I grew up in a world where there was absolutely no doubt about gender roles, and gender roles were seriously enforced.
I don’t know if I fit in badly because — my being very sickly — my mother dressed me as a boy, because she was convinced my legs being exposed to the air would make me ill. So, I was wearing pants from the moment I got outside. And because clothes are important to mom, she didn’t do what other moms did in the situation and put a skirt over it, because “that’s crazy.”
In the same way, I was allergic to gold (still am, though not as much) so I couldn’t wear earrings, even clip ons. Let’s all be glad I had long hair, or the demands I drop trou and prove I’m a woman would be even stronger. (Of course I never obeyed. Like the boy named Sue, I could fight before I could walk. In my defense, being terminally uncoordinated, I think I only walked without falling for no reason by the age of 14.)
So I never fit in properly, but I never fit in backwards and sideways. And maybe in a way that saved me.
Look, the gender roles were incredibly restrictive. Women reading regency romances was a bit too intellectual (at least in public.) Women reading science fiction didn’t have a place to fit. Same with math, same with…
I hear people talking about how they were discouraged from math, because someone once told them that women couldn’t do math. Ah! I think these are women who heard things from their grandmothers, and want to have their own oppression too.
That is not oppression. Oppression, if you’re a weird woman (me) who likes math and science and history is having it ASSUMED you can’t exist. Teachers acted like it was a miracle when I spoke up. And almost everyone gave me various hidden warnings. Hidden warnings, “Well, dear, that’s very nice, but why don’t you read a nice romance?” And “What you should do is go to a dance or two.”
Were they wrong? Kind of. I mean the roles were perhaps too tight. And it ignored that women can also have intellectual/scientific interests. But it wasn’t wrong in another way, because you know, women in that society couldn’t really thrive if they insisted in going against everything in the society.
I mean, it was wrong in a … fairness and in a individual freedom and happiness way. But what people who tried to get me to fall in line were doing was trying to help me, because it was just the way society was. You can be eccentric — except we weren’t rich enough to. We were at most weird — but you need to learn to fake it, to keep it at home, to hide it. Because society at large isn’t about you, it’s about working.
I could sort of fake it, but I could never fit in, and of course, I came across the ocean in search of a place I could.
Before I did so, though, the times had achanged and there was another way of fitting in: women were told that what they mostly did in Portuguese society, i.e. dress nicely, be domestic and dream of a family was wrong and bad and to be liberated they had to reject all that.
And women did, partly — I think — because some number were as unhappy as I was, but partly because women are the sex that conforms. No, this is not a sexist slur. Women just seem to be brain-and-behavior wise more group oriented and oriented towards conforming. People have been looking for the way to stop this starting in kindergarten. I’m not sure it should be stopped, but that’s something else, since it doesn’t seem to be working. Women hit puberty and become more likely to conform to expectations.
To explain this feminists have invented an all-pervading masculinity and have hit the limits of insanity in claiming the US is a patriarchy (someone needs to send them to Saudi-Arabia for a year) but that’s because they don’t read biological studies in other species.
There there have been studies done with fish and birds and some mammals, that if a female sees a male being successful with other women, he’s immediately more attractive. Or that females are more likely to learn and adopt behaviors, if the whole group learns and adopts them.
This might in fact be a very old part of the hormonally induced changes in brains. I have in the past tried to explain it with just so stories, since women tended to work while watching kids, and maybe the kids of women in favor with the group would have more chances of survival. But some of these sexual characteristics and impulses go all the way back, to some forgotten finny (eh) ancestor who nested in groups, who knows? and females needed to get along with other females until the spawn were safe.
No one really knows, but it seems to be true. From the way all our characteristics, including intelligence seem to cluster in a median, which means most women are “average” (but we have fewer geniuses and morons, so there’s that.) to the way women will enforce social modes and manners on other women, across cultures, it seems like most women just want a “conformity” to conform to.
So when it became fashionable to be liberated, they all became liberated. It might have been around that time that I developed an interest in embroidery and lace. Now probably not because I was contrary, but because I THINK I had finally outgrown the sensory issues that made anything like that difficult before around 17. (Girls outgrow them earlier than boys, who usually drag them through 19.)
It baffled me though that all of a sudden the fact I sat down and did crochet (still do) or embroidery while reading was viewed as as bad as the fact I read science fiction (Which was still considered crazy.) Now I was supposed to conform by smoking (well, I did that to for a year, until my lungs told me it was a bad idea), swearing, reading intellectual books with lots of sex (like putting an urn in a picture makes it art, putting Marxism in a book makes the sex okay) and say I was never going to marry (most of those women still did. The pose was, like the previous craft magazines and embroidered trousseau just the new way to catch a male.)
I’m obviously one of the few women who are born to be outliers (genius or moron, sometimes it depends on the day) because I could never understand why I had to conform to EITHER stereotype. I liked wearing jeans. I had an interest in history and science fiction, and science (though for various reasons limited means of studying it) and I liked hanging out with guys who had the same interests. I smoked, mostly to give myself something to do with my hands. I made off color jokes, because my mind works that way. But I could control the off color around elderly relatives. And I liked kids and wanted to have kids some day (though thoroughly convinced no man would ever marry me.) I also wanted to have a job (even though writing was out of sight as something that would pay the bills. Not then, not in that world.) And yeah, if I sat down in the evening to watch TV or listen to an audio book, I’d likely be embroidering or doing crochet, or painting cute animals, or… I mean, why not?
I NEVER UNDERSTOOD the “you must conform in all things. ALL OR NOTHING.”
I still don’t. But most people seem to function that way. Women more than men, but people in general. All or nothing, and adopting the “new way of being”in order to be cool (like everyone else.)
People were very shocked that young women feel COMPELLED to sleep around even if they don’t want it. I’m not. Because the way it was promoted was “if you’re liberated you’ll sleep around. If you don’t sleep around you’re a slave of the patriarchy” i.e. you’re wrong, and dumb and you’ll stick out.
It’s apparently not working very well. Because, you know, women in general don’t want to sleep around as much as men (some do, sure, but it’s SOME not the majority.) Again it seems to be some deep wiring, which makes perfect sense in the days before contraceptives. The person with two dozen children each with different fathers is going to have a hell of a time rearing them in a world red in tooth and claw where men’s superior strength is needed to hunt and defend the family. I don’t know if anyone bothered slut shaming as such, but I know in that type of world, I’d totally have slut shamed a daughter. For the same reason people telling me to conform, back in Portugal, weren’t wrong.
But more than that, this was true when we were apes, moving in ape bands. Without a strong male, the band got taken over by another band and the females got killed or reimpregnated, while all the juveniles were killed.
Attaching to a male is very, very deep in the female brain. Dino brain, maybe fish brain, definitely ape brain.
Telling women they can just have sex with whomever is great, (no seriously, the minority that always wanted to should be able to, and now they don’t have to worry about having kids they don’t want. And it’s their life) but telling women they SHOULD have lots of casual sex isn’t. It doesn’t really work for most females, but they’ll do it because it is “the new expected.”
So women do it, but hate it, and feel used, and turn against men. And then all men are suddenly “Toxic” in their masculinity. And now we must work on men to behave more like women. Which btw, is going to go over like a lead balloon. What you’re going to do is create some truly toxic males, because you’re telling them that’s what males ARE.
And we must worry about internalized patriarchy which is so powerful it’s invisible and that’s how we know it exists.
Look, males always thought more about sex than females. And always interpreted Romance as SEX. It’s what being a man is.
It amused me because a small group of us were talking about flirting, and I loved flirting when I was young. This is when a male friend I didn’t know at that time, but who was (I’ve seen pictures) very cute told me if I’d shown any attention to him at 17 or 19 he’d have assumed I wanted sex. Because that’s how his brain interpreted any woman paying attention to him. At 17 or 19 I might have been interested in him, but I wouldn’t want to SLEEP with him. Not right away. I’d want to have a relationship first. And in this, I think I was a fairly typical teen female.
In this brave new world, women must accept when a clumsy oaf of a geek thinks that what they want is sex. They must follow through or be shamed for their lack of “liberation.”
But it’s okay because afterwards when he doesn’t call, because to HIM he gave you what you wanted, then you can accuse him of rape.
The truth is, particularly in their approach to sex males and females are very different. And maybe it’s a just so story, or the fact that spreading with a wide dispersion tip means a man is more likely to leave descendants while taking her love to town means a woman is less likely to rear her children.
Was the old normal (and for people here that would be probably two generations before me) unfair to some individuals and oppressive. Oh, hell, yes, with bells on. I experienced it.
Is the new normal unfair and oppressive? Well, you got me there. Oppressive yes, but at a level where people are afraid of saying they’re not free.
But mostly the new normal is crazy. Men and women are being told they must act in this new way, which frankly is mostly bad for women and very bad for children. (Are we sure this isn’t a plot by an alien species?)
It comes from bad crazy of thinking humans are infinitely moldable. This is the tenet at the heart of Marxism. If humans aren’t infinitely moldable, then the New Soviet Man will never emerge, and all the killing will have been in vain.
But humans aren’t infinitely moldable. Which is why no Soviet Man ever emerged from all the crazy. Which is why what 100 years of social engineering is producing is the streets of Paris burning. And it’s a fire I’m afraid will spread. Which is why this is entirely crazy.
I don’t hanker for the days I had to buy my science fiction (or history) books like people by porn, by stealth and looking embarrassed, or for the days when reading something other than a craft mag in the train was looked at askance.
And no, I don’t think men who don’t want to engage in pissing contests (sometimes literal) should be forced to.
I always think more tolerance for outliers is a good thing. (I would, wouldn’t I? Being one.)
BUT turning society upside down and thinking making the new conformity hinge completely on a rejection of ALL of the old conformity, as though turning something upside down made it better, instead of the bad, just upside down is insane.
Societies don’t long survive by being insane.
For one, whatever the stupid song says, we’re not the world. Most of the world still adheres to the old standards. No, older than that. Yes, the ones where masculinity is indeed toxic and beating your wife on a Saturday night is just a little pleasure a man shouldn’t be denied. The barbarians are always at the gate. Craziness doesn’t make us better at defending ourselves.
But beyond that, deep set brain stuff that’s older than dinos will have its day. And after the revolt and the burning I’m afraid we’ll be closer to the barbarians.
That’s not what I want. I’m an outlier. I prefer a society that tolerates outliers.
Will there be one left, after the insanity burns out?