I’ve got the power!


A friend suggested I watch a  TED talk by Amy Cuddy about how our body language can change our lives. We have always known that others notice and act on our body language but Cuddy’s research is based on how changing our body positions, even for just 2 minutes, can change our body chemistry and how we feel about ourselves – and hence how other people react to us. Her findings are interesting:

““power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.”

She advocates for the “fake it until you make it” approach which is a message I think is particularly helpful to women, as it seems that positions associated with “low power” typically come from women, and people with “high power” typically, are men.

Research shows that even if you don’t feel confident, if you just pose like the above for just 2 minutes, you come across as much more powerful and it is more likely that people will perceive you as more powerful. Even if you only do the poses in private. Really? Just standing with your chest out does that?


The relationship between power and how you position yourself is interesting. Men occupying too much space in trains is one example. It even has a name: “Sexist entitlement”. According to Jamie Utt:

  “Men are socialized to feel entitled to women, women’s bodies, women’s accomplishments, women’s space, and so on. Male entitlement extends beyond overt commodification of women’s bodies, and it extends into how we are socialized to be in society.  Literally, we [men] are socialized to take up more than our fair share of space!”

I for sure have had my space invaded by people (men) who assume the world is theirs and they’re are somehow automatically entitled to occupy more space. If only more people were like my cousin, a man who takes it up as his duty to remind entitled males not to spread too much:

“I for one have made it my public service to sit next to every asshole that takes that unnecessary extra room to force him to either move or have myself sitting on his lap. The poor placement of mens external sexual organs justifies taking a little extra room, but there is a line that is crossed far too often to my liking, and that´s where my public service comes in.” (KPKL)


High power poses vs. Low power poses

No one is saying ALL men take too much place  (in trains or other places). But it is part of our patriarchal society, to allow entitlement to go unchallenged, sexist or otherwise, conscious or unconscious, as I believe many do not even pay attention to the space they occupy. And we, the others don’t challenge it, because somehow spreading out is a sign of the powerful. When you are a man in a ‘man’s world’ , you need to to allow space for others, others that are perhaps socialised to think they should take less space. More power poses to ALL the people!


(but be polite in public transports please)



Filed under Gender stereotypes

3 responses to “I’ve got the power!

  1. I don’t want to change my body language – I like it just fine, It is an expression of my thoughts and feelings at any given time and punctuates my words. Being a NYC Italian-American woman, my words and gestures fill the room during casual discussions and serious debates. I don’t need to imitate the power posture of a man, all I need is the space to be my unique self

    • I agree with you evalina . it would be great if everyone could express themselves freely in the public sphere. Right now, I don’t think it is the case. And because of how our society is built, some people are not being heard or seen at all. I am not saying everyone should be obnoxious and take 3 seats on a train, or that women should imitate men in all behaviours but that maybe we should think about how we occupy space. Just as the way we talk and discuss might not be understood like we mean it to be. Does that mean we can say whatever we want? http://meggielynne.tumblr.com/post/19239837839
      We might not be responsible for other people’s understanding … but perhaps we should think a bit more about how our words and actions are perceived…

      I’m all for being yourself and perhaps the power poses work against that – but I think its fascinating how it affects self.perception. Perhaps alot of hassle in world history could have been avoided if there would have been more testosterone-filled women out there? I don’t know.. it’s just something I’m throwing out there

  2. Flott grein frænka og bróðir minn snillingur að taka þennan slag 😉

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