According to the general opinion of American society, being independent, fierce and career-driven is a fantastic way to be – if you're a man. A woman with infinite ambition is a quandary for society, even still, in this enlightened age of vocal third wave feminism (which, by the way, I think qualifies as the fourth wave, but another story for another time). People just don't know what to do with you when you're a woman who is driven to succeed. They get confused when you're a woman who seemingly puts her career first. No one can ever seem to reconcile a woman being passionate about her career with that woman being able to put passion into anything else. She's always one or the other. You either get to be Anne Hathaway or Kate Hudson in Bridewars. For some reason, no one will let you be Erin Brockovich.
As such, independent career women hear a lot of things that make them want to pull power moves like throwing a wad of cash down on a restaurant table and storming out mid-conversation. Everyone has an opinion on how women should behave within polite society, and unless that opinion comes from another independent career woman, it's never "be an independent career woman". Oh, if Jane Austen could see us and our sense of propriety now! If you're the kind of woman who wants to "have it all":
- How dare you?
- Here are some things you're probably very used to — and sick of — hearing.
"IT'S SO WEIRD THAT YOU WANT TO HAVE KIDS."
Really? Is it? Because success and child bearing simply MUST be mutually exclusive desires? Because there isn't a woman alive who you know, might want to have a fulfilling career to be able to provide for her family, the same way men have done since time immemorial? Or who simply just has a maternal instinct as well as business acumen?
"AREN'T YOU WORRIED YOU'LL NEVER HAVE KIDS?"
It's like poor Renee Zellweger's face: you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. Go ahead and age naturally – you'll be criticized mercilessly. Or get some work done and, hey guess what? You'll still be criticized mercilessly. One minute people are incredulous that you even want children, the next minute they're just beside themselves that you haven't had a child yet. As an ambitious woman, just about everything you do or don't do is going to come under scrutiny.
"I BET YOU ALWAYS SPLIT THE CHECK."
Even a power woman will sometimes let someone take her out to dinner. You want to know why? Because it feels nice. It doesn't make you any less capable of paying for your own dinner, buying yourself flowers, opening your own door or pulling out your own chair, but it does occasionally make you feel warm inside to have someone who likes or loves you terribly do lovely little things for you, like picking up a check. And sometimes you will do the same for them, because that's also a nice thing to do.
"BUT ISN'T THAT LIKE, ANTI-FEMINIST?"
Anti-feminism is: not believing in equal pay, promoting rape culture, objectifying women, condoning gendered inequities within society etc. – you get the gist. You can still be a feminist and let your date pay for dinner. Hell, you can be a feminist and be a "kept woman" if you want. Feminism means equality, which means having equal choices, which means being equally free to decide how you, as a woman, would like to act.
"YOU'RE SO BRAVE!"
Why does this always feel like some kind of passive aggressive or backhanded statement. No one ever says "You're so brave" to an independent woman and means it. The type of people who say these things are 27-year-old mothers of three living in the suburbs with their ever fattening high school sweetheart (not that there's anything wrong with that.) No career woman ever turned to another and said this, because they don't consider themselves brave at all. "Brave" always seems so reductive. It seems to say "You have taken a leap of faith, well done, you reckless idiot", rather than "You're smart, hardworking and determined, and that is valuable."
"WHAT ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?"
What about it? That's none of any one else's business but your own. And for the record, you can work hard AND have a functioning, happy relationship. But you don't have to. Back to the feminism point: you can do whatever you damn well please, and the busybodies can just sod off. In my experience, this question normally this question comes from people in unhappy relationships or who are dissatisfied in their own relationships and feel resentful that you're either happily single or able to have a good relationship and still work crazy hours.
"LOL, BUT WHERE DO YOU FIND THE TIME?"
"I just don't know how you do it! Working such long hours and going to the gym and cooking such healthy meals and reading and having sex and gardening and keeping up with The Mindy Project and socializing – I just don't think I could ever find the time to fit so much in!" Haven't you ever heard the saying, "You have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé"?