The list of double standards women face on their path to public office is plenty long: They should be pretty, but not distractingly so. Assertive, but never aggressive. Maternal, yet devoted exclusively to their careers. And every word that passes their lips should be spoken in a tone, volume and cadence that is pleasing to the ever-alert ears of their audience.
The path to any career not just public office but this was a story about women who run for president.
Now, you may ask yourself, where does it mention her looks? Have you ever noticed how most people when they reference a woman, often list the “way she looks” first in their descriptors, yet for a man, it’s his accomplishments, obvious potential and charming personality traits.
“A real smart cookie” isn’t something you say about the plucky upstart who defied the odds if that cookie is male.
Aggressive v Assertive
In modeling and etiquette school (yes, I was raised in the South with its cotillion and debutantes), we were taught to be assertive. Not aggressive. We were neither at the time, so this was confounding. Some might say liberating. Others, more trouble than it’s worth.
Assertive meant you stopped short of truly making any demands, always maintained a polite comportment with corresponding ladylike demeanor and could be perennially felicitous no matter the occasion. Suffering in silence slowly faded in popularity, and burning your bra was ultimately impractical.
Mother’s Little Helper, the blue pill. Salve for pent up discontent which evolves into aggression, if you don’t quash it early.
Be assertive is code for go ahead, but not too much.
“You’re too emotional.” I wonder how that sliding scale works – for women, it’s voicing any upset over being mistreated. Hysterical is just a few steps away.
But a man? Oh he’s just passionate! He really believes in what he’s saying! This guy’s serious! Give him what he wants! He’s a take charge kind of a guy!
Who does she think she is? She’s crazy! A real hydra! Harpy!
When I was in fifth grade, I wanted to be a CEO. I didn’t really know what they did but they seemed commanding, powerful. Perhaps that merely countered the powerlessness I had endured being molested starting at four years old. Perhaps it was the suits and heels.
At some point around the same time, I wanted, clearly and cognizantly, of sound mind and body, to be President of the United States.
The thoughts all girls have.