We can all agree that in King Lear women in power are villainized. By being portrayed as vicious animals, and”tigers not daughters” the narrative sets them up to be antagonists.
Think about all the women you have seen in power. Sure, we’ve progressed as a society enough to even allow women in power which some may argue is enough to define us as inclusive. But have you ever seen a woman in politics run a successful election and come out with her reputation completely unscathed? Hillary Clinton, AOC, Michelle Obama; each of these women has to do something men don’t have to in order to make her way in politics: prove their worth. These women are constantly questioned and belittled for each decision they make, and it’s because America has a problem. A problem with powerful women.
So why are they so scary?
It’s because of how powerful the image of the “ideal woman” has become. She’s small, clean, submissive, pure, unconditionally loving, and naive, and best of all she never asks for anything more than a man might deem her worthy of. We hate women in power because they break this narrative. It’s easier to villainize someone if they stand out from other members of their group, or at least don’t match the stereotypes of that group. Women have trouble holding positions of power because it has become so ingrained in our society’s culture to believe that women cannot hold positions of power. We have learned that women are submissive and a real man is he who holds power. A woman that has learned her true power and worth is the most dangerous thing to a man. A woman that hasn’t is easier to manipulate.
When we see a woman ascending to a position of power, there are immediately news stores attacking her, allegations fly forward from seemingly nowhere, and her sanity is often questioned. We have a problem with women in power because we have been taught to. We have a problem with it because it switches the gender dynamic, and men with fragile masculinity problems will do anything to keep a woman from making him feel feminine by holding power over him.
3 thoughts on “Why are women in power so threatening?”
King Lear was supposed to be a story of learning from mistakes but yet the men in the story refuse to listen to the women simply because they are females and therefore thought as lesser.
I’m curious about how Cordelia’s portrayal in the play can both contradict and support this. Cordelia isn’t technically the “ideal woman” or she would’ve submitted to her father’s wishes in the beginning. She calls out Burgundy when he suggests she is no longer worthy of him. Yet at the end of the play, her dying is the play ridding itself of its best leader. Almost further feeding into the idea that women either can’t lead or aren’t “destined” to like it’s unnatural.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Lily, I agree with women in power changing the power narrative which inherently makes people uncomfortable. It is important to recognize these biases that were found the 1600’s and still present today.