Posted by: jordandorsey09 | March 14, 2013

How Far Women Still Have to Go

Today in class we discussed chapter 4 in Wilson which deals with ambition.  We discussed the issues surrounding women’s ambition in regards to female competition (mean girl idea), safety zones, likability etc.  At the end of class we read an article which argues against the idea that women are not ambitious, that instead it is the cost of being ambitious that is the root of the problem.  Women do not want to be seen as ambitious because it works against their ability to be liked and shows poorly upon their skills as a leader.  The author noted that success and likability are positively correlated for men, whereas they are negatively correlated for women.  And at the end we had to answer two questions, one being about how we personally act and the other about what obstacles women face and how we would overcome them.  It comes as no surprise that for the first question I answered that no, I am not at all afraid to speak out, take charge, and get involved.  But for me it was the second question that was more important.  The obstacles I see for women and men alike are in gender roles and expectations, and as a whole our inability to step outside of our current society.  So to the second part of the question “What are you going to do about the obstacles that women face?” I thought about an interaction I had with several other students the other day.

I was in an office waiting for a meeting to start and I over heard a conversation a few of my fellow students were having.  These students are people that I work with on a daily basis and have a good rapport with.  They were having a conversation about feminism and being feminist.  To summarize they came to the conclusion that feminism was stupid, feminist were just man haters and they though that was stupid; also, that being feminist meant you had to want women to rule everything, to be in charge, and to put men down.  These students were ALL female underclassmen.  I had kind of turned around to listen to them and one of them saw me watching, I must have had an interesting face on because one of them asked me if I was a feminist.  And I hesitated.  I said yes, but I hesitated.  And that to me shows how far women still have to go.  If I am someone that can be totally unafraid to state my opinion, totally willing to be in charge, totally behind all of the ideals of equality for both sexes, and STILL hesitate in calling myself a feminist then there is work yet to be done.  I am no doubt a full blow feminist ideologically and in action, but even so I am afraid to identify with a word the signifies strong female ideals and actions due to the issue of likability.  Until to be ambitious (as it means to be ambitious for men) if positively correlated with likability, women will be caught in the double bind.

So to answer the second part of the question, what can I do or how am I going to overcome the obstacles, I will start with myself and those around me.  So when I hear a conversation like the one I heard the other day, instead of being ashamed or hesitant about being a feminist I will be confident.  In addition, I will not only say yes but explain why.  I would create a conversation with the other girls to get them thinking about more than what they have seen in the media or what they have been told to think by society.  I will ask them to think for themselves and reflect on the issue.  Be confident in myself and in seeking to help educate those around me are ways in which I personally will try to over come obstacles facing women (along with letting my natural personality be its dominate, assertive self hahaha).

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Responses

  1. I really enjoyed that Dr. Shollen allowed us the opportunity to not only discuss the readings in class and our points of view about the Chapter 4 Wilson reading today but also gave us the chance to reflect on how we as indivuduals might be able to make a difference on the obstacles and challenges that face women and their ability to be ambitious. After reading both the chapter in the book as well as the article today in class I was able to really connect with my understanding and belief of how I think women are percieved in leadership especially with the concept of being ambitious. I grew up in a house hold that contained a very positive and supportive foundation for me and my sister. I was and still am constantly reminded that I can achieve and reach any dream and goal that I set for myself as long as I don’t allow others to tell me I can’t. My mother has been an inspiring role model for me and she is one of the most ambitious women I have ever encountered. Her role as a mother, wife, and worker have been positions that she has played almost her entire life and yes, she has reached many challenges and obstacles but she has never allowed anyone to change her mind or tell her she can’t do something just becasue of her gender. It is astounishing to think that today there are still people that discourage women to be ambitious just becasue they are a woman. I think that we should first start by not concentrating on the success of others but our own selves. People are so caught up in the success of others that they most of the time forget to think about what is best for them. Competition to be the best is always a factor that influences people and I think that alot of the controversy with women being ambitious has to do with this. Considering the fact that I am a women, I see it everyday. I think that women try to impress other women all the time and show off how great of a person they are and the accomplishments that they are making just to say , ” hey! We are both women, but look how much better I am doing than you.” I think that in order to make a difference on this controversy and this vision that women shouldn’t be ambitious compared to men, we need to talk about it. We need to realize the main issues and focus on what can prevent those issues. This is something that can be solved but it will take time, effort, and deidcation to make it happen.

  2. Your post reminded me of a conversation (or two) before spring break about the term ‘feminist’ and our debate over the real meaning of the word versus the connotaitons that it now carries in society. Going based off of the definition, I feel like a lot of us would characterize ourselves as feminists because we are all concerned about equal rights, but by cultural standards, admitting that would definitely be embarrassing because people do associate that with man bashing and take-charge, abrasive attitudes. I agree with you that the best way to go about changing something like that is on an individual basis. You probably made those girls take a second to think about what they were communicating through their conversation, and maybe down the road, they will do the same for others. I think when you’re talking about blasting gender expectations, that’s the way that this war has to be faught. Eventually, if people stop buying into it, it will be cycled out of society.

  3. As a male, I applaud you for being a feminist. Honestly, when you first spoke out in this class during the first weeks I immediately switched on my male “oh god here’s another over-achieving bitch” attitude that cripples our male society. Not listening to anything you would say, all I wanted to do was argue. “There is no problem! You’re just making a big deal out of nothing!” Those were my initial thoughts. But I had been crippled by being around males. Just recently, one of my fraternity brothers were talking Danica Patrick and NASCAR; he ignorantly said that “that bitch has no place, she’s going to ruin the sport”. The other guys laughed around him and I just sat there and thought…”what a fucking asshole”. 3 months ago, I wouldn’t have felt so strongly. But after being in an environment like this class, with people like you in it, I have so much more appreciation for women being outspoken and trying to gain equality. It is a problem and I think it’s a problem bigger than woman realize. Those kind of conversations men have with other men happen all the time, and nothing women do even with being outspoken seems to change it. In fact, it really only exacerbates a males incredulity about women’s rights. They are put off. It is a shame and I don’t know how or if it will ever be fixed. That being said however, I now have a full respect for you and a higher regard for women’s odds stacked against men. It is an utter travesty. Keep being outspoken Jordan, women like that have changed the world over the years. Though it may never reach the point you want it to in your lifetime, I just know that my male ignorance has at least been replaced by your passion. And in a world of small steps leading to monumental changes, that’s something.

  4. Although we notice that women have come a very far way, it cannot go unnoticed that we still have a long way to go, and that starts WITH women. I think your experience is a prime example of something I have been noticing very much while progressing through this class. Although women have been objectified and denied the same experiences and opportunities as men, we will never continue to thrive and prosper if we do not stop pointing fingers and start making moves. I think the term “feminist” has a negative connotation as people think it means someone who points fingers at men and blames men for the lack of advancement of women. As this class has progressed, I realize that “feminism” is really about empowering other women and taking a stand to SUPPORT women, rather than complain about the LACK of support for women. As we continue to strive for women’s equality I think it is important to make goals, like Jordan’s, to take a stand and be firm in our beliefs. We need to give “feminism” a positive connotation. It all starts with us.

  5. I think dialogue is the most important means of growing women’s ability to have ambition, go after it, and still be seen as likable. These girls sounded like they were just preaching to the choir for this conversation and without someone who is educated enough to know the meaning of feminism and start an actual conversation where new ideas might be developed, they won’t ever form a new opinion. Its also a good idea to understand your own position and be unafraid to voice it but if you can’t make someone listen there isn’t much point. Young women have got to be introduced to the idea that they can achieve as long as they don’t put themselves or their fellow women down. Ignorance is a huge detriment to women’s achievement so those who are educated and have ambition must be willing to introduce the ignorant to new concepts.


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