"come natural" to women. But part of being "good" is believing you
have never been good enough. So, built into women's roles is a
mechanism for creating self-doubt, insecurity, and a tendency to take
on too much.
Likewise, our culture encourages women to seek perfection in
terms of attractiveness. As Rodin (1992) observes, the beauty contest
goes on and on. Women worry about their looks, feel vain, and, in
turn, are ashamed of how much their bodies mean to them. It is
almost immoral if you don't diet and exercise; it is impossible to look
perfect all the time; it becomes a trap.
Willis (1981) notes that even "liberated" women are frequently in
conflict about other things, such as dependency and assertiveness.
Examples: an aggressive business woman acts like a emotional
teenager in sexual relationships; a strong, powerful, dogmatic anti-
ERA female speaker declares that women's' place is in the home being
taken care of by a man; an egalitarian female wants a challenging
career but feels guilty when she isn't the main caregiver with the
children and makes more money than her husband; a feminist
demands equality but doesn't want to be drafted into combat like men.
Many women are still struggling with these dilemmas.
Expectations of boys and men
High expectations of men can be enormous burdens for them too
(Farrell, 1975). Remember, they are to be God-like, omnipotent, and
successful. Examples: Real men are expected to be tough--"big boys
don't cry"--and fearless. Men, in turn, become demanding of others
too, inclined to criticize and direct or advise rather than empathize.
They are supposed to be logical and practical, not emotional and
idealistic. They are expected to pretend to be women's equals except
whenever they "have to put their foot down" to avoid doing housework
or to keep her at home. They must be successful in their trade and
have a superior answer to all problems at all times. They must look
confident and impress people. They must be aggressive and approach
attractive women. And, they must, of course, be a sexual powerhouse-
-a "stud." Taken altogether those are impossible standards to meet.
Anyone (including the liberated female) compelled to be so
competitive and so superior has become an unhappy slave to a
demanding stereotype (more about this in chapter 9).
What about innate dependency needs?
Sex-role stereotypes and social pressures may not be the sole
causes of dependency. Indeed, emotional dependency may not be
learned at all, it may be a basic need. Eichenbaum and Orbach (1983),
psychoanalytic therapists, argue that males and females have innate
dependency needs--needs for love and emotional support. In terms of
these needs, men hide their needs more than women but women are
raised to meet those needs in men. In short, women learn to be