Unequal expectations at work mean women have to work harder to be heard
Listen up ladies: you should be assertive, but you shouldn’t be bitchy. You should be talkative, but you shouldn’t take over the room either. You should be sexy, but shouldn’t be slutty. You should be sweet, but you shouldn’t be a pushover. You should act like a man, but behave lady-like. Right?
We have this misleading concept that we should be everything and nothing all at once, so, we constantly doubt ourselves. Personally speaking, I question myself every day and overthink everything. Do men do this as much as women do?
In the workplace—or simply in daily events—us lovely human beings “blessed” to be the weaker sex have a lot going on in our heads. We don’t want to be labeled as the ‘bitch.’ And you are perceived as the ‘bitch’ if you are too assertive. However, reversing the roles, a man is being the boss, or simply a man, if he is boldly self-assured about his opinions. Negative feelings are heaped on women when they act like a man should, sure, and men experience the reverse when they behave the way women are “supposed to”, by being called a sissy—or worse. This just reinforces negative gender stereotypes. This happens because of how gender is culturally constructed in our society, and it continues despite our best efforts.
Our fear of being seen as unattractive or out of the norm is perpetrated by the gender inequity in the workplace: that is the still remaining wage inequality along with male dominated professions. Women are still being paid only $0.82 to every $1 earned by men and a majority of men at work encourages this ridiculous idea and vicious cycle of men acting bigger and women acting smaller. Yes, this is what contributes to women apologizing more for their actions because of the actual fact that they are not as valued as men—according to their paycheck that is.
My mother used to be president of her company alongside my father. When they got divorced, she lost her position. My father and his colleague now have that title. Divorce comes with its own taunting quarrels and my mother didn’t want to fight relentlessly over job titles. So she let it be. I wonder if a man would have let go of that title of power that easily. That’s the thing isn’t it? Men are born into the world with a position that makes them more eligible for power than women.
I sometimes silence myself in front of issues that bother me to avoid looking stupid or overly sensitive. Overly sexualized women dominate the media in our day-to-day lives and we mindlessly accept it.
This only drags on the issue. Speak up about your thoughts and don’t apologize for sharing them. Be labeled as the ‘bitch’ for being assertive, and don’t act like a man or a woman—but as a human being.