Sexism and Society
This is something that keeps coming back to me time and time again. People around me are always telling me that I am a great person and given that I am into science and engineering, they tell me that I'm smart, but in the midst of all this I can always feel an undercurrent of condescension, especially the guys, its always as if that they suggest that I am doing good "for a woman". I just can't get over this, sort of subconscious, I'm sure even they don't realize it explicitly, sexism.
While I know that every single woman on the planet has to deal with this at some level or the other, and even women in extremely powerful situations often are cast in the mold of men as if to justify their success in life. This is one reason why I am a big fan of our first lady and also of Queen Rania of Jordan and other women who are the face of a nation, but are still women at heart. This might be somewhat contentious, but when I hear Hillary Clinton speak, I can't see the same femininity that I see exuded by these other power women who are a woman's woman, who represent the ambitions of what many women want, but all in all, they are still second fiddle. I mean, Michelle Obama is the first lady, not the president and similarly Queen Rania is of course not the ruler of the country.
On the contrary, the one woman who I saw as a true power woman was Princess Diana, she was such a role model for me as I was growing up. I mean, she was a princess, how can you top that, but more importantly I saw so many interviews and videos of her and how she lived the life of a mother and a princess at the same time. She was truly a representative of the people, and was nominally a princess, when in fact she was the queen of people's hearts and minds. It was a very sad day in my house when she passed away, and it was extremely sad for me, I remember my mom trying to cheer me up, and the worst part was that a week later another lady who had a huge influence on me passed away, that was Mother Teresa. These were women who couldn't be tainted, what I mean is that they had such influence over the feelings of the people that they were almost immune to the sexist judgments of the people. I was particularly sad when the media started attempting to tarnish Lady Di's image, but that was never going to happen, given society's sentiment towards her.
What I am getting at here is that these women commanded respect, but were exceptional women, the normal woman of today, in spite of all the talk about the emancipation of women and equality and the growth of the feminist movement, still experiences an invisible second grade citizen treatment, and this is what I feel makes most successful women hard and it takes away the "wo" from these women.
This fact when extrapolated to us, or at least me, I always feel like an under performer, working harder and giving out less, when in fact that is not the case. While this doesn't affect me on the macro scale, it permeated into me anyhow and over time takes away the "wo" from the woman in me too. I feel less and less feminine as I work harder in a man's world and as I said in the beginning, this feeling of frustration keeps coming back to me time and time again, and so does this question, "Am I really not as good as them?"
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By Lisa Owen