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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at [go to Liebau index]

Feminism’s Rotten Fruit
When Gender Becomes Nothing But An Excuse...
[Carol Platt Liebau] 1/10/05

Just a few weeks ago, much of the television-viewing universe pried its eyes away from four “Desperate Housewives” to see software executive Kelly Perdew vanquish lawyer Jennifer Massey and become Donald Trump’s newest “apprentice.” And shortly thereafter, they bore witness to the rotten fruit of the feminist revolution.

Despite some indications that he might be a bit of a self-promoter, winner Kelly Perdew – a West Point graduate with both a JD and an MBA from UCLA and a former intelligence officer in the US Army – was the clear choice both of the majority of live Apprentice audience members and most of the fired Apprentice-wannabes. And the team-mates of Jennifer Massey – a lawyer with degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law School – obviously found her “abrasive,” as she was characterized by Trump retainer George Ross.

But Trump’s decision did not sit well – at least not with Massey. The day after the Apprentice finale aired, there she was on CNBC, attributing her failure to – yes – her gender. According to Massey, the Trump Organization is, simply, “a very male dominated organization . . .. I think they really need to consider whether they really want strong women in their organization.”

Her performance was a disgraceful one. If anything, her gender helped her make it to the final two. On the numbers alone, she might not have had a shot at all. Perdew – whatever his faults – had won 10 of the 14 tasks that had been assigned over the course of the 15 week interview. Massey had won only 6. Perdew had stepped forward to assume the risk of serving as a “team leader” several times; Massey led only once. Even so, Donald Trump publicly agonized over the decision before hiring Perdew and firing Massey.

One wonders whether his distress would have been so palpable had Massey combined her “abrasive” personality with the appearance, say, of Rosie O’Donnell. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to understand how Massey’s striking good looks – long blond hair, big brown eyes, lovely figure – has helped her become something significantly bigger than the average brainy young associate attorney. It’s wonderful to be beautiful and feminine -- as she is -- and there’s nothing wrong with using that beauty and femininity to one’s advantage, as Massey clearly did. But then, having reaped those benefits, it’s unsporting, at best, to turn around and blame a person or organization for not reacting to them “properly.”

More than that, it’s plain wrong. There were several objective reasons that Perdew was picked over Massey – most notably, his win-loss record. But through her laughable accusations of discrimination, Massey has made it more difficult for her female counterparts to receive a fair hearing someday, when they are passed over in favor of a male competitor, despite having a superior performance record. Too bad Massey’s education in feminism focused so much on discrimination, so little on sisterhood. Maybe she would have thought twice before setting a precedent that could damage the cause of fairness in the professional world – and what should be the real “raison d’etre” of feminism itself.

Truly, Massey’s only claim to Apprentice-ship were her academic credentials. And there’s no doubt that she is as academically accomplished as she is beautiful. But as Jennifer Massey leaves the boardroom for the last time, here’s a lesson for her: Academic credentials (like beauty) do not constitute an entitlement to all of life’s prizes. In the end, they represent nothing more the measure of one particular kind of intelligence, and they provide nothing more than tools to help in the quest for a successful and rewarding life.

And so it goes for all of us – male or female, beautiful or ugly, hired . . . or fired. tOR

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and editorial director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at

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