We all grew up reading the princess stories where the strong, handsome men aided women in need of rescuing. Their valiant acts involved elaborate ordeals of physical strength and mental sharpness which essentially meant that men dashing in to rescue women from harm was critical to the women’s lives moving forward. And the women? The women were the passive in-distress participants, who, apart from being unable to advocate for their own needs and wants; needed a man to control the fate of their lives and save them from distress.
For years, we have created the message, oft repeated in stories that our children read and imbibe, that women may not be able to advocate their own needs and men have to be able to provide for women and keep them from harm. In effect; we have grown up with a social psychology which leads us to believe that women need someone else to take care of them and save them from misfortune. Boys become men believing that their role is to provide for women and keep them safe from harm.
With conditioning like that; no wonder, as women, we have to work harder to regain control of our lives, restructure and realign our interpersonal equations at home and work and deal with obstacles in the process of being our own person.
As girls, we are taught to be nice, not to ask, and accommodate others to ease their discomfort; not to create conflict, not to be aggressive and not to have a sense of entitlement. As leaders; all these traits minimize self-agency. We are taught not to be strong; yet strong we must be in order to be leaders.
As we prepare and propagate our cause of equal rights the world over; we must change the locus of control to within us; rather than outside of us.
It is perfectly fine to be clear in your expectations from a relationship at home and work. It is perfectly acceptable to ask. It is perfectly reasonable if you are not able to accommodate the perspective of the other at all times. It is perfectly acceptable to feel entitled to respect at home and at work. It is perfectly acceptable to be self- reliant and independent. Know your power. Claim and promote your needs, accomplishments and value. Create a baseline for imbibing leadership.
Women participation in every sphere of home and work, corporate or government; socially and visibly is a prerogative not a privilege. Be yourself. Act yourself. Break through the barriers that inhibit you.