Sir Xsarus wrote:
I think the whole "being a man" thing becomes more and more prevalent the tighter your social circle is, and the more you depend on your peers for advancement or prestige. This fits well with a prison or a gang. Basically manliness is just a measuring stick for how well you belong, it's the accepted metric. In looser social circles, belonging becomes less of a necessity and more of a choice and so how you define yourself rests more with you and less with others.
I'm not sure what would be a similar metric for women in the same scenario though.
I've found that it's motherhood, to a large extent. Women who are childless feel belittled by their breeding counterparts, even if these are single. They are told that there are conversations and topics that they are ignorant of. They are either outside or inside the birthing circle. Women outside are largely thought of as being carefree and unburdened by both the responsibility and power of motherhood. Even this can't "take away" your womanhood, but you can see how vicious we get with women who fail at it or belittle that status. Maybe other non-womb-fruit-harvesters can chip in.
I've experienced this a little bit. Most of my friends from high school have kids now. The girl that was my best friend, a few years back made a bit of a snide remark to me that still irks me when I think about it. At the time, she was giving my sister piano lessons, and her older son wasn't even a year old yet (she hadn't even conceived the second one yet). My sister was 15 or 16, and having issues with my mom, I don't remember what. My friend and I were talking about it on the phone, and I took my sister's side and she took my mom's side. Then she made a crack about how when I'm a mother I'll understand. If she had said that to me in person, I would have been seriously tempted to smack her. Then again, she's had a habit over the years of being patronizing to me, so maybe that was why she said it. But yes, the holier-than-thou attitude, because she's had a kid for less than a year, so she understands what it's like to deal with teenagers and where my mom is coming from, that really annoyed me.
Most of my close female friends don't have kids, so it's not really an issue with them. But, I've also seen first-hand the patronizing that goes along with a woman saying that she doesn't want kids. Hell, I've been guilty of dishing that out myself in the past. There's always this knowing laugh, and then the comment of "You'll change your mind!" Maybe, maybe not. Who the hell are you to think that you know how I feel about motherhood? I eventually did change my mind, but I have friends who have been married for a few years now, and they have no intention of ever having kids. For them it's more of a political statement though. The whole "The world is overpopulated as it is, and I'm not going to contribute to that!" sort of deal. Part of me feels some sort of sadness that they aren't going to have kids, because the two of them are both wicked smart. We need more smart people. >.< But I keep that thought to myself, and appreciate that they don't look down on me or our other friends who do want kids someday but just aren't ready for it now.
It's funny, when people at work ask me if I have any kids, I just laugh and say "I'm only 28, I'm too young to have kids!" They always give me this odd look and a nervous laugh. I'm not even purposefully trying to make them feel uncomfortable, that's honestly how I feel about it. Maybe in 4 or 5 years I'll feel ready, but I just don't right now.