The Superwoman Paradox | Is Superwoman Becoming an Overrated Concept?

May 17, 2021
By: Alexandra Kinias

Women’s intelligence, strength and resilience are perpetually under scrutiny. Despite their ambitions and strive to excel, social expectations and assumptions continue to work against their favor, and doubt their abilities every step of the way. For many women, failing is not an option. They work harder and fiercer, and keep going faster, earning themselves the label of superwoman, one that is neither flattering, nor fair.

As women’s roles, functions and responsibilities have been predefined and passed down over the centuries, their gender became their adversary, both in the workplace and society. Their hard work and accomplishments are undermined, unacknowledged and often ignored. On the other hand, men believe they are smarter than women, and behave accordingly, even if they are not. Unlike women, men quickly build confidence at the workplace because their competence and leadership are rarely judged. This leaves women in continuous daily battles to prove their abilities and competence, to validate their worthiness.

While women work harder for longer hours to excel, break molds and stereotypes and chatter glass ceilings, they also assume the typical gender roles and responsibilities assigned to them over the millennia. They tend to their families and take care of the children. With their responsibilities doubled and tripled at times, the expectations and anticipation to fail add more pressure on them; professional, personal and social. It is tiresome to watch how they juggle life and career. Judged in both arenas, succeeding in one and failing in the other will only raise more eye browns and doubts. Thus success comes with a high price that often takes its toll on them physically, emotionally and mentally.

As a result, women live in perpetual anxiety. Many fall prey to the imposter syndrome, which manifests in lack of self-confidence and discontent with their achievements and success. The false feeling of inadequacy drives them to work even harder and longer, to prove themselves, putting Superwoman at shame, and rightfully so.

Because Superwoman possesses supernatural abilities and superhuman strength beyond the ordinary, people associate her with hardworking woman juggling career and family. However, many have overlooked, perhaps out of sheer ignorance that superwoman is a villain, an evil counterpart of Wonder Woman. An Amazon who killed all her sister on Damnation island, Superwoman, is far from the perfect image of the hardworking career woman and mother many created in their minds. 

Real women fight 24/7 on multiple fronts; professional, social and personal, with no time to relax or take a breath. In addition, real life women are expected to be popular, disciplined, organized, elegant and in control. They juggle their demanding responsibilities with confidence and courage. Just look at the business executives in movies. Members of the 5:00am club, they wake up at the crack of dawn to attend yoga classes. They are at fundraising dinners and at their children’s school performances. They host the perfect family dinners. They shine in boardrooms with every string of hair in place, ready to take the fight; after helping their sports champions children with their math homework over zoom. Their screensavers are photos of their children with their gold medals around their necks. And they perform all these responsibilities with a flawless pearly radiant smile, while also wrapping up a degree or two. 

Perhaps this image is a bit exaggerated, but it gives the picture of how women strive to defy the social expectations that limit their gender roles. 

Why label hardworking women as superwoman when they in fact have more powers and abilities than the evil villain who lacks empathy. No man society bestowed upon him the label of superman. Being a man is all it takes to define his gender. This raises the question of why being a woman is not enough to define her strength, intellect, hard work and resilience. Every successful woman is equal to man in intellect and strength, and has more mental powers and intellectual abilities than Superwoman. 

I am not against Superwoman. She is an entertaining comics character. But let’s keep her where she belongs; in movies and comics. Let’s not put women in another mold. If they can’t jump off rooftops, they don’t fit in it. Well, men can’t jump off room tops either. On the other hand, both men and women who learn and practice parkour can jump off roof tops. Thus, it is not superpowers that define genders. The gender to succeed is the one what works harder and practice longer. 

Being a woman is super enough. Instead of labeling them as superwoman, let’s define women by what they can actually do, which is just about anything.

Perhaps women can’t fly, but they can certainly soar. 

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