Why do all of my role models need to be women?

Whenever a famous or powerful women is discussed in the media, one thing is always mentioned and discussed at length: Is she a good role model? For example, in the world of pop music, Beyonce, the woman every other woman (and probably a few men) wants to be. She is a good wife, a doting mother, a successful business woman and remains, seemingly above all, absolutely stunning whilst she does it.

Then we have Rihanna, self-proclaimed ‘bad girl’. Hedonistic and promiscuous party animal with a loud mouth and an attitude that gets the media screaming with a mixture of laughter, shock and rage. She has a somewhat troubled past with an abusive relationship with fellow pop-star, Chris Brown, which has never really left media attention. Constantly slated by everyone for keeping contact with him, she is labelled ‘bad role model’. However, Ri-Ri has said that she never asked to be a role model for anyone and she doesn’t plan on living her life as one. Why should she? She is young, attractive, successful and has the opportunities that many of us regular folk are denied.

This leads me to wonder: why do my role models have to be women? Don’t get me wrong, when I see a strong successful woman, I am taken aback with admiration for her. But, I feel the same way when the outstanding individual in question is a bloke. I understand that seeing a woman in a position of power or authority should be more common place and has the power to make young girls everywhere think and believe that they too can achieve the same or similar. I get that we are historically not that far forward from a time where women, like myself, where housewives, with no rights to work or vote or make decisions and the entire point of our existence was to make a man happy, be it father or husband. But now, if we are advanced enough to see women and men as equal (which they are not always), can I not be inspired by a man? If feminists are striving for equality, can we not find empowerment in a man’s actions as well as a woman’s?

I see strong women such as Malala Yousefzai, Marie Colvin or even Beyonce who stand up for what they believe in, regardless of their own personal well-being and I am proud to be a woman. Then I see men such as Temar Boggs, a teenage boy who saved a 5-year old girl from abduction by chasing down her kidnapper or Edward Snowden, the man who leaked the details of the NSA having access to American citizens personal data and is now on the run for fear of persecution by his own country, and I am proud to be a human. But I feel that I cannot be inspired for my own actions because I am a woman and society and the media only assign women other females that they can be proud of, or they are seen as ”un-feminist”.

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