Developing Authority and Being a Parent

I’m wondering whether it’s just me or…whether most women who never become mothers simply never develop an authoritative manner.  Men have it from the get go: they are automatically thought, by themselves as well as by others, to be authorities, and early on, they develop both the habit of telling others what to do and the expectation that they’ll be listened to.

Women don’t.  (Unless they’re deluded.)   At least, not until they become a parent.  Only then do they gain some authority.  Only then do they start telling someone what to do and expecting to be listened to. 

Sure, the authority they now have extends only to their kid, but it leaks out.  As it does with men.  When you talk with authority in your house, to your wife or kids, you don’t suddenly ‘turn it off’ when you leave the house.  It’s an acquired manner, a way of carrying yourself, a way of presenting yourself that becomes part of yourself. 

I’ve never acquired that manner.  I’m not in the habit of telling anyone what to do.  I don’t expect to be listened to.  So, despite my breadth and depth of knowledge and skill, I don’t have any authority.


1 comment

    • JE on July 30, 2013 at 2:38 am
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    Seems to me that many of the games and organizations that boys are encouraged to take part in also encourage the development of an authoritative manner in ways that traditional girls games and organizations don’t.

    Boy Scouts explicitly works to make boys into leaders. American football with its quarterbacks calling plays do this too. For the geeky gamer set, there are numerous role playing games where the scrawniest fellow can lead an imaginary group of adventurers through a dungeon.

    I’m guessing females don’t do this sort of thing?

    I think it is not unreasonable to speculate that ‘society’ is prepping young males for life as soldiers with this behavior.

    I distinctly remember when I developed the authoritative manner that I do have, such as it is. I was 22 years old and spent a couple of years overseas teaching math and science to high-school aged kids.

    Surely there must be unmarried female schoolteachers who have had similar experiences over a much longer period of time. I remember plenty of tough-as-nails schoolteachers from my youth. I don’t know if any of them were childless, but statistically at least one should have been.

    Now as an adult interacting with other adults – well there was a year or so where I was the night shift supervisor at a scanner/copier place where I had to be authoritative. That was a giant pain, but not presenting as authoritative would have lead to a much more unpleasant (for me) situation.

    Other than that, I’ve managed to stick to techie jobs where I mostly interact with gadgets. You can’t be authoritative with gadgets, they just get stubborn if you try.

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