Am I the only one who bristles?
My husband was describing the new love interest of one of my daughter’s friends. The whole backstory is of a young man in high school whose entire background is unknown to me. I only know that his father is single again after having been married to a woman who was not the boy’s mother (I just learned), that the boy doesn’t like the father’s new girlfriend, and is a bit adrift. For now he has become the other brother of my grandson.
I haven’t met any of the women.
My husband said of the new girlfriend, “She’s no prize.”
“Oh, really?” I say. “Why do you say that?”
“Well, she’s not good looking.”
In our ensuing conversation I tried to get a more concrete reason that she may not be a great future mother. Does she pick on the boy? Is she cold to him and loving to the father?
“Well, bristle all you want,” he said, “she didn’t appeal to me.”
My husband is first and foremost a father and grandfather. His overdeveloped co-dependency has him feeling responsibile to everyone, let alone a young man who tugs at his heartstrings and plays a mean game of basketball. So I know that his reaction is based on more than this woman’s looks. He has many years of experience in evaluating parenting…both his own and others.
And yet his way of articulating his discomfort with this woman is to judge her looks.
I’ve always been ouchy on this subject and got a new shot of low-level angst when I recently watched Miss Representation on the OWN Network. It was a graphic lesson of how all of us are trained to judge women. And how we judge ourselves.
I’m not writing this to defend a woman I haven’t met. If I talked with her for a couple of hours I might see all sorts of red flags warning against her position as a step-parent to a growing boy. But I defend her right to have more concrete criteria for excellence than her age, weight, physical characteristics and projected sexual vibes.
My defense is for all of us. My defense is for my generation, my children’s generation, and that of my grandchildren.
Somehow we must begin taking steps to retrain both our young women and our young men. What are those steps?
I wish I knew.