This brings us to the idea of ideal femininity. What is the ideal woman? What should we expect of the female gender in the new millennium? When comparing the two views above, I would say that Chan's ideal of the woman as one who is worthy of recognition for her efforts in any context is far more valid than that forwarded by Campbell, who creates an emotional victimhood for women. When combining these views, I would say the ideal woman is indeed emotional, but she is also capable of using her emotion to energize her efforts towards the life she desires. Emotion can translate into passion, and I believe that women have a possible advantage here. A woman's emotion for her family can create a passion for creating the perfect home. Her passion to contribute economically to her relationship with her partner or her family can lead to great excellence in the workplace. Hence, for me, the ideal woman is one who recognizes her own ability to make these choices. Zenobia Chan (2002) made a choice to marry and enter domestic life when she was 23 years old. She entered this world with great, almost single-minded passion. She investigated ingredients, effects, recipes, and actions that would create the perfect nutrition for her family. Later, she recognized her ability to choose an academic life. Again, her passion for this new direction was unmatched and she finished far ahead of her peers in terms of time to completion and general excellence in writing and presenting papers in her field.
I would go a step further, however, in suggesting that the ideal woman could also recognize her ability to have both a profession and a family, as indeed, many women choose to do today. Through careful planning, time management, and the help of educational professionals, women today can choose whatever they want. The main ideal is to create a life that fulfills her in the areas that she considers important.
A person who disagrees with this point-of-view might object that there is no such thing as an "ideal woman" for any day or age. The idea of "ideal" is so arbitrary that no person could hope to create a conclusive concept of the ideal. Furthermore, one must also consider that the "ideal woman" from the male and female perspectives might be vastly different. As demonstrated by the widely divergent viewpoints of the authors mentioned above, there can be no single concept of the ideal woman. Campbell's concept of the woman as emotional creature cannot be dismissed out of hand as invalid, even if she does use Kant to forward this view. It is almost axiomatic that women tend to be more emotional than men. It is also true that this emotionality will sometimes find inappropriate expression, which may cause a woman's viewpoints to be dismissed, regardless of how valid they are. Indeed, Campbell herself points out that there is an appropriate time and place for emotion, and especially for anger. However, even if justified, the inappropriate expression of this anger can lead to the dismissal of valid opinions. This is equally true of males and females, although women are recognized to be more likely victims of such a situation. One could therefore argue that both Campbell and Chan make valid points, even though Chan appears to be a little kinder when it comes to the power of women in society today.
On the strength of the divergent views in the above article, and also based upon the arbitrary nature of the term "ideal," one can therefore come to the conclusion that any attempt to arrive at such a definition is perfectly useless. Indeed, if one were to conduct a study of the opinions regarding what might be considered the ideal of femininity, it is unlikely that any two answers will be the same. In a traditional culture like the Japanese, for example, men may see the ideal woman as one who can care for children and the household while maintaining a submissive relationship to the "more powerful" husband. In the United States, on the other hand, a woman might consider the ideal of her gender as one who can function independently of others. An American man, on the other hand, might see an ideal woman as one who can contribute economically to the household while also caring for the children and household.
Also, one must consider what exactly is meant by "ideal." It could also refer to the physical ideal, which is as arbitrary as other areas of "ideality." Some prefer women to be almost skeletal, like models, while others prefer more curves, or even fat. Indeed, some cultures consider big women to be the ideal. Because of these many views, it is impossible to say which is the ideal.
In response, I would contend that it is indeed possible to create a concept of the ideal woman. Certainly, the context of culture is valid. One cannot claim, in any realistic sense, that there is a uniform ideal of femininity across the world. However, this appears to be a somewhat narrower view than the one I have in mind. To create a concept of the ideal feminine, I believe one must look at the context of history and social development. Even in Japan, for example, the culture is moving towards a greater range of choices for women in terms of education and professional prowess. In strictly traditional countries like Afghanistan, worldwide pressure is creating more freedom for women even on a daily basis. In this sense, there appears to be a worldwide movement towards a greater range of choices for women, regardless of cultural or social background. Furthermore, women have strived for recognition throughout the centuries. During the 20th century specifically, these efforts have begun to deliver results, starting with women gaining the right to vote. Today, women are free to choose any profession and any lifestyle that suits them and their principles best. Like Chan, women can choose to enter domestic life exclusively. Others choose to establish a career before starting a family, or to have a career rather than a family. A further group choose to have both a career and a family. Western society today has developed in such a way to make these choices possible. I therefore believe that the ideal woman today is one who can make any of these choices independent of external influences. This is why Chan is far more representative, for me, of the ideal woman than Campbell and her focus on the emotional as synonymous with the feminine.
As for the ideal woman in terms of the physical, I must agree that this is even more arbitrary than the ideal that is my focus here. I also admit that I did not give this aspect any thought when I began my argument. However, even the physical can find a place within my concept of the ideal. Again, it depends upon the choice of the woman concerned. Physical beauty means something different to each individual. A woman might therefore choose her ideal of beauty in terms of clothing, make-up, weight, and so on. The ideal woman in this sense, for me, is someone who has chosen her sense of ideal physical beauty, strives to promote this by means of her clothing, exercise, and so on, and feels comfortable with her choice.
My ideal woman, therefore, is one who is aware of her range of choices, can weigh her options according to what she considers is best for herself, and choose accordingly. My viewpoint is therefore an internal, individualistic one, where a woman makes her own choices. This is not a sense of ideal that can be established from external sources, such as the viewpoints of men, family members, or society in general. The opposing view suggests that there are many viewpoints on what an ideal woman might be.
While this is true, it is an essentially external, collective viewpoint. Certainly, if one searches for the ideal of womanhood among arbitrary opinions, it is true that there would be as many answers as those responding to the question. This is also true of general social or male views. This is also why I consider Chan to be an ideal woman, regarding the many external views to the contrary. Chan's collective social traditions, held by her family members and friends, are that ideal Chinese women who are married are required to fulfill domestic functions. They are not to have other choices open to them and are therefore considered inferior. Chan, however, recognized that this was not so and made her choices accordingly, despite her own self-doubts and internal debates regarding this.
In conclusion, then, an ideal woman, in my view, is one like Chan, who can recognize the availability of choice and exercise this accordingly. The ideal woman of 2013 and beyond is one who relies only on herself to make the best choices available to her. She does this independently of collective social…