What is wrong with women being ambitious?
I was watching The Crown a couple of weeks back and something in there caught my attention. And I thought why not share that with you? It was about the stark contrast in the expectations on ambition or rather the degree of ambition a woman is expected to hold as opposed to a man.
So, in The Crown when Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne, it transformed the role of her husband, Prince Philip, in public life as secondary. The series, if you watch it, showed how that made the latter disgruntled. It troubled him to the point of making him cranky for he wasn’t allowed to pursue any official position other than being the consort of the Queen. It bothered him to the extent of rocking their marriage. Of course, what really happened between them I do not know. But even if for a moment the series and the newspaper reports that I later read are to be believed, Prince Philip struggled at not being the star in their marriage.
And it made me think. It really made me think because I have seen women putting their husbands’ careers before their own. It’s something intrinsic to us that makes us do this like we are programmed to do so without even batting an eyelid. A lot of it has to do with gender-pay-gap I suppose because it makes sense for the one being paid more to keep going on, be at the forefront. But I digress. I have seen women who have given up their careers because aren’t they supposed to do so being the wives, the women in the relationship? Women are for some reason not supposed to be ambitious. Or, let me rephrase, women are supposed to be ambitious only up to a certain point. And my question is why?
And then there is that thing about an ambitious woman being labeled bossy or difficult. But a man imbibing the same characteristics is seen as focussed, a taskmaster, a doer and more. Why is it that the moment a woman gives her career priority she is called bossy with a negative undertone? Why is it that a woman being ambitious is frowned upon while a man being the same applauded, celebrated?
Women are supposed to be ambitious only up to a certain point. And my question is why?
Why is bossy used as an insult to women? #Women Click To Tweet
“Let me take a minute to say that I love bossy women. Some people hate the word, and I understand how “bossy” can seem like a shitty way to describe a woman with a determined point of view, but for me, a bossy woman is someone to search out and celebrate. A bossy woman is someone who cares and commits and is a natural leader.” ― Amy Poehler
Why is a woman's ambition incumbent on her partner's career or childcare? #Women Click To Tweet
Even to this day and age, women, educated and qualified women give up their thriving careers to go settle wherever their husbands are posted. Sometimes it’s done by choice but often that becomes the natural course of action. A woman almost always needs to check her ambition or navigate it around her family and her husband’s career. Anything else often leads to problems. This is one of the reasons I admire women who never sacrifice their ambition either for marriage or children in spite of the judgment which they, I’m sure, face from family and society. Their lives tell us that there is nothing wrong with being ambitious for a woman.
Imagine if all women who had to give up their careers ended up sulking or being disgruntled. If they were cranky for giving up their professional training or settling for something other than what they had hoped for in order to not inconvenience their families. What would be the equations at such homes? And make no mistake about it, that’s most of the homes around you I’m talking about.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.”― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists
Somewhere the scales are skewed, the expectations unfair. Sacrifice is sought almost always from a woman when it comes to her career and her family life while a man can have it all. That is the reason why I still say a woman can’t still have it all but it certainly doesn’t mean she shouldn’t try to.
So to the women I say, it’s not wrong to be ambitious, to be bossy. Be all of it and more. Seek more and be more for yourself because you deserve it and not what the society stipulates. Don’t sell your ambitions short because someone else won’t do it.
“Ambition is not a dirty word. Piss on compromise. Go for the throat.” – Steven Erikson, Gardens of the Moon
Pic Credit | Dirima via Shutterstock
This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.
Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.