Double standards for women we need to leave behind in 2015
1. Be strong but not intimidating
Women are expected to be Lucy Liu figures, resilient and strong. But, at the same time, words like “opinionated” or “bossy” are used to shut women down. It is all too easy for a female politician, activist, or CEO’s legitimacy to be wiped away in a single press release labeling her (and her opinions) as being merely another high-pitched, whining voice. Whether it’s the “time of the month” accusation or subtle but harmful descriptions of women in power, passionate women are written off and put down. As a result, issues that women care about are not given their deserved attention. Passion should strengthen a woman, not weaken her.
2. Work hard, but don’t expect much.
Inequality in the workplace is nothing new. In the last decade, however, women have been told that it’s up to them to overcome such inequalities. Take Lean In, for example, which told women that in order to get the careers they deserve, they just need to work harder. This is much more easily said than done. A recent study found that while men are criticized for execution or skills by their bosses, women are criticized for personality flaws. Simply working harder or being more confident will not be enough to overcome deeply-rooted, societal apprehension towards women in power because they will be written off as aggressive or overbearing.
Studies surveying tens of thousands of students have found that sexually active teen girls are more than twice as likely to be bullied than their sexually active male counterparts. Perhaps this comes from the ideal, unthreatening, “pure” female, fitting neatly into gender norms, the same mentality that shames women for wearing suggestive clothing and policing dress codes. This isn’t to say Peter Pan collars and jeans must be exchanged for short skirts and crop tops. If a woman doesn’t want to have sex, she shouldn’t be labeled a prude. If a woman wants to have sex, she shouldn’t be labeled a slut. Women should be able to do what they want without submitting to the confines of narrow-minded gender norms.
Celia is a sophomore at New Trier High School. She is passionate about human rights, gender equality, and service learning. Celia is a Teen Advisor for the United Nations Foundation campaign Girl Up, which empowers American girls to support their adolescent counterparts living in developing countries.
She is also an ambassador to UNICEF and volunTEEN nation, and has served on DoSomething.org's Youth Advisory Council. Celia's work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Teen Y!, and the volunTEEN nation blog. You can find her eating Mexican food, at policy debate tournaments, and on Twitter.
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