The greatest trick patriarchy ever pulled was co-opting women into its cause.
Just as the “Clever Black” or “Uncle Tom” who were elevated by racists, patriarchy has always made a place for the “Perfect Woman.” The woman who is smart, pure, sexy, beautiful but not so threatening enough that her rise can’t be attributed to “merit.” The Perfect Woman fits all the juxtapositions society requires of all women without breaking a sweat.
Patriarchy needs the Perfect Woman to rise in a misogynistic system so as to say: it’s not the fault of the structures that don’t work. Silicon Valley is littered with Perfect Women. Yet the true mark of an unjust system is a mediocre man can still rise to the top of the proverbial food chain, while women need to be Perfect just to get in the door – no, to the lobby.
Patriarchy needs the Perfect Woman as a cudgel to silence other women. She is the perfect tool to use to blame women for their own struggles, while saying sexism doesn’t exist. The Perfect Woman is wielded like a sword to gaslight the rest of us. Perfect Women like Ivanka Trump can say they have never experienced sexism, and point to hard work as the recipe to their success. Perfect Women like Ivanka speak in a soft voice and never demand attention in the workplace, because they have had doors opened to them by their Perfection. Perfect Women like Ivanka are also the Perfect Mom, Perfect Daughter and Perfect Wife; nary a housekeeper in sight, leaving the rest of us lesser beings wondering, “how does she do it?”
The Perfect Woman does not exist in real life. No one person is impervious to sexism; women live with its adverse effects, while men benefit from it.