The Sexual Sociology of Adult Life from The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender by Nancy Chodorow breaks down the relationships in a family and how a child’s relationship with their mother is in direct relation to their gender and gender roles.
In the piece, Chodorow explains through the view of social scientists that “Because the first identification for children of both genders has always been with their mother, and because children are first around women, women’s family roles being feminine are more available and often more intelligible to growing children than masculine roles and being masculine. Hence male development is more complicated than female…”
It is interesting to think that because a girl’s first identification is with her mother and that they are both female, that would make female development less complicated than it would for male development. I am not sure that I agree with this idea. What if a girl does not identify with the gender role possessed by her mother? What if she takes on a gender role that is not expected from society? Would it still be less complicated?
Another interesting passage in Chodorow’s piece is:
“When men do “women’s” chores–this activity is often organized and delegated by the wife/mother, who retains residual responsibility (men babysit their own children; women do not).”
This statement resonated with me because I often hear things like a father “babysitting” his children, or doing the “woman’s” work for the day. Does this have to do with a child’s first relationship being with its mother? Do these feminine roles exist because of this?
Chodorow later says, “A boy’s oedipus complex is directly tied to issues of masculinity, and the devaluation of women is its “normal” outcome. A girl’s devaluation of or hostility toward her mother may be a part of the process, but its “normal” outcome, by contrast, entails acceptance of her own femininity and identification with her mother.”
This is particularly intriguing because this explains that although two children, one male, and one female identify with their mother at first, this later develops into two different relationships. One where the male child devalues women, and the other where the female child accepts women and identifies with women because she is a woman and can relate to her mother. Though I think that this is too much of a black and white way of looking at things, it does explain an overall thinking of society.