During her presidential campaign in 2016, Hilary Clinton spent 600 hours – that’s 25 days – having her hair and make-up done, she’s revealed in her latest book What Happened.
Between the campaign meetings, public rallies, television interviews, door-knocking and travelling, it’s a wonder that any politician is able to give an interview with their eyes open!
On top of all this, Hilary Clinton somehow managed to cram in an extra 600 hours to ‘put her face on’- presumably unlike her male rival.
Regardless of whether you agree with her politics, Hilary Clinton is a woman who attempted to smash the glass ceiling of the Presidency of the USA. That said, even she felt constrained with a pressure to always look presentable.
Spending extra time making yourself look ‘pretty’ is just one example of the pressure of gender stereotypes and the unequal expectations that society often places upon women. Struggling to attain a leadership position in a world dominated by male leaders is another.
Devastatingly, girls as young as 7 are deeply affected by such gender stereotypes, according to the latest Girls’ Attitude survey. Two thirds of girls aged 7-10 said that they thought that girls were better at being kind and also at doing the chores at home. Whereas significant numbers associated ‘being strong’ and ‘taking risks’ with boys.
It’s easy to be discouraged that we’ll never get to the place of true equality that we see within the pages of the Bible. ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ – Galatians 3:28.
We have a responsibility, as Christians, to campaign for change, to get involved in justice issues like this, and to elect people who will responsibly take these issues forward.
There are also small actions that each of us can do to help the next generation of women be all that God has made them to be, unconstrained by pressures and expectations from the world around them.
Here are some of my ideas – I’d love to hear yours, so why not join in the conversation on Twitter?
- try an activity that flies in the face of gender stereotypes. Women, why not take up rugby and men have a go at dancing?
- If you’re a leader, whatever your gender, be actively looking for leadership potential in younger women and offer to mentor them.
- call it out – whether at work, church or home, we all have a responsibility to call out sexism and gender stereotypes with love and grace, as we encourage one another to grow.
- it’s great to be hospitable and helpful- by making the tea or taking the minutes at work, but it’s also good to help people understand that we shouldn’t always expect a woman to fulfil these roles.
- re-assess how you speak to girls and young women and also to boys and young men. What messages are you sending and how could this be limiting as they grow up?
- Encourage conversation with girls – don’t be afraid to ask them what they think girls should and shouldn’t do, and why they think that. Challenge them gently, and help them to think about it from a different perspective.
This post is part of our week-long series on amplifying girls’ voices for International Day of the Girl (11 October) curated by Dr Claire Rush from Girls’ Brigade Ministries.