Our national mythology teaches us that Americans are supposed to be independent, rugged individuals who are achievement-oriented, competitive, active, shrewd, and assertive go-getters, like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, or Ross Perot. Women, however, are supposed to be dependent, passive, nurturing types, uninterested in competition, achievement, or success, who should conform to the wishes of the men in their lives. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that these two lists of behavioral traits are mutually exclusive, and that women are stuck right in the middle. What a woman has to do, on her own, is cobble together some compromise between these traits that is appropriate to her class, race, and interpersonal relations with her family, friends, co-workers, and lovers.
Susan J. Douglas, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media