Are Women in Positions of Power Held to a Higher Standard?

After coming under fire for being a member of a controversial anti-Obama Facebook group, a high school principal in New Hampshire is trying to make amends.

The Concord Monitor reports that Winnisquam Regional High School’s Ronna Cadarette was publicly outed by a teacher at her school.

Principal Ronna Cadarette’s public Facebook profile, which identified her as an administrator in the district, listed her as a member of one group.

The group’s title, which references public figures who died in 2009, is “Dear Lord, This Year You Took My Favorite Actor, Patrick Swazie (sic). You Took My Favorite Actress Farah (sic) Fawcett. You Took My Favorite Singer, Michael Jackson. I Just Wanted to Let You Know, My Favorite President is Barack Obama. Amen.”

The image next to the group’s name shows a picture of President Obama with a hammer and sickle and reads “Vote for Obama . . . Because Socialism Worked So Well for the USSR.”

Okay, so I (reluctantly and with great distaste) went on the group’s Facebook page. First dry heave happened when I saw this:

1,189,218 People Like This

Oh, my God, I was shocked and saddened on so many levels, not the least of which is that two of my friends are members (but I figure two out of over 400 isn’t too bad). I am a strong supporter of free speech; as Adlai Stevenson opined, “I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.” Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but come on, people, it needs to be expressed respectfully. If I managed to put up with eight years of George W. Bush’s grammar No matter how you feel politically, every American needs to respect the office of the President of the United States.

Ahem … so pardon me while I get off my soapbox and return to the task at hand. Yeah, I decided to look and see what the males on the group did, just for shits and giggles (okay, I was really hoping to find a lawyer or business exec or a celebrity of some sort). No dice. What I found instead was a population based mostly south of the Mason-Dixon line (and a disturbing number listed Ted Nugent as their favorite musician–I wish I could say it’s because they know all the chords to “Cat Scratch Fever”, but I suspect his politics have more to do with it), a population whose male members include a sushi chef, a security guard, a supply deliveryman, a roofer, and a minister (????).

Is Ronna Cadarette being persecuted for being a woman?

I don’t think so … on the surface. However, when you think about it, she is being punished for an etiquette blunder made by nearly two million people. It is still moderately unusual for a public school to be helmed by a woman. As a school administrator, Cadarette knew she was under a microscopic lens. However, should she be treated differently than, say, a sushi chef or a roofer or a—gulp—minister for expressing her opinion?

There is an argument to be made, of course, for the fact that Cadarette had an obligation to her students to demonstrate high moral integrity. What could have been approached from an educational standpoint in terms of Freedom of Speech turned to dust, though, when Cadarette apologized in a written statement:

“Recent events have caused me great pause and reflection in my personal and professional roles. “I take full responsibility for the repercussions from my actions.”

“I wish to unequivocally state I do not support this organization, the content of its webpage, or its objectives.  I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions.”

I do not agree with Cadarette’s politics, and I certainly don’t agree with an educator being part of a group (even as a “joke”) that promotes hatred and breeds ignorance. That being said, though, I can’t help but wonder if and how how the situation would be approached differently were Ms. Cadarette a “Mr.”

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21 thoughts on “Are Women in Positions of Power Held to a Higher Standard?

  1. She’s being persecuted for being conservative,in a liberally dominated profession. I’m trying to show the Obama presidency as much respect as Democrats showed the Bush presidency. Love your articles by the way,every one has been interesting.

  2. Thank you so much, Joey :-) By the way, I think you’re right in many regards about the Democrats’ treatment of Bush … I tried very hard to keep the respect for the office in the forefront of mind while he was in the Oval Office, so I made every effort to focus more on his butchering of the English language in my criticisms ;-)

    • Your welcome. I’m not going to go into how much I love the Nuge,but right now I’ve got a loin cloth on!

  3. I think this group is completely inappropriate (and not just because of the spelling errors of the so-called “favorite” actors names).

    It is absolutely not appropriate to express that you wish the death of your President. I DID NOT like President Bush, but neither did I ever express any desire that he die/be assassinated, etc. It is absolutely immature and shows an immense disrespect for the political process of your country.

  4. I think all the outrage comes because she is a bloody high school headmaster. I mean, seriously, you are in an important position, don’t do such stuff!
    And as for not supporting the group… did she fuck, of course she did, otherwise she wouldn’t be an administrator.

    And last but not least – VOLTAIRE said it, Stevenson was just quoting him. Credit where it is due, and this time, France is taking it ;)

    • I can understand what you’re saying, but I disagree. Just because she’s a headmaster doesn’t mean she should have to censorher opinion. Yeah she is responsible for helping to mold the minds of a younger generation, but by voicing her opinion and going against the grain so to speak only reinforces the fact to younger kids that it’s okay to have different opinions. With that being said, the immature underlying theme of the group (taking Obama to heaven or whatever) is inapprpropriate. had she joined just a regular “Hey i can’t wait until this president’s term is up” group, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal, but the underlying connotation of this group is pretty stupid.

  5. Some people just have no sense of humor – although I don’t find this humorous at all. It is, in fact, rather nasty.

    She should be allowed to have her own thoughts and opinions, but I personally feel this shows a stunning lack of judgement on her part.

    Doesn’t she know how to use the privacy features on FaceBook? My 15 year old does, perhaps a tutorial is in order.

  6. I think the whole situation seems blown a little out of proportion. So she doesn’t like Obama. Big deal. Lots of people don’t like him. I sure don’t. Was the Facebook group a little immature? Sure. But honestly, in the grand scheme of things, this is hardly a serious offense.

  7. First and foremost, my immediate thought upon first seeing this group’s name in my newsfeed was that if this were 2005 and W’s name were in the title, it would be on Fox News constantly. I can just hear the headlines: “Rogue organization uses Facebook to spread disparagement of the honorable president!” “The death wish group-how close are they to weaponry?” The 19-year-old kid who founded the group would be in an underground prison in Eastern Europe! But I digress…

    She should have known better. She is a public figure, and a civil servant, and she should have known better. That said, as a woman with a fairly decent job in a male-dominated field myself, I think she was treated more harshly. We are judged and taken less seriously and have to work harder and be more careful just to be seen as “the same”. Cliche? Yes. It’s still true, though.

    • you’re right about fox, perhaps. But it would have been completely ignored by anyone else, and Jon Steward would have joined the group and run a whole routine based on it.

  8. There seems to be a stigma in the US that if you hate your president, you are some how un-American. I have trouble with this as a concept, because here in Canada it is pretty much par to dislike the Prime Minister. Even if you voted for the PM in power, chances were it was because you hated the other candidate more. We just don’t tend to like our politicians very much. So for someone here to join a group against the current leader is no big deal.
    That being said, perhaps one of the reasons to pass judgement on this headmaster is because as a person in a position of power at a school, one might take for granted that she is probably somewhat intelligent. And therefore, joining a group which compares Obama’s policies to communist Russia is just ignorant and uninformed (sort of like comparing 9-11 to the Holocaust- yes, both are horrible, but cannot really be compared on any sort of respectful level. You might disagree with Obama’s policies, but to compare them to a fascist society is just outright ridiculous, and disrespectful of what Russian citizens had to live through).

    • It’s not simple dislike groups that bother me, this is a death wish group. How would you react if it was your son/daughter/husband/father or lesbian girl around the corner and there were 1,000,000 people wanting them not to just leave office/school/whatever but to physically die? you can disagree/dislike someone and their policies til the cows come home for all I care, but this is someones life you’re promoting the end of.

  9. I know this is slightly off topic, but socialism is not bad. Equality for everyone. Virtues such as sharing promoted. So a leader is necessary, and I think the reason that it didn’t work so well for USSR was because the leader that came to power was a bit crazy. But it worked well before then. And if there was someone who actually cared about the people there wouldn’t be a problem. I know many people may disagree with this, but I’m tired of everyone dissing socialism.

    And also, I agree with Jules, even though she works as a headmaster she is a person first and we all do stupid things sometimes.

    • Sorry,its never worked and probably never will. People are basically selfish and want to keep what they’ve earned,don’t want to carry those who wont produce.

      • Hmm I choose to believe that everyone can be unselfish and giving, provided the right circumstances. If children were tought these values from very little age, it may do wonders. But I also respect your opinion. I guess there’s little chance in finding out whether what I believe could come true, but I can dream and I can hope and who knows what wil happen in the future.

      • 1. Are people inherently selfish, or are they currently subject to a system that encourages such behaviour? I would be inclined to believe (or want to believe) that people are naturally giving, but that a fear of a loss of free will often clouds their charitable tenancies (i.e. Taxes: the government ‘takes’ from one’s personal earnings in order to fund a social structure- the individual feels as if they lost the right to choose, and therefore becomes protective of their belongings/money).
        2. Socialism is not a wash. There are piles of ways to incorporate aspects of different economic systems into a functioning economy. One might argue that no pure form economic system can be effective- it’s necessary to create a flexible system that meets the needs of as many individuals as possible. Personally, I cannot imagine a society without socialist aspects.

  10. Even if *I* might not agree with policing the personal lives of teachers, it happens. Any teacher should know this. Any principal should be very careful of the image (s)he shows to the world. That’s just common sense.

    No-one tends to care what a sushi chef does in his spare time. There are piles of stories of teachers being censored for their private life when it becomes public. I don’t think she was treated any differently due to her sex. Her profession made all the difference.

    As for the facebook group, I think it’s a pretty clever title.

  11. After working for this zealous bitch, it is fair to say that she deserves every criticism that can be thrown at her. She is intentional in her demeaning of others and power hungry. If she were a man she would be the biggest jerkoff of all time.

    Trust me, this does not end nor begin with facebook. She is a wretched person.

  12. I realize that this comment comes WAY late in the game, but I just found this thread. I don’t know if anyone will read this after more than two years, but I really felt that it is important to set the record straight.

    You see, I’m the teacher who allegedly “publicly outed” Ms. Cadarette.*

    The question of whether Ms. Cadarette was punished because she is a woman, or at the very least that her punishment was more severe because she is not “Mr. Cadarette,” is a legitimate one, and would be legitimate even if this were not a feminist blog. However, the question misses a critical point: Ms. Cadarette was never punished.

    That can’t be emphasized enough. She was not suspended, she was not publicly censored, she was in no public way punished at all, and while it is possible she received some sort of written reprimand in her personnel file of which the public would be unaware, it is worth nothing that Superintendent Davis (who appointed Ms. Cadarette to her position without going through the proper vetting process, including a committee of teachers and administrators) told the high school faculty that she wasn’t going to “waste [her] time” investigating or disciplining Ms. Cadarette. This was a shock to the faculty, as Dr. Davis never hesitated to investigate or discipline a teacher she felt had done wrong.

    There was so much focus on the implied death threat in the FB group’s title that two larger, more important points were repeatedly (and, I believe, sometimes intentionally) lost: first is that this particular hate group went way beyond wishing the president dead. I want to commend Ms. Loud for actually steeling her stomach and going to the actual page, because hardly anyone who commented on this matter as it was happening ever did, and those few rarely said much about it. I wish Ms. Loud had gone further and described some of the content of that group’s pages. I will give them this, they were an equal opportunity hate group. Their content included death wishes for many Democratic politicians, yes, but also a few for Republicans, including George W. Bush. There were also sexual—and sometimes violent sexual—comments and cartoons about women, including Sarah Palin (one cartoon featured John McCain fucking Sarah Palin doggy-style). At one point there were nude photos of women posted, though FB quickly took those down, because apparently at FB death wishes and cartoons or rape are okay, but pictures of naked breasts are not.

    This list goes on, including frequent use of the N-word, recruiting posters for the KKK, and blatantly sexist portrayals of women (including one picture of a woman with her mouth and most of her face taped up with electrical tape, and a quote of 1 Timothy 2:11: “Let a woman learn in silence and full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent”). But most damning, in my opinion as a man, a feminist, a teacher, a father, and, let’s cut to it, a human being, were two photos of teenage girls in provocative clothing: one said, “Sometimes You Just Wanna Break the Law;” the other said, “Jailbait: Someone Has to Teach Them How to Do It.” Yeah . . .

    The second larger point is this: what Ms. Cadarette did was a blatant violation of a policy the District had adopted the year before, one which restricted employees’ behavior outside of work, including, but shockingly not limited to, social media—a policy I openly protested on the grounds that it went way beyond the pale in limiting teachers’ first amendment rights. What I found the most disgusting about this entire incident was the District’s hypocrisy and double-standard regarding teachers and administrators. The fact is that three teachers—two women and one man—had been punished under this policy. One was fired, and the other resigned in disgust when she was written up, and neither (I don’t know the details about the third) did anything remotely as questionable as what principal Cadarette did. Teachers lost their jobs. This administrator is still there.

    Finally, I have self-identified as a feminist for more than twenty years. I am painfully aware of the double-standards under which women suffer in our society, and am cognizant of the crimes of my gender in these matters. However, not all injustice is misogyny.

    Ms. Cadarette was not punished for what she did. I, on the other hand, ultimately lost my job because I dared to speak truth to power in this matter.

    * It is worth noting that, while most assumed that I was the one who outed her on this, no one in any authority ever actually asked me if it was true, and no attempt was ever made to find out what happened. I did, however, express my disgust with the situation to the reporter.

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