Why do you need to have a Masters/PhD? Your future husband will provide for you. No man would want a woman who has studied/is more successful than him! Studying too much won’t help you take care of a house. Don’t shout! It’s not ladylike.
If you’re a woman, you’ve probably heard these phrases or a combination of them at least once in your life. More than often, you may have felt the imminent urge to physically hurt the person spewing such nonsense, simply because you are fed up of constantly being told to make yourself smaller to comfort the other half of the world’s population: men. It feels like whatever a woman does, whether she chooses to master the art of more traditional roles (such as being a wife and/or mother), or she chooses to work outside of the home, or worse yet (note the sarcasm), she takes on the seemingly impossible task of doing both, it all boils down to one thing—and this transcends culture, time, religion, or the lack thereof—the opinion of men.
Her entire life, a woman is expected to cater to the needs of men; whether she is taught that through explicit behavior learning or through more subtle, implicit styles of communication, is irrelevant to this discussion. She is taught to dilute her entire existence, to water it down, become smaller (literally, i.e.: posture, body shape, timidity, etc and metaphorically: an unwavering, intense, passionate woman is demanded that she bring it down a notch so as to not scare off men) in order to accommodate men. Set yourself on fire to keep others warm is the message.
Never disrupt, never cause an uproar. A man speaking up with an opposing opinion is considered courageous and confident; if I do it, it’s unnecessary and is simply a cause of disturbance. We are told to always adapt, always contain yourself, always be flexible, and bend over backwards so that others can walk all over you, all the time. Smile. You are making others uncomfortable. Stay pretty. Always stay pretty.
I remember during one of the politics courses I took in my freshman year—it was mostly the boys in the classroom who seemed to have an opinion about everything. They’d clothe their opinions in off-handed humor, they were able to laugh at themselves, or be confident and serious when need be. Sometimes it felt like there was no filter; they said what they thought even at the risk of sounding absurd. And that, my friends, is the difference between how boys and girls are raised. Everyone should be taught to think before they speak as any sane person would, but it seems we place more emphasis on decorum for girls than we do for boys. This kind of conditioning goes deeper than we think. Do this exercise: the next time a woman raises her voice or speaks her mind, be conscious of your train of thought. The problem is at a subconscious, root level to the point where women themselves judge other women for being outspoken, labeling them obnoxious, attention-seeking, or thoughtless.
We teach our girls to sacrifice, to let things go, to let a harsh word slide, that ‘little boys are mean to girls they like’. No wonder women think they’re weak and in need of protection. Instead, all the forces in our world today work to indoctrinate her into spending her entire existence catering to the male gaze, from the make-up industry, to the fashion industry, to the porn industry. None of this is empowering in and of itself (contrary to what a certain type of feminism will have you believe); real empowerment lies in teaching our girls to thrive at life without constantly seeking male approval and validation.
The question is: Is this how girls should be raised?