Lawrence Hall’s DEI Committee strives to ensure Lawrence Hall is a diverse, equitable environment of belonging and inclusivity. Having “brave conversations” about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is a necessity for healthy company culture and requires honesty, compassion, and self-reflection of all involved. Our Brave Conversations Series highlights topics not normally discussed but that have deep, personal impacts on our staff, youth, families, and communities.
March is Women’s History Month, so this month’s Brave Conversations will focus on issues facing women today. Our next conversation is around the double standards women face.
Double standards refer to rules or principles that are applied differently to one group of people or circumstances than to another without proper justification. This unfair application typically leads to the repression of a group.
Because gender bias and patriarchal societies have existed for thousands of years, women deal with double standards across all sectors of their lives—beauty ideals, child rearing, sex life, workplace, and social interactions.
This isn’t to say that all men are the enforcers of double standards; some double standards are so ingrained in cultural norms that women themselves often unknowingly adhere to these inequitable practices.
Though we’ve all probably debated one of the most common double standards of all—how men and women are perceived differently concerning numbers of sexual partners—many double standards still permeate our daily lives.
Ever wonder why a man’s haircut is $15, while a woman’s trim is $50? The “pink tax” refers to how feminine products are more expensive in comparison to their “masculine” counterparts.
“From everyday items like deodorant and clothing to services such as haircuts and dry-cleaning, to mortgages and car insurance, women are paying more than men for necessities,” highlights writer Talia Lakritz.
Ever been told to smile more? If you’re a woman, you most likely have. Men are rarely told to smile more, as neutral expressions on men are perceived as strength. Strong women, on the other hand, are seen as bossy or unlikeable. Neutral, unsmiling expressions on women are often referred to negatively as a “resting bitch face”—and there is no universally accepted male equivalent for this term.
Though skin tone was historically attributed to social status, colorism has taken a double-standard turn among women themselves. The tanning bed industry in the USA alone is worth nearly $4 billion dollars, as a suntan on a white woman is perceived as more attractive and healthy.
In contrast, Indians spend $500 million annually in skin lightening products, dark Latina actresses are cast far less than their fair Latina counterparts, and concerning Black beauty, Amandla Stenberg, a star in The Hunger Games and The Hate You Give, points out, “While white women are praised for altering their bodies, plumping their lips, and tanning their skin, black women are shamed, although the same features exist on them naturally.”
Promising Young Woman (2020) directed by Emerald Fennell
I Am Not an Easy Man (2018), French with subtitles
Margot Lee Shetterly
The Alice Network
The Sky Is for Everyone: Women Astronomers in Their Own Words
Edited by Virginia Trimble and David A. Weintraub
The World Made By Women: A History of Women From the Apple to the Pill (coming in 2023)