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On the Edge: The Woman Behind the Man

On the Edge: The Woman Behind the Man

In the 1940’s, a male athlete being awarded for his accomplishments was quoted as saying that he wasn’t a great man, but that he had a great woman behind him. Though this quote may have existed earlier, and the man’s intent was one of humility for himself and praise for his wife, some find this saying more belittling than elevating.

Really, it shouldn’t be about where we stand in relation to men, but rather where we stand for ourselves. We need to go deeper than just gender equality or human rights or freedom of choice with our bodies, identities, and what we aspire to be and do with our lives.

With the current rise in gender inequality scandals — Weinstein, Silicon Valley’s “Bro Culture,” and others — we need to shift from shock and disbelief that such things are happening, to asking how we can prevent such things from being the (hidden) norm. We should be able to live and work in a society where we as women are safe, valued, and unafraid to powerfully own our choices.

After all, some of us enjoy being the support and the woman behind the man . . . some of us desire partnership and standing next to our man . . . some of us stand in front of our man . . . and still others of us choose to stand alone.

The Woman Behind the Man - Photo by Kiselev Andrey via Shutterstock Source: Photo by Kiselev Andrey Valerevich via Shutterstock

The Woman Behind the Man

For eons, women have been used by men to gain power. In some cases, women are happy to help their man, while in others men use women without any respect for their wellbeing.

The latest public scandal involving Harvey Weinstein sparked yet another ember in the fight against men using and mistreating women, and #metoo and #timesup spread viral across social media in its wake. After 10+ years of standing
beside her man and simultaneously building her fashion brand Marchesa, which she began the same year she met
her husband, Harvey’s wife, Georgina Chapman, has filed for divorce – refusing to continue to assume her position as the woman behind her man (if you can even call him a man!)

The Woman Behind the Man - Georgina Chapman at the Metropolitan Opera opening in 2008. © Rubenstein, photographer Martyna Borkowski via Wikimedia Commons - marchesa - empowering women - #metoo - me too movement - harvey weinstein - empowering women Georgina Chapman at the Metropolitan Opera opening in 2008. Source: © Rubenstein, Photo by Martyna Borkowski via Wikimedia Commons.

It is no secret that Marchesa’s rise to fame was aided by Harvey Weinstein’s position, seemingly placing Harvey as the man behind the woman, but do not be fooled as there are many claims that Harvey, through his involvement with his wife’s company, gained access to even more power and wealth, along with vulnerable young models who are now coming forward and accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Today, the Marchesa brand name, one Georgina has slaved over for many years, has been tarnished thanks to her husband’s actions. Should Georgina be punished for her husband’s misconduct? Hopefully not, but Hollywood can be fickle. In an effort to revive her womanly power, and perhaps a silver lining, Georgina says that as she recovers, she and her business partner, Keren Craig, will be using their brand and voice for good, embracing the #metoo movement and #timesup.

In stark contrast to Georgina’s story of the woman behind the man, is First Lady, Melania Trump. From multiple sources,
word has it that Mrs. Trump is quick to forgive her husband for many things, including his “boys’ locker room talk” on shows
like Howard Stern and has helped his position as President by affirming his innocence in claims of sexual misconduct.

The Woman Behind the Man - Melania Trump at King Khalid International Airport - Source Photo by Shealah Craighead via Wikimedia Commons - women empowerment - empowering women - donald trump - melania trump Melania and Donald Trump at King Khalid International Airport, 2017. Source: Photo by Shealah Craighead via Wikimedia Commons.

Sources say that Melania seems to be the kind of woman who wanted to escape her past and upbringing in a struggling country and had her sights set on the good life, thus she happily (or at least by choice) assumes her position behind her man.
But whether this is true or not, it now brings to light a new controversy for men using women to gain power: the woman
behind the man not supporting other women.

Is this wrong? Should we support this kind of ambition and choice? Everything comes down to choice, but when we are in a place of power, do we have a duty to speak up for other women?

The Woman Beside the Man

The Woman Behind the Man - Barak Obama and Michelle Obama at OSU Rally Columbus Ohio 2010 - Photo by Adam Schweigert via Flickr - the man behind the woman Michelle and Barack Obama at OSU Rally in Columbus, Ohio, 2010. Source: Photo by Adam Schweigert via Flickr.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama is quite the opposite as she embodies the woman standing beside her man. Integral in beginning a new health reformation for the US, her partnership with her husband before, during, and after the presidency is what makes everyone talk about the Obamas as #relationshipgoals.

However, what about those of us who choose not to have this kind of partnership? Is it about what society accepts, or is it a
matter of us owning our decisions? Are we really still having the conversation of whether we are “right” in choosing to live how we want, whether it’s being behind the man, standing next to, in front of or . . . gulp, without a man?

Related Article:

Women Empowerment: Michelle Obama

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The Current State of Affairs

Trump’s presidency and the recent rise of highly publicized sexual misconduct scandals has women and men in every industry talking more than ever before about what it will take to bring change and gender equality. And not just for women; men have been violated and used as well.

The #metoo and #timesup movements are good starts. But there’s still a long way to go, especially when we constantly
see some women letting their power and position remain in a state of indifference.

The Woman Behind the Man - Corporate Global Citizenship in the 21st Century - Indra K. Nooyi - pepsi co ceo - powerful women - women empowerment - empowering women Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo, USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008, captured during the session ‘Corporate Global Citizenship in the 21st Century’ at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 25, 2008. Source: Copyright by World Economic Forum by Andy Mettler via Wikimedia Commons.

What we need is more women in power, like Pepsi Co’s CEO, Indra Nooyi. Named one of the top most powerful women by Fortune, in one of their articles, she told women that yes, we can have it all, but we must understand it’s going to be a
journey — and a tougher one at that. This is not necessarily because of gender bias or inequality, she argues, but that it’s a matter of how women are just wired differently. We tend to worry more about everything, she says: our families, our jobs, our partners, our parents . . . everything.

What’s Next

As we continue to talk about where we, as women, stand in the world of business, society, and partnership or otherwise,
perhaps we need to start asking different questions. Maybe it’s not so much about: can we have it all? Perhaps it’s about asking: can we really get what we want, AND how can we do so?

We need to be empowered by our choices, and that starts with redefining what “it all” means. Let’s remember to ask one another what our dreams are and how we can support each other. Whether it’s standing beside, behind, in front of,
or even without a man . . . how about we allow ourselves to make our own choices and celebrate every woman on the planet instead?

After all, some of us enjoy being the support and the woman behind the man . . . some of us desire partnership and standing next to our man . . . some of us stand in front of our man . . . and still others of us choose to stand alone.

Words by Tamar Hela

Article Originally Appeared in Love Happens Volume 2, 2018


For more great content on women empowerment check out Tamar’s Global Girl Boss series exclusively for Lh!


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