Anti-Cinderella Complex Essay, Research Paper
A Critique of Colette Dowling s excerpt of The Cinderella Complex: Women s Hidden Fear of Independence.
The battle of the sexes that rages on today is just as strong as it has always been. Although an ever-increasing number of opinions are being heard and made known, many people are still ignorant and hold on to traditional views that can sometimes be damaging. Even though there has been much progress in the ways of communication and understanding, much is still needed to be done and improved upon. Colette Dowling is a well-respected author on women s psychological issues who uses her personal experiences and insights to enlighten women about themselves. In Dowling s excerpt of The Cinderella Complex: Women s Hidden Fear of Independence, she provides a clearly written and rational explanation on the psychological issues of dependency women exhibit, but lacks in supporting evidence and examples.
One night she is lying miserable in bed, sick. She then becomes conscious of the fact that she is not despondent because she feels ill, but because there is no one there to comfort her. She realizes now that this is the way it has always been, she has known no other way. Throughout her childhood she was raised with the notion that someday somehow she would be whisked away by her prince charming and live happily ever after. She did not know what it was like to be truly independent. Nor was she raised to be comfortable with it. Boys were trained to be self-sufficient early on while her parents and society taught her that she did not need to be self-reliant; that she only needed to hold on until her savior came.
This person (or so she thought) appeared after she had been raising her children alone for the previous four years. As their relationship grew, they reasoned that it would be good if they moved in together. Soon after moving in together, she found herself sinking into the same routines that she had in her marriage. Slowly but surely she fell into the groove of being a good house wife and stopped feeling the need to pursue her career. She found this surprisingly easy and natural. To take the place of her writing she began doing household chores and started cooking again. Within no time she had gained weight and was starting to feel the inadequacies that go along with not having to support one self. She started to doubt her effectiveness as a writer and ability for self-sufficiency.
Her loss of ambition also created an unwanted hardship on the relationship between her and her boyfriend. He did not like being the only one bringing the money into the relationship and felt as if the burden of survival was solely on him. When he confronted her about this, she was both infuriated and hurt. She did not feel that he appreciated the abode she was making for them there. Subconsciously, she felt that it was only right that the man of the house should work harder and be the provider for her and her children.
As her need of dependency deepened, she soon found herself asking Lowell (her partner) for consent of her activities and desires. During this time her sense of self-worth diminished drastically. She saw herself as inferior to him and felt justified in feeling this way. After all, was she not raised to feel this way? Finding all of her thoughts of inadequacy very disturbing, she resorted to what she always did when she had a problem. She expressed her anxieties and fears on paper. Persistently, she searched for a editor that would publish her book. Finally she found one and discovered that she was not alone, by any stretch of the imagination, in her need for dependency on men and all of the feelings that go along with them.
Dowling only includes one example in her book to provide for the theory that she proposes. In this example she realizes how truly dependent she is on others for her sense of security and peace of mind. Although this insight disturbs her, she finds it very difficult to stray from the path that was so clearly laid out for her throughout her lifetime. In her argument she reasons that it is not biology but cultural training that has made true independence so difficult for women. Her personal experiences certainly contribute to the persuasiveness of her argument but since there is only one of them, it can be easily shrugged off as mere opinion. What about women who were not raised as she was? If she had perhaps went about inquiring women from different walks of life, and then based her argument on that; it would have been much more effective.
Perhaps she would have been more successful in proving her claim if she had narrowed it down a little. If she had stated that women who have been raised in traditional two parent homes in which the man is the primary provider, she would have done a better job. She certainly cannot speak for all women. Her reference of knowledge is only what she has experienced. What she does not know she cannot help, but she can recognize the fact that she is ignorant in some areas and try not to speak as if she were an authority on all.
Dowling provides a smooth reading experience with the first person narration of a story. As she tells her story, she provides a step-by-step analysis of her theory and why she has come up with what she has. Using the anecdote as a medium, she explains why she has come up with the conclusion that women are traditionally trained to be dependent upon men.
By stepping the reader through her reasoning, she presents exactly the picture that she wants the reader to have. She manipulates the reader for her own devices. Although she glides through her revelation and states it as absolute truth, she does not allude to the possibility of someone not having the kind of life that she has been fortunate enough to have. She does not even ponder the possibility that what may have been her problem, although as common among women as it may seem, could indeed be just that, her problem. She does not make any room for those who may have even stronger arguments that oppose her own.
Dowling does all of this while maintaining a simple and straightforward style. She is clear and concise with what she has to say. Knowing what she wants to say and how to say it, she does not waste anytime trying to persuade her audience. Nor does she include irrelevant or obscure examples as is so common in the literary world. Eric Fromme for example with his use of Antigone, could have been much more persuasive if he had chosen an example that was more up to date and well known. Dowling sticks to what she knows best, her personal experiences. Human feelings are timeless.
Ms. Colette Dowling provided a reasonable and well thought out analysis of women and dependency. She delved into the brainwashing of children into certain ideals, and how difficult those habits may be to break. It is true that some women are raised in the manner that the author was. Could it not also be true that other women were raised quite differently than she and therefore have different psychological issues? She was brought up in two-parent household where the man was probably the sole provider. In her eyes she became accustomed to men taking care of the business part of a relationship and the mother taking care of the home. Her parents reinforced this with the way they spoke to her about marriage and that she need only hold on until she got married. Then she would be free of the stress that accompanies self-sufficiency. Many women in the modern world simply do not have a father figure around. Without the man being the savior, the girls do not have that crutch to lean on and therefore come to not expect any help in the future. These are the truly independent women of today. They have no choice; either rise up and take care of themselves or fade away.
Throughout all of these concerns, one thing is evident and cannot be disputed. Humans are truly creatures of environment and circumstance. What may apply to one may be totally foreign and irrelevant to another. One cannot possibly make a blanket statement and without even researching it, expect it to apply to everyone. This is what Dowling attempts to do. All that she has the authority to speak about is her own personal experiences. She cannot possibly fathom all of the intricacies of human life and expect her personal views to be universal, nor can anyone else. No, she should not have had her book published by Ms. Magazine. Although her experiences may be valid for some, they would not necessarily be beneficial for those who were not brought up as she was. How can one expect to know the mind of all?