Great expectations?

Emma Watson has shown this week that she is an inspiration for all. She recently gave an eloquent speech at the UN women HeForShe launch campaign which inevitably went viral as her words spoke the thoughts of many men and women around the world. She talks about how the word “feminism” is frequently used incorrectly and women are refusing to call themselves a feminist because they don’t want to be viewed as someone who hates men. As previously written about in my first ever blog post, feminism is about the equality of the sexes.

 “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.” –Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

As many women would agree, there is still a huge problem in regards to the expectations and pressures put on them by society. Women constantly feel they are made to act and look a certain way. As addressed in Beyonce’s song “flawless” the feminist movement is getting more and more recognition, however there is still the massive issue that women are being taught different expectations as opposed to men.

As quoted by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her passionate and inspiring speech at a TED conference in April 2013 she reiterates the issue “You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.” Hundreds of years ago men would be out at work whilst the woman would stay at home, cooking, cleaning and looking after the children, yet time has moved on. Women aren’t taken as seriously as they should be despite the millions of successful women around the world and it saddens me a lot of women are living up to the expectation that their only importance is merely to support men.

Intelligence is beautiful.

It breaks my heart to see young, beautiful, intelligent girls with so much to offer the world, dumb themselves down in order to be noticed by men. Women with so much to offer to the world yet they feel that they can’t overpower and threaten the man therefore they don’t portray their true potential.

These expectations diminish their personality and ambition, it leads to society tricking us into the belief that most men are purely interested in women to be there for them and look pretty. Whereas this just isn’t the case, strength and determination are some of the most important traits a woman can have.

As young people expectations are thrown upon us from every angle of our lives, from our parents, our educators, our friends and most importantly ourselves. We believe we have to fit a certain mould in order to fit in.

“Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love.”

—  Emma Watson

Elements of our lives that feel incredibly important now, will mean nothing to us in ten years time. I can’t stress enough how much we need to look past the unrealistic expectations we put upon ourselves in order to feel accepted. Especially for young women as there is a common stereotype we all feel we have to emulate in order to feel like we belong, which influences us to change our hobbies and opinions in life. When you were a young girl I’m sure your mother pushed you into doing different extracurricular activities in order to find what you enjoyed. Then how many of us found a passion as a child but soon stopped doing it around the age of fourteen because it wasn’t cool? We didn’t want to be labelled a “tomboy” so we quit our sports teams, and we were scared to be called a “geek” because we enjoyed science or literature.

Surely we should be celebrating girls being involved with new and exciting hobbies and having a strong interest in something not many other girls are into. The things that set us apart from others are the things that make us individual and that make us special. However girls are constantly throwing these passions away because they don’t want to appear different.

As we grow up we learn to follow our own path and express our own thoughts. We then realise that these expectations thrown upon us lack significance because our in-differences are what make us who we are.

The media play a huge part in the way people live their lives, gender stereotypes suggest men should be strong and never show their emotions whereas women should be weak and show their vulnerability. Women have the ability to be the CEO of a huge company just like men can pursue performing and dancing and it doesn’t make them any less of a man.

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive, both men and women should feel free to be strong.” –Emma Watson

I can only emphasise the potent words of Emma Watson and stress the importance of freeing society of these expectations that we set upon ourselves.


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