The Official Blog for ENGL 41416.

Where’s Daddy?

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“All social scientist who have examined processes of gender role learning and the development of a sense of identification in boys and girls have argued that the asymmetrical organization of parenting in which women mother is the basic cause of significant contrasts between feminine and masculine identification processes” (265)

When I first read the above quote my mind jumped to the idea that in some cultures it is believed that in order for a boy to become a man he must be stripped away from his mother in order to gain an idea of masculine roles. In this context it is assumed that mothers prevent male children from realizing the role they ought to play in society. Although Chodorow does not elude to this idea in any way my mind could not help recalling this information. Chodorow in fact talks about how for children, the role of male and female is different for each sex. And the way that they learn about it is different. She states that,

“boys are taught to be masculine more consciously than girls are taught to be feminine. When fathers or men are not present much, girls are taught the heterosexual components of their role, whereas boys are assumed to learn their heterosexual role without teaching, through interation with their mothers. By, contrast other components of masculinity must be more consciously imposed. Masculine identification, then, is predominantly gender role indentification” (266).

While girls “can be based on the gradual learning of a way of being familiar in everyday life, exemplified by the relationship with the person with whom a girl has been most involved” (266). Chodorow shows that girls are more equipped with the information on how to be feminine because your mother is “always” around. Being that your mother is the “caregiver” and “nuturer” little girls automatically cling to this idea and become more adapted to it. While boys on the other hand do not have this opportunity. Although they see the exact same thing as a female child they learn to be masuline though other things. Like T.V. or music. It is easier for a girl to identifiy herself in the houshold while for a boy it is not. “Masculinity becomes an issue as a direct result of a boy’s experience of himself in his family-as a result of his being parented by a woman. For children of both genders, mothers reporesent regression and lack of autonomy. A boy associates theses issues with his gender identification as well” (267).

I agree with Chodorow’s statement that boys learn masculine roles through interation with their mothers. My best friend is a single mother raising her 5 year old son. When I observe the interation between them I notice that my best friend always play fights with him and tells him “throw your hands” meaning lets fight. Her goal in doing this is to instill a sense of no fear or the ability for Karmello to stand up for himself. She also allows him to decide what he wants to wear, eat and go. It is remarkable to observe him because he walks as if he were a grown man, hands in his pocket and very demanding. His attitude isn’t one of a five year old. And to be honest I have no idea what my best friend did to produce this behavior without a father present.

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Comments on: "Where’s Daddy?" (2)

  1. K. Campbell said:

    The idea of female constructed masculinity in your post is particularly interesting. I could not quite articulate this in my own post, but it is indeed intriguing. Despite the fact that Chodorow does not describe the ways women themselves contribute to the way boys learn masculinity, I think it is an important factor to consider. While Chodorow asserts that a boy essentially creates his own idea of masculinity based on a contrast to the present female role model, she also expresses that children learn “appropriate gender role behavior through imitation, explicit training and admonitions, and cognitive learning processes” (322). The example of your best friend’s interaction with her son illustrates one of the ways “explicit training” works in teaching a child their “appropriate gender role behavior”. However, while I was reading this passage I also thought of discussing the way a mother’s admonition can create an idea of masculine behavior in a young boy, but the way in which this also causes him to think negatively of female roles and therefore try to repress feminine traits and behaviors.

  2. Donzell Evans said:

    “boys are taught to be masculine more consciously than girls are taught to be feminine.” -Mulvey
    From my experience this is very true. As a gay, African American man this is even more of a prominent statement for my journey into masculinity. As a youth I was feminine and it didnt pose a problem until I came into my teenage years when my mother made an effort to tell me to talk with a deeper voice, not to have “broken wrists”, how to cut my hair like a man, etc. From my observations my sisters didnot have this rules put before them but they only had to follow the example of my mother of how to be accepted in society. Going through it I just thought something was wrong with me but after making an effort to understand parenting years ago, and reading this theory, I see that my mother was making the effort to teach me her perspective of masculinity since she was my main parental figure. I have to say she did a good job trying to prepare me for the world.

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