Sit Like A Lady: The Abnormal Expectations That Come With Women’s Representation
The double standards we present to women are so jarring and frustrating, especially when juxtaposed against the expectations we raise to the men in their fields.
“Sit like a lady,” is a regular reminder given to prepubescent girls. Crossing their legs, keeping their head straight, and straightening their backs were said to not let the imaginary crown fall. However, it is hardly ever mentioned that “sitting like a lady” is merely an allegory to the sexist restrictions and the imaginary crown represents the burden coming from the unrealistic expectations thrown to women.
Even if society has now reached a time where women have gained a seat at the table, it is still unexceptionally rare that it becomes a spectacle. Since this does not happen regularly, when a woman achieves something in her field, it is almost always celebrated as a win for women in general regardless of who they are as a person.
However, the expectations on how women are supposed to sit remain the same: be noticeable yet presentable. In turn, women are seen as a blank canvas, a tabula rasa of some sort, open for the projection of other’s thoughts and feelings towards them instead of humans who have their own thoughts and feelings.This thinking signals the truth of the palatability of women’s existence in a male-dominated world.
Women are reminded that they are not only representing themselves but the women who previously paved the way before them and the future generation of women after them. One wrong move can erase all the hard work of women and set a negative precedent for other women.
This is one of the reasons why society sensationalizes the tragedies of women and diminishes their existence on their involvements in scandals. It is as if when women refuse to adhere to the abnormal expectations set by society, they are wrong, improper. Women are expected to have a clean record, free from any wrong actions that might be weaponized against them.
If a woman is running for office, she must do everything perfectly. Even her family life, ancestors, and non-political affiliations are meticulously discussed. She must fight loudly and fervently, but not too much that she shun potential allies away. She must be smart and quick-witted, but must be careful to not say anything controversial. She must be agreeable, but she must have strong principles and opinions. As if she is frozen in her seat.
The double standards we present to women are so jarring and frustrating, especially when juxtaposed against the expectations we raise to the men in their fields. Where men are praised for the bare minimum, women can go above and beyond and still be criticized for it.
It is a tale as old as time — we let men get away with so much in history that even when the force of male power is challenged, it is hardly shaken. Men in power are free to do whatever they want, and still never receive the same amount of backlash from a woman who makes one mistake.
For women, the seat of influence or power is a fragile glass chair. Everything she does must be calculated and perfect and pleasing to all parties involved or she would be chastised, guillotined, or burnt at the stake. So many women are discouraged from pursuing certain career paths and even if they do, they are discouraged from disagreeing with the men in the room.
“Don’t punish me for not being a man. ’Cause I’m not a man.”
In the end, all of us must reflect on why we demand so much from women. Why do we punish them for not reaching the standards we set for them. In the first place, who created these standards to begin with?
Everyone is encouraged to dismantle our sexist thinking and question these expectations. To quote Marina (a girl boss), “Don’t punish me for not being a man. ’Cause I’m not a man.”