1920 was the year women were granted the right to vote. Years later in 1931, Jackie Mitchell became one of the first female pitchers in MLB, and struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in April of that year. In 1968 Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American women elected to Congress. Fast-forward to June 1983. Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space when the space shuttle Challenger launched on mission STS-7. 1987 Aretha Franklin was the first women to be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. In February of 1993 Janet Reno was nominated as the first female Attorney General by President at the time Bill Clinton. This year in 2016, Hilary Clinton won the Democratic Party Presidential nomination. Everyday women are pushing boundaries and creating new social norms for tomorrow’s women. Although women have more power in the workforce today, there are still social expectations and a glass ceiling that guide and limit the idea of what it means to be a woman in America today.
In families, men are usually looked at as the leader, and women are more of the supporters of the men. It’s more common today to see equal decisions between the head female and male of the household, but it isn’t always accepted. Bambi Moore is a writer for Revive Our Hearts website, and has an entry comparing today’s women and Pilgrim women. Moore states, “As soon as we stop thinking with temporal minds, we will begin to do great and courageous acts such as the women of 1620 (Moore page 4). As great as that sounds I don’t want to live like it’s 1620. Family may have been number one at that time, but I still believe family is still key in life today. Janis Prince Inniss, writer for Everyday Sociology Blog posted in 2007 about Mary Kay’s empire that reflects how women can balance family and work. Inniss states, “In Western cultures, girls are often socialized to be communicative, family focused, to play nice, and to focus on relationships. Therefore, with women as the target employees (and consumers), it is no surprise that Mary Kay emphasizes the flexible nature of this “at home job” that allows women to focus on family ahead of their job” (Inniss paragraph 5). So, we don’t necessarily have to go back to 1620 to focus on our family.
Naturally women are nurturers. It’s almost as if it was programmed into their brains the day they were born. Unfortunately, men don’t see any power in nurturing, and other women see a nurturing woman as a form of weakness and vulnerability. Lindy West, a blogger for Jezebel, has a hilarious but very true entry about how vulnerable women are when it comes to chick-flicks. On the tenth anniversary of The Notebook ‘s release date West finally decided to watch the film, and see what everyone was talking about (West 2). She addresses in her own words, “This is a movie made for women by a man” (West 4). There is nothing wrong with men making chick flicks, but it does bother me knowing they their target audience is specifically women. Do men think a damsel in distress meeting this big and tall many-man, and taking her away from all her problems is what every woman wants in life?
Inniss talks about Mary Kay being a door-to-door cosmetic line catering to women, by women, because why would a woman want to buy makeup from a man? Inniss concludes in her post, “The current President and Chief Executive Officer, as well as the current Executive Chairman of Mary Kay, Inc. are men; yet they appear to be able to keep the pink corporate culture going” (Inniss paragraph 2 and 9). Once again, let’s leave it to a man to make something that caters to an all-female audience. It’s as if men are going back in time, and erasing women ever having important roles.
As women continue to have bigger achievements, women having too much power still isn’t accepted in society. Before the men took over Mary Kay, Inniss talks a little about Kay Ash and how she built this cosmetic empire that we all know of today. Inniss describes Ash’s story: “She ran her company like a woman” and calls it “pink corporate culture” (Inniss paragraph 3). If men took over the company after Ash’s passing I don’t believe she ran it like a “woman”. If we agree with Inniss’s statement of the way Ash ran her Mary Kay, then could that make the men that took over Mary Kay less masculine? The answer is “no”, because men taking over corporations will always show power in today’s society.
Another blogger for Everyday Sociology named Sally Raskoff posted a review about the show Dancing with the Stars called “Dancing with Gender Norms”. Raskoff then starts talking about one episode and states, “Jennifer Grey (an actress) was chastised for being out of control and showing too much power while Rick Fox (an athlete) was complimented for showing a lot of power” (Raskoff paragraph 9). How can women showing too much power be a bad thing? Of course, two of the three judges are men, but why is women having power not accepted? Could that one female judge change the two male judges’ minds? Some may think women having power isn’t “sexy” or only men can have power because they are bigger in size compared to women. If you go back to the beginning for Raskoff’s entry she says, “Masculine men are supposed to be powerful and in charge while feminine women are supportive (of men) and a passive yet sexy” (Raskoff paragraph 2). This is the glass ceiling that society has placed on women in the past, and still places on women today. How are we ever going to tell our daughters they can be president one day, but only if they don’t show any power at all, and they are sexy?
Raskoff continues to tell the harsh truth of how the judges on Dancing with the Stars can be. If a woman doesn’t have an hourglass figure (hips and bust larger than the smaller waist), they do not often make it into the finals. No one wants to explain that system to their daughter, but it’s the harsh reality of what people want to see on TV. Knowing what you know society accepts today would you like to have a chance to explain that to a younger you? Nsovo Mayimele is 26 years old and a writer for Notey.com, and had a very interesting post recently. Mayimele wrote a letter to her 15-year-old self about entering womanhood. Mayimele says, “Looking back to when I was young, there are certain things I wish someone could have told me, lessons that I should have learned a lot earlier.” In her letter to herself she states “you are beautiful”, “the world owes you nothing”, “marriage isn’t everything”, “life is a journey not a destination”, and to “run your own race.” We all wish we could go back in time, and change the way we did something. Even though we can’t go back in time we can still tell our daughters, nieces, and friends and neighbors this advice. How are women ever going to progress in this world if we can’t encourage another woman?
One day America will have a woman president, and women will have equal pay, and run companies on their own, and society will accept it as an everyday norm. We will never see that day if we live with this cookie cutter expectation of what society wants a woman to be. We shouldn’t go back in time, because women today are pushing limits, and setting new standards for women of tomorrow. When you hear the words, “America’s sweetheart” you automatically think of a female, and pink, and bows in a little girl’s hair, that can sing and dance. You don’t see power in America’s sweetheart, because she is so sweet and innocent, and everyone loves her. We don’t see her as president of the United Sates, but the first lady. Society as a whole created this image of America’s sweetheart. We should all take Mayimele’s letter, and give that advice for out next generation of women. We should encourage that little girl’s dream of becoming the first female president. If she wants to play baseball like her father, let’s find a custom helmet to fit that big pink bow she wants to wear while playing baseball. If she wants to own her own company one day, then let’s encourage her at her lemonade stand. If she wants to become a pilot on the first all-female crew going to space, then let’s get a season pass to NASA for her. Women are creating a new female norm every day, and society needs to find a way to work with this change, and not stop this change from happening.
Inniss, Janis Prince. “Pink Cadillacs: Femininity Redefines Corporate Culture.” EverydaySociologyBlog, 6 Sept. 2007, http://www.everydaysociologyblog.com/2007/09/pink-cadillacs-.html. Accessed 7 Nov. 2016.
Mayimele, Nsovo. “A Letter to the 15-Year-Old Me.” Notey, 12 Sept. 2016, http://www.notey.com/@girlsglobe_unofficial/external/12046877/a-letter-to-the-15-year-old-me.html. Accessed 7 Nov. 2016.
Moore, Bambi. “How Today’s Women Differ From Our Pilgrim Foremothers.” ReviveOurHearts, 25 Nov. 2015, https://www.reviveourhearts.com/true-woman/blog/how-todays-women-differ-our-pilgrim-foremothers/. Accessed 9 Nov. 2016.
Raskoff, Sally “Dancing with Gender Norms.” EverydaySociologyBlog, 11 Nov. 2010, http://www.everydaysociologyblog.com/2010/11/dancing-with-gender-norms.html. Accessed 7 Nov. 2016.
West, Lindy “I Just Watched The Notebook and Am Here to Ruin It for All of You.” Jezebel, 2 July 2014, http://jezebel.com/i-just-watched-the-notebook-and-am-here-to-ruin-it-for-1598415652. Accessed 7 Nov. 2016.