Saturday, October 22, 2016

Musings on women and resilience

At school we sometimes have to do risk assessments for student activities. I was discussing one with a female colleague and I was surprised at how differently we assessed risk factors.

For instance, one activity involved a museum guide talking to a small group of students with three teachers present. I assessed this as low risk, my female colleague as high risk. I asked her what could possibly go wrong. She answered that the museum guide might say something that offended the students and hurt their feelings. She said that if it were my child I would not want this to happen.

This led to a discussion in which I tried to explain how important it has been in my life that I was expected at school to be resilient. The strengths I learned back then have served me well. But my female colleague wasn't at all impressed by this and said that I was the exception and that it was essential that nobody ever had their feelings hurt.

This led me to the thought that there are women who don't really understand the strengths that men need to cultivate to do well in the world. But why wouldn't they understand this?

The political answer might be that women have been raised, first, to think in gender neutral terms and so might assume that the lives of men and women are the same. They have also been raised to think that men are a privileged oppressor class, who, presumably, are thought to have it easier than women and so are less in need of resilience.

But I'm not sure that the political answer is really the decisive one. The thought occurred to me that a woman can grow up with the expectation that she will be looked after and cared for in her adult life. Not all women might take this option, but it is there. If needs be, she might find a man who will seek to protect her and keep her from excessive difficulties and hardships in life.

Adult men don't have this option and so don't even think about it. It is not usually on a man's horizon. For us, it is a competition to prove ourselves. So perhaps that goes some way to explaining why a woman might not be focused on developing resilience in boys - she might assume that men have the same support options as women do. (Or maybe it just has something to do with the maternal instinct being different from the paternal one.)

Anyway, this led on to some other thoughts. First, the disparity has grown more rather than less under feminism. Yes, there are some women who are independent careerists and who don't look to men for support. But at the same time women no longer nurture men domestically as they once did. No more coming home to a cooked dinner and a clean house and a smile - men are now expected to do the domestic things for themselves. So in a way it has become more one-sided now, with men often still expected to protect and take care of their wives, but not to expect to receive domestic support or comfort in return.

I should say at this point that most younger men probably prefer women to show at least a little vulnerability and need. I think that when I was 25 I would have been left cold by a woman who was totally independent and without any need of masculine support. But at the same time it's possible for a woman to take being looked after too far. I have known women who translated any difficulty or hardship in their life as "the man has failed to support me" - even if the difficulty was something outside of the man's control. There is a balance here in which a woman is ideally willing to accept a man's support but also sees herself as capable of doing her part to work through life's inevitable difficulties.

10 comments:

  1. These wimmin are crazy and reality is going to really hurt when it hits them as it surely will.

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  2. "She answered that the museum guide might say something that offended the students and hurt their feelings."

    The same holds true in school. So students can never go to school because a teacher might say something that offended the students and hurt their feelings. All teachers should resign immediately and all students should be home-schooled.

    "why a woman might not be focused on developing resilience in boys - she might assume that men have the same support options as women do."

    No, it is pure solipsism. Women simply don't care about men or boys except to the extent that men/boys provide resources to women. Women believe they have no obligation to provide anything to men.

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    1. She would possibly half agree with your first point (the dangers of teachers themselves saying something to offend students) but would respond with all sorts of measures including teachers signing codes of conduct and so on - expect more of this kind of thing.

      As for your second point, I agree that solipsism exists but in her mind she would have seen herself as doing the right thing by boys, she just doesn't get how important resilience will be in the life of these boys when they get to adulthood. There is a gap in her understanding. I think female teachers generally do care about the boys they teach (you almost have to in order to stay in the field as you pour so much work and effort into trying to teach the boys/girls in your care). I think the solipsism is more in thinking that the way a boy might react to an adult male urging them toward resilience is the same way a girl would react. She can't get out of her own headspace to observe boys being different.

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    2. So students can never go to school because a teacher might say something that offended the students and hurt their feelings. All teachers should resign immediately and all students should be home-schooled.

      I hope she also understands that it's vital to ensure that children are not exposed to television or movies since they might hear something that hurts their feelings. And obviously they must not be exposed to the internet.

      Clearly they must also be kept away from books. It's probably best not to teach them to read. Reading can be very bad for self-esteem.

      Family gatherings are out of the question. It's equally important to ensure that your child never has contact with other children. In fact I'm not sure they should even be allowed to have contact with their parents.

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    3. Well, if the museum visit is high risk, then why not a family gathering? Maybe uncles and aunts will end up signing codes of conduct as legal documents.

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    4. Maybe uncles and aunts will end up signing codes of conduct as legal documents.

      You may joke but I can see that happening. Actually one of the frightening things I can see happening is codes of conduct for parents.

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    5. I think the teacher knows that all teachers have been indoctrinated in how to avoid hurting the feelings of students, but a museum guide has not. Unconsciously, she has learned to distrust all outsiders to the school system.

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    6. Clark Coleman, true that she may have been thinking along these lines but in reality a teacher is more likely to banter in a humorously offensive way with a student than a museum guide would.

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  3. Has your dizzy-headed colleague never reflected on how teenage girls treat each other?

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    1. Good point. The much greater likelihood is that a teenage girl will become upset by the words of one of her own peers.

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