A SYTYCB Entry
As a young woman interested in running for a leadership position- whether in politics or any other sphere- what can you expect? Pretty much the same challenges that come with the job description: ridicule of your decisions, bumper stickers with one-liners about your policies and news segments dedicated to the faux pas of your personal life. In addition to that (as a woman) expect a whole separate element of subjective expectations, as you will be singled out. And not in the nice way, but in the way Timmy from third grade yelled “HEY PEE STAIN!” every time you passed him, because you spilled orange juice on your crotch that one time. Here are the three main fallacies that you will be automatically pinned with:
Fallacy One: You don’t fit the image
There is a certain image of who a normal President or CEO is in our nation (spoon fed by the media to the naive movie goer and radio-in-the-car listener). It is the image of the 50 year old man with a black suit and blue tie, the edges of his hair slightly greying at the temples. He has a wife, a kid or two, and he plays golf or fishes on the weekends with buddies from work. It is not a single woman in her thirties who put herself through college by working as a part-time mechanic and applying to hundreds of scholarships. Perhaps the media takes cue from history. After all, we’ve never had a female president in the U.S., and female CEO’s are a lot harder to come by then male. Raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself craving another movie with an old dude tee-ing off while talking about how another is an asshole…
This chart shows percentages of women in managerial positions. The U.S. is way behind all countries except Japan and India.
Fallacy Two: Men do it better
It was at some point determined that men and women couldn’t perform the same tasks. The concept was never clearly decreed, but like a round peg that can fall into a square hole, it was an understanding that seemed to fit and was left untouched. As such, it has continued thriving like a fast-growing weed, infesting the fabric of society with fallacies on what a woman can or can’t, should and shouldn’t do.This is the reason why you can go on Netflix, and watch a show in the category of “Featuring a Strong Female Lead”, because a strong female lead is in itself proposterous! Right? Right??
This is also why in most superhero movies, a villain female can distract characters from saving the world by flashing some thigh- as though her appearance is her greatest asset. Obviously, women are capable of far greater things, but maybe the reason it’s left up to us is that no one wants hairy man-thigh in their face while munching on popcorn in the theater. Maybe a better way to judge people would be by their performance rather than their gender. Eh?
Fallacy Three: You only care about Birth control and Babies
Often portrayed as wonderful better halves of presidential candidates, we are generally considered either too faint of heart to handle the pressure of the dog-eat-dog business world, or surprising “powerhouses” when we can withstand the same thing everyone else takes. Didn’t Rosie prove her point a long time ago…?
In the end, women who can take all the above bullshit and “make it” to the top are expected to fight exclusively for women’s rights. As though we are not “… half of all consumers, workers, the electorate and the world…” Jenna Goudreau points out in her Forbes article, and we shouldn’t care about jobs, immigration and taxes. Somehow our great nation- once commonly considered the most progressive- is on the list of nations with the least women leaders alongside other like China and Japan.
Why does Liberia, Malawi and Bangladesh do better?
Around the world, about 20 countries have women in positions of high power. Statistically, it is not surprising to see countries like Germany, Switzerland, Australia and Denmark among the mix, as they rank within the top 30 for the countries with the highest Purchasing Power Per Capita (CIA World FactBook). One would hypothesize that a country with comparative financial stability would have more resources to focus on issues like gender equality, and thus produce more female leaders.
But what explains countries in the lowest 30 empowering women? Liberia-ravaged by war in the last decades, Malawi-suffering from persistent famine and the spread of HIV/AIDS, and Bangladesh-recently rid of military corruption, are among the few with women presidents and prime ministers. Perhaps the reason these countries uphold women has to do with the extreme difficulties they have had to overcome. It seems that after hitting rock bottom they reasoned to restore their homes with change, rather than the constant which had prevailed for generations. It is through these difficulties that they saw the need for a new perception, a new vision, a new hope.
So what is the lesson?
We are devolving into a country in which movies and songs regard women only in their physical sense, and little girls hope to grow up to be super-models rather than senators. These perceptions- fed by the media- are becoming trivialized to such a point that many don’t think it an issue at all.
The hope is that the catalyst for true change in this trend does not lie in a national crisis like a civil war. But we could start by addressing the media, and giving young girls something better to strive for than becoming a shopoholic, falling in love with a vampire, or making it as a nasal-y teen sensation.
(Rosie the Riveter, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Twilight and Hannah Montana images from Google)