Historically, women have shouldered more responsibilities than men, especially the invisible ones. The most basic things done by men are glorified, but even the greatest of feats achieved by women are trivialized. The basic expectation from them was to be overworked superhumans who wake up the first and sleep the last, literally and proverbially, for which they were praised and immortalized. Therefore, validation for women came from essentially becoming selflessservants who were worked to their bones. Hence, a woman waking up at six in the morning rather than four is considered a birthday gift, by herself and by everyone else. Ordering in so the women do not have to cook for an evening is a huge deal, but then: who cleans/disposes off the plates that the ordered food is eaten in?
For a woman to not sit in front of her in-laws is her being “cultured”, but is it actually culture? Or is it unfair sexist standards veiled as glorification in the name of culture? The worst of it is that women have internalized this. They truly believe that meeting unrealistic
standards and outperforming oneself is them being “dutiful” and “dedicated”. Having tracked their source of validation back to repeated self-harming sacrifice, it is what women do. Outperforming oneself has now become women’s form of success and while everyone is entitled to setting the bar for themselves, this toxic double standard that has so smoothly been internalized as culture and duty not only erodes the fabric of the society but also takes a toll on women’s health.
Then came this time, where educating and empowering women became a political and social statement. While this seems like a good incentive for the dismantling of unjust social structures of oppression and injustice, these structures and subsequent phenomena as one mentioned previously are now deeply embedded in our culture. The trend of outperforming herself every time has percolated through generations and what started as cooking five dishes instead of three has now become having a capital-J-Job and doing all household chores to literal perfection.
The need to constantly overachieve in basic terms is toxic. The fact that this instinct is founded in sexism and bigotry and which is becoming medically harmful for a large part of the society is what is alarming. Hence, as the world takes steps towards equality the focus must also be on internalized systems that are founded on the basis of sexism and injustice, so this time when we rebuild society, we may also not rebuild it right.