The Cinderella Complex Quotes

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The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence by Colette Dowling
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The Cinderella Complex Quotes (showing 1-20 of 20)
“Once established, the young girl's dependency is systematically supported as she proceeds through childhood. For being "nice" - nonchallenging, nonconfronting, noncomplaining - she's rewarded with good grades, the approval of her parents and teachers, and the affection of her peers. What reason is there for her to turn deviant or nonconformist? The going is good, so she conforms. Increasingly, she patterns herself after what's expected of her.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Studies have shown consistently that while IQ bears a fairly close relationship to accomplishment among men, it bears essentially no relationship at all to accomplishment among women. (...) The adult occupations of the women, whose childhood IQ's were in the same range as the men's, were for the most part undistinguished. n fact, two-thirds of the women with genius-level IQ's of 170 or above were occupied as housewives or office workers.
The waste of women's talent is a brain drain that affects the entire country.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Much of what is considered "good" in little girls is considered downright repulsive in little boys. Physical timidity or hypercautiousness, being quietly "well behaved", and depending on others for help and support are thought to be natural - if not outright charming - in girls. Boys, however, are actively discouraged from the dependent forms of relating, which are considered "sissyish" in male children.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Studies show that girls - especially smarter ones - have severe problems in the area of self-confidence.
They consistently underestimate their own ability. When asked how they think they'll do on different tasks - whether the tasks are untried or ones they've encountered before - they give lower estimates than boys do, and in general underestimate their actual performance as well. One study even showed that the brighter the girl, the less expectations she has of being successful at intellectual tasks. (...)
Low self-confidence is the plague of many girls, and it leads to a host of related problems. Girls are highly suggestible and tend to change their minds about perceptual judgments if someone disagrees with them. They set lower standards for themselves. While boys are challenged by difficult tasks, girls try to avoid them. (...) Given her felt incompetence, it's not surprising that the little girl would hotfoot it to the nearest Other and cling for dear life. (...) As we can see, the problems of excessive dependence follow female children right into adulthood.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Because of the way society sets them up, women never again experience the need to develop independence - until some crisis in later life explodes their complacency, showing them how sadly helpless and undeveloped they've allowed themselves to be.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“(...) performance anxiety [in the worplace] is connected to other, more general fears which have to do with feeling inadequate and defenseless in the world: the fear of retaliation from someone with whom one disagrees; the fear of being critisized for doing something wrong; the fear of saying "no"; the fear of stating one's needs clearly and directly, without manipulating. These are the kinds of fears that affect women in particular, because we were brought up to believe that taking care of ourselves, asserting ourselves, is unfeminine. We wish (...) to feel attractive to men: non-threatening, sweet, "feminine". This wish crimps the joy and productiveness with which women could be leading their lives.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“While we avoid taking credit for success, women leap at the opportunity to take responsibility for failure. Men tend to externalize the reasons for their failure, putting it off on something or someone else. Not so women, who absorb blame as if they were born to be societys doormats. (Some women like to speak of their willingness to take blame as if it were a form of altruism. It isn't. Women take the blame because they find it scary to confront those who are actually culpable of wrongdoing.)”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Given our socialization into dependency, women are also poor risk takers. (...) We avoid new situations, job changes, moves to different parts of the country. Women are afraid that if they should make a mistake, or do "the wrong thing", they'll be punished.
Women are less confident than men in their ability to make judgments, and in relationships will often hand over the decision-making duties to their mates, a situation which only ensures that they will become less confident in their powers of judgment as time goes by.
Most shockingly of all, women are less likely than men to fulfill their intellectual potential. (...) In fact, as women proceed into adulthood, they get lower and lower scores on "total intelligence", owing to the fact that they tend to use their intelligence less and less the longer they're away from school.
Other studies show that the intellect's ability to function may actually be impaired by dependent personality traits. (...)
Confidence and self-esteem are primary issues in women's difficulties with achievement. Lack of confidence leads us into the dark waters of envy. (...) envy must be recognized, seen, and fully comprehended; it can too easily be used as a cover-up for something that is far mroe crucial to women's independence - our own inner feelings of incompetence. These must be dealt with - directly - if we are ever to achieve confidence and strength.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“The psychological need to avoid independence - the "wish to be saved" - seemed to me an important issue, quite probably the most important issue facing women today. We were brought up to depend on a man and to feel naked and frightened without one. We were taught to believe that as women we cannot stand alone, that we are too fragile, too delicate, needful of protection. So that now, in these enlightened days, when our intellects tell us to stand on our own two feet, unresolved emotional issues drag us down.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Women (...) have been encouraged since they were children to be dependent to an unhealthy degree. Any woman who looks within knows that she was never trained to be comfortable with the idea of taking care of herself, standing up for herself, asserting herself. At best she may have played the game of independence, inwardly envying the boys (and later the men) because they seemed so naturally self-sufficient.

It is not nature that bestows this self-sufficiency on men; it's training. Males are educated for independence from the day they are born. Just as systematically, women are taught that they have an out - that someday, in some way, they are going to be saved. That is the fairy tale, the life-message (...) We may venture out on our own for a while. We may go away to school, work, travel; we may even make good money, but underneath it all there is a finite quality to our feelings about independence. Only hang on long enough, the childhood story goes, and someday someone will come along to rescue you from the anxiety of authentic living. (The only savior the boy learns about is himself.)”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Other victims of neurotic dependency are battered wives. The fact that they are so often financially dependent upon the men who beat them makes for a vicious kind of entrapment. It's emotional dependency, though that puts a double lock on the trap. "There's a kind of panic that many women have about being able to make it in any way other than being dependent on their husbands (...) They've been taught their whole lives that they can't. It's a conditioning process."
In situations in which they have no effect on their environments, animals begin to give up. (...) the same thing happens to humans. Stay long enough in a situation in which you feel you have no control, and you will simply stop responding. It's called learned helplessness. (...) Having been "shaped" to believe there is nothing she can do about the situation, the battered wife goes on being battered.Only after she begins to disengage from her belief in her own helplessness can she break out of the vicious cycle of dependency and its brutal effect on her life.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Women retain their dependence needs long past the developmental point at which those needs are normal and healthy. Unbeknownst to others - and worse, unbeknownst to ourselves - we carry dependency within us like some autoimmune disease. We carry it with us from kindergarten through college and graduate school, into our careers, and into the convenient "arrangement" of our marriages. (...) Much of the time - for many of us, all of the time - our unwillingness to stand on our own two feet goes unnoticed because it's expected. Women are relational creatures. They nurture and need. This, we have been told for many, many years, is nature.
And although it cripples us, we have to let it go unquestioned.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“We have only one real shot at "liberation", and that is to emancipate ourselves from within. It is the thesis of this book that personal, psychological dependency - the deep wish to be taken care of by others - is the chief force holding women down today. I call this "The Cinderella Complex" - a network of largely repressed attitudes and fears that keeps women in a kind of half-light, retreating from the full use of their minds and creativity. Like Cinderella, women today are still waiting for something external to transform their lives.
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Fear (...) that has no relation to capabilities or even to reality is epidemic among women today. Fear of being independent (that could mean we'd end up alone and uncared for); fear of being dependent (that could mean we'd be swallowed by some dominating "other"); fear of being competent and good at what we do (that could mean we'd have to keep on being good at what we do); fear of being incompetent (that could mean we'd have to keep on feeling shlumpy, depressed, and second class).
(...)
Phobia has so thoroughly infiltrated the feminine experience it is like a secret plague. It has been built up over long years by social conditioning and is all the more insidious for being so thoroughly acculturated we do not even recognize what has happened to us.
Women will not become free until they stop being afraid. We will not begin to experience real change in our lives, real emancipation, until we begin the process - almost a de-brainwashing - of working through the anxieties that prevent us from feeling competent and whole.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
Why are women so fearful? The answer to that question lies at the root of The Cinderella Complex. (...) Many women achieve a certain amount of success in their careers and professions and still remain inwardly insecure. In fact (...), it's remarkable how many women these days retain a hidden core of self doubt while performing on the outside as if they were towers of confidence. (...)
Lack of confidence seems to follow us from childhood (...) No matter how fiercely we try to live like adults - flexible, powerful and free - that girl-child hangs on (...). The effects of such insecurity are widespread, and they result in a disturbing social phenomenon: women in general tend to function well below the level of their native abilities. For reasons that are both cultural and psychological - a system that doesn't really expect a great deal from us, in combination with our own personal fears of standing up and facing the world - women are keeping themselves down.
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“(...) psychiatrists today recognize the contortionist's act that was required of women in an age when they were expected to stifle their own healthiest impulses. (...) "To be able to renounce your own achievements without feeling that you were sacrificing requires constant effort. To be lovely and unaggressive, a woman spends a lifetime keeping hostile or resentful impulses down. Even healthy self-assertion is often sacrificed since it may be mistaken by hostility. Therefore, [women] often repress their initiative, give up their aspirations, and unfortunately end up excessively dependent with a deep sense of insecurity and uncertainty about their abilities and their worth.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“One strong idea being put forth these days (...) is that women should above all be given choice. (...) But this "right to choose" whether or not we provide for ourselves has contributed mightily to the female achievement gap. Because they have the social option to stay home, women can - and often do - back off from assuming responsibility for themselves. (...) There is something wrong with this. (...) We want so desperately to believe that we do not have to be responsible for our own welfare.
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“My father came first," says a Missouri painter who consistently faces a work slump whenever she commits herself to submitting paintings for a show. "My mother was defined by him. If she behaved well he would love her, buy her presents, and take care of her - she was a queen. He did take care of her. She behaved, she ran the house. He bought her presents all the time."
"Was she smart?" I asked.
"I don't know," the woman replied. "I think she may have been, once. She stopped thinking."
One reason Mother remains shadowy is that she was intimidated by the forceful, vivid personality of her husband. The peacemaker, a kind of half-person who chooses to tag along safely behind her husband, Mother is protected from the more abrasive aspects of life in the world. Huge fights, open power struggles - these were not characteristic of the girl's relationship with her elusive mother. (...) Mother was there (...). But she was also not there.
(...) Father is active; Mother is passive. Father is able to rely on himself; Mother is helpless and dependent.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
Women need to do more. We need to find out what it is we're afraid of, and go beyond.
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence
“Because of a profound, deep-seated doubt in their own competence, which begins in early childhood, girls become convinced that they must have protection if they are going to survive. This belief is bred into women by misguided social expectations (...)
Girls are trained very differently than boys. The training leads to their becoming adults who stay stuck in jobs beneath their capabilities.
It leads them to feel intimidated by the men they marry, and to defer to them in the hope of being protected.
It even leads (...) to the crippling of women's intellectual abilities.
Long praised by teachers for being diligent and dutiful in school, we who rely on dutifulness to get us by in the professional world son find ourselves being treated as if we were not quite grown up. (...) Not to be taken seriously. And (...) easily exploitable.
(...) The way girls are socialized continues to predetermine an agonizing conflict over the psychological independence that's necessary if women are ever to spring free and take their place in the sun.”
Colette Dowling, The Cinderella Complex: Women's Hidden Fear of Independence