Why You Are Turning Into Your (Grand)Mother – Consequences of Consistent Mate Selection

Humans select animals with traits we like, and breed them together to create more animals with those traits. This is common practice everywhere, it’s how we get “breeds” of anything – dogs, cats, horses, bovine.

Hilda Reaps

I am both mistress and subject!

It’s also done with plants. Controlling the reproduction of flora and fauna is a big part of agriculture.

I’m simply saying that we do it to ourselves, too.

No One is Born Blank

And I’m not the first one to ponder this. Gordon Allport founded the study of personality 100 years ago. His work is the garden in which all others bloom, such as the Meyers-Briggs and Big Five systems.

Some personality theories address the cause of temperament, and some don’t. Dr Hans Eysenck, founder of the “3 Factor Model,” critic of Freud and stalwart advocate for science (“I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth …. if the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad,”) believes personality derives from the brain. Much of your brain structure is down to genetics.

However, the brain turns out to be much more malleable in adult life than was previously believed. Think of temperament as your personal baseline.

Kiss A Cowboy

I just love dirty fingernails, what can I say?

Gentlemen Prefer Hourglass Figures

Over time we have selected mates with desirable qualities, whatever those happened to be in our time and place. Many personal quirks have enjoyed crosstemporal trendiness, and a few physical traits seem to be beloved across the world.

According to the National Institute of Health, “Beyond matching on similarly, little is known about why we choose who we choose.”

Men have gotten taller while women have been selected for petiteness. The average erect penis is 1/3 larger than the average vagina…. What sense does that make in Nature?? Small wonder so many straight women experience painful intercourse!

What About Personality?

What Am I Doing

What the fuck am I doing??

Domesticated animals are also bred for temperament. I see no reason humans should not be affected similarly.

And I believe many of these traits can lie dormant until triggered by outside forces.

As a kid my idol was Idgie Threadgoode and these days I’m genuinely interested in what Martha Stewart has to say. I still love the outdoors but also a good Clean & Organize.

I did not learn to enjoy domesticity so much as attain a different understanding through what felt like osmosis.

I find my fingers itching to sew, to bake, to turn the dirt and create in all kinds of small ways. But like a purebred hound raised as a pet, I have instinct but no real training.

There’s a feeling of emptiness where domestic culture should be. I blame the Cult of Youth where each generation is encouraged to ignore the knowledge of their elders. And I blame the intergenerational breakdown in my family. My mother can’t teach what she was never taught.

And, frankly, I blame Feminism. With its rejection of the womanly in favor of beating the boys at their own game.

Instinct Vs. Intellect

All of this has been very difficult for me to admit – That I was feeling this way at all, let alone that I have no real idea what I’m doing. I have always shied away from “girly” things because dimples and freckles are bad enough. I thought maybe if I swaggered around like a man, people would take me more seriously.

Surprise

Surprise! You can’t identify out of womanhood!

And if I didn’t find myself in the position of Lady of the House, I doubt that these thoughts would be bubbling up.

I lack positive associations and role models for these traits. I’m conflicted about it all, to say the least. But I have to ask myself, Where is it coming from?

Science Gets Weird

Scientists are just beginning to understand that our lifestyle leaves its mark not just on our bodies, but on our genes. Epigenetics is the fascinating idea that the genes you pass on are directly effected by your behavior.

Then there’s the weird concept of genetic memory. People have been found to have aversions that reflect experiences of their direct ancestors. So, what if dozens of generations of your ancestors lived pretty much the same lifestyle? Hypothetically, you could have strong temperamental leanings for that lifestyle, even if you had never done any of it.

Scientific American says, “Everything from perceptual phenomena to intuitive physics to social exchange rules comes with the brain. These things are not learned; they are innately structured.”

Is Philosophy Genetic?

None of this rules out free will. Just because we have an inkling to pursue something doesn’t mean we have to. Or that we can’t find success doing something else. And some people will have stronger expression of any given attribute than others. Just like any physical trait you can think of.

Bored Operator

Another double standard rooted in unconscious bias? How boring!

I wonder if our stubborn refusal to accept the mind as an outgrowth of the body is causing us to overlook a potentially very fruitful field of psychology. If we have genetic code for our minds as well as our bodies, understanding this could lead to amazing shortcuts in treatments and development.

This idea is not controversial when searching for the genetic components of cancer, diabetes or autism.

Knowing what environments could trigger certain traits could bring a whole new vibrancy to education.

But to consciously harness the power of selection for good –

(This is NOT an endorsement of Eugenics! Traits are just traits, people don’t need Official Help finding partners, and race is not a real thing 😁)

– We have to accept that we are animals, too. Not holding my breath on that one.

Unpopular Opinion: Maternal Regret is Normal

“Traditionally, regret has been viewed as the purview of the childless.”

So claims an article in Canadian classic Maclean’s.

Penguins

The penguins are my babies and I regret nothing!

What? I understand childless people are often threatened with regret, but they don’t tend to voice it themselves.

Whereas, any parent can tell you, none of us do it right. Everyone comes out on the other side wishing they had known or understood something better. That they’d had more money or perspective.

But author Anne Kingston says when mothers express regret it’s “taboo.”

“Unsurprisingly, women who express regret are called selfish, unnatural, abusive.”

Which dovetails nicely with some Feminist ideas but just isn’t true in my experience. And I’ve been making small talk on playgrounds for over 10 years.

She lists other authors and articles along the same lines, illustrating the supposed trend of mothers admitting regret at having kids, and the backlash.

Really, anyone with an average understanding of feminine roles could imagine that reluctant mothers would be dumped on by a society that judges them by their children.

But down in the trenches it just isn’t this way.

Sure, there are tons of Mommy Bloggers whose beautifully curated lives make us all feel like Marge Simpson. But only Sanctimommies tear down other moms.

Reddit alone has several places where you can find real talk about mothering.

BreakingMom (Which I was recently auto-banned from for participating in Gender Critical spaces) is nothing but moms railing against the

Farm Girl

We’re all just trying to get shit done!

insanity that is parenthood.

BabyBumps has a lot of nursery pics and cute baby stories, but also plenty of scary moments and moms asking for advice.

ScaryMommy is a site whose entire premise is off-kilter takes on motherhood. The ‘Mommy Needs A Drink‘ trend is a hipper manifestation of this.

Yes, being a mom is fucking hard, sometimes in ways only other moms can understand. Sometimes we wish we were somewhere else. Sometimes we wonder what we might be doing if things were different.

Sometimes we even wish we had made different choices.

“Feeling trapped or suffocated is a common theme in Donath’s work; mothers felt ‘as if the metaphorical umbilical cord binding them to their children were in fact wrapped around their neck.’ Many women said they felt pressured to have children.”

No shit. That’s what Patriarchy does.

Obviously, we need to talk about it. But framing this as a babe-in-the-woods ambush is insulting to everyone.

If you feel suffocated by your children, first try reevaluating your approach to parenting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and with so much coming at us all the time, we probably feel like we are not doing enough.

Yesterday I was walking out of the bank at noon and realized literally the only thing I had done for myself that day was use the bathroom!

Bed Time

Did I miss story time?

There are only so many hours in a day, but childhood is long. Every moment is precious, but not crucial, if that makes sense.

I feel like I say no all the time, and I’m still swamped! It’s difficult to set boundaries but it’s better for everyone.

My trick has been to find a hobby no one else likes. The garden is on the sunny side of the house and involves using muscles and getting dirty. The only one who really wants to help is the toddler.

But all this takes some introspection. Because to admit regret is to admit complexity. Those of us who sit with our regrets are the type to consider things in depth.

French psychotherapist Corinne Maier is quoted sounding very French indeed, saying, “Her two children left her ‘exhausted and bankrupt,’ and she couldn’t wait for them to leave home.”

She was so upset about it she wrote a “manifesto.”

Kids are exhausting and expensive. We know this. If you decide that makes their existence a net loss for you, that’s a pretty harsh evaluation.

To say that you have regrets is different from saying you’d prefer something else. Saying I could have done better is not the same as saying I wish I hadn’t tried.

The impression I get is that some women want to be able to say, “In my perfect world, my kids wouldn’t exist,” and not

Golf Or Tennis Ladies

So I told Gary, practicing your swing is self-improvement!

get flack for it.

Which is why it’s all couched in this meta-analysis of the supposed blowback for normal maternal regret. If someone calls you a bad mother for admitting depth, she is the one with the problem.

And I just don’t see it on the ground.

If you are preoccupied with how much better your life could have been without your kids to the point you can’t wait to be rid of them, you may be the source of your own discontent.

Clicking around Maclean’s I found a counterpoint about the “collapse of parenting.” Cathy Gully quotes Vancouver psychologist Gordon Neufeld, “When parents realize that they are their children’s best bet, it challenges them to their own maturity.”

This really hits a nerve for me. I have felt myself chafe against the demands of parenthood many times. I have begun to learn what is a need calling out and what is my ego lashing out.

If you’re in charge of someone else’s life, you have to get your shit together.

“They become, in effect, the grown-ups their children need.

Or, at least, step up to the challenge.

Maternal Regret

Does it still count if I take my teddy bear with me?

If you are more worried about all the stuff you could be doing than any of the rest of the multifaceted experience we call motherhood, I can’t say that you are a bad mother.

But it definitely makes you shallow.

And “regretting parenthood, not the children” is less like being against the war but not the soldiers, and more like having your cake and eating it, too.

“I love you, but I wish you weren’t here” is nonsensical and mean. And using Patriarchy as an excuse for your inability to build meaningful relationships is as offensive as it is sneaky.

Maternal regret is normal. And it does get talked about. But it’s not the same as wishing your kids away.

Women have enough trouble discussing our issues without malingerers muddying the waters. Unironically using the supposed sanctity of motherhood as a cover to avoid criticism for being a jerk is a big middle finger to struggling mothers everywhere.

Part of being a true friend is calling your friend on her bullshit. And honey, this is some bullshit. Patriarchy is not why no one wants to hear about why you don’t like your kids.

BrazenShe’s Radical Feminism for Beginners

In my recent adventure with the Trans Rights Brigade, I ran into some serious misunderstanding about what Radical Feminism is.

Coincidentally, this week I also found a very good, concise statement of the Radical Feminist platform over at Women’s Liberation Radio News.

Summer Fun

This Summer fun is interrupting my studying!

“Third Wave” Isn’t Feminism

Before we dive in, I want to spotlight the fact that “Third Wave” Feminism is actually backlash against the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 70s.

The 1970s saw significant legal progress for women. We acquired the privilege of applying for credit, terminating unwanted pregnancies, and legal protection against housing discrimination. The UN declared 1975 International Women’s Year. Women’s Studies became a feature on campuses everywhere.

These days, it’s morphed into Gender Studies.

Hmmm, How strange! In 50 years we went from “Please can I have a bank account and an apartment?” to not even needing a single dedicated class? Has any movement ever come so far so fast?

Of course not. But Patriarchy runs the show and, after giving women a few showy wins, sat back and waited for our guard to slip.

So now we have boys winning girls’ track scholarships and men are being counted in affirmative action quotas. We are losing access to reproductive healthcare. Meanwhile I have people trying to argue with me about female penises.

Which is why we need Radical Feminism more than ever.

Radical Feminism Is:

  • Focused on female power, freedom and independence, not on the reformation of males

Guys, it’s not always about you.

Ssshhh

It’s gonna be okay, darling!

  • Anti-Capitalist
  • Anti-racist
  • Anti-classist
  • Anti-imperialist
  • Anti-war
  • Anti-Patriarchal religion
  • Anti-gender

Especially femininity as performed by women.

  • Critical of heterosexuality, marriage and the nuclear family

This is a neglected point. Tends to get reduced to ‘marriage is oppressive!’ Which has merit but some of us are straight, y’all!

So I figure I’m on the front lines of this one.

  • Against the hatred and oppression of lesbians

Because they’re women, duh.

  • Recognizes and condemns males violence against women and children, animals and the earth

Thus the anti-Capitalism and all that. Capitalists would happily burn up the planet for profit.

  • Supportive of female segregation and female-only spaces

    Good Lesson

    There’s some education for ya!

Another one that should be obvious. ‘Exclusion’ has become a dirty word, but sometimes being exclusive is the point. Like making the Dean’s List or joining a hiking club.

If you don’t make the cut or are unable to go hiking, those groups are not for you.

If you are a male, the ladies’ room is not for you.

  • Anti-rape, including paid rape in the pornography and prostitution industries
  • Anti-BDSM and all forms of abuse generally

I’m personally still working on exploring these topics. It’s slow going because of some experiences that turned it into a personal minefield.

  • Morally absolutist/culturally universalist on issues relative to female oppression

This is probably my favorite part.

I don’t care what your culture or your religion says. If you think educating girls is a waste of time, you are part of the problem.

If you think a woman’s value lies in her body, whatever form that belief takes, you are part of the problem.

If you support anyone born male having access to women’s spaces, you are part of the problem.

Your Argument is Beside the Point

Domestic Labor

I can’t theorize this laundry done!

Because before I am American or white or red-headed and frumpy,

I am female.

It’s something fundamental we all share that can’t be taken from us.

No matter how many words get redefined or how many TERFs get punched.

What really sucks is, it’s all irrelevant!

Calling me every name in the world won’t stop Patriarchy. It won’t stop the epidemic of male violence.

Someone came at me saying he had to confront me because he couldn’t let dangerous bigotry and hatred go unanswered.

I asked him to go pick a fight with one of the many thriving white supremacy groups, but told him I understand that picking on me is easier. Just don’t pretend it makes you some kind of hero.

Radical Feminism is about liberating women everywhere from the tyranny of Patriarchy.

And as Patriarchy gets more creative, so must we be creative in our response.

So, yeah, I’m a straight white lady with a big ass, and I’m gonna tear holes in all the sexist, racist, greed-infested bullshit I can find.

Radical Feminism is real. It’s nuanced. It’s intoxicating. It’s woman-focused. And it’s growing.

Shaken, But Not Stirred

WARNING: Rant ahead!

I’m so frustrated lately with my job search! I keep applying for writing gigs, but I only apply to things that really seem like a good fit. And running into the same old problem of not really fitting in anywhere.

Wuthering Heights

Where is everyone?

This last one was a blog ghostwriting service. They literally wanted me to do what I do here, for money. On whatever topic was provided. I let myself get excited when they responded positively because it seemed like a natural step.

So today when I read they were “going another direction” (I’ll go whatever direction you want, that’s the whole idea!) I was unprepared. And embarrassed at being so upset.

But I really needed this right now. Hubs got laid off two months ago and has been focusing on school. At the end of it he’ll have a high-powered degree. I have been teaching and working at the restaurant, but Breadwinner just isn’t a position I am a good fit for at the moment.

The little guy is 21 months old, and is finally starting to get over the awful rash he’s had for two months. He’s been a delight to be around since he’s feeling better, playing toddler games and learning new words every day.

When I come home after a day (or night) of work, too often all the pacifiers are lost. He’s been laid down for the night in shorts, scratching his scabs open. I don’t know what he’s eaten. Clothes are misplaced. I missed something adorable and unrepeatable.

Hiding In The Lobby 1

Gotta keep it together!

When my 5th grader was little, I took advantage of living with family to stay home with him as much as I could. I worked sporadically, part-time, trying to get a foot in the door of my chosen field. But I hadn’t turned my whole life around to not raise my child.

When they’re bigger we pack them off to school, largely so they can find their own footing in the world outside home. It’s natural that they begin to build their own experiences and friendships.

Little ones, younger than 3 or 4, have a stronger need for a connection with one main caregiver. They are constantly changing and unable to communicate most of their needs. More than this, they need a near-constant guiding hand they can rely on.

Don’t get me wrong – My family does a good job taking care of him. They might let him stay up later than I would, but he always gets a nap and his meals. He gets played with and loved on.

Maybe part of it is my own selfish need as a mother to KNOW he’s okay. I understand that many women are not maternal in the least. Until I had my own, I wasn’t either. But when that switch flipped, it flipped hard. Most of the time, it’s actually easier for me to relax with him around.

And when he isn’t I am constantly distracted. I could work more hours and have more money, but I already feel like tearing my hair out.

So I try to use my real skills. I don’t have a journalism degree; sometimes I can’t escape the feeling of being punished for chasing my dreams instead of being practical. But I never appreciated how my capacity for wordsmithing could serve me.

Secretary

If only people would let me correct them!

Yesterday I read a HuffPost article with an entire paragraph from the beginning repeated at the end. An entire paragraph! Someone got paid good money to not proofread that!! 

I see this stuff all the time and it drives me insane –

Misspellings.

Poor word choices.

Sentences so badly put together I have to reorder them in my head to understand them.

On Huffington Post.

On MSNBC.

On Medium.

The New York Times still holds a pretty high standard, but New York Magazine is better.

While attempting to keep up with news and culture I am bombarded with reminders that I am good enough. Either someone will give me a gig or I will piece it together until I can raise my head above the fray and shout, “I am Brazen!

None of my switches can be unflipped, it seems – Not Motherhood, and not my newfound sense of agency. I have slain my dragons and a strange, unexpected feeling of deep calm has come over me as the dust settles. My fury only fuels me. My time is coming.

Adulting: Fighting The Don’t Wanna

They say having kids around keeps you young. Conversely, I actually find that having kids makes me feel older, but usually in a good way.

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Ribbon Stillettos

Forget dress codes, I can’t face the world without my ribbon stilettos!

Into my 20s I was still waiting for the day I would grow into my life like a new pair of shoes. Extended adolescence is a thing, and everyone I knew seemed afflicted. My generation was going in many directions and none of them were toward stability.

Then I unexpectedly became a parent. Conscience demanded that I drag my hungover ass to the park every day, make real dinner and read baby books over and over. Sometimes Fake It Till You Make It is your only option.

Before I knew it the sense of responsibility began to bud into little sprouts of authority. Shared looks with other parents in the store. I found myself telling my own mother what to do, my child’s routine and preferences.

My life has been full of dead ends where I found myself backtracking. Development of myself as an authority has been fitful. I spent my 20s either in school or living with family while I raised my son. The world outside can get to looking very big and complicated.

Then, once again, conscience demanded action. I found myself with two young teen girls who desperately needed a mother. Of course, they didn’t want me. As a child of divorce, I understood. I dug my heels in and worked hard to establish myself in the situation.

Parenting Teenagers: OMG We’re Surrounded!

It’s not something you can tell them, plans and promises are empty for children of liars. It’s something that you have to just do, again and again. You have to play the long game. You have to say no, and you better have good reasons because they can smell inconsistency like blood in the water.

They’re used to loose boundaries full of loopholes. They threatened mutiny when I instituted a bedtime on weekends. They bend and slant situations for their own benefit. Explanations for their mistakes always begin with someone else’s name.

George Elgar Hicks The Happy Mother 1886 E1545071745935

Building neurons of positivity!

And sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes you have to hide in your room and cry, you feel so small and lame. How are you ever going to make a difference for them if you can’t even keep yourself together?

Then you remind yourself of the time scale. You remind yourself that you’re what they’ve got. They’re counting on you whether they know it or not. You wipe your face, crack a bottle of wine and dive in again.

And slowly they begin to relax. Standing firm against their pushback gives them something to lean on. They call you during their little emergencies, yell at you when you don’t give them what they want, tell you they love you and hang up.

Later she apologized on her own. “And you were right, of course.”

Wait, When Did I Become The Adult?

At some point I got to be in my mid-30s. I wear a lot of below-the-knee skirts and flats. My eyes are tired and my hair is lightening around the edges. Perfume bottles stand like party guests on top of my dresser. I’m that lady.

Hilda Nostalgia

We grow up so fast!

I roll my eyes at a lot because I remember it from 20 years ago.

I’m not afraid of 40. I don’t feel insecure that I don’t get K-Pop or how exactly “joggers” are not sweat pants. Because I have more important things to worry about.

When my first son was little, wrenching myself out of bed every day was something I did because I knew it was the right thing. I wish every situation in life was so clear-cut! I did it because I wanted him to have memories of his mom playing with him, not avoiding him.

My own parents played this fun game where they managed to avoid you without actually going anywhere.

I figured at least I could give the kid the impression someone cared.

Because I always did. But now with my second son it’s different. I rise with the question, “What are we doing today?” Every day is another refinement of a system that constantly evolves.

Some time in the last decade I became an Adult. I have begun to encounter the amazing effect of assumed authority. When I walk into a school, I let my attire and body language do a lot of the talking. I don’t have to justify my presence to anyone which is a weird, new thing for me.

The Don’t Wanna!

And at the age of 35 I think I’ve finally gotten over the hump of the Don’t Wanna!

Kids especially beat their heads against the wall of Fate, cursing existence for putting them in a position to do something against their will. The toddler screaming because he doesn’t want to sleep is like the teenager who won’t wear a coat. The sense of personal impulse is most important.

Phone In Bed 1

She threw up? Okay, I’ll bring clothes. See you in a few!

I think a lot of people never really get past this. Paying your bills is hard if you have to convince yourself that you want to every month. Dishes pile up fast and tend to stay there when energy is spent struggling with the Don’t Wanna instead of just getting things done.

Because they need doing. So we can have clean dishes. It’s amazing how well you end up thinking things through when the kid won’t stop asking questions.

Because not every situation gets a grand explanation. Because a lot of life is tedious. It can’t all be important. And all those high-minded notions are probably just a work-around for the Don’t Wanna.

As I get older, my sense of identity is less dependent on the moment. I can change my presentation entirely for a new job in an unfamiliar environment and not hear the little voice say, “Is this what I am now?”

And when I do express myself it’s easy because I have carefully curated my collection of stuff. Trial and error have taught me what works, what I like. The Self can’t be found, it must be created.

Basically, so much thought that becomes second nature around puberty is melting off like baby fat off a relay runner.

Situations that would have freaked me out in the past are handled with customary frenetic focus. Only later do I sometimes look back in amazement at how I have become.

Seems like being a step-mom is finally grinding down the last of my Don’t Wanna, and I’m happy to see it go. The constant questioning of youth is answered by the honed execution of middle age. I’m existing in the brief moment when I have learned enough to get by and still have the energy to do something with it.

“You don’t know how badly I want to skip school tomorrow.”

As I watch my kids step through the stages unaware they aren’t the first, I enjoy the space between us. My extra perspective is a steadying force, insulating me from the crashing waves of sensation that can be so all-consuming.

Life is sometimes boring and disgusting. If you want one, you have to accept this.

Whither the Boys?

When women run the world, what will we do with those pesky males?

I have encountered several different angles on the question of being a Feminist while still pursuing less radical womanly things. Especially parenting.

Mother And Her Children By Alfred Stevens 1883

I could be attending a lecture right now!

I read an entire essay about how one woman dislikes males so much she can’t understand why any woman would have a son.

She said it’s misguided to tell women we can counteract the patriarchal culture that tells boys they are entitled. That a mother’s love goes unappreciated and just lays the foundation of their entitlement.

She and some commenters shared anecdotes of little boys being awful to illustrate how boys are allowed to be bad.

Okay, so teach them better.

But we wouldn’t want to give women an illusion of power to influence their own children.

Has this woman never heard of archetypes? Sigh

I read one by a self-proclaimed ex-Radfem who found herself spiraling into fear and hatred to the point she states, point-blank, that Radical Feminism is driven by hate.

She raised several good questions but didn’t answer any of them, one being whether a group is responsible for the behavior of the extremists in their ranks. I would argue that we are, but I’m not sure what to say to someone who has completely written off half the human race.

1950s Usa Johnson And Johnson Magazine Advert

When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

Hating someone because they remind you of someone who hurt you is not fair. Or healthy. Or productive.

If you hate males, fine. Avoiding them is probably best. If you don’t want to have children, we’re all better off if you stick to that.

But it’s weird to me that those of us who have taken the opportunity to do what thousands of generations have done, without which there would be no future generations, are made to feel like the outliers. Like we owe others an explanation.

Yeah, I fell in love and had a child with the man I love. That’s right, he’s a man. Our child will be one day, too. I still think women should be liberated from the oppressive system that reduces us, one way or another, to our breeding status.

And none of this cancels out the horrific stories and statistics about male violence. Whenever a specific example of a man who isn’t an asshole is brought up, it is immediately shot down with variations of the adage “anecdotal evidence is evidence of nothing.”

I wrote an entire post about how we need to examine our motives and influences in our decision-making, especially along sexual lines. But if we do and come to a conclusion that doesn’t involve somehow removing men from our lives, no explanation seems good enough for some

Fit To Kill

I can wear whatever I want! Watch out, you wild animals!

hardliners.

I believe strongly in the major tenets of Radical Feminism. Female oppression is alive and well and must be opposed. Gender roles keep people in boxes that support patriarchy. When I read in black and white that we are what we are and not conforming to expectations was normal, I realized I had always known this. But finding it written out crystallized it in my mind.

I see Patriarchy in my life every day. I have two teenage daughters and they seem to have it worse than we did 20 years ago. I want to work toward a world where boys are taught to focus on their work rather than girls being punished for showing their knees. (Through ripped jeans! In the 90s we would have been lost without our ripped jeans! These girls were WEARING PANTS.)

And I understand that my personal positive experience doesn’t change the fact that many women are relegated to half-lives because they might have a baby.

But I’m also practical at heart. Eradicating males or turning them into some kind of slave class is (aside from being cruel and hypocritical) completely impractical!

This, beyond anything, is my frustration with Feminism of every stripe (except those who are supposedly Feminist but don’t believe patriarchy exists. So what is Feminism to you, some kind of sparkly ruffle book club? What do you think we’re doing here??) We are great at pointing out the flaws in the system and articulating and scrutinizing them.

But no one has any real solutions.

And teaching our sons better is apparently a waste of time.

A Knockout

Whatever, I’m ready to rumble!

This is so frustrating because how are we to fix anything?? Slowly elect a few more women to Congress and hope they aren’t as corrupt as their male peers? I have never seen any evidence that women are less corruptible than men. And it occurs to me that the image of Woman as Stalwart Defender of Morality has a very Puritanical feel to it if you sit with it for a minute or two.

We are all still digging out from under entrenched ideas about what women are and are not, what we should and should not do. If political lesbians want to opt out of this struggle entirely I can’t blame them. It’s difficult and confusing and why can’t we just be human and leave it at that??

Because we came in on the middle of the story. We have to play the hand we’ve been dealt. I have two sons who I am going to hold to higher standards than their peers will. No one ever said doing that with academics or manners was a waste of time.

And I’m damn sure not going to do nothing.

As a kid I was part of the Great Bussing Experiment, where inner city kids were bused out to the suburbs in an attempt to, among other things, accustom us kids to people who were different from us.

And it seems to have worked, at least for me. I score low on racial bias and, because of where I grew up, breathe a sigh of relief when I see some darker faces in a crowd. Being an urban Yankee in the South is weird sometimes.

I’m not immune to the other conditioning I receive but I’m conscious of it as an issue. My mother is a closeted racist and I think quite a bit of progress was made between her generation and mine.

Paintings Of Mothers Mother And Daughter Oil Paintings Victorian Mother Amp Daughter At

Then the female humans got to be people too, and they all lived happily ever after!

And our only alternative is to not try. We have to do something more than nothing. Sorry, straight women, you’re never going to figure out why sex is unsatisfying or how to identify men who aren’t total assholes, because we’re just going to send them all to an island and never speak of them again.

Our only alternative is to excuse ourselves from the fight which, to me, is disrespectful to the women who fought and died so we could read well enough to decide it’s not worth doing.

I also read something a while back that I keep turning over in my mind because it’s so weird. About how semen is a hypnotic agent and women who are exposed to it regularly are docile and controllable. How the Y chromosome is defective and those who carry it are barely better than beasts. How every man is a powder keg of testosterone waiting for his opportunity to rape.

And it read almost exactly like what MRAs write about women. It’s easier to write those off because I am one. I can simply ask myself if X is true or not. It’s harder to wave away screeds about the evils of men because I have seen them do things I couldn’t understand. I have known many who felt no qualms about their right to view as many naked women as possible. I have known a few who did awful things.

A few who did awful things. This is key: most of the terrible crimes are committed by a few repeat offenders. Most men are not rapists, which seems to contradict the idea that they are all just waiting for the right opportunity.

At 15 I was embarrassingly swayed by male attention. This is how I found myself alone one afternoon with an 18-year-old acquaintance. We were in his attic bedroom and no one else was home. He was persistent about touching me and it didn’t occur to me until much later how badly this could have gone.

Jack The Ripper

The famous ones are not a good representative sample!

But when he reached the edge of my experience he stopped without my saying a word. He sent my confused teen self home, and never pressured me for anything more.

A very long story and 17 years later, I married that boy. He’s a sexual abuse survivor too and we discuss this kind of thing quite a bit.

Men’s vanity and insecurity have crippled humanity by crushing the spirit of half our population. As women and leaders we must do better. Men should be held accountable so that one rapist doesn’t have the opportunity to spoil the well for everyone. As a counterpoint to teaching girls to speak up, we must teach boys to listen.

And hey, if entire subcultures in this country can insulate their children from all of science, I feel like I have some hope of teaching my son that women are people.