When I was in college I had a professor confront me about a problem she thought I had. She observed me: smart, confident and straightforward in our one on one meetings and in my schoolwork but silly and acqueiscing in class. And I wore makeup. This is typical of smart women. Feminism has given us the opportunity to showcase our strengths and be successful but we still feel like in order to be socially successful we have to present our skills in a non-threatening lil package. I don’t know how to understand this criticism. How do you know if you are a nice person because you are from Minnesota and you think that’s how you are supposed to be or if your subconscious is screwing over your ideals without your consent?
It’s just that these things like being (caution: I’m about to use a scary word) heteronormative and happy and especially concerned about the happiness of those around me. It’s like the wage gap between men and women: there isn’t really one at all. It’s a kid gap- if you are the primary caretaker of children you are working less hours less productively, that is why women earn less than their male counterparts. You don’t hear men describe themselves as “I’m a full-time father and an executive.” No, men are executives first.
When talking about gender roles its normal to use descriptive words like “different” or “traditional”, “non-traditional” and “complementary.” People are scared to assign value to the things we do because for so long we did that and it was praising traditionally masculine things for no reason at all other than that men did them. We are getting past that. We should call something good and bad when it falls into that category.
I think it is good to be nice to people and make them feel comfortable in group settings. I think that if you have a family they should be a bigger part of your life, and have a greater part in defining who you are than your work. Maybe they aren’t, that’s honest, but it’s not powerful. You aren’t a better executive because you’re so busy being an executive you have nothing outside of work that gives your life focus.
This free to be you and me stuff has got to go. Every personality trait isn’t just as good as every other one. I’m not nice to people because I want to be viewed as weak and less intimidating. It’s possible that as a characteristic, it’s better.