“Simply put, no society can truly flourish if it stifles the dreams and productivity of half its population” (Time magazine Oct.1, 2012:30). These are the words of ex-President Bill Clinton speaking about the five ways the world is getting better all the time.
For too long women’s dreams have been stifled, often due to the patriarchal structure of many societies. A successful woman is often viewed as a threat to a man. A misogynistic way of dealing with is to ‘put her in her place’ and ‘put her down’.
According to sociologist Allan G. Johnson, “Misogyny …. is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence”. No wonder many of these women battle with depression and anxiety. (See post on Blaming the Victim)
It’s interesting that young men who have no career ambitions often have the same fears as women with career ambitions. The fear is that no-one will want to marry them. A woman doesn’t want to marry a man with no career ambitions – she is looking for financial stability. And on the other hand many young men don’t want to marry a high-flying career woman because that can be seen as a threat to him!
According to Clinton, things are changing. There is worldwide evidence that women are gaining social and economic power that they never had before. This is good news for women as well as for society as a whole because it’s been proved that women tend to reinvest economic gains back into their families and communities more than men do. Clinton cites a modern trend of more women than men being enrolled in institutions of higher education globally. In South Africa where I live, figures show that 55% of all graduates are women.
Most women who have stayed at home to look after children go back to the workplace at about the age of 34 and will probably continue until retirement. This may be for financial reasons but more often a woman has a need to go out to work to make her mark in the world. There is many a man who sees his wife’s success as a personal threat, resulting in her having no emotional support as she tackles her new work venture into the world. She has to go it alone.
Message to the men
Encourage your partner to become the woman she is meant to be. Enjoy her successes and don’t conclude that her success reflects badly on you. Your support will enable her to fly! It’s not a competition but rather journeying alongside each other.
Message to the women
Be aware that your man might see your success as a threat. Encourage him to support you as your success will result in a happier ‘you’, a fulfilled ‘you’ which can only benefit him as well as your relationship in the long run. Show your appreciation to him as well -you’re partners not competitors in this life!