November 24, 2020

As mentioned in last week’s blog, there are many expectations and assumptions around gender and sexuality. For example, I talked about the fact that gender is assumed to be binary  (you are either a woman or a man).

Today I will go one step further, analysing the rigid set of behavioral and physical expectations that men and women are expected to conform to. We are going to start from women, following an approach similar to that of Paul Carvel (in the Man Box theorisation, about which we will talk next week).

The one you see above in the image is the LADY BOX. Inside the box, all of the behaviours and physical attributes a woman is expected to have, in order to be a “proper lady”. Outside of it, all those behaviours and physical attributes that are considered “unladylike”. You will notice that all those standards are particularly hard to be met by queer women.


  • Quiet, submissive and accommodating
  • helpful and nice
  • attractive and slim
  • friendly, smiley and kind
  • discreet about sexual desires
  • heterosexual
  • not too loud or asking too forcefully for things.


  • Assertive
  • dominant
  • vocal about opinions
  • physically strong
  • fat
  • unemotional or detached.

It is clear from these categorisations, that the lady’s box has been designed to keep us useful to men when they need us, and out of sight when they don’t. It has been designed to reduce us to instruments to their happiness, without ever worrying about ours.

It is also clear why we are often called bossy, too loud and too much, for simply expressing an opinion. We are called whores and sluts for liking sex or talking about it. We are called “bitches” for telling a guy that we are not interested. What they are telling us, in their own way, is to stay in our box, and not to transgress any of the rules that we are given in order to keep us quiet. 

To be quite honest with you, I have found myself many times in the past years using these insults against women that, I now understand, were simply more liberated than me. They had freed themselves of silly stereotypes and took ownership of their life, and that bothered me, because I couldn’t. I have met and still meet daily other women doing exactly what I used to do and I invite you today to have a look at that box and question your assumptions. 


Have you ever punished/insulted/unfollowed a woman for simply being outside of the ladybox? Or maybe for staying inside it? Why did that particular trait of hers trigger you? How can you be nicer to yourself, and other women that decide to be outside of the box?


Comments are super welcomed and encouraged, let’s start a conversation!

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