If she was a man you wouldn't be saying/asking that.
Feature from Ms Equality - Monday, 27 February 2012 @ 1:52pm
"If I/she was a man you wouldn't be asking or saying that".
If I had a dollar for each time I heard that statement these days I would be very rich by now. I just read an article in The Guardian entitled, "Madonna acts just like a serious male artist would - and people hate her for it", where the writer was saying Madonna shouldn't have to apologise for, "acting in the same way a serious, important male artist acts." I agree Madonna should not be punished for reaching to the top, and for not making excuses for it, neither should she try to compensate by being motherly and nurturing in her personal life. No woman should be apologising for rising to the top or for not having a nurturing motherly attitude. However just saying, "If she was a man they wouldn't be saying that", is not good enough either.
Let me tell you why, just recently I listened to our very own PM Julia Gillard's interview with Mike Willesee on the TV show 'Sunday Night'. She alluded to something similar when she was asked about the 'Julia Who?' factor. She said, "Mike I don't remember there being constant demands for more personality when Hawke, Keating or Howard were leading the country, I remember them being just blokes running the country". She went on to ask why the expectations are different now that a woman is running the country. I thought yes you've hit the jackpot there Prime Minister but you see, she stopped there and by stopping there it ends up being yet another excuse from a woman to avoid hard questions.
I would have loved to hear her challenging some perceptions of women, some myths that are passed off as biological differences between men and women when they are not. She was almost there when she was asked about being tough and she said, "Yes I don't wilt under pressure" and also that she is not a talk show host but gets up every morning thinking about the serious business of running the nation. I thought yes she should not make excuses for not being gentle, emotional, nurturing because nothing except generations of patriarchal traditions expects that of her. I really wanted her to ask more about why an assertive/powerful woman is branded as aggressive/ argumentative. Why are men supposedly rational and women emotional, because I believe it is these myths that perpetuate inequality and they should be done away with for women to also rise to the top.
If we are to talk about toughness, women are the toughest people around even though they do not look macho like tough people are expected to be. Let's talk about carrying a human being inside you for a moment, let alone delivering this human in the most excruciating pain and not giving up. How about taking up so many roles at once, being a daughter, sister, wife, mother and sister in law and a worker, with all roles requiring one to put up a different persona each time, yet juggling all (sometimes in one day) and maintaining ones sanity. I could go on and on but I will pause here so you can process this.
I want to end by challenging every woman out there to not use the above excuse but rather use the confronting questions/conversations to challenge society's perceptions of what is womanly?
Image taken from c-reel's photostream on Flickr under Creative Commons License