Yesterday I accidentally blogged about validation, mainly in response to a thing I read on the interwebz, a habit we’ve already established I should kick. Then my friend OBL responded to my angsty little post with a comment and then a full-fledged rant on her own site about the elusive nature of validation for the middle-aged woman. Click here. It’s a must-read.
It reminded me of a trope I keep hearing about men (from men) on the interwebz where I don’t belong. It goes like this: Men are simple creatures. They need to be fed and they need to be admired.
Whenever I hear this I wonder why men are not insulted by it. Surely they need other things. At the very least they need power tools and televised sports, right? Every woman I’ve discussed this with has noted that this view of men makes them sound like giant four-year-olds. One need only provide them with goldfish crackers and tell them their scribbled drawings are beautiful and they will happily toddle off.
But what really bothers me is the implication that women do not need admiration. They exist to do the admiring. Here’s the thing, though: women are giant four-year-olds too. They need the exact same kind of validation that men need.
Problem: our culture’s preferred method of providing validation to women is to tell them how beautiful and hot and sexy they are, right up until they are no longer any of those things, which happens way, way before their need for validation goes away, which is almost certainly never.
Men have many other avenues for obtaining validation, none of which involve appearing to be 22.
As OBL points out, pursuing traditionally male forms of validation doesn’t usually work for women, because it comes with a heaping big dose of guilt about whatever you are not doing while you are out selfishly pursuing validation. Meanwhile, the things women are really supposed to be doing—you know, raising the children and admiring the men—offer nothing, validation-wise. Children are notoriously ungrateful and the cultural response to mother-work ranges from dismissal to contempt.
Then there’s the whole bit about balding, beer-gutted, impotent men thinking that women their own age are too old. Having read a zillion personal ads in the last few months (oh, my bad habits!) I can tell you that is a very common belief indeed. But we discussed that yesterday.
Where am I going with this? Nowhere. It’s an early morning stream-of-consciousness blog. Luckily for me, I’m now headed off to a job that provides a certain amount of validation in the form of successful grant requests and doing good for my community. And it keeps me out of trouble on the internet for eight hours.