Women As Leaders

As class registration begins this week, I noticed a course titled Women as Leaders. The course description includes leadership tactics and examples throughout politics. I wonder why there is a class on this topic, maybe because there are so few women leaders, or maybe to describe and explain the many obstacles women encounter to reach a place of power. Through my Dukeengage experience, my readings, our seminar and my work with my placement, I added the word “patriarchy” to my vocabulary. I can honestly say at our first seminar when the term “patriarchy” came up, I definitely had to take a good 10-minute google session to dive into this word, its meaning and roots. Now that I am nearing the end of our seminar sessions I had a moment to reflect on how the patriarchy affects the way we see gender, sexuality and intersectionality. I noticed that it even affects the way I see religion and how ideas that (may unintentionally) uphold patriarchal ideals encompass the teachings in the religion I practice, and the cultural norms of the race I identify as. As I continue to learn through my Dukeengage experience and through research outside of it, I wonder where all of this began.

After some digging I came across stories of Lilitha and Mary Magdalene. I learned about stories of women in the bible who decided to practice celibacy, baptize themselves (because men wouldn’t), or teach the “way only men can.” These stories are not included in the bible but claimed to have been removed by religious leaders. I couldn’t understand why. Instead of uplifting these women through stories, these women have been portrayed in demeaning ways. So, I  wondered into what other areas patriarchal ideas spilled and how that affects views and ideals of both women and men today. As my internship surrounds teen dating violence, I consider the ways in which patriarchal ideals influence intimate partner relationships and family dynamics and how much of it we attribute to tradition or culture.

How much tradition or culture is rooted in these ideas of a monolithic woman?

Woman: the baby producer, who serves her husband and takes care of everyone, OR…. provocative.

As I continue to see this view throughout music, dating, media, and politics. After our most recent seminar I began to actively question how  these views affect me and how I came to this place of not only accepting but subconsciously embracing some of these views as facts.

I thought I wasn’t affected by these ideals because I spent my entire life trying to battle these ideals placed on me, I failed to realize that it still affected me and continues to do so.

hair women GIF by Harmonie AupetitNow I plan to continue researching when documentation of these ideals began and how I can be more active in breaking these ideals down within myself and those around me. Starting with embracing all of the parts of me I have been trained to believe are not ideal.

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