A double standard is the application of different sets of principles for similar situations. In our case we are exploring how women a different set of standards applied to them than men (and it wasn’t set by women). But first let us consider how we got here and why. Take this Latin aphorism.
Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi
Translated, though not literally, as “Gods may do what cattle may not” the phrase justifies the existence of a double standard by telling us that “what is permitted to one person or group, is not permitted to everyone.” The balance of power, obligation, and privilege leans on one group over another through the ages.
Alternatively consider “Noblesse oblige” often read as “nobility obligates” seeming to impose on the privileged a duty to behave nobly, thereby apparently giving a class a moral justification for their privilege. The argument being”as nobles, we have rights, but we have duties also; so such duties validate our rights” a tautology of embued virtue and privilege.
So when you think of double standards, think of a long history of coinages that remind us that someone is always playing at getting their due over another and it is never fair. Today in the battle of the sexes we see exactly where the double standard lies. Women can play the game, but the rules are different for us and we didn’t write them. We might not be cattle but we are only a few generations off from being “chattel” to our menfolk.
Most Americans treated married women according to the concept of coverture, a concept inherited from English common law. Under the doctrine of coverture, a woman was legally considered the chattel of her husband, his possession.
And they haven’t quite forgotten it. And we haven’t found a way around it yet.
Self-care has made quite the trendy come back in the past few years, but specifically in the past few months. It’s hard to not find one publication or blog that doesn’t talk about self-care to some length as it’s been hailed as an integral practice to maintaining clarity in frustrating and/or confusing times. Whether it’s an at-home facial or adult coloring books, some form of focusing on our own mental and physical needs has been deemed with having countless benefits. But can all this self-care actually be downright selfish? And where does that put women who are always being told to put others before themselves? How do we even begin to unpack this conundrum of care.
There’s always a negative connotation associated with being selfish and if you’ve ever been told you’re being selfish, it more than likely wasn’t intended as a compliment. But maybe it should be? Selfishness is best described of thinking of yourself before others. According to Psychology Today, there hasn’t be any research that concludes humans are either “fundamentally generous or greedy and whether these tendencies are shaped by our needs or our environment.” We are both selfish and caring by nature. So why is there a confliction when it comes to caring for ourselves?
Self-care allows us to go to terms with our own self-worth and leveling with our own physical, emotional, and mental needs. But there’s something much more unique about women practicing self care. Some would say it is even a radical act to put one’s self before others as a woman.
When you consider the fact that women historically have been viewed as the caretakers who take care of their husbands, children and homes while maintaining only a bit of self-identity. There’s something empowering about taking ownership of that stigma and applying it solely yourself, while maneuvering in a world that is often harmful to women and especially women of color.
In these times, self-preservation is key. If a little “me-time” requires you to put yourself ahead of someone else, that’s okay. Psychologists say self-care can actually help improve our own relationships by not projecting negative feelings onto others. Think of it taking a flight. In the case of the an emergency you’re always told to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. Allowing yourself to come first can actually be life-changing. It’s also important to remember that self-care doesn’t necessarily mean, expensive treatments or shopping sprees. It could be as simple as taking a walk after sitting at a desk all day, or making time to read that book you picked up months ago but never got around to reading.
If you still can’t embrace it or find self-care’s purpose, take this quote from Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” If Lorde still does have you convinced, pose yourself this question: “If I don’t take care of my own well being, who is?”
Have you read Caitlin Moran’s brilliant bit about 12 things women won’t tell men in Esquire? Do so now please. We particularly like with #7 as we are indeed so very tired
We know even success, and money, will not protect us from the humiliation of simply being a woman. We know we must have our babies when we’re young — the eggs are running out! — but we must also work for less money, as discussed above. So that makes us tired.
This is why, maybe, women can become suddenly furious — why online discussions about feminism suddenly ignite into rage. Tired, scared people are apt to lash out. Anger is just fear, brought to the boil.