Years ago while reading Vanity Fair I came across the famous Proust Questionnaire found at the end of the magazine, and this specific issue posed a handful of questions to Susan Sarandon. While I cannot relay her responses to all of the questions, I will share one, as it struck me then and has stuck with me ever since.
When asked, What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Sarandon simply replied, virginity. At the time, as a prudish Midwestern girl in my early to mid-twenties, I reveled in her answer. The idea that something which had long been put on a pedestal by standards I had subconsciously consumed was being called out felt...both refreshing and dangerous.
This article returned to the forefront of my mind after recent controversy surrounding Megan Rapinoe's behavior during the Women's Soccer World Cup. Her "loving of herself" fueled critics — because women blatantly loving themselves and expressing pride is, well, apparently controversial. I became curious: What qualities or characteristics has society deemed as virtuous? Which feel antiquated and no longer serve women as a whole? Is it subjective to the person and experience? I used my own introspection as the opportunity to chat with a few girlfriends, I was curious to hear their insights. Below are their thoughtful responses. I am also equally curious to know what you think...add your voice to the conversation by commenting below.
"Being busy — something definitely seen as a measure in our society, whether we admit it or not — is completely overrated."
"I think timed declarations of self discipline are overrated, for example the I'm not going to eat sugar for a month; I'm going to do XYZ cleansing diet; I'm not drinking this month.
"Lately I've seen closed mindedness, hard-heartedness, and terrible consequences from this thing called "loyalty"...examples would be loyalty to country, enabling because of loyalty, and the blind faith comes out of this often overvalued virtue that keeps people from challenging others or even questioning them. In Beartown, Fredrik Backman says, “There are few words that are harder to explain than 'loyalty.' It’s always regarded as a positive characteristic, because a lot of people would say that many of the best things people do for each other occur precisely because of loyalty. The only problem is that many of the very worst things we do to each other are because of the same thing."
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"Set a humble table and eat beautiful simple food. Nothing has to be fancy. When you make yourself comfortable, your guests will feel comfortable."
"Alone time or downtime."
"Sometimes, politeness. I want to teach (and show) my children that, yes, respect and kindness are both so important, but if they are feeling threatened or in a precarious situation, their feelings and safety are worth so much more than being polite."
"Prudence. Sometimes we just need to take a chance."
"Hope. It's not in the wishing, it's in the doing."
"Moral high ground — and when people use it as a shield to hide behind, and reducing it to an excuse to hate those who don't share their 'values'."