Socialising girls and boys

“As young girls, women are taught to deliberately stifle their intellectual capabilities and to direct their energies into beautification of face and body, the pursuit of “a man” and to careers which, at best, serve others and at worst, are a stop-gap between school and marriage. The reward for all this negation and deflection of natural aptitudes and potentialities are supposed to come with marriage and motherhood.

For most young women, the idea means the end of the game of “get your man” and the time when the real world begins, and they can throw off the superficialities and become their “real selves” in a true partnership with their man.

As young boys, men are taught that girls are stupid, vain, out to trap them and especially designed to serve them. To be likened to a girl in any way is the worst stigma a boy can endure. Their intellectual capacities are directed towards taking their places in the workforce, not as a stopgap, but as a lifetime activity. Boys are taught to see their career as life with marriage and family as peripheral to the real world outside the home.

Given these two wholly opposing perspectives, to say nothing of the all-pervasive psychic implications of both the view of women that boys are conditioned to hold and the actuality of the status of women in society at large, it is no wonder marriage failure appears to be inbuilt.

It is simply impossible for men, conditioned to a view of women as totally inferior, to change that view at marriage. It is equally impossible for women, conditioned to a view of marriage as a world in itself with themselves playing a central role in that world, not to feel horribly cheated when they discover themselves to be unpaid domestic servants, slaves to their husband and children, constantly reminded of their inferiority both by their husbands, and by society at large”

-Betty Pybus in a letter to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.  August 1977

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