While driving on the highway yesterday a billboard caught my attention. It was advertising some TV show called “The Queen” (If I read correctly while zooming past). The image is what stuck with me. At the head of a board room table sat a woman, presumably the “Queen”, and around the table sat all her subjects, the men. The woman at the head represented a conceptualization of the “powerful woman”. She was dressed in a black business suit, hair cut short, poised in a manly stance, clearly in control and dominant.
So what’s the problem with that? You may very well be thinking this right now.
And the problem the way I see it is this. In order for a woman to be regarded as “powerful” or “in control” she has to basically become like a man. She has to dress like a man (the black business suit), cut her hair like a man (short and cropped) and take on the stance of a man. Somehow it just wouldn’t seem suitable if the “Queen” in this image sported for instance, long hair, wore ,say a floral summer dress or if she was dressed in pink (not that I’m an advocate for pink but in any case) and sat in a feminine posture. If this was the case, the woman would not be taken seriously, or would she?
So what are we saying exactly? Are we saying that the only way a woman can be dominant or can be taken seriously is if she becomes like a man? I may be wrong here, but doesn’t that go against the basic principles of empowerment?
It appears as if a woman has to give up everything that defines her womanhood if she is to become powerful or dominant. There is no time for things like motherhood, or marriage. She cannot afford to be soft or feminine, petite and quiet. Nope, she has to be bold and dominant and aggressiveness may be her most treasured trait.
Tell me, how does it make sense to limit women in this way?
Surely the concept of power has to be vaster than this.
Isn’t a woman “powerful” when she takes on the role of a nurturing mother, or a caring teacher? Does she not have “power” or “control” when she supports her husband or runs her family? Can she not be an adviser, a confidante, a friend, and yes even a “boss” if she decides to wear a dress or grow her hair? Does she automatically become weak and vulnerable if she is soft and feminine? Does she have to give up all notions of femininity before she can be respected and taken seriously?
So what do we base our ideas of power and control on? Do we simply follow the standards set by men, the very men who we claim have been given unfair advantage for years. Or do we gain power and control in new ways, and in different ways, and in ways that do not require us to change ourselves completely. Ways that do not discard ‘womanly’ traits.
These are simply just my musings. There are so many contradictions in the world it would take me too long to discuss them all. Nonetheless, I just found this to be relevant. Maybe it’s something we can all ponder about.
So I leave you with this question:
What really makes a woman “powerful”?