Essay What I Learned from Men

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In Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay, she writes about the positions women adopt. A woman willing to be accepted must have a veneer of “niceness” with society, especially with men. Ehrenreich argues “The essence of ladylikeness is a persistent servility masked as niceness.” “Women tend to assume that it is our responsibility to keep everything “nice” even when the person we are with is rude and aggressive.” “Wherever we go, we are perpetually smiling”. This mask is what we are showing to people, constantly trying to convince of our “niceness.” Women are ladylike because of a lack of toughness. The way that we act with people is like some kind of disease. Women have to act this way because according feminist psychiatrist Jean Baker Miller, “woman’s using self-determined power for herself is equivalent to selfishness and destructiveness."

Being “nice” and ladylike makes women socially disadvantaged. In our personal lives, we tend to talk a lot in conversations with men to keep the discussion going. While men are only giving a few words, a woman is doing all the work. In these conversations, giving excessive information, is consequently, having more too loose. Ehrenreich writes “Acting if we have something at stake we are giving him the power advantage.” Besides that, when we get angry we have to transform it into another behavior because it’s not polite to behave badly in front of other people. So there you can see how easy it is for men to manage their personal life without simpering problems, like women. In their professional life, for example Miller’s cites, a company is going to recognize their outstanding salespeople when a woman is asked to say a few words about her achievement, she tends to say something like, “well I really don’t know how it happened. I guess I was just lucky this time.”
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