Ye Olde Differences of the Sexes Debate: A Fresh Perspective

6 Apr

On a blog I follow only intermittently, Hecate: Undermining the Patriarchy Every Chance I Get — And I Get a Lot of Chances, I read a post today entitled “Full Moon Magic” in which the author calls for us to magically boost the efforts of Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the congressional oversight committee monitoring our Government’s “Troubled Asset Relief Program” or TARP. Where the hell do they come up with these program titles? I prefer “Big Ass Money Mess” or BAMM.

The closing paragraph of the post read, “She’s a woman trying to talk financial sense to a bunch of men who, of course, are sure that they know best. So you understand what she’s up against.” I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know this elicited some comments, like this interesting hypothesis from Anonymous:

I suspect this will change, slowly, with the increase of male primary caregivers. In my observation, people of both sexes are reluctant to accept female authority as adults because it feels infantilizing – their early years were spent mainly under the authority of mothers and female primary-school teachers, with the proportion of male authority figures steadily growing as they matured. So long as answering to a man is associated with the privileges of adulthood, answering to a woman will feel like being sent for a time-out.

This comment elicited a comment of its own from QL:

I’ll save Hecate the trouble and call bullshit on anonymous. There is absolutely no reason women should have to wait another second to be taken seriously by people who have mother problems. If we have to wait for these people to evolve I’ll be long dead before it happens.

I’m writing this here for two reasons.

First, I’m a little annoyed at QL because Anonymous never proffers their hypothesis as a dictate for women to back off from asserting their right to be taken seriously or to wait to be taken seriously. They offered what I think is a valid observation that is applicable to both sexes. Why don’t people READ the WORDS that are WRITTEN? Must a WRITER go to EXTREMES and draw ATTENTION to EVERY word that is IMPORTANT so the reader actually UNDERSTANDS what they read?

The hypothesis is that the PRIMARY CAREGIVERS are those ASSOCIATED with infancy and INFANTILISM. Up UNTIL NOW, this has primarily been WOMEN.

The hypothesis is that the AUTHORITY FIGURES are those ASSOCIATED with ADULTHOOD PRIVILEGE. Up UNTIL NOW, this has primarily been MEN.

The hypothesis is that IF MEN & WOMEN only associate ADULTHOOD PRIVILEGE with answering to a MAN, answering to WOMEN will be associated with a state of INFANTILISM.

The hypothesis is that as MEN become PRIMARY CAREGIVERS, which is INCREASING, they will also become ASSOCIATED with INFANTILISM.

So if:

PRIMARY CAREGIVERS = INFANTILISM = WOMEN

AUTHORITY FIGURES = ADULTHOOD PRIVILEGE = MEN

and

MEN & WOMEN MEN = ADULTHOOD PRIVILEGE

Then:

MEN & WOMEN WOMEN = INFANTILISM

and the

BOTTOM LINE = IMBALANCE

But if:

PRIMARY CAREGIVERS = INFANTILISM = WOMEN + MEN

AUTHORITY FIGURES = ADULTHOOD PRIVILEGE = MEN + WOMEN

and

MEN & WOMEN MEN = ADULTHOOD PRIVILEGE + INFANTILISM

Then:

MEN & WOMEN WOMEN = ADULTHOOD PRIVILEGE + INFANTILISM

and the

BOTTOM LINE = BALANCE

Note there is nothing said in this hypothesis about WAITING to be taken SERIOUSLY. This is a HYPOTHESIS based on OBSERVATION of HUMAN BEHAVIOR. The study of human behavior provides us with the ability to work towards UNDERSTANDING and CONFLICT RESOLUTION.

Obviously, it would have been impossible for me to have expressed all of this in a rebuttal comment on Hecate’s post. Long-winded and a bit convoluted in my thinking, ain’t I, eh?!  Also, I’m quite sure it would not have been at all appreciated.  Pplltthh!

My second reason for this post is to find out what other people think about this hypothesis. What do you think about the idea of the archetypal primary caregiver? Do you think the sex of this individual influences or colors our adult behavior?

One question that has nagged me for ages about men is why, if left in the care of women during their childhood (as the majority of my generation were), do so many have so little respect for the strength, wisdom and intelligence of women in general, including those their own age? In the role of “dutiful son,” they may revere their own mothers, and if they are fortunate in their marriage, they may transfer this reverence to their wives, but we see repeated again and again dismissive attitudes at every level of society.

(This is a generalization!  I know there are exceptions to every rule, so untwist those knickers, dudes and dudettes. I don’t need to hear all the “but I’m/he’s/mine’s not like that” stories or rebuttals.  I know and appreciate the fact that you exist and you’re out there, and the Queen of the Faeries and I are eternally grateful.)

Why are women failing to raise boys into men that women don’t have to “go up against?” (yes, I know that’s a double negative, maybe even a quad, and I don’t care).  But the point is, if the majority of primary caregivers are (or have been) women, and women have such influence on the psyche of children, women should be raising boys to become accepting of women in authority. Why hasn’t this happened? Why are women ranting and raving against the men that women helped create, that “mothers and female primary-school teachers” had the first crack at shaping and molding?

If you’re a man, what do you think about this hypothesis? Does it feel a bit like having to answer to your mom or a school teacher if you must answer to a woman in authority? Can you pinpoint the time in your life when “the proportion of male authority figures steadily [grew]” and you began to experience this imbalance?

Personally, my childhood was monumentally screwed up and I grew into adult responsibilities at such an early age that I don’t really have enough infantile memories to cause me to suffer this imbalance. This is probably why I never experienced the difficulties I personally observed and so many other women used to report when working with other women. Who knew an ugly childhood would come in so handy later lol?!

The floor is now open.

2 Responses to “Ye Olde Differences of the Sexes Debate: A Fresh Perspective”

  1. dawtch April 19, 2009 at 2:11 PM #

    I think it is a valid theory and indicative of someone who is very observant. Unlike the majority of the population (male & female) in general…Your question about why aren’t women raising men that have no problem with female authority figures? (I know, that wasn’t your verbiage, but I think it is the gist of the thing LOL) I believe the answer to that lies in the fact that, unfortunately, women – especially the SAHMs who have a strong influence on a large number of children – have allowed themselves to be subject to men. “Wait until your Dad gets home” is still one of the most frequent threats made to (at?) a child. I’ve caught myself saying it, knowing full well I am just as capable of dishing out effective punishment as my husband is. This in turn tells the child, subconsciously, that “Dad” and so it follows “The Man” are the ultimate & final authority figure. Mom concedes to Dad. Mom goes to Dad when she has “had enough” and needs more severe punishment doled out. So the man is the “top of the chain” so to speak.
    It is essentially the same with the early female teachers who influence those same children. Nine out of ten principals are male – or have been until fairly recently. When the teacher (female) has “had enough” and needs “more severe/intense punishment” doled out, the child is sent to the principal (male). What this does is teach children (because regardless of what you say to a child, what you DO is what they pay attention to *grin*) that the female is the person who “does” everything – because again, the man is only seen when the situation has gotten to the point that the female feels unable to resolve the problem, while the woman is seen throughout the day, performing the functions that “keep things going” – and the man as the final authority.
    This has different effects on boys and girls – though both are taught to respect men as the ultimate authority – boys learn that until the “man” is brought into the picture, they can essentially do what THEY want, and that eventually THEY will be in the position to BE that same ultimate authority. Girls learn that the way a woman deals with uncomfortable situations they feel unable to resolve is to take it “up the chain of command” to a man, and that despite what they may do or not do, they still need to go to a “man” for the last word.
    Hope that made sense – I do have a tendency to ramble, as you may have seen if you visited my personal blog The Life & Times…I also hope that I answered the question you were asking – I also have a tendency to misinterpret…
    I am still reading 🙂 hope to get though all of your posts eventually! I’m also going to put you in my Blog Roll, hope you don’t mind. Thanks for coming by & commenting – now I have a new place to visit!
    bb
    dawtch

    • Faerie♥Kat April 20, 2009 at 10:38 AM #

      Merry Meet Dawtch!

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving this excellent analysis. I think it is spot-on and I’ll be adding you to my blogroll, too.

      I remember when I first entered the Contracting profession, it was completely male dominated. Notice, please, the use of the word “profession.” Because “men” did it, it was not a “job,” it was a “profession.” The only women in the Department were “small purchase buyers” who handled about three times as many cases as the men, but the dollar value of each case was under $25,000.00 (yeah, that’s a lot of money to call “small,” but everything’s relative when you’re spending billions).

      I skipped having to be a “purchaser” and started as a “negotiator” on cases involving millions of dollars and, as the years progressed, many other women joined me (the money was really good, the work interesting (hey, what woman doesn’t enjoy spending other people’s money?!)) and we “professional” women soon outnumbered the “professional” men. But it was close to 10 years before a woman was finally accepted into a management position. Even at 20 years, when women accounted for more than 75% of the “professional” workforce, only 10% of management were women. How cockeyed is that, I asked myself? There are relatively few men working in this “field” now (they don’t call it a “profession” so much anymore, because now women could do it and — oh, by the way — there’s no longer any separation of cases by dollar value, each “worker” is required to do all price levels now, whereas when MEN dominated the “profession,” they didn’t have to do the smaller (and contradictorily HARDER) dollar cases), but they still retain all the top positions.

      So your argument is completely valid, as I saw it played out in my own, dear “profession.” When women “took over,” the work itself was devalued, but men maintained the power and control (i.e., management).

      I remember, as a child, my mother used the exact same threats, and I remember, too, of hearing about other groups of women who fought and argued amongst themselves, and then ran to the bosses to tattle on each other. I, myself, was really fortunate not to have ever run into that problem; all my working relalationships with other women have been terrific experiences, but oh the horror stories I’ve witnessed and heard gossiped about.

      Okies, well now, I’ve rambled on and am avoiding everything I should be getting on with, so I’ll close and say,

      Faerie blessings,

      Kat

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