In almost every profile, interview or sit-down with a famous, successful woman, many questions come up? How did you get started? What challenges did you face? and inevitably the dreaded question…how do you balance work and family? It’s a sexist, irritating question, but she answers nonetheless. Then the patronizing comment…”You’re so brave for taking on all of that!”
On the surface, it seems like a compliment, but it’s actually very insulting, as though a woman is ‘brave’ for having both a successful career and home life. As though it’s a superhuman feat to have a balanced life. These sort of comments you’ll notice are hardly made towards men. Because for men, having a work-family balance is seen as a result of human effort and planning. For a woman, it’s seen as a miracle and a marvelous task. It’s an example of how we as a society don’t see men and women as equals. Calling a woman brave for something you wouldn’t a man is insulting. It implies (once again) that women are weaker than men, that a woman completing the same task as a man is worthy of more praise because she is less capable. Wow, the poor little woman was able to do well at work and not screw up? How amazing! Here’s a trophy, little girl. You did good. Can you image calling a man ‘brave’ and showering him with compliments because he looks after his kids while running a business? He would be insulted!
It needs to end. Women should be called brave for being brave- for performing acts of bravery and courage. For triumphing through adversity. For holding her head high when she is told to look down. For speaking up when she is told to be quiet. Not for raising a family. Constantly calling women brave for doing normal human things is not only annoying and patronizing but pays lip service to feminism while doing nothing at all. It’s like calling your 4-year-old brave for eating her vegetables. You don’t actually see her a brave for doing so, you simply want to stroke her ego in a faux-mocking manner. Let us celebrate women when they deserve to be celebrated, and not as a token.