Distorted gender roles is a symptom of today's version of the nuclear family. This isn't about women working, or men who stay home. This has more to do with a child's perception of the male and female during the developmental years.

As much as women are independent, and males capable of more than "killing and procreating", without proper male (father figure) and female (mother figure} role models in a child's life, there are no examples of healthy emotional and social interaction. This can lead to problems a child may have with social and emotional growth, and expressing their own sexuality. This doesn't mean a child with only a male figure will wind up gay, but they may have trouble with expressing and interacting with their own gender, nevermind the opposite.

This has to do with too frequent, or an absent parent. A child's first example of males, and females is their parents. Biological parents need not be where this example is found. It has more to do with who they see as their primary care givers are.

A child who has just one primary care giver often "de-sexualizes" certain fundamental society roles. This has less to do with providing food, shelter, etc. It has more to do with emotional support, and growth. A female child's first male example is the father figure. He sets a "precedent" on proper behavior with other males. This is just one tiny example.


This is just a general piece on "distorted gender roles". This is a symptom, which can occur. It happens for many reasons, and in this node I am only really able to touch on the basics. The why/how/who is all on a case, by case basis. This, like most psychoanalytical theories is just that. A theory. For those who would like to know more, or discuss this topic further, please contact me. I am very interested. Please do so by finding me on SlashNet in #everything, or by emailing juliet@escape.com
This is a really fascinating line of thought/discussion. Not to be hypercritical, but I'm not entirely sure I follow everything I sense you, juliet, are trying to say here.

Maybe some more specific examples, or cases, would make the point more clear? I want to engage this topic and explore what you are saying, but first, I want to be sure I understand the points you are driving at.

My specific points of (possible) confusion include:

  • What specifically is meant by: "As much as women are independent, and males capable of more than "killing and procreating", without proper male (father figure) and female (mother figure} role models in a child's life, there are no examples of healthy emotional and social interaction. This can lead to problems a child may have with social and emotional growth, and expressing their own sexuality."

  • I'd really like to see a more concrete expansion on the last paragraph and how, specifically, you see the single caregiver model as "de-sexualizing" certain social roles. Which roles? How does this operate?

  • Let me say that I'm very sympathetic to this view, at least within limits.

    Before starting a family, I was much affected by Nancy Chodorow's book, The Reproduction of Mothering which goes into many of these areas, while de-bunking many areas that remain fixed in some child development textbooks.

    Since having children, however, I've also grown more sympathetic to the view that much more of personality in in-born and that genetic temperament is at least as much an influence as "nurturance," possibly more. Which is not to excuse absent or truly neglectful parenting, but one needs to look at the whole picture, I feel.

    Even a parent who intensely wishes to play a major role in fostering the well-being of their child or children is going to face influences in the public sphere that run counter to their intent, in many cases. It is extremely difficult to insulate a child from the outside world, and perhaps of debatable utility to do so. After all, that outside world is where the child will need to function as an adult. Maintaining isolation from it does not, in and of itself, necessarily prepare a child to cope with that world, once thrust into it. (On the other hand, immersion in that world is not something most children are prepared for either.) My three-year-old daughter (being temperamentally more like me than her older sister is) is often overwhelmed by the intensity of even many of the more benign children's programs on cable, and certainly would be traumatized if left on her own in many public spaces (even aside from abandonment anxieties.) Her sister, on the other hand, thought that The Nightmare Before Christmas was just the funniest thing... went through a brief period of thinking it was "scary" but generally is not upset by things that are intense and a little strange.

    Finding everything has been a prod to start reorganizing our library and yesterday I came across (among many, many others on these themes) a book by Judith Rich Harris, The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do. Harris suggests that parents have far less influence than they imagine, even when they are trying very hard to be a primary influence. Her points run counter to much of what has found its way into collegiate child development texts and suggests that much of the role modeling children act on comes from sources other than parents or other influential caregivers. It might be worthwhile, at least as a check on the voices and "authorities" that claim parental/role model actions are so very influential. Not to deny parents a place -- clearly they have one, but to bring perspective and balance to that view, as well.

Please forgive me if I'm grossly misunderstanding the idea you're trying to express here.

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