Friday, April 01, 2016

Women and Success

It occurred to me again recently that all the talk of "success" is stupid if we don't define what success actually means.

If you define success as acquiring money or power over other people, then you are going to seek different things in your life than people who define success as happiness or raising good kids or whatever they think success is.

Combining that thought with evolution...

There is a long list of "female" behaviors that feminists are working hard to stamp out because they keep women from being "successful" (meaning making more money and having more powerful positions in a business world).

It struck me the other day that those very behaviors might be the result of generations of evolution--the women who were most likely to raise children who were most likely to have children of their own may have had a shared set of characteristics that made them more successful at keeping a family together, more successful at keeping a man in the house to provide and protect them while they were trying to survive pregnancy after pregnancy, more successful at raising children who were likely to go on and have successful families themselves.

It's too bad that collectively we are now looking at the very things that make motherhood easier and families more successful, and make women more successful in their homes, and saying that those are flaws we need to get rid of in favor of characteristics that make women more successful at pocketing cash or becoming the boss of other people at work.

Those characteristics, like touching skin more often, apologizing more readily, couching everything they say in gentle terms, tuning in to nonverbal social cues and responding to them, being less aggressive at listening and getting what they want....those things are good when the people you are dealing with are four years old. Or twelve.  Or three months. Children don't need to be treated with a straightforward hardline approach to life. They need to be listened to even when they can't express themselves in words (so mom being tuned in to body language and the underlying, unspoken text is a big big deal). They need to have corrections presented clearly but gently and as suggestions so they don't feel crushed by it. They need gentle molding and redirection and hints and touching. They even need mom to touch her own face often to draw their too-low-eyes up to where they are supposed to be paying attention. Children need suggestions and guidance, not bossiness and control and aggression.

And women who are interacting on a regular basis with other moms, all of them working their tails off and fragile in their own rights, and all of them working with similar challenges that have to be solved differently (because every child is different, and so is every mom-child relationship), need to be treated differently than coworkers do. "Hinting and suggesting" instead of saying exactly what needs to be done is a positive, peaceful way of communicating when done right in this kind of circumstance. Sure it doesn't work in a business, but evolution didn't train women to think and interact that way to succeed in business, but to succeed in a different kind of world in which they were stuck, through their biology and lack of birth control.

See, these things are not flaws in women if women are to navigate worlds primarily full of tender children and other women who also have children. These are qualities, behaviors, characteristics that the feminists are so ashamed of might be the result of eons of evolution. These things might be good and helpful behaviors for women to succeed in their traditional roles.

So maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge the feminine as evil and the masculine as desirable, even if the masculine behaviors are more likely to make you rich.

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