"Your list of the common extent of accomplishments," said Darcy, "has too much truth. The word is applied to many a woman who deserves it no otherwise than by netting a purse or covering a screen. But I am very far from agreeing with you in your estimation of ladies in general. I cannot boast of knowing more than half a dozen, in the whole range of my acquaintance, that are really accomplished."
"Nor I, I am sure," said Miss Bingley. "Then," observed Elizabeth, "you must comprehend a great deal in your idea of an accomplished woman."
"Yes, I do comprehend a great deal in it."
"Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved."
"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."
"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any."
"Are you so severe upon your own sex as to doubt the possibility of all this?"
"I never saw such a woman. I never saw such capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe united."
I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a woman in today's society lately. What women have done before me, and how they've fought for some of our most basic rights, fought against notions that we're best served with a coif in our hair and a sandwich serving platter in our hands.
In some ways we've come so far from the suffrage movement, thanks to the suffragettes who paved the way for us to use our voices. Women have fought for centuries to be taken seriously... for equal opportunities in education, equal advancement opportunities in careers, for women's rights. But at other times, it feels like we still have so much more to speak up for.
What is the "standard" of a woman?
Society would have me believe I'm to be educated... but not too educated. That's intimidating.
Society would chastise me for being materialistic and vain, yet expect a flawless appearance, pleasing to the eye.
Society would have me celebrate my body, but only if it's appropriately and modestly covered... meant only for a man's eyes... a man I've committed to serve.
Society would have me believe that it's ok for men to make comments about my sexuality and my looks, and boast about unwanted advances and groping, because it's just boys being boys.
Society would have me believe my voice is valuable, but only if used in a proper, pleasing manner meant to maintain neutrality and reflect no opinions that would inconvenience anyone in any way. Society would have me believe I was born to breed, and then born to be placed before the panel for judgments on my mothering.
Society would have me believe that a woman who speaks up for women's rights is a fearsome woman to behold. "Progressive" as an insult. Strange that speaking up for equality is "progressive."
Society would have me believe that I actually don't have the rights to my own body, and that they know best.
Society has an opinion on my access to birth control, why I should be a mother, when I should become a mother, how long I'm allowed to recover from child birth, how I'm supposed to be a working mother, how I'm supposed to be a stay-at-home mother, how I'm supposed to be as a wife, a daughter, and a friend, and how I'm supposed to appear while doing all of this.
When I was growing up, I strongly believed in the modesty of women. I held a certain view that there was an inappropriate way for a woman to behave, dress, BE. I didn't place this level of criticism on a man. There's the role of a man and the role of a woman, I believed, because you know, apparently your gender should define the box in which you live.
A woman who embraced her sexuality was a "slut" or a "whore." Now I cringe when I hear those words. A woman was assaulted. Well, she was out late at night, by herself, and wearing a short skirt. Obviously she could have made better choices. Yes, former "victim-blamer" here, and I wasn't even aware of it at the time. You mean, we should be holding men accountable for their actions first and foremost? Psssssh. Boys will be boys. It's like a totally endearing statement, right? I believed if you had sex before marriage, you didn't respect yourself. Strong women in the press that had ambition were "greedy," "cold," and "self-serving." I never questioned a man who fought his way up the ranks. His ruthlessness was respected. A woman's ruthlessness -- a flaw. Unlikeable. Not womanly. A woman is always supposed to be likable and agreeable to everyone...or she's failed. She lacks class.
As someone with a blog full of opinions, I experience quite a bit of blowback. What I find most fascinating is the very idea that absolute strangers are offended by me for two reasons: 1) I share my opinion on my page which they've chosen to visit of their free will, and 2) they don't like HOW I express my opinion or the topic of opinion I express.
See, it's not enough that they can just sit back and disagree with my opinions or engage in respectful dialogue, they have the sheer audacity to tell me what opinions I SHOULD be sharing and HOW I should be writing and sharing them... as though a random woman they've never met online is beholden to their standard of how a woman should BE. It's common on my page, from both men and women actually.
I'm told to get back to "being funny." See, as a woman, my only value is if I'm entertaining others in a way most beneficial to them. It's all about convenience, and what you're making convenient for others, when you're a woman. I'm not supposed to be a person with "radical" ideas about social justice. That makes people uncomfortable. Agreeable. Agreeable. Agreeable. That's what I'm supposed to be!
The results of the current election and the blatant and celebrated misogyny that's now placed in the country's highest office tells me we've got a lot of work still to do.
Today is #givingTuesday. Today I think I'm going to give to women.