The little lady mentality

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
The little lady mentality
17
Mon, 07-28-2003 - 9:17pm
I know that we can make this relevant....

The best aunt in the world (mine) retired early, had her dream home (a log home) built on a beautiful lake near a national forest and got married - in that order. She and her husband are YOUNG retirees, she has no children and he has adult children from a previous marriage. She went from living 45 minutes away, to over 6 hours. Between school, work, activities, etc.. we don't get down there as often as I would like to, and when we do it is not for as long of a visit as I, or my children, would like. She invited dd and a friend of dd's choosing to visit for one week, provided I could supply transportation one way. She planned out a whole week of hiking, crafts (she takes a lot of art classes herself and is excited to teach dd), hanging out on the lake.. I coordinated dd and friend's schedule, but couldn't get everyone down there together. So I have just returned from driving on my own.

This seems to be quite the feat in our small circle. Several of dh's co-workers, my friends and their husbands and even the father of dd's girlfriend commented on my driving alone, as if it some enormous task that a female shouldn't undertake on her own. I have girlfriends that will not drive the expressways or in the city (Chicago). One man was amazed that my dh "let" me go and others couldn't believe that I didn't mind doing it alone. This sentiment crossed age and SES lines. The only people that didn't bat an eye were my FIL (even though his wife does not drive on an expressway), my dad and dh.

What does this say - if anything - about women's roles in the family? Is the fear because of the threat of danger to a woman traveling alone (although the cops in the family were the least worried about this) or is it somehow masculine to do a road trip like that? Do we still believe that women can't drive, can't read maps, don't have a sense of direction?

SUS

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 07-28-2003 - 9:26pm
i have never done a great distance alone, but i have with the kids, or just one of them. drove from charlotte, nc to nj with just one kid, and the first time i did it without dh was with all three kids at the ages of 16, 15 and 11. i figured if anyone tried to get me, they would be sorry with all those kids. LOL.

i really think that today it is less stressful on everyone considering we have cell phones, etc. my dad was way proud of me when i did that, and i was surprised at myself actually.

i think often, we allow men to take charge, and it is very easy to fall into the "dependent" roll. i have to admit, it was a very liberating feeling to do that trip. its actually 600 miles.

Avatar for bobcatkathi
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 07-28-2003 - 9:29pm
I have a very conserative family environment in many ways but not concerning driving or money. My mom has literaly traveled all over the world by herself and so has my sister. On occassion you meet someone with such an attitude and I just don't let it get to me. I usually make some statement that I take care of all the money on account of it is my money and it puts men in their place. I know I enjoy that a little too much sometimes. My mil has never driven and I used to give fil some trouble because he was so old fashioned. I wish he were still alive just so I could jerk his chain a little. I miss it. There is alot of give and take in marriages that everyone is not privy to.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2000
Mon, 07-28-2003 - 9:58pm
I've never encountered such an attitude. I used to drive myself back and forth b/w New York City and Washington DC all the time (4 hrs) when I was in college and when I lived in NY after graduating (I'm from the DC area). While in college, I spent a semester living in Rome, and while there, traveled all over Europe, both by myself and with college friends. In my mid-20s, I drove all the way from Maryland to Maine and back to visit my boyfriend (now dh) and hit a major snowstorm when near Boston on the way there. I've always been a "driver" - I used to do it so much that it didn't phase me, but now I hate driving long distances unless someone is in the car to talk to me.

I've never encountered the attitude you did, but perhaps part of it is that I grew up in a metropolitan area and have always been pretty independent. I would die laughing if I thought I had to ask dh's permission to drive on a long trip alone. As a matter of fact, my mom has driven to Cleveland (6 hrs, and on that awful PA turnpike!) several times alone to visit my sister. My father didn't mind, although she's going next week and he convinced her to fly this time since it was almost as cheap to fly than to drive!

I honestly can't answer your questions b/c I've never known anyone to have those feelings about a woman driving alone on a long trip.

But I'm glad you had a good time!

~Maureen

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-22-2000
Mon, 07-28-2003 - 10:05pm
I've never understood this mentality. My sister and I were brought up to believe that women can do anything that men can do. We have both driven, either alone or with a child or children, long distances on many occasions. We have cell phones now, but we didn't always. We are adults with drivers licenses...to me that should involve a lot more than knowing how to steer and pump gas. We know how to follow directions, how to read maps, how to change tires and handle other basic emergencies. We know how to judge what situations we can handle and what we can't, as well as what situations we *could* handle alone but wouldn't feel safe doing so.

I'll never forget the time I was in a fender bender and my grandmother marveled that I knew how to talk to insurance companies and everything. (!!!!!) The little lady mentality gives me the willies. I couldn't handle it being a part of my life.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 07-28-2003 - 10:32pm
Not sure about how it relates to women's roles in the family but if you watch the history channel or lifetime at all women who travel alone seem to be most vulnerable to be victims of foul play. If your family believes such things or got sucked in by the paranoia, either way I have no idea what the actual statistics are.

Mayhaps they just love you to death and want to protect you against all nasty media-fueled odds, who knows. Isn't it nice to know they care, though?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-20-2001
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 7:31am
I run into that a lot. One friend I have won't even drive herself out of town. She depends on her dh for any driving beyond our town. Amazes me that she is that fearful of breaking down 4 miles from home, because that is the town line from her house going south ... KMart is right over that line, but she waits for her husband to drive her. YET, she will drive 5 miles south to Walmart ... "but that is in our town, Linda." Good grief.

I do think some of that is about masculine/feminine thinking that women traveling alone is precarious, and probably equal to each ... male task/female "fem fatale" thinking.

Linda

 

Linda - wife, mother, grandmum                     &nb

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-20-2001
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 7:51am
I was also thinking .. if the sah/woh has an affect on that? The friend I mentioned in my post above is a sah, her children are 17yo, 20yo. I've either woh or wah since my teen years, marriage didn't change my mind.

Linda

 

Linda - wife, mother, grandmum                     &nb

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 8:09am
I am not much of a driver. I have only driven long distances when it has been a neccessity (most often when we have moved and I drive one of the vehicles) and I never drive into the "city" unless I have to. Part of it is because I don't like to drive and part of it is because I am a functional but not a great driver. I can get around with no problem locally but do not have the agreesion neeeded for highway/city driving.

But I have traveled on my own using different methods. I have flown back and forth from Japan alone. I have flown to Michigan to visit family both alone and with the kids. I have taken a train from North Dakota to Michigan with my then 7 month DD.

Many of the woman that I know are like me, their DH's are the drivers in the family. I think a lot of that is because we do have someone who can take over the driving reigns we let them. The most independent female that I know when it comes to driving is my SIL, with the exception of a brief marriage she has always been on her own. She drives all over the country. I have a feeling that if I did not have my DH then I would probably be more independent in my driving, because when I have to I am but there are not many instances where I have to.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-12-2003
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 9:21am
I've run into this sort of attitude, and it makes me crazy! I come from a family that is mainly women, and very strong, independent women to boot. I've always been very self-sufficient. I travel all over by myself, no problem (I travel for work). Ironically, my DH, on the other hand, is not someone who travels well alone. Out of the two of us, he's the one with a poorer sense of direction and is more likely to get lost. When we're just driving locally (to the store or whatever), DH is more likely to drive, but on long trips we split the driving pretty equally, and I always do any night driving - I'm a better night driver. In other ways, he's more the steretotypical male, but when it comes to travel, etc, I definitely fill the "masculine" stereotype.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2002
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 9:40am
The only person I ever get this stuff from is my grandfather. And I think that is perfectly normal considering I'm his first "child". lol And BOY is he protective over me!

As far as the rest of my family and friends go, though, I haven't ever gotten this. When we first got married, I would drive 2 1/2 hours each way every other Friday to pick up my husbands girls. Most of the time I was by myself, but sometimes a friend would come along as company or my grandpa did a few times, but it was never because they didn't think I could handle it. I have one girlfriend who lived in Florida while dating her husband here in OK, and she drove up here a couple of times, with and without the kids. Part of her family lives in California, and a few times she drove from FL to CA by herself. Another friend of mine has driven to Washington (state) a couple of times, once with the kids, once without, and both times with her husband.

Now, I prefer not to do long-distances by myself. I'm one of those people who gets VERY drowsy in the car on long trips. If I HAD to drive somewhere alone and it took awhile, I can (I have done the drive to San Antonio alone more than a few times), but I don't like to.

Okmrsmommy-36, CPmom to DD-16 and DS-14

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