A Working Woman Isn’t a Good Woman?

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Even with all of these college applications flying at me, I still find time to imagine life after my interpretation of college. On these occasions, I do not fantasize about potential all-nighters, (more) test cramming and frat parties. Instead, I catch myself thinking about my professional life. Go figure.

My workaholic (and likely unhealthy) daydreams are filled with the trivial babblings of imaginary co-workers, workplace gossip, coffee breaks, and awkward office interactions that are likely stolen from a few episodes of, Parks and Recreation.

Yet I don’t mind. In fact I get all fuzzy inside when I think about how important I am in my perfect world. I get excited when I think about my potential and the impact that I could make on the lives of many.  I get excited at the prospect of being the CEO of the freaking Earth! (Yeah right.) But really what kid wouldn’t?

From the time that we are young we are telling our parents what we want to be. We whisper in mommy and daddy’s ears and tell them that we want to be doctors, lawyers, chefs, or astronauts. We tell them that we will double major in politics and worm digging on Wednesdays and change our majors to dress-up and journalism on Fridays and the best part about it all is that we sincerely believe every promise that we are making.

I know this sense of fleeting ambition all too well. At one point I thought that I was going to be an interior designer, then a fashion designer—a chef or an architect. But as I gained as much life experience as I could from high school (which really isn’t a ton of experience), I was faced with the task of narrowing down my career options. I had to take many things into consideration: my talents, my weaknesses, practicality, interests, and huge doses of self-doubt before I finally decided that journalism was a career best suited for me.

But even when I found an attainable career that was supposed to ground my imagination, and evoke more practical decisions, I still allowed myself to exaggerate my career as a journalist. How one could go from a freelance writer to the CEO of Earth is beyond me, but despite the lack of logic I smile at my ideal professional life.

At least until I think about what I would do if a black suited man came up to me and said:

“Hey Lauren, there’s no way that a good woman can be the CEO of Earth! That’s job for a man anyway!”

The working woman is an interesting woman. No matter what her race, hair texture or height, she carries a burden of stereotypes, loaded on her by men and her fellow woman. I know a lot of powerful women, judges, lawyers, business owners and professors who have probably felt the ache of the working woman’s burden. So when I think about the stereotypes associated with women in powerful, male-dominated careers, I feel my heart jump out of my chest and go out to them.

Think about powerful women that you’ve see in media.

Now think about them and try to remember if you’ve ever thought about them in these ways:

The working woman is a single and very lonely woman, an ice queen, a masculine figure. Yet she is very emotional in all the wrong ways and handles her business impulsively. She is conniving, untrustworthy and has questionable business practices. She is a woman who men cannot stand— who women cannot go on lunch dates with—whose house neighborhood children avoid at Halloween.

My point is that many understand the working woman to be someone who is actively trying to be in your face about defying stereotypes, and while that may be a minor detail to her character, I’m pretty sure her motives primarily revolve around just trying to make it.

In many ways the working woman contradicts the idea of “a good woman”. Well what is a good woman?

Before writing this article I had my own ideas about what some men thought a good woman was. But just for the heck of it I went to my good friend Google and looked it up. I found this especially fitting because a question like that is very subjective and anyone with an internet connection has a real knack for posting their opinions anonymously online.

Laugh at me if you’d like but an Askmen.com article gave a few adjectives that expressed what they thought a good woman was supposed to be. Apparently a good woman is one who is loyal, supportive, patient, sensible, and calm.

While there are merits to these qualities when applied to any person, I can’t help but feel like these traits are carefully chosen in order to fit this “good woman” into a domestic setting. Or perhaps it’s not the traits chosen, but rather the traits unmentioned. Notice how the article failed to mention traits like hard workingambitious, or intelligent. These are the kind of traits that help powerful women and men achieve their positions.

Because a great work ethic, ambition, and intelligence are not traditionally attractive traits for women, people begin to feed into the idea that working women are destined to be single. But even when they have a significant other, the expectation that she must make a tradeoff between family and career rears its ugly head.

Now in some ways this trade off can be true, but it can be true for both genders. If a working woman gets pregnant, she has to take maternity leave.  During this long break, even if it feels brief to her, she is away from the workplace for a significant amount of time and some may look to this woman and think:

“Well this is the end. It’s time for her kick off her shoes and stand in the kitchen…” 

Why? Because somebody has to take care of the family, and somebody has to make an income. I just don’t understand why these duties can’t be divvied up between husband and wife. A woman deserves some time with her career just as man deserves some time with his family.

 The working woman is also rumored to be a joy kill or a stiff. Sometimes we just have to remember that Hillary Clinton probably has a life, Margaret Thatcher probably loved dancing and Oprah Winfrey is Oprah Winfrey.

The working woman is a human being, and I’m amazed at how easily people tend to forget that.

I was having a conversation about the new hit series, Scandal with a teacher of mine. I was expressing my love hate relationship for the main character Olivia Pope and I said that I loved her concept because she broke racial barriers with her multiple rendezvous, but I admitted that I didn’t like her personality.

My teacher jokingly asked if I felt that way because I really did think that she was a jerk, or because she was a woman in a forward working environment.  That really got me thinking, because she was right, Olivia Pope is just assuming the personality she needs in order to survive in the job that she has.

It’s not just men who look at powerful women with a curled lip.

After a few days of thinking about this, I finally came to the conclusion what I genuinely thought that Olivia Pope was a jerk for other reasons, but I did recognize that I could have easily been tricked into thinking that it was because she was a woman in an aggressive field.

Let’s go back to where I started.

What would I say if a black suited man came up to me and said:

“Hey Lauren, there’s no way that a good woman can be the CEO of Earth! That’s job for a man anyway!” 

In all honesty I don’t know what I would say. I could give him an oral cocktail of the names of powerful women, I could tell him that he’s being sexist or that a good woman is defined by being a good person and not the male-oriented ideal of domesticity. I could tell him so many things, point at my golden desk plaque and then direct him to the door.

But maybe it’s just better to show rather than tell, to live for myself, and not to feel a need to prove anything to anyone, male or female. It’s better to just go about my business, work nine to five, live five to nine, be a woman who has friends, family,  hopes, weaknesses, strengths and a career that she loves very much.

A woman who is just trying to make it on this tiny planet like everyone else.

What about you? What would you say?

 

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