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Home > Blog > When it Comes to Sex and Power. . .
Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, August 02, 2005 2:36 PM
When it Comes to Sex and Power. . .
Anita Sharpe on Life

why do powerful businessmen and powerful business women often seem to be mirror images of each other? Take Rupert Murdoch and his three progressively younger wives with whom he's had three sets of kids, or Ted Turner and his three wives, multiple children and stable of girlfriends. Contrast that with Oprah Winfrey, who has never married, or Martha Stewart, who has one child from one failed union and never remarried. What kind of couple would, say, Ted and Martha make?


4 comments

Troy Worman - 8/2/2005 10:46:56 PM
This is an interesting observation, but as Jim Collins has documented, there are plenty of powerful men (and women) with successful relationships.

sam - 8/2/2005 7:18:22 PM
Great thought. I guess also contrast, who are the mentors or the leaders of each of these groups? Martha and Oprah, Ted and Rupert and who came before them? Well, there you go, these are the people that are the mentors…you female says ‘I want to be like Oprah, with no husband and a bunch of puppies instead of trophy spouses and many kids’ or ‘I want to be like Martha and disdain men for the rest of my days’ …oh, who knows what they think but they are DOING something which maybe people are following. We are a nation of followers anyhow, especially, given that fact that Oprah has got suburban white America to follow her, not urban black Americans. Who are the leaders in business and who do we look up to? To me, it’s not really Rupert and Ted but Gates and Jobs and maybe Meg and Carly. Check out this list from HBS which lists the great men and women business leaders of the 20th century. http://www.hbs.edu/leadership/database/gender/
Oprah, Gates and Jobs are all mentioned but there are 39 women and almost 1000 men. I know there are more male leaders in the US but we can only find 37 women to call out from the 20th century? The real question to me is who are the women business leaders? and why are they more ‘celebrity like’ such as Oprah and Martha and less business like such as Meg and Carly. I bet if you ask any HBS grad who they look up to in the women world of business they would avoid Oprah and Martha and there are plenty which would steer away from celebrity –like male CEO’s as well.
Chris Woodruff - 8/2/2005 3:48:14 PM
Simple... men need to be nurtured and powerful men need more. Also men are given more prestige due to 'trophy' wives than women which is desired. Being a man this makes sense to me. :)

I think powerful woman are still nurturers but they may focus that energy into careers and the companies they lead. Also older women with younger men is still a taboo in this society. These two things might push more woman into a non-traditional paths. Also the simple explanation for the female side is once burned twice shy... most men do not learn from past mistakes when sex is involved so they keep going to the well.
Jill - 8/2/2005 3:30:28 PM
A fascinating observation, especially in places like Atlanta where superficial values seem to push young women even further along a 'career track' - suppressing more fundamental desires like marriage & family.

When a man is powerful - i.e, spending most of his time on his work - he still maintains the role of provider.

The same formula doesn't work for women - we're blessed with choices today but need to make conscious decisions about how we want to live our lives.

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