The perpetual war of being a woman.

            Man, vs woman, white woman vs black woman, rich vs poor, fat vs skinny, modest vs revealing.

All these words highlight the internal battle on what it means to be a woman. More importantly, they emphasize the idea of intersectionality and double standards within femininity.

The fight for equality for women is no longer a sole battle of simply being a woman. Society has constructed an internal war within womanhood on what it means to be equal. Women are no longer simultaneously fighting for equality with men but now against each other. The two-course readings “Excerpt from Feminine Mystique” and “Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination,” shed light on the inconsistency within femininity and what it means be both powerful and powerless at the same time as a woman. Understanding the effects of intersectionality in feminism is imperative to recognizing the overlapping discrimination and oppression that occurs with being a woman of color, which Patricia Collins reveals in her article. She focuses on the notion of knowledge and the connection to power by emphasizing that race, class, and gender are an interlocking system of oppression.

Society continues to construct this idea of equality by creating a new level of inequality, which is amplified in analyzing intersectionality and double standards within feminism.

You’re too dressed up, you’re too dressed down, look hot, you look like you let yourself go, eat less, men like women with some meat on their bones, plump your lips, look natural, your trying to hard”

Endure the pain.

Don’t complain.

Be nothing. Be less than nothing.

Be a lady they said.

The fight for equality is not limited to just man vs woman, it is also woman vs woman. We turn women against each other through the ideas that are upheld from double standards and forget about those that face overlapping oppression from not only existing as a woman but also for their race. My goal is to show that women continuously live in a spiral of oppression through a closed funnel of inequality. In comparing the “Excerpt from Feminine Mystique” which was written 15 years ago to our society today, the similarity is that no matter what a woman chooses to do they will face oppression. Understanding intersectionality and double standards exist for women emphasize the idea that we must be more aware of the obstacles and inequalities women face.

The Continuous Spiraling of Double Standards through a closed funnel:

The “Excerpt from Feminine Mystique,” shows how women during the time after WWII were nothing but the cherished housewife. It highlights that their sole purpose was to be “perfect wives and mothers,” whose dreams were left to question “Is this all?” This glorified occupation of being a housewife and a stay-at-home mom is now a prime example of the internal battle woman face from double standards. The book “Mommy Wars: Stay at Home and Career Moms face on their choices, their lives, their families,” shows the effects of double standards on women. The continued shame now raises the question of women’s choices: to work or be a stay-at-home mom. The novel presents the two sides of the endless war of for women. The internal battle of women against women is shown through the shaming of one another. However, Leslie Steiner explains that “There is no good reason for working moms to treat stay at home moms like dirt” (Steiner). The oppression of women prevails through the control of individuals who are not women, which is exemplified in the “ongoing debate in the U.S about the benefits of working versus stay-at-home motherhood by experts, that are not women and aren’t even parents”(Steiner). The once glorified occupation of a housewife is now being shamed, yet working mothers are also being questioned.

 Be pure, don’t be so uptight, smile more, wear makeup, men don’t like women who try too hard, save yourself, don’t be a prude, be dirty, be innocent.”

Endure the pain.

Don’t complain.

Be nothing. Be less than nothing.

Be a lady they said.

Intersectionality is like a song that never ends:

The two pieces of literature reveal that no matter what a woman chooses to do she will be shamed yet glorified, questioned but supported and ultimately powerful and powerless at the same time. However, this is when an intersectional framework is needed to point out the effects of not only being a woman, but a woman of color, who will end up facing double oppression. As Kimberly Crenshaw states “We’ve got to be open to looking at all of the ways our systems reproduce these inequalities, and that includes the privileges as well as the harms” (Crenshaw).

Intersectionality in feminism is understanding that a woman of color is experiencing overlapping oppression, which Patricia Collins shows in her article “Black feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination.” Her focus on knowledge being a vital factor for social change underscores my argument of the importance of intersectionality. Intersectionality within feminism is best explained as “Viewing the world through a both/and conceptual lens of the simultaneity of race, class, and gender oppression and of the need for a humanist vision of community creates new possibilities for an empowering Afrocentric feminist knowledge” (Collins). Understanding the interlocking systems of oppression proves once again proves the correlation to double standards that women face and the perpetual war of inequality.

Man, vs Man/ Woman vs Woman  

Women vs Society

Be a lady they said.




Works Cited

Be a Lady They Said – Girls. Girls. Girls. Magazine – Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8ZSDS7zVdU.

“Excerpt from ‘The Feminine Mystique’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Feb. 2006, https://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/05/us/excerpt-from-the-feminine-mystique.html.

“Intersectional Feminism: What It Means and Why It Matters Right Now.” UN Women, https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/6/explainer-intersectional-feminism-what-it-means-and-why-it-matters.

Steiner, Leslie Morgan. Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007.

One thought on “The perpetual war of being a woman.

  1. Hilarie Ashton


    What a thoughtful and sharp essay. I know how hard you thought about the non-traditional aspects of your structure, and they work really well, especially the little one line interjections — it’s almost like you’re using the voice of the patriarchy to help subvert itself. (And what a firmly stated, evocative title!)

    You do a particularly good job weaving the framework of intersectionality into your analysis, and punctuating it with Crenshaw’s and Hill Collins’ words (which a lot of people who write about intersectionality fail to do!)

    There are a couple of places I would flag where more elaboration would help get your point across, especially to a general reader, like the use of “inconsistencies” in your first graf. But overall great work here — and a pleasure to read!

    I’m looking forward to your final projects!

    Prof. A

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