- At least until quite recently, a boy has tended to learn from the most tender age that when he reaches young adulthood he will have a wife or girlfriend who will do everything for him and make him a happy man. His partner will belong to him. Her top responsibility will be to provide love and nurturing, while his key contribution will be to fill the role of "the brains of the operation,"using his wisdom and strength to guide the family. page 325
The sex role expectations to which boys and men have historically been subjected are captured powerfully by an article called "The Good Wife's Guide," from a 1955 issue of Housekeeping Monthly that includes such instructions as "Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness,"and "Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this minor compared to what he might have gone through that day." This wife is further encouraged to make sure the children are quiet when he gets home, to keep the house perfectly orderly and clean, and not to complain if her husband goes our for evening entertainment without her, because she needs to "understand his world of strain and pressure." Our society's sex role attitudes have certainly progressed greatly over the past fifty years, yet the expectations laid out in this article are precisely the ones that I find in many of my abusive clients to this day; cultural values that run this deep take generations to unearth and dispose of. page 326
More to come.