Children & Patriarchy

Children and Patriarchy
Nancy Chodorow has the possibly one of the most aggressive people to talk about patriarchy and the many effects that it has on children. Chodorow’s main point is that children identify, firstly, with their mother and based on certain subconscious actions the child will either become more like the mother or try to detach themselves from her. But it has been a while since the time period in which Chodorow was writing her opinions on this subject and it would be interesting to see if the views of patriarchy’s effect on children have changed from then until now.
In Chodorow’s article, “Is the Male Gender Identiy the Cause of Male Domination,” she states that the changes that occur during childhood will shape the said child into who they will be within society, is based directly and squarely on the shoulders of the mother. The mother is the sole being to which the children look to for guidance when becoming an adolescent and eventually for when they become an adult as well. First of all the mother herself is the supposed start to this process by identifying easier with her daughter and creating kind of a bias against her son. Then the daughters, when they see their mothers, are supposed to become fixated with becoming more like her. They realize the similarities between them and then start to idolize their mothers and imitate their actions and mannerisms. While on the other hand, when the boys see their mother they subconsciously feel that they are different from their mothers and for that understanding they need to be separated from them. Sons push themselves away from their mothers and become more and more detached in order to become more socially accepted as a male character (Pg 23).
Another concept that Chodorow discusses as having a possible change in outcome in a child’s behaviors because of the actions of their mother is that of sexual orientation. For boys it is called “abstract masculinity,” (Pg.25) where during the process of detaching from the mother the boy has difficulty in some way to do so and ends up trying to identify with his mother instead of separating. This can cause many things to happen, one example is that the boy can become more feminized or possibly in some cases the boy can become a homosexual (Pg. 25). Within the same thought process daughters can have a problem with their social coding as well and take on a role more similar to that of the father as long as they are removing themselves from the familiarity of their mother. These actions can also have the same results on women as the “abstract masculinity” has for men.
In Adalgisa Giorgio’s “Natalia Ginzburg's "La Madre": Exposing Patriarchy's Erasure of the Mother,” it is discussed how, another author, Anne-Marie O’Healy, has a similar theory to that of Chodorow, that had been brought up in the article discussing Ginzburg and some of his theories. Most of them follow the same pattern with the disconnection between the mother and her son except this time it is from the child’s point of view. O’Healy describes the connection as being that “the boys relate their impressions of their mother with a sense of bewilderment and shame” (Pg. 867). This basically means that the son is so very confused by his mother that he doesn’t want any part of her anymore, he is ashamed and nervous so he no longer wants to take any part of his mother’s feelings or connections.
Although in discussion of these very distinct topics there are many things that could have changed with this theory during the period of time from which they have been written. Modern changes in the styles of parenting have brought up a whole new category where sometimes the situations that have come up have forced families to become something that they hadn’t ever before during Chodorow’s writings. In the article “Overcoming Patriarchal Constraints: The Reconstruction of Gender Relations among Mexican Immigrant Women and Men,” the author, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo talks about how patriarchy has changed within the groups of Mexican families during the 1990s. Hondagneu-Sotelo continues with saying that there is a significant decline in that which is patriarchy in the lives of the families whose fathers leave in order to immigrate first and become established in the nation of their choosing (pg. 394).
There are many things that are involved in the process of becoming socially acceptable in any type of society. Children are taught from a very young age exactly how they are supposed to act and how they are going to fit in according to their gender. Their mother is the greatest influence they will have in their entire life and is the very basis for why they will act the way that they will once they come of age. According to these articles patriarchy is created by woman to destroy woman, they start with all the power of their own sons and then push them away causing them to feel the need to have power over other women in their lives just recreating the cycle.

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