Beauty with Brains

Tue, 26 Nov 2019 Source: Gemma Appiah

She’s beautiful and successful, so, she must have slept her way up; the bitter perception of successful women in our society

I heard about this lady who is the CEO of one of the successful companies in Ghana and decided to check out her profile on social media. I opened her Instagram page and saw the photos of this beautiful lady. I was not only stunned that such was a young lady was a CEO but her beauty was incontestable. In my excitement, I showed it to my friend and told him ‘she is the CEO of Company ‘A’, isn’t she beautiful? My friend: ‘Yes, she is really beautiful, she is what again?’ I responded. My friend: ‘By now a big man just ‘chopped’ her to give her the position’. Immediately he uttered those words, I snatched my phone from him and asked why he was making those allegations. Can’t a woman be beautiful and intelligent as well?

The weird concept of beauty without brains

You see! women do not only have to go through the very unfair conditions to achieve so much in society; they are also questioned every step of the way about how they did it, with, sometimes, very little appreciation of the extra efforts they needed to put in to get to where they are. Maybe, society is just ashamed that through all the difficulties, women still rise and continue to break the glass ceiling.

As I reflected on the incident with my colleague, it dawned on me how we have conditioned the minds of not just men but women alike to think that a woman must sleep her way through to get to achieve her dreams, or, perhaps, must possess certain features to gain favours from men. Afterall, they have always had the power to make the changes society wants.

I have personally had this experience where people felt and continue to feel that I had to sexually get involved with a man for either a promotion or role. None of those accusers were with me when I mapped out my plans, cried and beat myself to sleep when I had failed. None, surely, was around when I was told: ‘No, she can’t do it’, ‘She is not good enough’, Don’t waste your time’, and the rest. They only saw the brighter day and magically assumed that it was handed to me on a silver platter. Having gone through these faces of life, which I have no doubt some men also go through, it will be very unfair for anyone to think otherwise.

I will be leaving in a state of fantasy if I should admit that there are no such women who have #sexforjobs, #sexforgrades #sexforfavours and the rest, it would also be very unfair to assume that every beautiful and successful woman had to offer sex in order to make it in life with the belief that so long as she is attractive, she will be offered favours for sex. However, if she is ‘ugly’ and successful, then we all agree that she really worked hard to achieve her dreams. Afterall, no man will go in for an ‘ugly girl’.

And who even brought up the concept of “a woman cannot be beautiful and intelligent at the same time”. Society, again has almost decreed that she cannot be beautiful and successful without sleeping her way up. The notion that beautiful women are ‘stupid’, however, female intellectuals are hideous, is just absurd.

I took the pain to research about this woman that I have grown to admire within a short period and I noticed that she actually started as a ‘commoner’ in the company and has risen through the ranks to become who she is today with over 20 years’ experience in the business, but well! What do people care? So far as she is beautiful, then she slept her way up. This is unfair and must not be tolerated in our society.

Sometimes, I genuinely feel these utterances from some men, most especially are intended to pull women back to revisit and accept the patriarchal system where women dared not to compete with men, where we subjected our needs to those of others; that is the era they want us to get back to.

Women have had to leave with the idea that it is a man’s world for as long as I can remember. The patriarchal nature of our society is not only limited to Africa even though Africa is still lagging behind with the revolution of our gender state.

Implications of this notion on the girl-child

With this orientation, young girls are going to grow up and put in very little efforts to make it in life. The danger is: when they feel that once they are women and beautiful, they are entitled to every good thing.

Then also, it is one of the most painful things in this world for a woman to put in all her efforts only for her achievements to be celebrated with the notion that she slept her way up. It takes very strong women to withstand such baseless accusations and this does not, in any way, encourage them to strive to achieve better things in life.

You know what, cut women some slack; we work hard. If you do not appreciate us, don’t add to our woes.

Columnist: Gemma Appiah