Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Wonder Woman Myth

It's a career woman, it's a wife, it's a, it's Wonder Woman!

I absolutely love the month of September. Yes, it's my birthday month, and cake and presents are awesome, but I also love the September issues of magazines (which ironically come out in August) and the beginning of fall.

I bought Glamour's issue last night and have been reading it intermittently since last night, going back and forth between magazine and a freelance article I was working on. I had every intention to blog today about adventures in new wife-dom, but then I read a great article and decided to write about that instead.

Let me preface this by saying that I do consider myself a feminist, yet I've also realized the negative implications that feminism has had on modern American women. It has been both a liberation and a burden. Feminism has opened the door for women to do anything and everything they want — but, it's also added pressure to the already busy woman.

Let me explain.

As a newlywed, I've already kept myself up at night with the mounting pressures of being a woman, especially as I ready for my last year in graduate school. Many of these pressures I have not yet faced, but I'm worried how I'm going to handle them all. For example, I am expected (not by my husband, but society) to have a career and bring money into the home, be an amazing wife, be Susie Homemaker and prepare delicious dinners every night and keep an impeccable home, to (maybe someday) be the perfect mom and attend every school play, class party, soccer practice, ballet recital, etc., all while maintaining a tight and toned body and perfectly manicured nails and coiffed hair and keep my face poreless and flawless. Pretty sure that last sentence was a run-on, but you get the idea.

Meanwhile, my husband is pretty much expected to bring money into the home.

The author, president of the business school at Harvard, wrote an article called, "Stop That Woman!" that perfectly expressed all of my fears and woes.

"You know that girl who 'has it all' — perfect job, relationship, body? No, you don't, because she doesn't exist," the article begins.

The author examines different standards society places on women (and women on themselves) including the beauty standard, the marriage standard, the motherhood standard, the homemaker standard, and the work standard.

Some of my favorite quotes from the article:

"We have opportunities today — to choose our educations, careers, spouses — that would've stunned our grandmothers. But now we're dazed and confused by all of the choices. Feminism was meant to remove a fixed set of expectations; instead, we now interpret it as a route to personal perfection. Because we can do anything, we feel as if we have to do everything."

"...women today face towering expectations: a pileup of the roles society's long heaped on us, plus the opportunities feminism created."

"...oddly, as women have gotten more culturally liberated, we've also gotten crazier about our bodies."

"In the 1960s women needed their husband's signatures to open credit cards; our grandmothers couldn't hold mortgages unless they married...We have more options today, but we've also raised our expectations of marriage."

"We want to be fully involved in our children's care — without compromising time at work, with spouses, and for ourselves. We want men to love our independence and gas up the car. We want to achieve pay equity with men, but we prefer our husbands to earn more than we do. And whether we're working as truck drivers or consultants, we want to be good homemakers, mothers, and wives."

"You'd think that as we work harder at all these new goals we'd at least have cut ourselves some slack on the home front. But no, housekeeping standards have actually risen since our grandmothers' time...women today spend twice the time on housework me do."

And, my absolute fave: "Only Wonder Woman can do it all, and all at once. And she isn't real."

Now, admittedly, I am nowhere near to being good at any of those standards. I went into the grocery store the other day and walked out with hardly anything. It's easy to shop for myself, but difficult for me to meal plan and shop for my husband as well.

Anyone that knows me knows how much I adore my mother; she's pretty much perfection in my eyes. She's gorgeous (and always has been!), an awesome wife and mother, and an amazing cook. She also likes her house to be clean and her laundry to be done. I've often worried that I will never be anywhere near the caliber of my mom, but even she didn't always have it together all of the time (sorry, Mom!)...just most of the time.

She wasn't afraid to ask for help and my dad had no problems making dinner if he knew my mom was busy. Still, she always put those pressures on herself discussed above. It's really not fair to women!

The author of the article said she spends nearly 300 hours on beauty a year (is that all???), while her husband spends only 30. Over the course of her 40-year career, she said she will spend five years on beauty. So, those are five years less that she has then men, but she is still expected to perform as well as them in the office and do more than them in the home.

Something's not right!

Maybe women do it to themselves. I mean, if I just wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, btw!), I feel as though the pressures would be alleviated a little bit (there are still so many things expected!), since all of my responsibilities would lie in the home. Yet, I feel very strongly about having a career.

Feminism is great and all and I have enjoyed the fact that anything I wanted to do, I could do it. But, placing even more pressure on top of what is already expected of women is just. not. fair.

Women are expected to have it all, but really, that's just not possible.

How do you feel about feminism? Does society place too many expectations on women? How do you plan to deal with those expectations?

1 comment:

  1. I've never really cared about having a career, but as I get older I realize I love having independence. I don't want to stay at home...just not for me. I don't like cooking so I'm hoping to marry a chef who hates my cooking and will want to cook for me! Haha

    Of course Wade cooks for you mom...sigh, he's perfect!