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Societal Expectations Placed on Women

By Jordan Schmitt, Head of PR / Photos by Madison Salyer

As a woman, I can confidently say that we experience many stark double standards in comparison to many men. I represent the women who undergo themin the workplace, the classroom and social lives.

A large aspect of these double standards has to do with appearance. What women wear has a significant impact on how they’re perceived. If a woman goes out to a bar and wears a blouse buttoned all the way up, she’s labelled as a “prude.” But, if she wears a short skirt or a top that shows cleavage instead, she’s a “slut.” 

There should not be a hidden meaning behind what a woman chooses to put on her body.

A similar issue arises with sexuality. In the U.S., it is normalized for men to openly discuss and even celebrate their sexual experiences. If women do it, they are shamed by their female and male counterparts for being “too easy.”

Even in terms of physically expressing sexuality, if a guy walks around without a shirt on, no one bats an eye, but if a woman wants to wear only a sports bra, she might get a few weird looks or stares, or even be harassed inappropriately. 

There should not be restrictions on how and when an individual can openly express their body. 

The sad reality is that even when women do want to openly embrace their sexuality, it’s hard not to think about possibilities of sexual harassment or assault. The ever-present conflict of male autonomy over women’s bodies prevents women from fully feeling comfortable in what she wants to wear. Walking down the street, a woman knows she may be cat-called and the chances rise as she dresses for a night out, knowing that unwanted comments can turn into unwanted contact. 

There should not be societal justification for infringing on a woman’s personal space. 

The bind for women continues further beyond physical appearances. The idea that men are typically the ones that hold leadership positions is ingrained into American society. This ideal can be traced back to the long sought after picture of the quintessential American family. In this context, a woman’s proper place is in the kitchen — cooking to please her husband, taking care of their children, and tending to the house. 

Clearly, the current generation of hardworking, multitasking, on-the-go women show that we are moving beyond this outdated ideal. However, this mindset has a direct effect on why women find it harder to get the same opportunities as men. 

1 in 5 members of Congress are women. It is also statistically rare that a woman has not yet been president in all the years of America’s existence … 1 in 18 trillion odds to be exact, according to a podcast from NPR. Institutionalized barriers and strong gender biases continue to hold women back from such influential jobs. In addition, women of color experience further difficulty while seeking representation in such positions. 

When women do attain important careers in the workplace, they encounter a whole new set of unspoken rules to follow which affect how they go about their job. If woman is too quiet at work, she’s seen as “incompetent” or “timid.” But, if she’s bossy, she’s a “b*tch.” The stereotype of a shrill professional female boss is all too common. We allow men in the workplace to act as “manly” and assertive as they please without questioning it. 

It is unjust that we must view what is accepted from the lens of straight men. However, in a society that has historically placed the most value on men, it is impossible not to. 

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