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Buzzfeed India Calls Out the Double Standards for Female Leaders and Politicians

Whether it’s in a fantastical worlds with dragons and magic or in real life, it seems that society is constantly equating “feminine” with “weak” and demanding that women replicate traditionally masculine behaviors to be taken seriously as leaders.

However, society also demands women occupy a more “traditional” kind of femininity or risk being seen as cold and unfeeling. Is there a right way for women to lead? This is the phenomenon explored in a Buzzfeed India video titled “Why Do Women Need To Be Stripped Of Their Femininity To Be Taken Seriously As Leaders?” which begins with Game of Thrones, then turns to history, literature, and the modern world.

It should be obvious that, because every woman is different, different women embrace different kinds of leadership (it should also be obvious that women can be bad leaders), yet it seems they receive much more scrutiny, which is consistently gendered. “I wonder why women are required to shed their sexuality and femininity to be seen and accepted as leaders,” asks the video, which talks about leaders like politician Mamata Banerjee or Sonia Gandhi.

She then turns to Donatella Campus’s book, Women Political Leaders And The Media, citing the quote, “Those who take on a more masculine persona are deemed rough or unpleasant, while those using their femininity face objectification and general disrespect, as well as infantilization.”

The video ends by asking, “Why is it that we just cannot accept a woman in a powerful role with all her womanliness and feminine glory? Why is it that a woman has to be dressed as a man and suited as a man to be taken seriously? Are we that scared of female sexuality? On that note, here’s some food for thought: A female waitress who turned into one of the most powerful women in the world, [Sonia Ghandi] is opportunistic and conniving. But a man who used to be a chaiwalla is considered the poster boy for hard work.”

The video is part of a Buzzfeed India series around dialogue, which includes discussions of casteist slurs, Hollywood’s glorification of Winston Churchill, and other important topics.

(image: screencap)

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