In North American male society, we all have a fairly good idea of what constitutes a “Real Man”. Role models for this auspicious title include rough and ready types such as Canada’s own Billy Bishop, Chuck Norris, and, of course, Red Green. There are other versions, obviously; the perfectly turned out suavity of a James Bond, for example, or the steely-nerved ruthlessness of a Wall Street high roller. They all display, in their own milieus, grit, tenacity, courage, confidence and in some cases, an amazing proficiency with duct tape. These are the values all guys aspire to, with varying degrees of success, and are rewarded with our peers’ respect, proportional to the degree of success attained.
Not so, for women. From my admittedly male perspective, defining who is a “Real Woman” seems far more difficult. In the male example, “Real Men” can relate to each other as equals and appreciate the other fellow’s excellence in his field without it diminishing his own ego. For women, it seems, there is an entirely different dynamic involved. For some reason, females seem to be much harder on each other than they are on men. Sure, they may make “men are stupid” jokes with enthusiastic abandon but when they tear into each other, they’re serious.
In the world of women, they generally have three choices; stay at home Mom, career woman, or as so often necessity dictates, trying to be both, more or less full time. In some circles, home-makers are looked down on by their career-oriented sisters. Despite requiring a skill set wider and more varied than many regular forms of employment, housewives are seen as unambitious, uncreative; taking “the easy way out”.
Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. There is no more important duty for each generation than to raise the next one with security, learning and love and statistically, no better model for the delivery of those needs than a stay-at-home mom. In fact, one could argue the case that all the industry on the planet, all the agriculture, all the financial apparatus; indeed, all of society as a whole, the ultimate purpose, is survival of our species. That survival depends on our children getting the best start possible and that is in a loving home. There is no greater calling than that of caring for our next wave of humans to carry on.
Yet, women who dedicate their lives to motherhood are unappreciated by their career-minded sisters. Even the staunchest, most capable home-maker harbors occasional feelings of doubt and guilt that somehow, they aren’t doing enough. Those choosing the career path often experience guilt feelings, as well, depending on the strength of their individual hard-wired maternal instinct. Of course there are many women who have no interest in having children, and all the more power to them. It’s good they choose to remain childless. Motherhood isn’t for everybody. Unfortunately, it happens that those not choosing motherhood are subtly looked down upon by those who have had children just as the childless look down on those who give in to the maternal drive.
The greatest burden of manufactured, guilt, however, belongs to those women through circumstance, choice or necessity, end up doing it all. They go the Supermom route to happiness. This can lead to feeling doubly guilty as they can’t focus as much on work as they’d like, because of child issues and can’t spend as much time with their children as they want, because of work issues.
As much as the role of mother and homemaker is vital to our society, so, too are women in the workplace, in government in the executive offices. Having women present in any enterprise is absolutely vital to its proper functioning. Bad things happen in organizations that have only men in their leadership roles. Situations like the misogynistic Bountiful community in BC springs to mind, as do a number of other organized religions that have a male-dominated hierarchy. Another good example is the assaults that occurred under the watch of Joe Paterno’s Penn State football program; another male-centric organization. The presence of female minds in any group, including the boardrooms of power, provides balance, heart and a perspective entirely different than their male counterparts. As a result, those who enter the workforce or attain public office do a service to society that cannot be measured by the gross national product.
This is why, from a male perspective, it is incomprehensible how harshly women judge one another. When Rona Ambrose courageously stood up to defy her leader and her party and vote in favor of examining when life begins, she was vilified by many in the feminist community. Instead of lauding a woman for, not only gaining prominence in a male-centric profession, indeed even gaining a seat at the cabinet table, and being forthright in her beliefs, she is attacked with heated venom. It is as if limitless abortion is the only opinion any Canadian woman is allowed to hold. Apparently, simply entering into a discussion about when personhood begins, constitutes a treacherous act to every woman’s body.
Speaking as someone happy to have both an X and Y chromosome, I will admit, this constant female “crabs in the bucket” mentality is a boon. If ever women actually did begin to speak with one voice at the ballot box, they could form a majority government in every democratic country. They could take over by numerical force, pushing the female agenda on every issue they decided to dominate. They would be an electoral juggernaut that would be unstoppable.
But they don’t, and probably never will. They are too busy attacking one another and feeling guilty while raising children, going to work and keeping society’s testosterone levels under control.
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