I woke up with an intersting idea this morning --
It seems that sexist attitudes are inherited -- from the sexist dad...
I think about this because I know several men who have been raised mostly by their mothers. Some are the result of death or divorce, others because their mother was single when they were born.
Among them, I don't see sexist attitudes -- in fact, I see respect for women and the tendency to treat women as peers. I like that, so that may be the reason I know so many of them :).
I think that there is a combination of reasons for this trend -- first, when women are your role-models, you tend not to discount their abilities. Second, when women have the power over you, you tend not to discount the possibility of a woman in charge. Third, heterosexist attitudes dissapear in these homes, at least in terms of "normal" gender roles for work around the house etc..
I also wonder if women who were raised primarily by their mothers are more likely to be new-feminists?
By "new-feminists" I don't mean a new group of radicals, rather a group of women like myself who take equality between the sexes as an assumed truth. We don't make a big deal out of fighting for equal rights, because for the most part we have them. We do fight about the parts of our society that are still unequal, but we tend not to see sexism behind every thing...
I was raised primarily by my mom -- my parents divorced while I was in elementary school, dad died when I was 13. Mom was re-married at the time, but step-dad was uninvolved... even working in Chicago while we lived in a Minneapolis suburb. He had kids from his first marriage to support --- and while he had a good job, the funds only go so far (his ex didn't work, still doesn't).
I grew up with a mom who was born in the 40s, was a teenager in the late 50s, early 60s and was married and pregnant by the late 60s (I was born December 68, Pam was born October 71). My mom was worried about raising two girls who respected themselves AND who were good people. She figured the rest would take care of itself....
What she also did was to teach us that hard work is important. I remember her telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be. I believed her -- although that set up quite a few years wondering what I DID want to be -- it seems that for now I've settled on teaching philosophy, which works :).