Pop icon Janet Jackson found herself on the scorching end of a media firestorm following news that she was divorcing her billionaire husband, Wissam Al Manna, a mere 5 years after marriage and 3 months after giving birth.
The questions and name-calling ensued. Is she a gold digger? Was she in it for the baby all along?
We’ll never know, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Women like Janet don’t ask permission, or seek validation in the eyes of society– and yet they make history.
From Cleopatra to Eartha Kitt, when we study the history of the most phenomenal women to walk the Earth, you discover that they all defy rules of respectability. They flout convention, rise to power, start movements and wars, enrapture men, and above all, they never–ever–hesitate to put themselves first.
Powerful women don’t follow rules, they follow their heart.
There is an unwritten code of ethics to which women are expected adhere– cultural expectations of how we behave, how we love, mother, and connect to the opposite sex. These ‘respectability politics’ signify the way we police each other, and the way men police us. These notions of female chastity, purity, beauty and goodness weren’t created to empower us. They were made to check our ambition and control our sexuality.
Maybe respectable women don’t marry for money. Maybe they don’t divorce their husbands three months after giving birth. They don’t put their desires first. But guess what? Powerful women (sometimes) do.
Our notion of feminity as being soft, accommodating, considerate and ‘nice’ holds us back.It prevents us from initiating the bold moves necessary to create a life of meaning. As you’ll see in this video, the women who make history– the politicians, the activists, the sirens, and the stars– all behaved ‘badly’ at one point or another. Like Maxine Waters, they raised hell. Like Josephine Baker, they danced provocatively. Like Coco Chanel, they took on lovers. Like Martha Stewart, they built empires, and made enemies.
It’s important for any human being to have a firm moral compass, but any woman who aspires to acquire power or resources, or the very least, to a life of her choosing, can not be afraid to be misbehave. ‘Nice’ women finish last.
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