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Caretaking and "Women's Roles"

Old 05-10-2011, 04:32 PM
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Caretaking and "Women's Roles"

jds0401 gave me permission to user her post and make this its own thread for discussion. From the comments:

...I'm in the United States...the supposed "advanced" society..how sad is that? In the US a woman's societal place is all about looks until she's about 40 and then its' about being a mom, married with kids.....and the double standard is HORRIBLE....a man with no kids at all is a "distinguished career minded bachelor" while a woman with no kids is a "failure" or "has something wrong with her".

Sorry for the hijack! I do think it has some relevance on the thread though...I think the double standard also tells women it is their role to be a "caretaker" for their men and put the "man" first (people may say that's not the case but the underlying societal stigma IMHO is still around), which can be a problem when codependency arises.
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Old 05-10-2011, 04:53 PM
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On this topic I highly recommend "The Handmaid's tale" by Margaret Atwood... excellent book!!

Women take care of everybody.... who takes care of them?
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:11 PM
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LOOOOOOOOOOVE "A Handmaid's Tale".

I requested to bring this to another thread because it's something I'm struggling with with my family. My FIL, for example, completely doesn't understand the purpose of setting boundaries (FIL and MIL and SIL are basically boundary-free, and it's some sick ****), and 1) loves to lecture my AH like giving him a good talking-to will help the recovery process, and 2) pushes me to "realize" that my boundaries are "too harsh" for my AH to handle. My mom is on the other side telling me that I must do whatever is possible to keep the family together to raise these kids, even if my AH were to bathe in booze.

My FIL is very overbearing so I've been trying to urge them to, if they're so interested in AH's recovery, do a little research? Crack a book about it? Google it? But that side of the family are partiers who treat AH like a party-pooper who just took things too far and needs to get over it. On the other hand, I keep telling my mom that I need to prepare myself for the very real possibility that I could be a single parent again.

But on both sides, the parents are urging me to do the heavy-lifting, and it very much feels gendered, what with comments about "how men are" and my "job as the wife". There are some days when I just want to shake all of them for how ignorant it all is, both regarding recovery AND regarding the idea that all the emotional work in a relationship is the woman's duty.
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:22 PM
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IMO women have choices, some choose not to make them and go with the flow. The house with a white picket fence, the hubby and the children. For many women it is the dream, the only dream and must be held in tact no matter what. To me, the double standard is acceptable and encouraged by many women.

Me, yes, I married, yet I never had any children, by choice. I could not serve two masters and I wanted a career, one where I went head to head with men. I have no regrets, being a mother and a caretaker by night while trying to get my career on track was not my venue.

I never accepted the double standard, it was my choice to think outside of the box. Social stigma has no influence on me.

With that said, I applaud the mothers, the caretakers, nurses and so forth...I could never do their job(s).

There is plenty of room in society for all of us, we must carve out our nitch and find happiness within ourselves.

Just my two cents!
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dollydo View Post
IMO women have choices, some choose not to make them and go with the flow. The house with a white picket fence, the hubby and the children. For many women it is the dream, the only dream and must be held in tact no matter what. To me, the double standard is acceptable and encouraged by many women.

Me, yes, I married, yet I never had any children, by choice. I could not serve two masters and I wanted a career, one where I went head to head with men. I have no regrets, being a mother and a caretaker by night while trying to get my career on track was not my venue.

I never accepted the double standard, it was my choice to think outside of the box. Social stigma has no influence on me.

With that said, I applaud the mothers, the caretakers, nurses and so forth...I could never do their job(s).

There is plenty of room in society for all of us, we must carve out our nitch and find happiness within ourselves.

Just my two cents!
I'm with Dolly on this one. Double standard is only there is one chooses to accept it as their own personal cross to bear.

And I don't think it has anything to do with being "advanced" or not...western civilization has long held a patriarchal mindset. And I am so glad we've come as far as we have over the centuries. If it was 50 - 75 years ago...we women here wouldn't be having these conversations nor the freedoms to seek a better life than the one we've got now.

I am grateful for that.

Last edited by Tuffgirl; 05-10-2011 at 05:42 PM. Reason: typo!
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:49 PM
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Double standard is only there is one chooses to accept it as their own personal cross to bear.
Totally agree, but you can bet that some people will look at you sideways for not "knowing your place."
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:54 PM
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you can bet that some people will look at you sideways for not "knowing your place."
That'll always be the case, regardless of what you do or don't do.
Like someone here said -- what other people think of you is really none of your business.
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:20 PM
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I'm 49 years old, never married, a self-employed decorative artist who used to have a big marketing job in the entertainment industry. It's been my choice not to marry (yet, if ever) and I'm THRILLED that women today have the choice to do what best suits them. That said...there is however sill a lot of misogyny that is alive and well. I personally experienced again just last week.

A many who owns an upholstery company approached me four months ago to rep his company on a part-time basis in the area where I live. Cool, it would bring in some extra money and was a good fit with my business. After putting me off over and over, I asked if we're moving forward because if not i have other avenues to pursue. His response was, "Why don't you just go get married?" Excuse me???

I don't define myself by what other people say or think of me, but that was just an inappropriate response on his part and he never would have said the equivalent to a man in business. It happens. More than I'd like to believe. Do I wish it didn't? Heck ya. It serves no purpose and doesn't really benefit anybody...men OR women.

Just my 2 cents. I'm now off to slay a dragon.
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Old 05-10-2011, 07:55 PM
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Gah, yes! this one troubles me a lot! I'm of a time and place where girls were told to 'be nice'. At all costs. One book that really helped me was 'Getting in Touch with Your Inner Bitch'.... it's a kind of tongue-in-cheek self-help book. I learned to say 'I don't think so', since my early training made it impossible for me to say 'no'. My life started to turn around then.
But - I left my ABF, and friends invited him over for dinner. He's a gourmet chef with all the equipment, and I moved to a small, ill-equipped apartment miles from a store with no car. But he's seen as both the injured party and helpless, neither of which is true.

Today, a new associate who's doing work for our software company said 'you look good in pink' during a small meeting. What the heck?!?! It was a woman, and we'd just met. If it was a man, I'd assume he was trying to 'put me in my place' (I'm the lead tech). But a woman? was she trying to pick me up? My secretary just kind of rolled his eyes.

(as an aside: I can't watch TV, because I mentally switch the genders... try it sometime! You'll watch less TV, I promise, LOL!)

- Sylvie
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:22 AM
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I've been reflecting on this a bit lately myself, maybe because it was Mother's Day...

My Mom made made sure I got a college education, she encouraged me to pursue my chosen profession..... and she accepted my decision to put it on hold for awhile and get married and have babies. How hard that must have been for her to accept my decision without judgement, but then to wholly support me both emotionally and financially when I finished my degree. She has been a champion by almost demanding that all of her kids leave the nest and experience life and find their passion.

By her example however, she showed me that a woman's role is a stay-at-home mom, always putting the man first. Even between the girls and boy in the family, the boy (my brother's) needs always came first.

Subconsciously I took the route she showed me first.... get married, put the man first. It was what she taught me by her actions, not because I felt pressure from her or society to to it.

I hope that I am being a role-model for my daughter that takes away some of that subconscious pressure that her identity and worth only comes from being married.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by nowinsituation View Post
By her example however, she showed me that a woman's role is a stay-at-home mom, always putting the man first. Even between the girls and boy in the family, the boy (my brother's) needs always came first.
This is how it was in my family, too. Males were always more important than females. Nobody came right out and announced it, but it was obvious. My sister and I were "the girls," but my brother had a name.

When I came of age, I rebelled against that. If anyone would have asked me whether I agreed with my mother's values regarding gender roles, my answer would have been "Oh, hell no!" I believed I had well and truly overcome that conditioning.

Only after I got into recovery and therapy did I realize how much growing up that way had effected me. It's like I consciously rejected all that was role-modeled to me as a child, but it still attached itself to my subconscious. So, while I was busy being independent, equal, and competent on the outside, my insides were giving me conflicting information.

I believe it has more to do with role-modeling than societal pressure, but the combination of both can be very influential on a young, developing psyche. People who have good role-models probably aren't as effected by the societal pressures. This is one of the primary reasons I had to get out of my marriage. I didn't want my daughter to end up like me.

L
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Old 05-11-2011, 11:37 AM
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I do think our culture still has different expectations from women than from men, though. My daughter's teacher (male) even said that "she would not have gotten so familiar with the principal's office if she had been a boy" -- meaning that her behavior (full frontal verbal assault instead of catty backbiting gossip) would have been acceptable from a boy, but because it came from a girl, female teachers considered it "a serious problem"...

Also, because my teenage son has been your ultimate codie, always a helpful hand and a shoulder to cry on -- people assume he's gay. (Which I find fascinating. He says he's everything the American culture says gay men should be, except that he's attracted to women. And hates Celine Dion.)

I also think the US is a big enough country that ethnic, cultural, and regional differences in this area are HUGE, and that even between neighbors on the same street, you'll find different gender expectations.

I was raised to take care of and support myself and to never ever expect anything from a man. And I still ended up married to an A.
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
I was raised to take care of and support myself and to never ever expect anything from a man. And I still ended up married to an A.
I hear ya. And, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to blame my life choices on my mother, or society. I know they were my choices, and I take full responsibility for that.

I'm just fascinated to discover some of the feelings I had that made it hard to leave were probably ingrained in me as beliefs at a very young age.

Stuff like feeling it was "my job" to make the marriage work and failure to do so was, well......failure. I never believed that intellectually, but man did it ever knock me down emotionally.

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Old 05-11-2011, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
Stuff like feeling it was "my job" to make the marriage work and failure to do so was, well......failure. I never believed that intellectually, but man did it ever knock me down emotionally.
Yes, this. Part of what I'm struggling with today is that I'm being pushed on all sides to nurse and nurture my AH's recovery, when what I've been educated to do is let him swim or drown on his own. It's that I'm a "bad wife" for having boundaries for people outside the recovery community that is weighing on me, especially since we have such close contact with the elderly, well-meaning but judgmental in-laws.
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:33 PM
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My mother never accepted my career. She always tried to push me into nursing or pharmacy, because "They'll be flexible, so you can raise a family." Also, with one of her family friends the roles are reversed - the wife works all day as a doctor, while the husband stays home with the kids and has his own private psychology practice - and my mother always viewed that as unhealthy, as if the wife is forcing him to stay home and he's losing his masculinity because of it.

That said, I hold up very well in my job, and while I'll confess my manager is rather jumpy around me sometimes (one of my coworkers told me a funny story of being pulled aside after a meeting we both attended, because he used a swear word in the meeting, and my manager was afraid I'd complain to HR or some such nonsense), I don't feel like I'm treated differently. (My manager's cool, btw. We talked about the swearword thing, I told him I hadn't even noticed, and that if I had an issue I wouldn't think of going to HR without talking to him first.)
The few people who don't know me and try to throw blame my way, thinking I'll be an easy scapegoat, quickly learn that I'll wrap it up nicely, put a bow on it, and politely hand it back, adding their manager in the Cc: line.

My personal life needs some work, due to what I was taught about female roles growing up, but my career is doing great, so I know I'm on the right track.
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:33 PM
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Florence,
Have you talked to your therapist about this? Mine was invaluable in helping me sift through the emotions, which were tied to faulty beliefs, which I could then work on letting go.

L
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:26 PM
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I'm enjoying this thread. Maybe I'm different because I was raised by a feminist single mother, but AW and I never got wrapped up in this. I do what I'm willing and able to do around the house and she does the same. Some of those things are consistent with stereotypical roles (I fix things, take out the garbage, and take care of the cars, she cooks and cleans the bathroom), and others are not (I do laundry and clean the kitchen, and until she began drinking she did the finances).

That said, when she relapsed recently she decided to do my laundry for me. Guilt laundry. Good God. I prefer sober and doing my own laundry.

Cyranoak
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:47 PM
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Subthread in this conversation: caretaking and women's roles are somehow 'weaker' and 'less than'?

Not at all.

I am surrounded by highly successful and motivated women/ moms/ wives. So I am missing the point here as well I guess. The real problem Ive encountered in my career, education, has been the inflexibility to help mothers accomodate having families.

And some of the most rigid, unsympathetic bosses I have had were women. Which always struck me as interesting. It was almost like 'I had to sacrifice, so should you.'

The mistake is assuming that a 'man's role' is somehow better? Both have limitations and there is no perfect society. Children still need to be taken care of, the elderly, the ill , etc. I think anyone who wants to do those things personally or professionally has the hardest job that needs the most respect.

We don't value those roles ENOUGH is the problem to me. I work in education (a field dominated by women) and I can tell you that if it were a male dominant field, I'd be making far more money.

So it isn't just about roles as it is about how we view women in general as a society, regardless of the choices women make in their lives.

I've never felt pressure to have a family or be a mom. Having a career actually came easier to me, being a stay at home mom drove me nuts so he stayed home and I went back to work.

The grass isn't always greener though. I still try to be there for teacher conferences etc not because I feel pressure but because his dad is a knucklehead and if it is gonna be done right, it better be done by a woman!

roar.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
This is how it was in my family, too. Males were always more important than females. Nobody came right out and announced it, but it was obvious. My sister and I were "the girls," but my brother had a name.
Humongous Disclaimer!! Take what you like and leave the rest!! Pet soapbox topic of BuffaloGal's!

It wasn't this way in my family, which I thank God for. I was raised by my dad after my mother died-- and I would give anything for that not to have happened, and yet, because of it, I didn't have the chance to learn what I began calling "feminine bulls**t" in my teens. My dad never treated me the least bit like a second class child nor cut me any slack because I was a girl (and the only child at that). He made me learn to cook. He also made me learn to change a tire, and he treated both chores the same.

Funny, I was considering this topic this morning: I think females tend to base their sense of self on their relationship a good bit more than males do, in general. But I was never taught to do that. It never occurred to me that I should tolerate my aexh's peculiarities simply because we were married... and my unwillingness to shut up and take it was the catalyst for the end of the cohabitating portion of our marriage. A psychiatrist said to me during that period, referring to my anger at the damage caused by his alcohol and pornography abuse: "Can't you just love him unconditionally?" I replied: "I do love him unconditionally. But I won't live with him unconditionally."

Now, can you see that conversation happening with a male client? I have a hard time picturing it.

So looking from the outside... and I was raised on the outside of the general current American culture this way... lord, yes, females do get trained to be nice and smooth over and take care and definitely do the heavy lifting, emotionally. I'm sorry to say that I think that marriage as an institution would probably go belly up if women didn't largely subconsciously believe that it was their job to keep it going. Would most men you know make all those adjustments for another person? Generally, do they compromise their standards for true luuurrrrrvve? It doesn't look like it to me, for the most part (yes, there are exceptions, I've seen a few. But in general. In general.) Males are taught to value themselves, which is a good thing. We can take a lesson about how to treat our daughters from that.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:51 PM
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I guess I must have missed the point here, too. For me, I was relating how society's stereotypes and my own families role-modeling effected me on a personal level, which I wasn't even entirely aware of pre-recovery.

I didn't think it was about who does what around the house or out in the workplace at all. I guess we all have different takes on this topic.

Edit to add: I agree with BG we should teach our daughters to value themselves. And that starts with role-modeling to them how WE value OURSELVES.

L
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