These illustrations show the conflicting expectations women face every day
‘Act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss’
As a woman, it can be hard to know what advice to follow when all of it is so contradictory. Last week pictures of a woman publicly being forced to remove her burkini in Nice went viral. Women are being told to take off their burkinis and undress on the beach, but at the same time we should keep ourselves covered up, and shouldn’t show too much skin. Meanwhile, men are free to wear whatever they please on France’s beaches.
But what to wear to the beach isn’t the only example of the unreasonable advice women are forced to endure daily. We’re constantly set conflicting expectations on how to look (wear makeup but look natural) or how to behave at work (act like a lady, think like a boss) or in relationships (don’t be a slut but don’t be frigid). These ridiculous expectations are created usually by men, and in many cases by other women too.
These illustrations show just how confusing it is to be a woman in 2016.
The workplace is one of the most notorious places where women are told how they should be. If a woman follows the advice set for men – she’s met with criticism. Men are told to “power dress”, yet women get sent home for not wearing heels. Powerful women are spoken about in words you’d never use for men – bossy, naggy, difficult or a bitch.
Women are constantly judged for how they look, or should look. We’re expected to look “feminine” – wear makeup, nice clothes, shave everything – but if we’re “too high maintenance” it’s off-putting.
If we’re feminine we’re “too much of a girly-girl” to take seriously, but too masculine and you’re written off as “one of the guys”. If you’re open about your intelligence you’re “emasculating”, but if you’re not clever-enough you’re patronised for being “basic.”
There is a Beyonce lyric that sums up the two negative stereotypes of women in relationships, a psycho or a pushover: “What’s worse, being jealous or crazy? More like being walked all over lately… I’d rather be crazy.”
Fight your case and you’re a psycho, jealous bitch who’s got your man whipped. But keep quiet and you’re under the thumb, a pushover who should stick up for herself more. Either way, you’re a joke.
Women who forwardly initiate sex are dismissed as sluts who aren’t worthy for relationships, while others are labelled frigid or prudes. We’re told to be sexy and keep our men satisfied, but never to have sex on the first date if we want another one. We’re told to “show off our assets”, but if our outfit is too revealing, “we deserved it.”
Illustrations by Daisy Bernard Art.