If I were to ask you to think of some introverted famous people, the first ones off the top of your head, who would you say? A lot of people say that Barack Obama’s an introvert, though personally it seems a little silly to me to think that you can tell someone’s personality from watching a few seconds of soundbites. What about famous characters? Definitely, anyone played by Clint Eastwood. Gandalf? Maybe not your first choice, but James Bond always seemed like an obvious introvert to me. What do all these people have in common? Presumably you read the title of this post, so you know what I’m getting at here – they’re all men.
Characters in popular culture provides the archetypes that we use to make sense of all the different people we encounter in our lives and ourselves. If a man is introverted, he can cast himself as the “strong, silent type”; a Clint Eastwood, a Gandalf, or a James Bond. This is a way for him to begin to understand himself and the fact that it’s a character that exists in mainstream culture is a sort of validation of his personality type.
But for a woman who’s introverted, what archetypes can she work off of? In some ways, this is a genuine question. I know very little about what it’s like to be a women, but my impression is that women are always expected to be very social.
The question about whether it’s “hard” for a woman to be introverted is two-fold. First, there’s the matter of personally accepting that she is an introvert. Extroversion is held as the ideal for both men and women, but a man has the option of using the strong, silent archetype. Secondly, there’s society’s acceptance of an introverted woman. Barack Obama is cool, calm, collected. What do people call a woman who doesn’t talk much?
I would definitely like to hear your thoughts. Do you think it’s harder for women to be accepted as introverts?