Is it OK to be Female?
A Woman’s Place
It’s crazy that there’s still anything left to be said about sexism. When I first began studying the different life expectations for humans depending on our gender, back in the 80’s, I was optimistic that sexism would be a distant memory by now. It’s not. By the way, women are just as guilty of perpetuating it as men are now. It’s endemic.
Now, of course, I fall into the category of women most reviled by society as a whole. Society doesn’t know what to do with intelligent, unmarried women over 40 who aren’t mothers. We freak people the heck out. They can’t control us. Since we’re past the days of burning wise women at the stake, the best society can muster is to belittle us. Have at it. I’m Teflon to your belittlement.
But, what’s all this about? What’s really behind it? What’s so terrifying about single women, with strong minds, who aren’t tied down? So many of the people who’ve been most vile to me since my marriage ended are parents. I wondered if there was maybe something in that, so I asked Google, and it turns out that what parents say in public, and what they search for in private are not the same thing. Check out what parents are searching for right now… Google never lies…
Pretty horrifying, right? Yes, but it explains a lot about the hatred fired at those of us who don’t breed. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the alternative is way more horrific. Let’s ask Google, shall we? What’s the terrible world of not having children like?
Lol! Something tells me that the last entry there is evidence of cross parents trying to validate their own choices. Strange how that happens. Having kids is SO selfless, after all, that it seems odd that you’d need to post about how selfish it is not to have them. Why, oh why might that be?
Maybe I’m way off here. Maybe the reason people – and women in particular – have attacked me so much since I became single has nothing at all to do with jealousy. Let’s ask Google again. Maybe it’s not that they hate me. Maybe it’s that they hate something about their own lives. So what do people most hate in their lives?
Surely some mistake? People hate cats??? 🙂 I thought I’d do another search to see if kittens got such a tough time…
Wow! People don’t like kittens. Oh, hang on… I just noticed something. They hate their kids more. And in the previous one, they hate their children more. But, why would that be? Everything you see on Facebook is about how fulfilling and amazing it is to be a parent. Hatred doesn’t come into that, surely? And I can almost guarantee that the comments to this post will be full of patronising sentiment about how parenthood is the only truly great thing anyone ever does. So… Mother Theresa was clearly a waste of space. Jane Austen was unworthy.
Don’t get me wrong. I love kids. They’re awesome. What I don’t love is hypocrisy and hatred. Don’t dump your passive-aggressive crap on other people. You could say that I don’t know the joys of parenthood, not being a parent. Fair enough. That’s why I Googled it — to see what you guys REALLY think about it when you’re on your own. I’m sensing shenanigans.
Let’s put parenthood aside for a sec and say that I DO understand marriage – having been married. Here’s my thought on that: it’s hard. It’s a conspiracy. You don’t tell the world of every nuance of pain you feel in marriage because it’s disloyal. Married people coo to other married people about how amazing marriage is… much the same as parents coo to parents about how great parenthood is. Marriage has its good parts, but there’s a pretty big gap between the marketing for it and the reality of it. So, rather than me calling my haters out on it, I’ll ask Google again, and you can read for yourselves. This is how most people feel about their marriage, while they’re in it, according to Google…
What about relationships in general?
Maybe you could say that people only search for things they have a problem with, so let’s look at being single. Surely, if society is to be believed, being single is the worst thing ever. Let’s see what people are saying about that today…
Wow! The only negative one is the fourth. Imagine if it said that for being in a relationship, or for motherhood. That would be a great result. It would finally put an end to my conspiracy theory about what people say in public not mirroring what they feel in private. One last try for that…
And you wonder why I’m not dating yet?
So, next time you feel the need to talk down to me because I’m single and not a parent, remember that when you post pics of your mewling brats online, I don’t post pics like this on your wall, because that would be mean…
Do I Have Your Permission to Succeed?
I’m not asking for it. Here’s what I will do with my life: exactly whatever the heck I want. If you’re a woman, caged into a relationship or family situation that makes you believe that you need permission to succeed, and you’re not receiving that, then you have two choices. You can either grow up and become the best version of yourself that you can, without requiring anyone else’s permission; or you can compromise, live vicariously through your kids, and deal with the consequences of that when they fly the nest. You think they’ll thank you for smothering them or taking credit for all THEIR accomplishments? Look around you. How often do you see people online talking about how everything they’ve accomplished in life is down to their parents? Never happens. In fact, let’s look at what your little cherubs are putting into Google:
Dads are hated more than dogs, but daughters are getting a look in here too, in line with the previous research I did about how parents feel about their kids while nobody’s looking. Let’s see how mothers do by comparison, given that the predominant cultural understanding is that this is the role for which women are most celebrated. How do their children actually feel about it? Ready?
Yep. Every single one of those is a mother figure, and note how many more searches are performed based on that sentiment. So many more than for dads. Sad, isn’t it? But, if you put yourself for a second in the mind of the child, is it surprising? If, when you were a child, your mother had posted pictures of you in every possible state of embarrassment, onto websites over which you had no control, without your permission… wouldn’t you start to resent that as you grew up? Wouldn’t you be hurt that your mother had used you to define herself? Wouldn’t you resent the way that your every accomplishment had been narcissistically moulded into her own? The chances are that you wouldn’t see it as a cry for significance on her part, having failed to define herself, but as some kind of theft of your own identity. And if this hurts, don’t get mad at me. These are the facts. This is why I’ve gone to Google to do this research for you, because I knew you wouldn’t listen if I just told you this without the proof. I love kids so much, that it breaks my heart when I see this happening to them. I honestly feel that there will be a whole industry dedicated to the ‘child abuse’ dosed out by social media stage moms who lacked their own identities, and so used their children to manufacture a vicarious one. It’s just as sad that so many mothers feel compelled to act in this way, harbouring secret resentments for the children who are ‘holding them back’ from finding themselves. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can change this.
If, when you look back, you feel that you would have felt that resentment towards your mother as a child if she’d hogged your glory, or if you have ever taken to the ‘mommy boards’ to whine about your own parents, do you see that all this energy you’re putting into taking credit for the work of your offspring is just fuelling their fire to clarify that story with one of their own when they’re free of you? Don’t do this to people. It’s abusive. Your kids are people. Their accomplishments are theirs, just as much as your accomplishments are yours. You both have a right to be significant. My mum made some mistakes with me, but stealing my personal achievements was never one of them. She always knew who she was – as did her mother, and her mother – so nobody felt the need to live vicariously through anyone else. Self-actualisation’s not been a problem for the women in my family, so it does somewhat drive me up the freaking wall when I see it in other women. It’s such a waste of your unique life when you don’t actually share your own never-to-be-seen-again self with the world.
You are not your children or your marriage. You’re not your career either. You are you. Do you actually know who you are when all that other stuff is taken away? If not, you need to find out. Lashing out at women who genuinely know who they are will not empower you. It will simply play into the idea that your place is at the kitchen sink, and you are just a breeding machine. You’re not. You’re amazing. Be that.