The 'Successful' Woman - by Zainab Waseem

When you think of a ‘successful’ woman, what do you see? A strong businesswoman managing the companies she worked so hard to create? Or a housewife, managing her house and working day and night to raise her kids?

Our society works in a funny way. It assigns certain definitions and sets specific criteria for each group of people. Thus, for every age and gender, there is always a social standard to measure up to in order to be considered successful.

The definition of a ‘successful woman’ has changed in every era. For the longest time, a successful woman was considered to be someone who knew her way around her house. A good housewife focused and committed to her family, in charge of all the domestic duties. The standard then changed over the past couple of decades, and we transitioned into a new definition of the ‘successful woman.’ Instead of staying at home, a successful woman became one with an ambitious career. One who was independent, working to make a strong career and focused on her goals.

With each era’s definition, also came the disapproval when a woman didn’t fit into the standards. When the standard was being a good housewife, a woman wanting a career for herself was considered a disgrace. Since men were considered the only source of income, it made no sense for society to allow women to work. On the contrary, when the standard became a career-oriented, independent woman, the one wanting to stay at home to focus on her family became a shame. In every case, a woman choosing a different path than what’s expected of her is disapproved.

People always say "one must do what makes him happy". Yet this support disappears whenever someone decides to go a different way than where society wants them to.

An example of this is feminism. People are fed with the misconception that feminism is only about women asking for independence, choosing their careers over traditional domestic duties, standing up against the historical oppression by men. People believe this side of feminism is the only face of the movement. And based on this misconception, just like how a working woman was considered a disgrace in the old times, now a woman wanting to start a family early and becoming a housewife is considered anti-feminist and narrow-minded;

when actually feminism is about empowering women to make their life decisions themselves and choosing what they want to do.

Whether it’s to have a strong career and big goals in mind or if it’s just staying at home preferring to do housework, as long as it’s something desired by the doer, t