Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Weight of Womanhood

The other day I read a comment from a man who took issue with the qualifications of a local political candidate based on her physical appearance. Are you kidding me? The candidate, already a public servant with a documented record of service, clearly had a major thing going against her here: she’s a woman.

Women continue to be held to a ridiculous standard as regards physical appearance. In all cases it has nothing to do with their qualifications or ability for the task at hand. Yet time and again they are judged by how appealing they are to the male gaze, as if that is their primary reason for existing.

Then there are the perennial questions about “how will you balance your career with your role as a wife and mother?” that never seem to be asked of men. These questions shift the focus from women’s ideas and goals to being forced to go on the defensive as somehow derelict in their “womanly duties.”

Oh, wait! I almost forgot: “she should smile more” “she’s too directive” “difficult” “unpleasant” and, you know...”b****”.

We have quite a few women running for office in Howard County right now. I happen to think that’s a good thing. I wonder how they feel every time their message is derailed by sexist questions and remarks. I know how I would feel. I would want to be taken seriously and I would feel frustration that, merely because I was a woman, many people didn’t feel I was worthy of that.

A man strides into a room and speaks his mind.

A woman, wearing a peacock blue cocktail dress, married to this man, mother of these children, speaks in a strident tone about something. I don’t remember what. She was emotional.

That is quite a bit of garbage to be forced to carry around, don’t you think? Other people’s stereotypes and expectations are foisted upon any woman who seeks to be a leader. And it’s not only in politics, either. In the private sector, in non-profits, and elsewhere women must fight to be taken as seriously as a man.

But then they are chastised for putting up a fight.

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