Minitiuarizers are the people that encourage you to dream smaller. To cut yourself short. To try for something that is less than your dreams – so basically not your dreams at all.
Minituarizers are an interesting subspecies of crazymaker for one reason only: they are rarely if ever 100% malicious. Most genuinely believe they are doing a good thing and being supportive. It’s just their own disease manifesting. Since they can’t see you doing a thing, they assume that you can’t do it.
I have actually lived my life with an entire class of minituarizers: MEN. I know I should sooth egos and go on about how men are not all that way, yada yada – but the fact that I have to do all that ego soothing is just another symptom in the whole problem of which I speak.
In the 8th grade, the boy that sat in front of me in English was so impressed with my writing and speeches that he passed me this note. While I don’t remember it verbatim, it was pretty close to this:
“You are a really great writer. I want you to be my secretary someday.”
To which I wrote back, “SECRETARY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???”
He hastily amended, “OK, How about my speech writer?”
I didn’t even know there were professional golfers until I met this kid. Tiger Woods or not, I still find the concept somewhat ludicrous. It’s up there with wrestling almost getting bounced out of the Olympics (it was reinstated recently) while Ping Pong and synchronized swimming remained.
It was in that conversation I also found out about professional speech writers. I didn’t even know that was a thing – I thought politicians had to fire on their own skills. That they didn’t explained one hell of a lot.
Needless to say, I declined. The kid was offended – in his mind he was giving me a great opportunity to spend my life supporting his glory… in a sport that offends my environmentalist heart.
Two weeks before I graduated from high school and had already lined up college acceptance, scholarships, loans, etc. my own father, who admired and supported me so long as my mother wasn’t in the room, dropped this crazy bomb on me as we drove to someplace in northwestern Indiana:
“Why don’t you just get certification as a masseusse or as a nurse?” If he had brought it up at the beginning of senior year – before my mother nixed me graduating a semester early so I could work and earn money for school – I would have thought about it. But it came as an insult after all the work I had done. In this same conversation he denied any possibility I would need graduate school even though I made it clear I wanted to be a librarian or a museum curator. It was this conversation that made me suspect that my parents had a plan for me … and whatever that plan was, it sucked. The slow decade-long awakening it took to understanding I spent my childhood in an abusive household started with that conversation.
Years later, after I had graduated from college (with honors) my father suggested I become a paralegal. “You know I just got my bachelor’s degree, right? Paralegals take a whole different kind of training.” He had suggested this right after I had mentioned getting an acceptance into graduate school. Not for library science, like I wanted – the crazymaker I married ensured that wasn’t going to happen. But still, I had, on my own merits as a writer, gotten in. My father promptly minitiuarized my accomplishment and my ambition.
There’s another form of minituarizing that my male friends have done over the years. What makes it difficult to confront is that it’s often done and said out of love, this destructive, insulting, loving thing; they truly think they’re offering me an alternative or giving me a “better way” with no recognition that while there are many, many women that would kill for that particular way, to me it just sucks because it ignores and belittles who I really am.
They propose motherhood.
I think the chain of pseudo-logic (because most men in most cultures are absolutely insane and acculturated to be so – thus the alarmingly widespread inability to understand why they are the sole source of their own erections and are therefore wholly and solely responsible for them) is this:
This particular woman is awesome! This makes her special.
Because she is special, she must be protected. (There are NOT! awesome men who would substitute “because she is special, she is competition and therefore dangerous.)
To protect such an awesome woman, we must remove her from the world in some way.
Inform her she should have babies! Nay, it is here duty! It is the sole thing she can contribute to the world – perhaps she will have a boy that shall manifest her talents via her genetic code!
I have had this happen by men I liked/admired more times than I can count. At one point, it led to one of the ugliest and most painful discussions I have ever had with someone that was not a knock-down drag out fight.
My first college was something of a marriage mill. Looking back, the whole cultural environment makes my skin crawl. When I told one friend that I admired/loved that I disliked the very concept of marriage, he brushed it aside with this: “Oh, I can totally see you working from home. A couple kids there, you doing the writing thing.”
You see what he did there? So much minituarizing it’s like I ate a mushroom or drank a falling bottle in Wonderland. In a single response he a)dismissed my feelings about marriage b)knocked me up c)locked me up d)saddled me with kids – and it is HARD to write when you have kids around, I am still in awe of the many writer-parents I know and e)neatly fit me into his professional belief system. I still believe the one that stays home with the kids has the harder job. You have to do your stuff AND child rearing. These days, you can’t just raise children. It isn’t healthy for them or you. Identity issues, etc.
This is the same guy that had witnessed me working my ass off at everything I did in college. Would he suggest such a cold reward for a man that worked that hard?
There’s no way that he would.
It didn’t occur to me to ask at the time – perhaps because I never liked upsetting my crushes, no matter how much they deserved it – why in the hell he thought taking me out of the world would be good for me or for anyone around me?
At the time I said nothing. I was trying to learn how to “be cool” and so I let a lot of shit slide that I shouldn’t have – like that. I also was so calcified by fear that any confrontation was either avoided completely or killed relationships altogether.
What he said, as fucked up Madonna/whore complex as it was, came out of love. It was also, I suspect, a precursor to the nastiest, ugliest non-fight I have ever had in my life.
A few years later, after I transferred to a university where accreditation was not hung under a Sword of Damocles, I got engaged. All excited, I called this old friend of mine to tell him the news.
Instead of “I’m happy for you… congratulations,” I got a long pause.
Then he said this: “I thought you said you were never getting married.”
I was taken aback. He was the one that was SO convinced I would change my mind. And now I was marrying a man who wasn’t going to demand I change my name or make ten babies. “This one is different from my boyfriends. I WANT to marry this one.”
I tried to explain. He accepted the witch thing – thought it was cool. He didn’t want kids if I didn’t want kids. He liked the idea of me having a career.
“So why even get married if you’re not changing your name or anything else?”
“Because I want to.”
It was true but it wasn’t true, and his long silences seemed angry. So I broke it down to some of the worst, most regrettable words I have ever spoken to someone I loved. “Look, you yourself have said I’m the girl that people waited to date until they were ready to get serious. And for me that’s bullshit. It’s never what I wanted. I told you guys [referring to the group of guys I was friendly with at the old school] that I never wanted to get married because I’m the one you shopped for the mother of your children. I’m not even necessarily opposed to children. But I saw that with all of you, and I’d rather say I didn’t want marriage so I didn’t have to deal with all that. I wanted to make sure that the person I married wanted to be with me – not to be the mother of his children, but to actually be with ME.”
I can’t remember what he said exactly. It was acceptance of my words. But he sounded really, really angry with me – the angriest he’d ever been.
When I drove to Wisconsin a week later to introduce my friends to my fiancee, he was in Illinois. So he never met my ex.
For those that might interpret this as a scorned lover/Ducky love, it really, really wasn’t. In the same conversation he told me about how he had a dream about some girl coming onto him and even in dreamland he still chose his girlfriend. Girls were constantly throwing themselves at him.
His questions weren’t out of jealousy. He was a philosophy major so such questions were to be expected.
I still don’t know why he was so mad, though. I changed my mind (sort of….well, I caved to pressure.) I didn’t lie to him. I had a sick feeling in my gut after I said it to him – if he, only he, had asked me to stay in Wisconsin I probably would have moved heaven and earth to do it.
Instead we were having an astonishingly ugly but civil conversation.
It all started with him assuming my gender meant that the greatest thing I could hope for was a dialed back middle class life that would fit me about as well as a size 6 … i.e. not at all, EVER.
For those that might ask, I am married and yes, it’s a second marriage. You can belittle my mistakes – which is nothing but pure ignorant arrogance of someone who hasn’t made mistakes or isn’t admitting to them – or you can consider that maybe I learned something – and accept that my lesson will not fit all or even most situations. I am fairly open that both my marriages happened due to family pressure and the subconscious belief that if I did what they wanted they might treat me decently. Didn’t work, either time.
I’m still married to my current husband because it’s a really good relationship – and a locked up/knocked up Diana does not appeal to him at all. In fact, he likes the whole free spirited thing even if he is sometimes put off by my constant attempts to hire houseboys.
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