Sometimes it seems as though I can’t be heard which is impossible because I’m not exactly soft spoken. In fact recently I noticed I wasn’t the only one not being heard – most of my female friends admit to being somewhat inaudible. A woman’s voice, it appears, is easy to ignore, more so a mother’s voice. Why is the male voice so revered? When a woman hollers nobody listens but when a man raises his voice everybody scrambles.
I can ask my husband about his day and will listen intently. When he reciprocates the courtesy I’m not 6 words in when I see his eyes glaze over and I know he’s tuned me out. (course it doesn’t help that he’s scanning the tv listings as he listens…..)
I remember when I was a young girl my mothers ‘lectures’, as we called them, tended to be repetitive so yes, I tuned her out. My father, on the other hand, commanded attention, because he so rarely disciplined us. When he spoke sternly to us, we froze.
As children we learn to recognize who the heavy is and in most cases it’s the mother. (as a demographic we mothers are so screwed) Fathers are always the hero. They step in with discipline only at the eleventh hour when all a mothers attempts have failed and he sees that things are spiraling out of control. And even then he only intervenes because the kafuffle is delaying his dinner or interrupting his tv viewing.
My mother used to yell a lot then throw her slipper at us. It was one of those flimsy satiny slippers so it never hurt. On the contrary after she flung it at us and left the room we’d burst out laughing because the attempt was so lame.
Like my mother, I was something of a screamer (preferring to keep my slippers on my feet). It was the only weapon I had – I wasn’t in to spankings, and for the most part screaming worked. My kids maintain even today that my screaming is still ‘scary’ (who said fear is bad?) This is in memory of course because I stopped screaming when they all grew up and moved out (or they stopped listening). Now I’m as mild as a kitten…..ah, but I digress!
My issue here is that we women are still largely ignored. We are seen as the ‘nag’, the one who repeats herself, over analyzes situations, worries too much, asks too many questions (…am I missing anything here?)
And yet interestingly enough when the kids are grown and living on their own they frequently call home to check in, get advice, complain about their partners, rant about the job,,,,,,and who is the recipient of this dumping? Dear old mom of course! And suddenly all the ‘nagging’ has become sound advice and welcome information (especially when they have kids of their own) And dear old dad is relegated to being……the nice guy, again. And the kids feel for him because now that they’re gone there’s no buffer for him from mom. Poor baby. Sound familiar?
What are we doing wrong that we are not being heard? Or, what are men doing right, that they are? A friend I knew was a ‘slipper thrower’ like my mother, and she maintained that whipping that slipper at your target of anger regardless of who you hit was good, because even if it missed the guilty party, the recipient was likely to commit an offense sooner or later anyway. Now there’s foresight!
I think fathers push their children and encourage risk taking which can be a good thing when it comes to ambition and confidence. They are also more likely to tease their child building character and a sense of humour. Mothers by contrast are nurturing and more protective, preferring to minimize any risk taking because they don’t want their child to suffer. (And that’s a bad thing?)
Today my children ‘hear’ me, sort of. At least they appear to. And they seek out conversation and advice from me because they’ve come to realize all that nagging had some value after all. And that’s a good thing cause my next strategy was to strap a brick to my slipper before I throw it at you – can you hear me now?