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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » The "Selfless" Woman vs. Alternatives

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Author Topic: The "Selfless" Woman vs. Alternatives
000
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So it was awhile back, 2 yrs ago even, maybe, when I accused my mom of being too strict in trying to raise her daughters to put everyone else first. I said it with the attitude that trying to raise girls to be selfless was a bad thing.

She responded that she knows the stereotype is for boys to be raised different -but she thinks /everyone/ should be raised to put everyone else first.

This has always struck me as a little... impractical. I mean, if everyone always put everyone else first, our society wouldn't function, right? Somehow I think for me the ideal is that everyone puts themselves first, put only within bounds that also always respect other people's rights.

Are there other alternatives? Is it a better ideal that everyone be selfless? I'm confuzzled.

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Menthol
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It's healthy to be selfish... as long as you aren't destructive about it. When you are totally selfless, many people will be swift to take advantage of you.

It's NOT okay to be so selfless that you'll put so much money into the bell ringer's kettle that you'll go hungry for a week.

There are so many examples of the evils of "selflessness" that I can't even find a starting point.

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"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."
~Ayn Rand

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Dude_who_writes
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I wouldn't go as far to call selflessness evil, per se, but I think that to function, especially in our society, you have to find some balance or commonground between selflessness and selfishness.

But, I think that's more a reflection of the way our culture works, especially in the US. In a capitalist culture, you have to at least maintain some thought of your wellfare at all times. Otherwise, you're just not going to survive. It's that simple.

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Tim

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed. -- Carl Jung

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Heather
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I'd also be very wary of calling the belief that women hold that they must be selfless evil, especially when applying that TO those women.

Certainly, it can manifest in some terribe, destructive and self-destructive ways, but it's important to bear in mind that extreme "selflessness" is one manifestation of women's oppression. Women as a class have been pretty intensely and intentionally indoctrinated to set themselves aside.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Menthol
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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
Certainly, it can manifest in some terribe, destructive and self-destructive ways, but it's important to bear in mind that extreme "selflessness" is one manifestation of women's oppression. Women as a class have been pretty intensely and intentionally indoctrinated to set themselves aside.

That's a pretty concise summary of part of what i was going to say.

Selflessness... we have a RIGHT to look after ourselves and our own happiness, and some people act like THAT is evil.

How many people feel forced into a marriage because of one night's mistake? Because mum is concerned about what the garden club ladies will say if they find out about the baby? Still happens... evil selflessness.

How many people are in the closet... or even get married and have kids and live a lie within their own eyes because "It'll kill my dad"? Evil selflessness.

Women who remain in abusive marriages because if they get divorced, they will be ostracized by their church and/or community. Evil selflessness.

Women who have child after child afer child until their teeth are crumbling from the strain of it... because there husbands want them to or because their church frowns on birth control... Evil. Selflessness.

when we are trained from childhood to believe that we have no right to health and happiness for fear of offending, upsetting, or depriving someone else... it's evil.

And it still happens, every day.

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"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."
~Ayn Rand

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Heather
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Right there with you, sparing that 'evil" just isn't really a term I keep in my vocabulary, primarily because it's a) pretty affixed to certain religions and b) often so disembodied as to allow people not to be fully accountable when they should be.

And in some of those situations, I also feel like it should be said that they're not all just about selflessness. For instance, many of those opposite-sex married, closeted folks are knowingly deceiving their partners, sometimes living on the down-low and putting them at STI risks in the process. Not so selfless, you ask me.

I'm also not sure I'd *entriely* file things like staying in abuse or bearing child after child as "selfless." certainly, that's part of it, but another part of that is simply being indoctrinated by fear, and so it becomes, in fact, attempts at self-protection and survival, sad as that is.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Menthol
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true enough. I'm assuming the best intentions about these hypotheical people as it is.

extremes in BOTH selflessness and selfishness are NOT good things, though.

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"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."
~Ayn Rand

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