Jill Abramson’s story is a perfect example of how cultural ideals influence the notion of how much success can be stretched, particularly for specific genders in certain contexts. It’s interesting how structures, policies, and mindsets determine the way women draw parameters of their success. The space they share in the corporate world is challenging, and talent and expertise are not given their due share.
A study conducted in 2012 by Pew Research found that the percentage of women who are their family’s primary income earners had gone up. What’s amazing about this isn’t the study itself, but rather, the reaction some members of our society had when hearing about the findings. On a popular television network, Fox Business, an all-male panel commented that the results of this particular study were a sign society was collapsing. Others said women weren’t supposed to be the primary breadwinners, as that was the man’s job. They also went on to say men who weren’t the primary income earners in their households weren’t man enough (Mirkinson 2013).
These comments really shocked me, especially because they originated in the United States. I could understand how South Asians maintain their cultural code by pleasing their social circles more than their own selves, but not in America. The pressure to keep up with the Joneses drives many people to act contrarily in relation to the pursuit of happiness.
One of the roadblocks we encounter in my South Asian culture is academic pressure. In determining children’s success, notions of material wealth and power are instilled and then attributed to certain professions. If that isn’t enough, we discuss personalities and friends who have accumulated wealth and so-called status to validate how secure their life will be financially. Later on, the child who followed the cultural stereotype of taking parental advice often end up feeling miserable, as the idea that success leads to happiness begins to consume his or her life.
Many cultures validate a man’s contribution as the ultimate definition of success for a woman. However, based on the aforementioned premise, how can a marriage as an institution be capable of giving a woman the respect and security she deserves as a human being? And does society even calculate the value of the human capital a woman contributes by building effective members of society when she raises her children to adulthood?
From my Heart to Yours!