Ambition and the Southern Woman


AMBITION: many times it’s painted as being ugly in a woman, even more so in the American South.

That’s where I live, not far south of the most modern of Southern cities- Atlanta, but far enough that progressive feminist culture still lags behind with many. I choose to believe the opposite. Ambition is something that makes you beautiful. My fatal flaw is that I cannot and refuse to understand those that don’t have it.

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Ambition, and the drive to succeed, is what drove me to fight to start my own magazine column at a small publication in my hometown of Macon, Georgia- also the home of Otis Redding, Jason Aldean, Carrie Preston, and more names you likely have heard. (Just have to throw that out there- hometown pride and all.) Ambition is the same thing that drove me to take a leap of faith and leave a well paying career, five years in to it, while in the midst of an ugly divorce to go back to school. Finished my undergraduate degree, got accepted to graduate school, ran my blog which had spun off of my column, and started a new business when laid off from my job. All of this while also raising the two best babies in the entire world, with help from my parents of course, and also navigating the new world of dating in these days.

There is beauty in ambition, and while one of the greatest Southern heroines of ambition is still Scarlett O’Hara who refused to go hungry in Gone With the Wind, we sometimes forget that Scarlett was actually reviled by her peers. Today, in a South which still teeters on the edge of Old and New, an ambitious female unattached from a husband is seen a few ways: if she doesn’t have children, then she is likely pursuing this route until she finds a husband and children, if she does have children and has not remarried yet then there are yet two more options. The ambitious single mother is seen either as a martyr, struggling to get by for herself and her kids until another man can come along and rescue them, or she is a selfish female her puts her own needs above those of her family. We forget there is yet a third archetype: the female who is ambitious regardless of where she is in life, and who will continue to be so whether she has a husband, children, some of both or not.

In today’s fight for feminism and equality and redefining the modern mother, I would propose that we throw ambition in to that equation as well, and that we not forget that without ambition- many times we are left with just a shell of what could have been. 



Molly McWilliams for

Molly McWilliams for

Molly McWilliams Wilkins is a freelance writer living in Macon, Georgia. She publishes the blog Make It Work Molly and is the CEO of The Hyperion Group, a marketing and public relations firm. Molly wears tons of hats (and shoes) in her hometown, volunteering for many causes, and most importantly is mother to the “two best babies in the world”. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @MakeItWorkMolly.