedic surgeons who were both bullied and cut down solely because of their gender.

Dr. Jackson is also a kindred spirit since we are both from humble rural Iowa beginnings. Sadly, even her father did not believe in her, a rather subtle way of cutting her down. Both women exhibited the common virtues found in TPs: courage, justice, fortitude, selflessness, and servitude. Dr. Perry also had wisdom, the wisest orthopedist I knew.

Selecting case reports of people I am familiar with does not ensure that other etiologies were not present for TPS. So-called professionals such as the medical profession are rife with TPS regardless of gender. (The Karikó scientific article references other articles regarding TPS in the medical profession.)

Is gender an etiology for TPS? Absolutely! However, gender may be an easy excuse to escape the reality of a denied or painful personal pathology. Soul search for concomitant causes. Look for other origins that may be equal to or even more consequential than gender. You cannot change your gender, but you can change bad emotions.  

tall poppy syndromegendertall poppybullyingconfounding variablesimbalence of power

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Douglas Garland, M.D. practiced orthopedic surgery for 37 years in Southern California. Doug was also a Clinical Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Southern California.


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