Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fighting cliché "Girl should be this and that..."

While checking out the lists of literature posted on SWG Coffee Social: Book Lists (list Ms. Readers’ 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of All Time: The Top 10 and the Complete List!) I found a very interesting interview of the author of one of the books (Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture
by Ariel Levy )

Interview with author of 'Female Chauvinist Pigs'

3:35 especially resonated with me. I realized why I have this very strong reaction on some messages from my family:
1.    Mom telling that I’m pretty when I am trying to make photo for resume. I’d prefer to hear some encouragement like… you are going to find a good job because you are a good professional or have potential or smth like that.
2.    Father giving me as presents stuff like mouse with picture of flowers or some infinitely stupid book “guide for young ladies” (that was a while ago but I still fill incredibly irritated about it), like the man does not know me at all and does not know that I hate this stupid cliché stuff.
3.    Sister constantly trying to tell me about finding a husband…

It feels that they do not appreciate enough my ambitions and already achieved professional results. Like it’s less valuable then something what was just given by nature. Like my belonging to female sex and birth giving ability is more important than my personality and professional fulfillment. Although, my parents are probably ones of the most supportive parents I’ve ever saw but still… when they bring out the topic that I am supposed to be this or that (kind of more feminine) I feel like I am ready to explode.

I know that I cannot change my parents, they are just the way they are and I love them any way. But still I wish that I would be raised and even now treated a bit differently. I feel like I needed to be more pressured to be successful and less pressured to get married and have children. Even though I forbade them even to mention it any more but it made the damage already. I feel that at times I really luck the drive to succeed because there is another scenario of becoming to some extent dependent woman. Even though I hate that 2-nd scenario, thanks to the society and my family in which I was raised, that scenario is still alive and at times implicitly undermines my determination. And this is something I should deal with and it is not easy, because this internal (and external) enemy has a lot of masks and sometimes when you recognize it, it’s too late and what is left to do is just  to repair the damage. I wish I had more examples around of successful women which I would want to fallow. But in my society successful woman is not too popular concept. And I cannot change it. So, I have to change the place. Only this way I can actually start living fulfilled and happy life and my ultimate pleasure would be then to start giving back.

 I rather recently realized that one more life mission has appeared in my life. Before I had just one “big” mission which I could realize through my profession, it was about environmental sustainability. Now I have one more mission: to become a successful woman. Now, I’ll explain, how it is the concept. Successful woman can show example and inspire other women. Successful woman has more resources to promote gender equality for her own sake but even more for that of others. I will not elaborate much more on this concept because, first of all, I should become that successful woman ;) 


  1. Ah no support for ambition! I’ve experienced this as well. I spent my early adulthood going to school and working full-time. At 35 I finally finished school, passed the CPA exam and received a huge promotion at work. At this time I also got married and bought a new car. Shortly after, I attended a family function where one of my aunts commented how proud she was of me; for finally getting married and wasn’t it nice of my new husband to buy me a car. Hey, I used my own money for the down payment on that car and my car’s loan was in my name. It just so happened I needed a new car shortly after I got married, getting married had nothing to do with it. I didn’t say anything. It wouldn’t have done any good anyway. Then last year I had lunch with a former colleague I have known for about 15 years. She complimented me on how confident I know am compared to when she first met me 15 years ago. She attributed my new confidence to my marriage. Not to the 15 years of additional managerial experience I now have. What is an ambitious girt to do? It is hard to fight against a culture that values beauty and marriage over intelligence and career goals. I am adding Levy’s book to my reading list.

    Also, I am currently reading Annie Leonard’s book “The Story of Stuff.” You might enjoy it; it’s about environmental sustainability.

    1. Dear Savvy Working Gal, thank you so much for sharing your story! It's really inspiring for me and it's impressive too! I hope to manage to be as persistent as you are in order to be able to say some day to myself: I did it!

      Thanks to your comment I got inspired to write a post on the topic :)

      The book about “stuff” is in my must-read list now :) Thanks for great suggestion! Annie Leonard is really doing a good job of creating awareness about environmental issues, you probably already saw her blog/project and cartoon

    2. Dear Savvy Working Gal, I feel like I might have crossed some line when I included in the next post some of my thoughts which I had after reading your comment. I apologize. I have deleted that part because it is more appropriate for those thoughts to be here. And what I mean is that for women to succeed is not easy. And I admire strength of women who achieved it. But as I see it, success of a woman is a complicated thing. People with different views see it differently and often underrate. We cannot change that completely, though some small changes always can be made. I think the situation will/would change itself when there will/would be more examples of successful women. And I hope it will :) ... with each story off success, some change :)

      Thank you again for sharing your story and for the great job you are doing on your blog! Thank you for the change you are doing :)