Monday, October 4, 2010

Raising sons and daughters

The CEO at work and I always seem to have very interesting conversations. I couldn't even tell you how they begin but they always lead to some revelation for one or both of us.

Today, we somehow made our way into a conversation about male chauvinists.

Wikipedia states:
"Male chauvinism is a term used to describe the belief that men are superior to women. The term was widely used by the feminist movement in the 1960s to describe men who believe or display an attitude that women are inferior to men, speak to women as inferiors, or treat women negatively based solely upon their gender.Female chauvinism is a less commonly used term used to describe the symmetrical attitude that women are superior to men."

CEO stated that he believed that a woman who will generally call a man a male chauvinist is usually a female chauvinist.

I told him that I believed the term came from feminists (and according to Wiki, I was correct).

But really, let's think about this...

As little girls, we're usually raised:

1) to be completely dependent on a man - i.e. Disney princesses and riding off into the sunset with a prince to live happily ever after.


2) to be completely independent from men - i.e. told that men are worthless and if you want anything done right, you have to do it yourself.

As little boys (in my experience from being southern born and bred), I'm assuming, you're raised:

1) to be a gentleman - i.e. you always open car doors, you never hit a woman and you treat a woman with respect.

(The above are all assumptions based on my experience. Usually if a man is not raised this way, I believe it is generally because of his past hurts with his mother or he is modeling his father's own unfortunate dysfunctional past with women.) 

So, let's say you have a independent woman trying to be with a man who was raised to be a gentleman, and this woman doesn't allow a man to open her doors, hits him and doesn't treat a man with respect. Wouldn't you think that a man would be confused and, in his defensiveness, put on an air of chauvinism?

What if you have a woman who was raised to be dependent and a man who was raised to be a gentleman? I think this would work for a while... until the woman realized that she couldn't depend on the man to be her everything. Who could stand that pressure? So then she begins to have less and less respect for the man because he's not fulfilling her completely, then he begins to shut down emotionally...

Now they're both hurting.

Moving forward, both the man and the woman have been hurt in past relationships. The trust of the opposite sex is usually destroyed in that hurt. Suddenly, the opposite sex seems like the enemy and huge generalizations are made.

All men are pigs.

All men cheat.

Men are assholes.

Men should be used only for sex and money.

Women are bitches.

Women are drama queens.

All women cheat.

Women use men for money and they're only good for sex.


Subsequently, we become independent feminist women, even if we were completely dependent on a man before. Men become narcissistic and unable to be trusted.


These are all defense mechanisms. Somehow we're convinced that we will have superpowers by putting up walls or hurting someone before they hurt us.

I believe that women are not really independent feminists - we just think we have to be in response to what we think men are.

I also believe that men aren't generally raised to be all for themselves and use women at their will. They're just responding to what THEY think WE are.

Honestly? I think we all should have some level of interdependence on each other.

Wikipedia defines interdependence:

"...a dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to, and sharing a common set of principles with, others. Interdependence recognizes the truth in each position and weaves them together."

If we recognize the truth in each other, if we recognize that neither of us can be everything to each other, that our happiness depends on ourselves, that our giving love and respect to each other can be a beautiful coupling, then a relationship can grow, be long lasting and satisfying.

Then again, I could be wrong. I'm only raising girls. But to watch the dynamic of Gentleman Jack raising his sons compared to how I raise my daughters... and to see the dynamic of two sisters with two brothers, I can easily see how relationships and the dating scene can be so complicated...


  1. Great post, T. Definitely food for thought, when it comes to relationships and past hurt.

    I call my uncle a male chauvinist. He's been divorced 6 times, and spent 7 years in jail because of child support (or lack thereof). He has a very low opinion of women, and him and I go head-to-head because of it. Especially since I'm trying to show my children how strong of a woman I am.

    Funny thing is, as much as he bashes women, he's still looking for someone to spend the rest of his life. But he's so set in his ways (being 63), that I'm not so sure I woman could handle him. Especially since he routinely aims for women in their late 20s and early 30s. Oy.

  2. Interdependence is the perfect work. Loving, caring and wanting what's best for the other.

  3. "As little girls, we're usually raised..." and "As little boys you're raised..."

    I disagree completely. Perhaps that's what you saw where you grew up, but it's not how I raised my kids. It's not how I was raised. It's not how girls I knew were raised. I think male/female dependencies and formalities might be encourage more in the south. But here in California, it ain't like that. Ask my kids.

  4. How we're raised has a huge influence on how we treat a partner and how we expect to be treated. Some of those influences are obvious, like being raised to be courteous others are deeply hidden and may not be apparent until revealed by a crisis.

    And if we ourselves don't know why we behave in a particular way, then it sure makes it difficult for someone else to understand!

  5. As preposterous as this may sound, as a society, we form more and more of our opinions of the opposite sex; not by our own experiences, but by what Hollywood puts before us. The US is the only country I know of that has a genre of entertainment shows based upon the debasement of men. Men are stupid, men are worthless, men can't be trusted. You keep telling yourself anything long enough then eventually you'll start believing it.

    As a single male and one point dating socially, I found that many women, and men friends also, tended to paint others with the brush of somebody else's past sins. Because she was cheated on by 'x' 4 years ago means that I will cheat too even after learning that my character is against that.

    I believe that we can out grow our upbringing. I know that from a relationship perspective, I have surpassed my father's ability to show love and affection for his children or my mother. This doesn't mean he was a bad father or husband its just that he had limitations that I was able, through experiences and inner searching, to move beyond.

    Its those women, and men, who cherish their independence or use fear as a tool for remaining relationship-less, that will find themselves regretting the decision to forego the potential pain for comfort and control later in life.


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