So my mother said last night "Do you think that the problem with the underclass today is that women ruined it all when they started to behave like men".(16 Posts)
I got the RAGE! When i challenged her and said we are equal so what do you mean <gimlet stare> she back tracked into "I know, I know". Then refused to discuss it further. She is such an apologist for menz behaviour that it has driven a real wedge between us. She sees me as irritating upstart whose ideas on feminism are ruining our society. (When leaving my first husband she also said "Why, it's not like he beats you". No, mother, I just feel like i am dying inside and living a lie.
How do we challenge older people and explain the patriachy without being patronised?
How olds your mum ?
How on earth did 60/70s feminism pass her by?
I'm going to guess she's a Mail reader and living a fairly villagey, sheltered life ?
She is 67. And nearly always been a SAHM. Though she has divorced and is unhappily married now, even though 'she is making the best of it as she has no other choices'. Working would have been one.
She's lived all other the world and used to be very lively and worldly
probably a bit wild. She does have odd ideas as she ages though.
What does "behaving like men" mean anyway?
Surely it just means having the same opportunities as men, which is a good thing right?
Oh I love the "underclass" term too... Gracefully aging, you must be proud!
I'm not sure that you can, TBH, especially if she's a Daily Mail reader .
I think if you're lucky you can soften them up by setting a good example of how you live your life- I'm a single mum on benefits, and I've definitely noticed my parents' comments on this kind of thing get a lot more enlightened over the years, as they've come to realise that one of "those people" is actually their daughter.
But my dad still comes out with some breathtaking comments sometimes- some of the stuff he's come out with re: Rolf Harris/ Jimmy Savile is pretty . I think this reflects his general attitude towards women, and goes some way towards explaining why I've always had problems maintaining healthy relationships- and why, although we can relate perfectly civilly, I don't feel particularly close to him.
fox: first, I understand your anger and sympathise. You are entitled to be enraged.
However, I am older than your mother. I do not think like that. My friends who are contemporaries do not think like that. We were the vanguard of 50s/60s/70s feminism.
So please stop it with the ageism. It's as bad as sexism. Some of us old biddies are even enraged when we see the wimpy non feminism of women young enough to be our grandchildren.
If someone is being twatish it is because they are being a twat, not because they are older. Old people can be twats, middle aged people can be twats. Young people can be twats. Men can be twats, women can be twats. So put it down to twattery, not age.
You explain your ideas about the patriarchy to older people just as you would to anyone else. My bet is you could find a lot of people of your own generation who don't get it either.
I still sympathise with your rage though
Listening to my parents is like listening to the Daily Fucking Mail, which I have told them. They really thanked me for my insight ha ha
If you don't like how women of the underclass are behaving Foxy's mum, why are you blaming the women? And not the underness of their class or the poor standards the men are setting them?
My mum is with your mum really. She thinks it a disgrace that women could be promiscuous etc. And that it is feminist's ultimate goal to have women behaving as badly as men. Like I said, Daily Fucking Mail
I totally get why you get the rage, but could you try another tack?
Bursting out into spontaneous laughter is a good one if you can manage it, though trickier when it isn't actually a surprise to hear this kind of stuff.
Or frowning and asking her to explain exactly what she means by 'behaving like men', or 'the underclass' or whatever. Until she ties herself in knots because I doubt she's so much thinking about the issue as parroting headlines.
You could probably get her to agree with you on all sorts of things before she even realises how inconsistent she's being.
I think what your mother said is quite fascinating on all sorts of levels.
I would want to know the answers to three questions.
1) What is this "it" that women have ruined?
2) When did they ruin it? There appears to be a chronology date element to your mother's comment: 'the problem .. today', and I think it is important to define the chronological parameters of "today".
3) And what is "behaving like men"? How do we identify it?
The most interesting aspect, of course, is the "behaving like men", which begs the primary question: how do men behave? Until you and your mother can agree on a set of actions that describe men's behaviour, you don't have a set of values to apply to women's behaviour in order to identify it as "men's behaviour."
However, to use a bit of media and popular culture short-hand, "behaving like men" appears to mean the following: getting drunk, being aggressive, being sexually assertive, working (particularly when a woman has a family).
Now regardless of whether you can describe this as co-opted "men's behaviour" (which is an enormous debate in itself), I think it is quicker to allow the chronological aspect of your mother's comment to come into play -- because this "male" behaviour has ruined something in, what seems to be, the recent past. So I think it is fair to suggest that the ruination of the something has occurred in the last 100 years.
And, immediately, we run into a problem because women have been getting drunk, being aggressive, being sexually assertive, working (particularly when they have a family) in these isles for time immemorial.
Britain has seen centuries of almost constant intoxication amongst women of all classes (fermented drinks, Gin Lane, laudanum grains, Valium), episodes of public aggression (the mill moll urban riots in 19th century Manchester), and centuries of mothers working in mills, factories, shops, down mines and on farms with either their children working alongside them or left at home with another child. Indeed, in the medieval period, women were seen as the sexual rapacious sex (the Wife of Bath was not an outlier at the time), and that perspective only started to change in the late 18th century.
So if women behaving in this way ruins something, that something must have been ruined for centuries -- so it cannot be the source of the recently-ruined "it" that your mother mentions.
Hand on heart, I wouldn't be so harsh on your mother. She has been infected with a meme that I call "Peter Hitchenism": the belief that every women, prior to about 1970, lived in a kind of "angel in the house" haze and none of them went out to work.
There has always been an underclass. Women have always worked. There have always been women who are drinkers and fighters. If women ever do start murdering, raping, punching, verbally abusing, warring and torturing 'just like men' then I will agree that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
One breakfast when I was living at my MIL/FILs the conversation turned to houseprices, and how a major part of the fault was women going out to work.
I countered that forcefully subjugating 50% of the population to get cheaper houses probably wasn't the solution. DP luckily stepped in at this point and moved it around to the idea that it was the banks allowing 2 salary mortgages rather than the women that was the problem and I just got a bit of a look from MIL (who is lovely... but we sometimes find we have very different expectations and opinions)
And yet....men really ARE the cause of so much that is wrong in society and within families, yet who calls them out on it? Are people just BLIND to that? Or afraid to say it? Sick of women being blamed for everything in the world!!
I guess a slightly different approach might be to consider the implications of "behaving like a man" being a bad thing. Regardless of whether it is or not, she appears to be casting women in the role of guardians of proper behaviour (or at least as the gold-standard for proper behaviour), which is just assigning the rights to men and the responsibilities to women.
Thank you for all your considered responses. I really like the suggestion of breaking down her statements and questioning her on each section.
Though I suspect that she will just 'know' that I am wrong and I am confusing her deliberately.
And I apologise for the implied ageism. You are right, that is not a variable in being a misguided fool.
Join the discussion
Please login first.