Today we are here to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in a world full of double-standards.
We would like to note: When we say “woman/women” we mean anyone who identifies as a woman, but we are also inclusive to anyone, regardless of your identity, who does not feel safe in the patriarchal world we live in. We also acknowledge intersectionality and that women, and individuals overall, face different forms of discrimination and unequal access based on things like the colour of their skin, their sexuality, etc. Here at Untangle Money we are working hard to be an inclusive community and are continuing to educate ourselves. We will make mistakes but we are always open to feedback and help in order to move forward.
Let's dive in!
Why are we talking about double-standards?
The reason we are here to talk about this topic is because of the recent controversy following the uniforms of the Norwegian Women’s beach ball team as well as British Paralympian Olivia Breen.
On the one hand, the Norwegian Women’s beach ball team were fined for wearing shorts instead of bikini/bathing suit bottoms during their match. The women wanted to wear shorts because they are more comfortable to play in, they make the women feel more secure (especially when they’re on their periods and such), and because they don’t want to be sexualized while they’re playing. However, the International Handball Federation (IHF) states that “bottoms are not to cover more than 10cm on any sides” (see photo to the right for reference of the men’s team vs. the women’s team). In protest the women wore their shorts and were fined 1500 euros for “wearing inappropriate attire”.
On the other hand, Olivia Breen, a British paralympian was told that her sprint shorts were “too short and inappropriate”. In a statement made on Twitter in order to bring awareness, Olivia argued (rightfully so) that women should not be made to feel self-conscious while they’re competing, she is also planning to make an official complaint.
These two stories quite clearly show how women’s bodies are continuously sexualized and policed by society (mainly men, but some women too), this is a whole blog topic in and of itself.
But staying relevant to the topic here, it also shows the double standards that exist for women. Why are the beach ball players being told to show more skin, but Olivia Breen is told to show less? Additionally, why are the men allowed to wear shorts and long shirts?
What is a double-standard?
We’re sure that most of you already know this is a man’s world (more specifically, cis white man’s world) that we live in. The patriarchy sets the rules and standards for society, and anything that exists outside those rules and standards is deemed unacceptable; and sometimes, even if we follow the rules we’re still punished. This leaves many of us in a position of damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
Essentially, a double-standard is a rule that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.
Some examples of double-standards you may recognize:
When men are competitive it’s healthy, encouraged, just “men being men” vs. when women are competitive it’s called being catty 🙄
Women are expected to have children vs. no expectation for men (and women who don’t want children or can’t have children are shamed)
Similarly, women are expected to give up or take time away from their careers for their children vs. (again) no expectation for men to do the same
Women’s bodies (and choices) are constantly policed 😒 (birth control, abortion, clothing, body image, etc.) vs. men’s choices and bodies which, for the most part, are not discussed nor policed by society and governments
Research shows that women who have had multiple sexual partners are stigmatized, whereas men are rewarded and praised
Women are stereotyped to work as teachers, nurses, caregivers, assistants, low-paying roles, etc. vs. men stereotyped to be principals, doctors, engineers, lawyers, CEOs, construction, high-paying roles, etc.
Notable double-standards specifically in the world of finance:
Women are paid less than men for the same work
Budgeting/saving tips for women: less shopping, less coffee dates, etc. vs. Budgeting/saving tips for men: ask for raises, invest your money, and so on
Women are expected to take maternity leave (which in some places is unpaid leave) vs. no expectation (in most places) for men to take paternity leave - this time off for women, especially if it’s unpaid, impacts their income, their career paths, their ability to move-up in their roles, their pay, their self-esteem and mental health and more… it shouldn’t have to be a choice between family and career.
Investing tips for women: pick safe, low-risk options, give money and time to charity. Investing tips for men: take risks, grow your money, get it working for you, create generational wealth.
The double-standards listed above are a non-exhaustive list, we really could go on and on with various double-standards that impact women. In addition, when you take into account other identities like race and sex orientation, among others, the double-standards are even more unequal and exist even between women of different races, etc. Which is why understanding intersectionality and your own privilege, as well as biases, is important to dismantling these double-standards.
So how can we destroy these double-standards?
Getting rid of double standards may seem like a hefty task to take on, but it’s actually quite simple and starts with changing our expectations of what women should do and be.
It means accepting that no one has to conform to the archaic patriarchal standards that still exist today. We need to accept our differences, our likes and dislikes, our identities. It means letting a woman or anyone do what they want with their body. Let women wear whatever they want and feel comfortable in. Let women change their bodies to look and feel the way they want them to be. Empower women to do with their life what they want. To believe what they want. Not every woman wants marriage, or children, or a career outside of the home, and some do. If she wants to be a stay-at-home mom, a teacher, a doctor, an activist, a lawyer, CEO, world leader, a financial planner(!!!) empower her to do so! Women can be whatever they want to be because professions should not be gendered and people should not be controlled by the patriarchy.
Being a woman in a world of double standards is hard, but it is made easier when we stand up for one another and break them down together.
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