"In spite of the fact that she’s a full human being, a woman is expected to content herself with being something less than half of that. She’s expected to allow men to see themselves as superior to her, to subordinate her needs and interests to his; to accept lesser occupations, slower promotions, lower pay, higher standards, to shape and mute her intelligence to avoid threatening men’s egos, to endure being ignored, unheard, and invisible because she’s a woman in a man’s world, to do the work he won’t do because it’s beneath his status as a man.

She’s expected to accommodate herself to often impossible patriarchal standards of female beauty, an accommodation that often involves relating to her own body as an enemy or a failure, and molding, squeezing, and even starving herself in order to satisfy the male gaze. And she has to do all of this on top of being an adult in her family and community, holding up at least half the world with her labor, keeping herself and her family together whether her husband is there or not, raising children, and maintaining ties with extended kin.

None of this comes naturally to any girl simply by physically maturing into a woman. The extent of her “obligations” requires her to deny, mask, and distort the fullness of who she really is or could be."
Allan G. Johnson, The Gender Knot

Notes

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