Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Child Rearing Techniques of the 80's: The Aftermath and the Male Privilege Cookie

You're remarkable, you really are
You're the only one like you!
The world is better just because you're here!
You should know that we love you!
'Cause you are special, special,
Everyone is special!
Everyone in his or her own way!


While this Barney song wasn't around while we were growing up (Hey, I babysat a lot, give me a break! I had to watch a lot of that crap), the attitude definitely was. It's probably even worse now- I've heard they changed the lyrics of "Frere Jacques" to "I am special, I am special, Look at me! Look at me!" in Nursery Schools across the country. Parents were/are told that they have to constantly remind their kids that they are special in and of themselves without them actually doing anything. I've always felt that was pretty retarded (as I tended to be on the "existence precedes essence" side of things, even before I knew what it was)- but I'm even more annoyed with it now, as an adult.

See, I think it affected men more. Women my age were raised with that idea, but at the same time were told "You have to be ten times better to be considered half as good (as a man)" along with a lot of ideas about sisterhood- and I think that those things sort of counterbalanced the "You are special" doctrine in a lot of ways. I also think that, as a "minority," things were a bit tougher for us, which helped us build character.

See- the thing is- you've got these guys who were told they were special, precious, snowflakes. And they've got this world to deal with where there used to be this cookie of male privilege, which is being "taken away" by women who believe they should have equal rights, equal access, and equal pay. I think that this, on many levels, means that misogyny is even more poisonous than it was prior to women's liberation. And it's not necessarily that on a cognitive level that they disagree with this idea. Not most of them anyhow. But every so often you get these wafts of bitterness.

1) "It's NOT FAIR that women sometimes get free drinks by guys who are trying to get into their pants! I think *I* should get free drinks!" (such a SWEET deal, huh? We've totally got it made!)
2) "Since women are equal to men now, I think I should be able to hit a woman like I would a man."
3) "I don't see why I should have to put in any effort at all to attract a woman. It's NOT FAIR! Supermodels should just jump in my lap because they see that I am a special, precious snowflake and love me for me, and not care that I pick my nose, or that I never want to go anywhere, or that I don't have much to say." (not that they actually say this, but it's often implied.)
4) "It's NOT FAIR that women have an easier time getting laid than I do!"
5) Straight white men are the new minority! Why is it ok to hate us? (We don't hate you, we hate your privilege.)

With some exceptions (my very first straight male friend- Luke, my gays, pretty much all of the guys I know who are over 32, and a few others), I trust my female friends more than the men I know. There is more of a comradery, and you don't have any of that underlying bitterness to deal with. I know that they care if I'm safe, and I care if they are. It's a certain awareness we have, especially since, as women, we are obviously more prone to being attacked or raped. We make sure everyone has a ride, or gets into a cab at the end of the night. If I'm staying over someplace else, I let Jen know. I think maybe it's hard for men to understand that whole rigamarole, because it's not something they have to deal with? I don't know. I trust my girlfriends to have my back and stand up for me- while, honestly, most guys are a little wimpy in this area. They never get that it's not about "I need a man's protection"- but about "If I'm dating you, or if we're friends, it would be swell if you cared whether I live or die, or had my back once in a while."

(To sum up: My expectations of men are the same as my expectations of women. Unless I'm dating you, in which case there are obvious exceptions that really don't apply- that and I expect that you buy me dinner. Why? Because there's still a wage gap.)

I think it's just this... supreme self-centeredness that prevents them from seeing that. I think that sort of "sensitivity" is a lot more worthwhile than the kind where you cry all the time. I have to say- a pretty important issue for me and a lot of other girls I know is the "I've got bigger balls than any guy I know" problem. There's just not a lot of character or chutzpah going around, it seems. (Oh, also- I'm not saying *all* women are like this, just more of them than there are men, and I have an eye for finding them)

One really big thing I notice, is that almost every guy I meet freely talks shit about his mother. It's totally bizarre and offensive to me- and on a very real level, very misogynistic. I mean, extenuating circumstances aside, I do think that if a guy treats the woman who gave birth to and raised him like shit- you can get a pretty good idea of how he's going to treat you. It's also a pretty immature thing to do. I was raised, half-way, in that Italian-American culture, where there are these guys who are super tough and macho, but would never, ever say anything against their mother. Not in a million years. And they'd pretty much kill you if you ever said anything about their mother. And there is something I about that attitude that I always thought was super cool. And just think! These are the "You are a special, precious snowflake!" moms! Frankly, I think, what we're dealing with is basically, a whole crapload of spoiled brats.


chad said...

i WAS going to argue this, but then i realized that in general, i think you're actually, mostly, right. sorry, thats the most input you're going to get out of me.

rob-otic said...

You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You're so fuckin' special

Anonymous said...

"Unless I'm dating you, in which case there are obvious exceptions that really don't apply- that and I expect that you buy me dinner. Why? Because there's still a wage gap.)"

Does this still apply if you make more than the man your dating?

I did quite enjoy the insight you gave about how men talk about their mothers.

Miss Robyn said...

Certainly, because it's not just the wage gap, there's a whole system of male privilege in place. Besides, men don't have to spend nearly as much money as we are expected to for self-maintenance.

Anyhow, I was mostly joking. I do, however, kinda think it's important in the way that I believe it's indicative of character, class, and also giving a shit, dig?