Overthinking: A Gendered Skill?

The title is kind of joke. Of course overthinking is gendered and has probably spawned an entire sub-discipline of psychology majors who at this very moment are generating papers whose titles have compound clauses as well as colons. Currently, I am overthinking how I raise my child.

I am conflicted about my daughter reading the magazines we have in the house. Not that she is finding a Playgirl laying around (I have never purchased a copy, or even seen the inside of one now that I think about it), but she is reading my Ms archives, O magazine (which stands for Oprah, not the other O), Good Housekeeping, my husbands GQ, the New Yorker, and the occasional 20+ year old Rolling Stone. I visualize this array of pop culture images and political messages pouring into the top of her head like in a cartoon. And I know whatever soup of conflicting ideas is churning and brewing in there will likely not be visible for years.

What do these magazines tell her? Who does she think she has to be? How does she think she is supposed to act in the world? What is her place? Those questions were always loaded for me.

My inputs were nutty too – white telephone movies and co-ed baseball, Readers Digest and the church bulletin, gendered work in the house and gendered expectations from my parents. I knew from and early age that boys got a better deal in our house. It took me years to figure out that grown-up girls who act like men are also soundly punished. That whole “aggressive man” v “bitchy woman” societal model – so very 20th century – has transitioned to the new millennium unscathed.

I know I still see the world through a gender-conscious lens however much it was born of experience. With that lens I am quick to notice (or point out) inequities (large and small) and assorted -isms that I witness. But that’s not the world my daughter lives in, is it? I worry that she is has adopted a perspective created from circumstances that shaped me and do not exist for her. She is so willing to embrace my opinions to get my approval that I am unsettled by it. She doesn’t need to assume my refracted lens – I want her to go beyond it somehow…

Oy. There are so many ways to screw up your kid consciously, I can’t imagine what I’m doing unconsciously.