How do you deal with those you truly love, being sexist?(19 Posts)
I ponder this a lot. It bothers me, upsets me, winds me up terribly. I hope others can relate?
I love my mum. She's wonderful. She's kind, selfless, living, giving. She'd honestly throw herself under a bus for me or either of my sisters. But she's so so ingrained in her ways and they are all sexist.
She laughs at my partner because he does all the cooking. She won't buy my nephews clothes if they are pink or purple because boys don't wear that colour. She's told me off for letting my 11.6 daughter go as 'little dead riding hood' to Halloween do because it's 'slaggy'. She laughs at me if I say she's wrong for not getting my nephew the props pig set he wants for his birthday (props is for girls), she relentlessly hints at me about having another baby despite knowing I just do not want anymore kids (have one). I could go on.
By now, I imagine people are thinking ugh, cut contact, vile, etc. If everything I've said was all she was, I'd agree. Yet it's a tiny part.
How can you reconcile all THAT with feeling so feminist about everything every day that it hurts!
I guess you just have to feel a bit sad for her that she hasn't been able to escape the indoctrination, but remind yourself that things change, and you can shape that with your own children. I do sympathise though.
I know it's a horrible thing to say, but she has got worse the last couple of years.
She was sexually attacked as a young teen in the late 50s, and blamed for it, so I feel that an enormous amount of her vitriolic feeling comes from that. A part of me still thinks, surely that would push you the other way though?
and instantly that's me blaming her isn't it. God it's so entrenched this fucking patriarchial BS.
At this point, with my mum being 92 and having dementia, I just grin and bear it. She's a product of her generation. Surprisingly enough, she and Dad had a pretty equal relationship as far as finances and decision-making went. But still very traditional as far as running the home went (Mum=housework, Dad=yardwork & DIY). Today (a good day for her, she was pretty alert!) she told me I should be 'happy and thankful' that my DH is 'taking' me to Florida. She also said how nice it was that he 'lets' me go on holidays with my girlfriends. I just smile and agree. A few years ago I would have laughed and said that WE were going to Florida, no one was 'taking' anyone anywhere and that DH doesn't 'let' me go anywhere and that I don't have to ask permission. But now, I just let it go.
You can't change them, really. As the saying goes; 'Never try to teach a pig to sing. It just wastes your time and annoys the pig'. In the long run, our mothers don't shape public policy, influence important people, or have a public following so their archaic attitude isn't going to impact anything. Now if your mother is an MP or a celebrity, my advice would be different.
The main thing to remember is to be sure that your child understands that Gran has some outdated ideas and that 'we know better now and don't think that way'. My grown sons have turned out fine, without a bunch of crap ideas, even after hearing some of Mum's 'that's women's work' and 'someday your wives will do that' type statements. Although she did buy each of them a baby doll when they were toddlers so they would be 'good daddies' someday.
This reminds me of the clanger my DM came out with when I told my parents that we were expecting a girl:
'Oh so you're having a little housekeeper!' Barf.
They have form for this kind of thing. My father congratulated us after the birth of DS, saying 'great news, and that he's a boy especially'. Growing up they very much favored my brother over the 3 of us girls and pushed him to achieve. He is an unemployed loser now, however, while I have gone on to do exceptionally well academically and had a good career up until I took a break to have my DC.
I thought I had got over their sexist mindset and broken free of it but having my DC brought it all flooding back. That comment from my mother about soon-to-be-born DD being a 'housekeeper' just made my blood boil. I couldn't decide if she was deliberately winding me up (it's a family 'joke' that I'm such a feminist, har har) or just being obtuse. Either way, things like that make me want to keep my distance from them and be glad they live 1,000s of miles away from me and from influencing my DC (we live abroad).
May I defend my generation by saying that these sentiments are not always a generation thing. I am in my 70s, DH also in his 70s was a 'new man' before new men were invented.
I have seen sometimes comments on other topics on MN over the years that are clearly from younger women - 30s, 40s etc. who sound to me as if they have emerged from the ark and whose ideas would have been outdated to me if I had heard them expressed in the 1970s.
Some people are born middle aged and some elderly people have managed to adapt to changes and remain 'young' long after the wrinkles have settled in.
I think I adapted pretty well but it can be hard. For example, I find it difficult to understand why some young people have to be surgically removed from their iPhones or think it is riveting to put on Facebook what they had for breakfast. I can't get my head round it at all.
But I would, I agree, be equally incensed about sexist comments OP. The only advice I can give is to balance the good things about her with the daft things she says. If the good things outweigh the daft then count up to 10 and breath when she comes out with some archaic comment. Or take the mickey.
Oh dear But, this is a common problem isn't it? There are two ways of looking at this that might be helpful. One is that there are still people in society that genuinely believe that men and women have different roles within society - it's worth remembering btw that previous generations were far less individualistic than we are now. I think that it's possible for someone to believe that without being a vile, evil misogynist. Your Mum proves this.
Also, given that those beliefs are more common amongst older generations (with full agreement of what Grimbletart said above, though) it demonstrates that society has moved from there.
As I said, this may be helpful or not, but if every time your Mum says something you don't agree with, could you not take some satisfaction that you, the next generation, don't have that same mindset? Also, your daughter will live in a world that progresses even from there, maybe!
I'd go with the old toddler/teenage mantra of "Pick your battles" and just decide to ignore the things that are less irritating/damaging.
So - challenge her if she laughs at or otherwise puts people down for their choices, specially in front of children, because they need to see that sort of crap being challenged and not just accepted.
But, if she chooses not to buy 'girlish' clothes or presents for children, that's not going to affect them very much if their parents are buying them a wider range of thinsg and showing that it's not wrong to wear pink or play with peppa pig toys, so there's not much point in having that argument.
If she says 'Oh you can't play with that, you're a boy', then thats the time to challenge it, not when she tells you that she wouldn't buy that.
Dps parents say a lot of sexist stuff. A lot. If I can challenge it in a lighthearted way I do, but never if it would cause any friction. There's a lot of inward seething from me.
My dm has also started sprouting the odd bit of sexist nonsense (little boys are more loving than girls you know. - thanks mum ).
I do worry about my dd hearing it as she gets older. I'm hoping she'll be more influenced by me than her grandparents.
My dad can be like this...I argue hard when he is but we don't talk about that stuff often.
I just close the conversation at the point of the sexist comment (while being careful to say nothing that could reinforce what they have just said),and move on.
I hope that enough comes up in the course of my actions and conversation to show that my views differ (and perhaps even get them thinking..)
I think to challenge them provokes a defensive response and you'll get nowhere fast -but a few well placed comments and expressions of opinion can gradually turn the tide.
Its a marathon not a sprint, at best, and I will always take a challenge of my opinions as an opportunity to explain my pov.
Comment every time. Because that's ridiculous. Agree with grinbletart that isn't even a generational thing that we should ignore (how patronizing..oh they're only old and their views don't matter!)
My nana is 70 a feminist, will call out anyone on racism, homophobia, being disablist. There have always been sexist/racist horrible people out there (still are! I also agree some of the worst seem to be in there 20s for reasons I can't fathom). We can't let people off the hook because they are old (that would be ageist )
Do you challenge her on those things OP or do you quietly seethe? If you challenge her on those things or would it lead to bad feeling or arguments? My view would be that to be true to yourself it's probably important to voice your disagreement in a respectful way but not to hold out any hope that she'll change her views. It sounds like you and her have a loving relationship and that there's lots of aspects of your mum's personality and behaviour that you admire and can identify with so you've got a solid base to build from. It's very rare to have anyone in your life who you don't have some ambivalent feelings about or some disagreements with so I'd try and think how you reconcile differences in those relationships and see if you can apply any of that to your relationship with your mum. The maternal relationship is so often idealised that I think it can be easy to fall into a trap of holding mums to a higher standard than others leading to unhappiness in those relationships.
good question. my dad is not a misogynist because he likes women and is quite 'courteous' all the time iykwim but he is sexist. his default assumption is still that a woman is somebody's assistant and the boss will be along in a minute, or that a woman in an expensive car has a wealthy husband. I mean, he might be rigt some of the time, but it's his SHOCK when he's wrong that frustrates, me, and he's regularly wrong, but shocked every time. argh
ps, my mum never gets it. never backs me up about any of the things I get angry about. she married a man who has always treated HER well at about 23 and I think she blames women for women's problems that have never affected her.
PS, I don't feel sad for my mother Bof, the issues that hold women back have never affected my mother personally. I guess she's a Mary Berry! Utterly convinced that she is right, and that if other women have troubles that they are somehow of their own making or that they should just stop fighting and roll with things the way they are NOW.
Feminists are made not born some say and my mother has never been 'made' as her husband (my father) can compromise and their finances are shared and she is treated with respect. So it's a lack of empathy I think. Although she wouldn't accept that.
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