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As part of the BBC's #100women project, please tell us: what do you think about the idea of the 'good' woman?

(38 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-Dec-15 10:30:06


As you may have noticed, the BBC is running a #100women project at the moment, with the aim of exploring issues and challenges facing women across the world.

As part of that, they are today hosting a worldwide conversation involving women's groups from more than 50 countries, from Samoa to Burundi, from Girl Guides in India to activists in South Africa, and from feminist groups in Kosovo to students and faculty at Yale University.

They've asked Mumsnet to be a part of this debate. Snippets from your conversation on this thread, and from all the debates taking place elsewhere, will be appearing on this page throughout the day. You can also check in on the conversation under the #100women hashtag on social media.

Here are the questions/debate topics they'd like you to respond to - as outlined above, these were put together by the BBC and the idea is to prompt debate in a huge variety of cultures and countries.

What are the pressures and expectations faced by you as a woman in society today?
Do you feel there is pressure to conform to the "right way" to behave?
Does the pressure start early?
What is a "good girl"?
Who decides what is good - you, your family, society?
How do you react to those pressures and expectations? Do you accept or reject them?
What about women and leadership: do ideas of how women 'should' behave hold them back, in society and at work?
Are quotas the only way to see more women in public roles?
Are beautiful women more likely to succeed?
How much time do you spend perfecting your image - in reality or on social media?
Are women expected to be subservient?
If you could eliminate one pressure on women, what would it be?

We hope you'll agree it will be fascinating to see how Mumsnetters' thoughts and views shape up against those of women across the world; over to you!


SleepyForest Tue 01-Dec-15 10:35:24

I think expectations of the role of a good woman should be the same as those of a good man.

As a good woman I try to highlight when this is not the case.

CMOTDibbler Tue 01-Dec-15 11:35:11

Am I a good woman? I don't know, because I'm not interested in being a good woman. A good friend, colleague, mother, daughter, wife, person in fact is what I strive to be.

Yes, theres a F*load of societal thoughts about there about how women should behave, look, and interact and I'm well aware that I do not meet some of these. But thats not my problem.

BuffytheScaryFeministBOO Tue 01-Dec-15 11:38:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

howabout Tue 01-Dec-15 11:46:48

There may well be pressures and expectations on women in our society, just as there are on men. I think these expectations are placed on women by society as a whole rather than via the patriarchy as evidenced by some of the ill thought out policy proposals from the WEP.

I think life is easier for anyone who is in a position to acknowledge expectations while choosing their own path. I find myself in that position.

Enjolrass Tue 01-Dec-15 12:02:16

I don't know anyone who tries to be a good woman.

I know lots of people who try to be a good person. Men and women.

I challenge sexisim in my daily life and in my actions. Wether it effects men or women.

I don't strive to meet social expectations. I am aware they exist, but anyone trying to tell me I should dress or act differently because of my gender will get short shrift.

I too wonder if men are asked to debate what makes a 'good man' and how they feel about expectations placed on them.

BuffytheScaryFeministBOO Tue 01-Dec-15 12:05:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OhNoWhatAmIGoingToDoNow Tue 01-Dec-15 12:05:56

I think we're expected to be everything to everyone. Work and have successful careers at the same time as raising children and keeping home as if we didn't. We're set up to fail right from the start because the expectation is impossible to maintain without something snapping.

It doesn't matter what choices we make, that choice will be wrong. If we go out for the night we're neglecting our kids, if we don't go out we're being martyrs. If we praise our kids we're spoiling them, if we don't praise them we're spoiling them. The pram we bought means we're flash/smug/insert other negative of choice. That dress doesn't suit. You've put on weight. You talk too much. Fail! Fail! Fail!

It's so depressing.

Backawaynow2 Tue 01-Dec-15 12:10:23

As a cm for many years I see full time working mothers are the ones packing the children's bags, liasing with me/school/nursery. Processing the letters and stuff in the book bags, keeping track of the kids appointments, buying birthday/Xmas presents.

Without fail if I catch a dad with info I am asked to text mum as they are 'hopeless about this stuff or they have no idea of the child's routine or after school classes.

And as a full time working woman I do all this too for my own children.

We are still doing it all from what I see and experience.

SurferJet Tue 01-Dec-15 12:12:05

I find it depressing that this programme is even bring made quite honestly - decades years of feminism & we're still being singled out like exhibitions at a circus.
I hope my kids will see the day when the world celebrates 'people'.

ThisisMrsNicolaHicklin Tue 01-Dec-15 12:26:06

There's a lot of 'don't', 'can't', 'shouldn't' thrown at women from a young age and we interalise this. I take part in a sport dominated by men (find me one that's not) and graded on the ability of men's bodies. For years I thought I wasn't very good but recently I decided to step outside of the box and just try things I thought I might be able to do rather than complete all of one level before moving on to the next. Turns out I'm flipping amazing smile I can do things levels and levels above where I thought I was. Its the first time I have moved outside of the 'good girl' routine that has dominated my life and it was a revelation.

goodnessgraciousgoudaoriginal Tue 01-Dec-15 12:27:32

I think lots of issues are actually internalised, but it's difficult to know how those feelings got there to begin with. Women are basically expected to pick up the slack. Working, but also doing all the housework. And for some reason, this being the normal, default position.

Being the default child care providers. I don't think the law actually helps in this regard. When separated, women are - LEGALLY - expected to fit in around the whims/holiday plans/ of their ex partners, and can be legally punished if they don't. Men aren't held in any way accountable to actually parent on the time that they are given. They have that RIGHT, but none of the responsibility that goes with it. Because the woman can sort out the shitty bits, right? You see it time and time again on here!

The strange thing is how many women seem to accept the dogsbody label and just go along with it. Men aren't brought up to be scared of confrontation, whilst I think women are. It's not good to rock the boat. Being assertive is considered being aggressive, which in turn is not considered very "lady like".

That said, everyone has expectations of behaviour from society. Men, women, children. It's part of how society functions. It isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The difference is that women tend to be condemned for going against those expectations, in a way that men aren't. For example, I don't think society overall considers it a positive character trait if a man sleeps around with loads of people (it used to, and some brain dead idiots might still do, but overall, not). But society wouldn't actively judge him for it, or consider it a huge personality flaw. If a woman sleeps around a lot, society still considers that to be a very big moral failing, and will actively condemn her for it.

Both men and women are expected to make an effort with their appearance, but not TOO much of an effort. No-one wants to sit next to someone who reeks, or wears filthy clothes, etc, but at the same time, a man who truly obsesses over his hair, clothes, etc, will get mocked the same way a woman would. Thing is, men get much more leeway. The standards they are held to are lower, overall. Looks are important, but they aren't all encompassing. People don't bat an eyelid if a man wears the same suit to work everyday with a different shirt, and outside of work lives in one pair of jeans, a selection of t shirts, and trainers. I honestly believe people would find it really, really weird if a woman did the same.

Look at people in the general celebrity public eye for example: Men can just as easily look at role models who got by on humour (Vince Vaughn? Ben Stiller? Jack Black?), or charm (Ryan Gosling?), or force of personality (Vinnie Jones et al?) or hell, let's not the huge range of people who got through on pure talent (Ian McKellan et al). Women don't really have that luxury. They can have the humour, or the talent, but 8/10 they have to have the looks as well.

Men might be expected to bulk up for a specific film role (Like High Jackman in Wolverine or whatever), but they aren't expected to look THAT buff ALL the time. Women are expected to simply look a certain way, constantly.

zeezeek Tue 01-Dec-15 13:00:05

I think that society has this view of a "good woman" which is very restrictive and celebrates "feminine values" such as caring, nuturing, maternal, creative etc. Quite often when we see articles celebrating businesswomen the businesses all seem to encompass these values and tend to be something to do with fashion, beauty, children, creativity, cooking etc. What about all of the successful women in science?

By far the worst thing, in my opinion and from my experience, is this view that the most important achievement that a woman can make is to have children. It is restricting and insulting to women in general, but childless women in particular because it is effectively telling them that they are not normal, not a proper woman....not a good woman. And the worst thing is that it is mostly other women who perpetuate this myth. I have found that men are rarely interested in my reproductive history, but meeting a woman for the first time the questions inevitably turn to whether or not I have children.

By asking for a definition of a good woman all you are doing is pigeonholing an entire section of society and that is not really equality, is it.

2rebecca Tue 01-Dec-15 13:25:05

It's sad that in modern society women are still expected to act as their husbands' secretaries doing card buying and writing, remembering special occasions etc as well as most of the cleaning.
I reject all that stuff, my husband is responsible for corresponding with his friends and family. If he can't be bothered it doesn't happen.
I don't like quotas.
I think attractive people are more likely to succeed. Some of this is because being attractive can make a person feel more confident and it's the confidence people like. Less confident people can come across as pushy or over talkative rather than confident in a relaxed way. I don't see this as gender specific though.
I spend very little time perfecting my image.
I don't expect women to be subservient and they aren't in my social circle.

scallopsrgreat Tue 01-Dec-15 13:46:43

What is a 'good' woman (or more than often "girl") is defined by men. I think that says it all really.

If you could eliminate one pressure on women, what would it be? Male violence.

Tate15 Tue 01-Dec-15 14:31:00

Despite the many achievements that women have gained, they are still lauded for their looks and sex appeal.

Take the Kardashian sisters for example, they have achieved great celebrity status and amassed vast wealth over women who are writers, scholars, artists etc, simply for the way they look, dress and pose for sexually provocative photos.

Why has society held them in such high esteem over women who's success has not been driven by their looks?

I'm not hating on the Kardashians, they have seized the opportunities afforded to them.

I bet if their was a poll, there would be a majority of girls and young women who would aspire to be like them rather than success through education etc

Tate15 Tue 01-Dec-15 14:31:56

^^there not their!

2rebecca Tue 01-Dec-15 14:53:07

I agree that the being famous for being famous rather than for achievements is much more common in women. I don't get why women are so interested in these women though. I've heard the name Kardashian but have no idea who they are and am surprised so many people care. Maybe they don't and the tabloids just foist these women on people.
We can be our own worst enemies by embracing the world of makeup and waxing, heels you can't walk in etc though much as the women of China used to support foot strapping.

FelicityLemon Tue 01-Dec-15 15:06:34

Completely agree with zeezeek , I was sorry to see the bile directed at Holly Brockwell after her article was published

Elendon Tue 01-Dec-15 16:39:21

If I could delete one pressure on women it would be:

Expectations of motherhood.

Re a good woman, to quote:

When she's good, she's very, very good; and when's she bad she's awful.'

BuffytheScaryFeministBOO Tue 01-Dec-15 17:06:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PiperIsTerrysChoclateOrange Tue 01-Dec-15 17:23:23

A good women as in what specifically.

I try to be a good person I don't know what my genitals can make me a better person.

It would be a better question if it what makes an inspirational women.

PlaysWellWithOthers Tue 01-Dec-15 17:47:45

The most obvious issues where women are expected to be "good" are rape and abortion.

The trope of "good women don't get raped" is perpetuated worldwide in universal rape mythologies. From the "good women aren't on buses in the evening, and if a woman is on a bus then, she is therefore and bad woman and deserves to be raped" comments after the first major coverage of a Delhi gang rape case, through "good women don't make porn and therefore can't be raped" that we've seen being repeated in the US this week, to "good women are on our side in this war, so the bad women on the other side deserve to be raped" idea that has been perpetuated throughout time and is still happening on this very day in many parts of the world.

Conversely, the opposite is also true. We like to think that the first question asked of rape victims isn't along the lines of "what did she do to deserve it?" but it so often is. Questions like:

Had she been drinking? "Good" women don't drink
Had she been flirting? "Good" women are chaste women
Why was she walking there at that time of the night? "Good" women should self impose curfews or respect arbitrary curfews imposed on them, even when those curfews are unwritten.
Is she like us? "Good" women are always like us.

The onus is always on the woman not to get raped, never on the men who rape. This is a worldwide phenomenon. The outcome of this is that women are blamed either tacitly or explicitly for being raped, raped women are shamed in their communities and rapists get away with it.

"Good" women don't have abortions according to society. This is despite all the stats saying that women most likely to have abortions are married/in long term relationships with children already, there is still the idea that women who have abortions have loose morals.

"Good" women don't have or enjoy sex, they keep quiet, they give unconditionally and are endlessly nurturing. Women who step outside this image of goodness suffer consequences, some of which last lifetimes.

MooPointCowsOpinion Tue 01-Dec-15 19:24:59

I never feel 'good' at anything, because I am trying to do everything.

The first thing that came to mind about a good woman was stoicism and perseverance. Because we have to work twice as hard for half as much.

ouryve Tue 01-Dec-15 19:26:52

The idea of the what, now?shock

What I want to say in response to that would be bad. Very bad.

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