What Daphne Bridgerton Can Teach Us About Self-Empowerment
Bridgerton took the binge-watching world by storm when 82 million households tuned in, smashing the previous record of 76 million held by The Witcher. The drama follows the young, wealthy, and beautiful debutante, Daphne, in her quest to find love and happiness in the extremely strict social scene of 1800s London. Such a society requires Daphne to remain pure until marriage, engage appropriately in social life, and raise a respectable family.
It’s difficult to relate to the socially oppressive world that Daphne and her 7 siblings experience. But, Daphne’s ability to manage what is within her control certainly resonates with the audience.
There are countless times when Daphne takes her future into her own hands. For example, when her brother promises her to a man she loathes, she exposes the man’s manipulative nature with some help from female friends. She even goes so far as to risk her life to interrupt a duel between her brother and her future husband to show how much she truly loves him. Not to mention, this stunt let her narrowly avoid the social disaster that would ensue if her husband were killed due to their pre-marital kiss. Later in the series, her husband, who hasn’t grappled with his own troubled childhood, refuses to bear children with her. And Daphne actively seeks out the knowledge she needs to navigate that complicated situation. Daphne certainly tests the limits of the traditional role for women in Regency London.
Not unlike early-1800s London, there are many obstacles for women in modern America. Sexism, domestic violence, and income disparity are just a few examples of what women are up against. And young modern women can view Daphne as a symbol of perseverance as she personally advocates for herself in the face of incredible hardship. If only more women were so brave. For instance when considering income inequality, many studies have shown when compared to men, women are less likely to negotiate their salary. What if this norm was flipped? What if as women it became the norm to be more bullish in our expectations? It’s as simple as asking for more when you are aware of your unique value.
Generally, the lives of women are considerably greater than the era that Daphne endures, but there is always room for improvement and negotiating pay is just the tip of the iceberg. For example, recently the Tokyo Olympics President, Yoshiro Moshi, remarked that women “talk too much during meetings”, insinuating that women are a burden, rather than an asset, to have in conference rooms. Ultimately, these sexist remarks led to his resignation. Comments like this in boardrooms contribute to the growing problem that women talk less often than men in professional group settings.
It’s incredibly frustrating that even when women aren’t speaking up, we get lambasted for taking up all the air in the room. So what is a woman to do? As Lady Danbury, another feminist hero in the show suggests, sharpen your wit and become the fiercest force in the room. Another way of looking at it is to determine what you want, learn some practical negotiating skills, and take steps in your own best interest. If you can find your voice and ensure that it is heard, you’ll go much farther in improving your circumstances.
Like 1800s London, life will present obstacles that are well out of our control. And while we shouldn’t be complacent with societal injustice, there are plenty of chances for us to be the heroine in our own life story. We can thank Daphne for reminding us of our own power.