Friday, December 3, 2010

We live in a patriarchal society where women are expected to play second fiddle to men. Often times men are intimidated by a women who is smart and has power in the corporate world. When women are seen equal as opposed to someone who is socially inferior this can cause tension. As we have discussed many times in class women are placed in a difficult position. They are suppose to be intelligent but not to smart because then they will intimidate men, they are suppose to be sexy but not to sexy that it takes away from their intellect. They are suppose to have an established career but not at the expense of their family life. If women cannot do all of these things then society tells her that something is wrong with her. In KATRIN BENNHOLD article Keeping Romance Alive in the Age of Female Empowerment. Benhold explores the correlation between educated women and romance.

The article starts by recalling a Sex in The City episode where Miranda goes speed dating “She wastes her eight-minute pitch three times by giving away that she is a corporate lawyer. The fourth time she says she is a stewardess and gets asked out by a doctor.” Why did it take Miranda down playing her occupational status for her to get a date? Society tells us that women are not suppose to be as successful as men in the business world. The ironic part is that later in that same episode that it is revealed that the man that Miranda went out with had also lied about his occupation he was not a doctor but he worked at a shoe store. This is a double-edged sword men also feel the pressure to be successful in order to reaffirm their masculinity. “Now, as more women match or overtake men in education and the labor market, they are also turning traditional gender roles on their head, with some profound consequences for relationship dynamics.” (Benhold) In most relationships men’s are expected to be the breadwinner with the woman taking care of the house. When the roles are not clearly defined in a relationship or differ from what we consider to be the norm this can be a source of conflict. Men often define themselves in material things as a way of proving their masculinity. So the man's self worth is diminished by the event of earning less than his woman. This isn't his mate's fault, but his! This has everything to do with how he sees himself and how he sees the world.

The identity crisis for too many men comes from seeing themselves in what they have and what they possess. So losing a job, possessions, a mate, not being good in bed, or even earning less money than their woman makes them feel less of a man. Men have egos and they are easily damaged. “Men don’t want successful women, men want to be admired,” she said. “It’s important to them that the woman is full of energy at night and not playing with her Blackberry in bed.” (Benhold) As much as I hate to admit it but I think that I would have a problem being in a relationship with a women who makes more money than I do. Johnson talks about how patriarchy is perpetuated by everyone’s constant acceptance of it. Johnson explains that patriarchy is expressed through the media as well as our language. He defines patriarchy as “system of inequality organized around gender categories” Men for the most part embrace patriarchy because it empowers them and gives them many privileges. Men are unaware of most of these privileges. Johnson also talks a lot about “social relationships and the unequal distributions of power, rewards, opportunities, and resources, that appear in everyday life” It is because of the imbalances in these areas that many men have trouble accepting powerful women. Patriarchy plays a large role in men feeling the need to reaffirm their masculinity. Men who earn less than their partners struggle with two main insecurities “They feel socially and personally vulnerable. Socially, they go against millennia of beliefs and stereotypes that see them as the breadwinner. And the success of their partner also often gives them a feeling of personal failure,” (Benhold) The article talks about how educated women who use the dating website have trouble acquiring dates. Johnson would argue that this is one of the ways in which we as a people perpetuate patriarchy in society.

Frye talks about how we often misuse the word oppressed. Frye talks about women being in a loose loose situation in terms of their sexuality. If they are sexually active they run the risk of being called a slut if they are not sexually active then they run the risk of being called a prude or a tease. Frye would argue that women face this same dilemma in the corporate world. If a woman wants to enter the corporate world, and she is successful she runs the risk of intimidating potential suitors. Frye would argue that men have a problem with successful women because they believe that women should be oppressed. According to Frye every action, regardless of how harmless it may seem, is done with the intention of oppressing women. Women are made to think that it is their fault for not fitting into a male dominated society. Miranda from sex in the city feels the need to lie about her occupation in order to secure a date. This relates to Liz Canner’s film Orgasm. Women are led to believe that something is wrong with them if they cannot achieve orgasm during intercourse. Instead of educating men or even further educating women, women are simply told that there is something wrong with them.

Women are placed in a difficult position they are almost forced to choose between love and corporate success. Due to the fact that we live in a patriarchal society women are expected to make less than men. When these gender roles are not displayed it is a source of conflict. I read an article in Time magazine that married men whose wives make more money then they do are more likely to cheat on their wives then men who are the bread winners. This is a huge problem until we start to empower women and start seeing them as equal instead of inferior this will continue to be a problem. The sex and the city episode end with Miranda finding happiness with Steve, a waiter-turned-stay-at-home dad who doesn’t mind her success one bit.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree that society continuously tells us that women are not supposes to be as successful as men, especially in the business world. When women are successful and powerful career-women they are seen as almost "witch-like" and they seemingly lose all their "positive" (submissive) feminine qualities. We see countless examples of this type of the women, such as Miranda in "The Devil Wears Prada" or Lucy Liu's character in "Ally McBeal."