Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The fact is, we tell women that being good people involves agreeability, cooperation and a little bit of self-sacrifice. In addition to telling them to be polite and deferential, we teach little girls from the beginning that life is going to be hard and involve compromise. This dose of realism is not terrible; it girds us for some hardship along the way. But it also lowers expectations for remuneration and recognition. Despite those who say that women have lately been told that they could "have it all," that promise has, in my experience, always been accompanied by caveats that a) we probably can't, b) if we do, it's going to be incredibly difficult, and c) that if we somehow do manage to achieve any kind of satisfaction or balance, we should be damn grateful. Gratitude, I've found, is not an attitude that results in promotions and raises. (Rebecca Traister, “A nice girl’s guide to getting ahead,” Salon, 26 April 2010)


I think we all need to remember that during the medieval ages, men did their best to become like women, so they might imagine themselves more worthy of claiming love from their mothers -- as Lloyd deMause explains:

Since Christians were bipolar, they were either manic (violent warriors) or depressive (masochistic clerics, martyrs), but in either case they risked “dying for God” their whole lives: “For Your sake we have been killed all of the day.” Martyrs would sometimes castrate themselves “to demonstrate their potency and devotion to God.” In fact, clerics were said to have “become female” when they gave up fighting, because “the male must become female in order to escape the moral dangers of his masculine state.” In fact, Christianity can be seen as a way for males to become more like females—thus priests didn’t get married and wore female dresses—because young boys experienced their mothers as preferring her more passive daughters to her “rough, impudent” sons.

I chased down this quote because I think this is about where we are today: men who do the the things that are supposedly lauded -- show initiative, refuse to kow-tow -- in truth go the Jerry Maguire route, ending up rejected and cloaked in failure, whereas men who try and make themselves women by showing in some fashion that they can be broken by whatever authority-figure they happen to be working for -- are allowed to pass on and on and on, on our current, good girl, A+ route of societal approval.

Male or female, if you grow up these days with truly healthy self-esteem, you'll be too busy dealing with the unleashed sharks to find any of those damned world-oysters you were expecting. Be glad you're still inclined to self-lacerate, Rebecca. Cover's better.

Link: A nice girl's guide to getting ahead

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